The words to speak
If I had the words to speak I would tell about the trauma of mental illness.
My brain function is failing me every day as I continue to live with a disease of the brain. I forget the simplest things and wonder at times if I will lose all cognitive ability as I crawl rapidly from middle age into old age.
I look back on my life from the position of the here and now and try to take in the past thirty years of illness and medication.
My whole adult life has been consumed with fighting, coping and living with a disease that has robbed me of the fullness of life!
It has achieved this mainly because of the way in which my brain with all the medicines’ experiences life. It is different to how I used to experience life and I have a vague memory of the freedom of that.
The way I could breathe in life without sifting through a quagmire of perceptions and layers of negative thought processes in my serotonin imbalance and the lethargy of neuroleptic pathos.
In one way or other it has robbed me of my mind, body and soul, at times my sex life, my children, my career, my marriage, my positive sense of my own womanhood, my education and my hope in the present and the will to want to continue not to mention my waistline!
I experience things in a powerfully charged moment and then the assimilation of those experiences whatever they may be - get absorbed into the mind, body and soul as if caught in a memory that cannot be fully accessed.
It all seems to be stored in the ‘muscle’ of the brain lying in wait for release - not from the memories but from the physical imprint of the trauma.
We ourselves are the first one to experience the trauma of being mentally ill.
The carer’s story is a powerful one that needs to be told but the story of the carer of ourselves also needs to be told.
The imprint that psychotic illness has on those of us who have experienced it has a lasting impact on self-worth and self -value. It leaves one with such inherent feelings of shame and catapults one into such a different experience then most of us will encounter, that it is in itself , the great alienator.
How can we ourselves come to terms in any real sense of the experiences we have felt and lived through when our realities have been so torturous at times that we have not been able to trust anyone not even ourselves.
The hard truth about serious mental illness is that it is a complete fragmentation, distortion and confusion of the very core of our beings, that of our mind which in turn informs our body and even our spirit.
Is it helpful for churches to speak about demonic ‘ramblings’ to the mentally ill? I think not.
We can pity the alcoholic or drug addict or sex addict or gambler and find reasons why they fell into the lives they chose which enables us to view compassionately their plight. But we cannot seem to get passed the barrier of the fear of the mentally ill.
We are in need of full acceptance and love. We are in need of being listened to and understood and simply being known. We do not want demons cast out of us or to be pigeon holed into some ministry or even placated into some false sense of hope year in and year out about being healed and how our faith is not strong enough to allow this to happen.
After thirty years one loses hope in being healed and then you can find your relationship with the Lord has been undermined by an over emphasis on one part of the gospel.
The Good News surely is that I am loved and that his perfect love has cast out all fear and He meets me where I am and loves me while still dead in my transgressions.
He also loves me in some extraordinary way - that I have yet to fully appreciate while mentally ill and this is the only thing left to which I hang onto.
I don’t go to church anymore but I still talk with Jesus in the hope he is truly listening and know He understands my traumas form His own crucifixion and how that affected his own human brain within the context of his suffering on the cross.
He died for me and by his stripes I am healed if not cured.