On Mental Health

The mine-field which is mental illness and relationships (2)

(Continued from part 1)

I’ve come to realise that the specific underlying factor causing the tic and all it’s related mental illness infused mayhem is the closeness of Ru and mine’s relationship, the intimacy.

I sometimes wonder if being close to someone kind of brings all the madness out. Everything I’d managed to pack up inside of myself, and assimilate in a way which held all the while there was no pressure applied to it, becomes lose and instable again once gentle pressure is applied. And when I say pressure I really mean closeness, close contact with someone who really knows you, and really cares about you. This is what mental illness can do, it screws up all your internal functioning so that something positive like intimacy can feel like a strain on your ability to hold yourself together.

Anyway, I’ve come to theorise that there are two issues connected to this apparent conflict between intimacy and mental illness which are still affecting me and therefore still affecting us.

The first, is the fact that the voices I have dealt with over the last 12 years have worked to make me absolutely terrified of closeness; of opening up on emotionally, losing a certain degree of self-control, and embracing intimacy. I’ve been aware of this, on a certain level, for some time, but have kind of pushed it away because I never seemed to be able to do anything about it; nothing I ever did seemed to stop those voices from being there, and I resented that such a stupid thing was having such a profound effect on me. I made new friends and I embraced social situations etc, but if anything this only seemed to make those voices worse; more derisive and more scathing.

It was always the voices of my friends and family that I heard (obviously a claustrophobic experience in itself), and in my mind they were real, they were my friends and family, not just voices which sounded like them. Because they were close to me they apparently heard all the crazy BS which went through my head, and all the dark twisted shit which made up my darkest nights and worst experiences. Their voices would then come on- “wow, Ally, we’re really worried about you, that’s some dark shit you’re saying, you can’t say this stuff to people- people don’t know how to look at you anymore.”

I would argue with them; try and reason with them; curse them, but they always came back. The shame and self-doubt this created in me was excruciating, and I became so scared that it would become apparent and obvious to the people around me, and that they would then back away as they realised what a massive weirdo I was. Obviously, these experiences were never real and people could never “hear my voice,” just as the voices which I heard were only occurring within my own mind, and were not some kind of projection emanating from the actual people they sounded like.

Obviously this is the truth. But, unfortunately, for me, for many years- it was real. I could hear them, and they told me they could hear me, and the strong negative emotions which this provoked in me were corrosive and emotional undermining. “You’re too dark, Ally; you’re seriously messed up down here, something’s really wrong with you..”

Those voices taught me not to trust my own feelings, and they taught me not to trust the things which were happening in my own head. It always felt like there was this level of my consciousness which I couldn’t control, and existed below my everyday thinking and awareness. I didn’t know what was happening there, and I didn’t know what lies were being spun in those deep places.

It used to scare the crap out of me, and I would despair that if I ever became close to someone or ‘let them in’ on any level they’d pick up on it, pick up on all the uncertainty and shame, and see me for the weirdo I often felt like. Of course I knew that none of it was real, and that it was ridiculous to ever think in that way; but another, smaller less resilient part of me was simply scared one too many times. That was where the doubt would bite at me, and then I’d loath myself for being sucked in by the lies the illness whispered.

This is truly the darkest aspect of severe mental illness; the way it creates self-doubt, internal conflict and shame is beyond twisted, beyond unjust. I started to hold myself back from people. I didn’t do it consciously, I just eventually became too scared other people would pick up on the nightmare happening inside me. I would never let myself relax- I couldn’t relax; I was always waiting for the next sneering voice. This is obviously typical paranoia, bog-standard psychotic thinking; but the intensity of the shame and fear it created in me ate away at my ability to trust intimacy, and trust closeness on any level.

What has been happening, is that in certain moments with Ru and I, something will happen to trigger all these thought processes, and it makes me livid. This is because the only other instinctive reaction I have is to curl up in a blanket and lie in a dark room for about a year. I love being close to Ru, but that tiny part of me which used to be petrified, and is still fighting all of these delusional thought processes and reactions, sometimes creeps up and starts screaming “what if he thinks this?! what if he thinks that?! how could he stick around if he knew all the crap that’s passed through your head in the last ten years?!” And then all of the worst thought processes and emotions get triggered.

Ru has been absolutely amazing, there really are no words. I’ve explained all of this to him, and he has been patient and caring and understanding. He’s never made me feel judged, or weird, or abnormal, and he’s been slowly undermining the power of those voices and the feelings they provoke just by being there for me time and time again. We’re slowly working past it together, and the magic of that is more powerful than any BS from the past or from the illness.

(Continued in part 3..)


3 thoughts on “The mine-field which is mental illness and relationships (2)

  1. The psychology in this post is extremely interesting. I want to begin with: “Those voices taught me not to trust my own feelings, and they taught me not to trust the things which were happening in my own head.”

    If anybody needs a guru or someone to tell them what to think, they cannot trust their feelings – nor the things happening inside their head. The point here is that they are unaware of this, and think it normal to be ignorant of such essential things in their own lives!

    “nothing I ever did seemed to stop those voices from being there, and I resented that such a stupid thing was having such a profound effect on me.”

    Now imagine a situation where someone is profoundly affected by these voices, but they have no idea that they can stop them. No idea, any more than the modern person says when they need evidence for them to be able to answer something… it’s so normal for them to do so, it’s ‘normality’. Imagine now that your world inside your head is populated by intimidating voices?

    There is one thing I look for in those I meet, it is self-reflection. I care not a whit if they are a bus driver, bar tender or tramp. Usually they are the lowest of the low; sometimes, rarely, they are able to think in the way you do. Such people are my truest friends, and I am overwhelmed to know two of you.


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