With psychosis, you don’t hear voices, but you do see your imagination as reality. Maybe that would be okay if you lived in a nice, wonderful fantasy world. However, mental illness rarely ever lives in a nice, wonderful fantasy world.
Mental illness is the terrifying and claustrophobic grip of an unscrupulous hand. Most often it is the hand that has been placed there from forces of our past. These horrendous events rise like the erruption of a volcano, releasing the red hot flow of it’s core.
Mental illness is a person’s unconscience screaming from it’s self-imposed prison of despair.
When the psychiatrist first saw me, she asked, “How long has she been like this?”
The person with me replied, “Two weeks.”
“You have allowed her to be like this for two weeks and didn’t bring her in?!”
At that time I was in gripping paranoia that had me (visually) climbing the walls of the psychiatrist’s office. It was the.. it was… I could not speak it. It would be evil for me to speak it. Instead, I suffered in silence. Sleep had not found me in what seemed to be months. I was exhausted and in a major terror which had gripped me for the past two weeks.. unrelenting.
My panic attacks began after the birth of my first child. My labor was very long and arduous. After a day and a half of major labor, the nurses of the tiny hospital took me into the delivery room without the knowledge of my doctor and had me push for two hours. Nothing happened.
One and half day later he was born. He was born because my husband finally demanded the baby be delivered by Caesarian if it wasn’t born within two hours. The doctor took me into the delivery room and with the help of forceps, my baby was born into this world.
The labor had not only exhausted me, it had changed something in my brain as well. Every woman that has experienced the pain of childbirth will understand what it would be like to experience it for three whole days. In those days, Caesarian delivery was frowned on and was rarely ever done, especially in a little town of 900, 2500 if you count the cows.
“She needs to be admitted.” declared Dr. Barry.
(After this, I really don’t remember much except for being admitted into the lock-up ward of the mental hospital).
I do remember the first night very clearly. I remember pacing and pacing, up and down the hall, in an effort to “run” from the horrible images in my head. Saying I was in distress would be putting it mildly. I was in despair and indomitable fear.
After, maybe thirty minutes, one of the nurses began pacing with me. She was letting me know I wasn’t alone. I appreciated that. I had not had that up to this point. I had been shamed and shunned by my family.
After a few minutes she turned to me and whispered, “Will you sit down with me and talk?”
An inner voice was screaming, “NO! YOU CANNOT TELL! YOU CANNOT TELL! IT WILL BECOME WORSE IF YOU TELL! DO NOT TELL!”
Confusion and panic gripped me, “I..I…can’t.”
“Yes,” she responded, “Yes you can. Please sit down with me.”
We sat at a table across from one another, her eyes showing me she cared.
“What’s wrong?” she asked.
“I can’t tell you.” I responded. “If I tell you it will come true,” looking down at the table to avoid her eyes.
“No.” she said softly. “No, it won’t come true.”
My eyes found hers to search for any sincerity. They were soft and brown and they spoke to me, saying, “you can trust me.” I wanted this to be true.
Pausing, I whispered, “It’s the end of the world.” Mentally hoping the roof of the building didn’t crash down on us all.
She kept her eyes focused on my eyes and answered, “No. It isn’t. It isn’t the end of the world.”
She planted a seed that day, a seed of hope among the many thorns of a hopeless world.
Healing, step one had begun.
…more to follow