an explanation of experience

Posted: June 4, 2014 in Mental Health
Tags: , , , ,

Imagine you are gagged, but not visibly so, hard I know. Now you are unable to speak in any way that makes sense, as if you’re also in a foreign country, double frustration. Now you’re very upset and for some reason you can’t understand exactly why, no matter how hard it’s as if you’re own brain is gagged and speaking a foreign language too so you are frightened and quite probably angry about your inability to understand and be understood, sound hard?

Now add to this a wound that can’t be seen, a deep painful wound in a place you can’t reach to soothe yourself and due to your gag you are unable to tell anyone about it. Now this wound is always causing you pain but sometimes it’s worse than others, at one time it renders you incapable of moving , it seems that staying in bed is your only and best option, just washing yourself is too much effort and even when you see that others are disgusted by your countenance you cannot explain your reasons or change your circumstance because the gag allied to the lack of a shared language makes it impossible to ask for understanding.

Now you are hurting, badly on some occasions and this feeds an anger and frustration that you fail completely to explain due to the many issues we have already covered, the inability to enunciate your hurt and rage means you use physicality to push the idea of the suffering you are currently encountering. This leads others to see your gesturing and distress as aggression, indeed they are likely to assume you have dangerous intent and this causes them to react in a manner which increases the pain and frustration, a spiral of action and reaction send you plummeting deep within yourself.

Now with the Gag tighter and pain heightened by events they bring in an “expert” in your pain who speaks in another language somewhere between yours and the other one but not close enough to help on most occasions. They give you pills to soothe the pain but this has other effects, it slows you down and makes you unable to react to further hurts, you are emotionally hand cuffed. The gag and the cuffs hold you without relief, your sleep is wrong and therefore you either sleep too much or dream so violently that you wake screaking into the gag, afraid others will hear and tighten the cuffs.

You refuse the pills, the cuffs are released only for the pain to return in abundance, new and imaginative new tortures are inflicted upon you, room 101 is released upon your mind and the pains source moves as swiftly as you can act to relieve it, worse the others are now pouring salt into that wound, tearing you from all semblance of reality as you struggle to explain your pain, to avoid the pills that cuff you, because aren’t helping. In your rage you have caused new injuries, real ones that others look at as aberrations, seeking to cuff you further with new pills that detach you from your consciousness, cuffs replaced by shackles with ball and chains applied for good measure.

Imagine this is happening to you during every waking moment and the longer it goes on the wider the gap between your ability to speak the language of the others and their experts becomes. You have tried to end the pain and suffering somehow, pills or cuts but that only increased the interest and abhorrence; they have taken the freedom you held dear from you, the pharmacological restraints increase as they attempt to subvert your desire to act.

The day comes when you give in; succumb to the attentions of the others with their pills and rules. The pain doesn’t go but you learn to ignore it, the gag is no longer necessary as you use their words and look to them for reassurance you have spoken correctly, the cuffs and shackles are loosened to give the illusion of freedom and time moves on. Life is experienced but not lived; you view it as survival rather than fulfilment.

One day you become aware that the pain is once more to the fore and in desperation of what this has meant in the past you act, clumsily and poorly planned, the others turn your way and the gag returns, the language deteriorates and the whole cycle repeats, but much worse because you now have awareness of your past experiences to fill you with dread, the salt in your wound is now bleach, not just increasing the pain but burning new wounds as it goes, the more you fight the tighter the shackles become and the longer you suffer, where does this end?

All of this sounds like a fantastic fiction, a notion of some kind of hell that would be at home in a horror story, doesn’t it? This is what it feels like to have a mental health problem, for some. For some the experience is worse or different but the theme is the same. An inability to communicate the pain of mental distress in words that can be understood. The fear of experts who will, although in a well-meaning manner, straight jacket your mid with medications that often mask the problem whilst drowning the symptom.

It is impossible to understand any affliction entirely from the outside, physiological as well as psychological and the old adage “I wouldn’t wish this on my oldest enemy.” Is often true but if only for a single second people could experience the suffering that goes on behind the eyes of someone with a mental health problem maybe the gag wouldn’t seem so complete and the pain so hard to soothe.


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