Artistic Ways of Expressing Sickness in the World

Below is a story I put together while being inspired in a creative writing class. Eventually I had some help to expand upon it and finalise it. However, it’s more about my life and how I’ve come to see things due to my experiences, showing that because of Psychiatry this is what happened to me. There are metaphors and fantastical views about the relationships I’ve had, and then the expression of the reality that showed what I went through. Relationships have been essential for me to keep faith that I have some reason to live. I believe we are guided by divine influence to the people in our lives:

Title: Forever
I am 6 years old. In a world of fists and scars, it’s difficult to love everyone you meet. Yet, you try to anyway. Greeting anyone who approaches with a smile and leaving confused with tears as you go. The days are bitter with the kiss of cold, and it spreads like an infection to the souls of those who reside here. The grey against the gravel is mirrored in the sky, and the heart is a reflection of the deep depression. It’s time to go from this place. The leaves falling off their trees say farewell, telling of a story which one cannot speak. The men in green coats do their best to reassure and console, but the transformable toy in hand explains all that is necessary. They have both gone away from here now. To a place of barred windows and meals at midday – a place no child should have to visit to feel their loved one’s embrace.

The doors of my heart once were revolving, letting anyone come and go as they please. There was no thought of what harm may come – after all, are we not all open this way? It started with marks and stains upon the glass and then soon enough the cracks came to show themselves , telling of how fragile this entrance could be. Rather than the usual fluid motion that came with the doors spinning around, there was now some effort required to move through them. Then the day came where nothing could get in or out, except for that which could only pass by through the holes in the glass.
It’s difficult to know how long it remained this way. Occasionally someone or something could treacherously navigate the dangerous passage ways, yet it became easier to border those up. The door had to be removed and replaced with a wall of stone, sporadically punctured with tiny holes…and so it stayed this way as the years passed.

I am 15 years old. The looks on their faces are turned up and tuned in to the current social vibe. Out of the solitude and isolation – staring through the looking glass – we are so close yet so far away. The colour of the code blends together across the pellucid screen, awash with the next generation of everyday actors. It is almost time to leave this place. One last final exit – draw the curtains and send the audience home. Yet one voice demands to know the illusive performer. A match that could only be made on a virtual landscape, where fantasy reigns supreme. There is something to share on our technicolour windows travelling down busy analogue highways. However too much is celluloid superficial, where only one really feels the depth of the canvas. Set up, knocked down and beautifully bruised to live for another day.

One day, something surprising happened. A light came shining through the gaps in the wall, radiating and lighting up parts of the darkness. There was a curious desire to see what was capable of such a thing. I needed to see more. Prying open the small spaces in order to allow more in, I felt a warmth not felt before now. I slowly began to pull down more and more of the wall, until it was completely exposed. There I basked in the heat and felt alive again. Such a thing was not meant to last. The light turned into a deeper darkness and pushed through, penetrating further inside. It took a while to border up the entrance with bricks and mortar, with only a strange arrangement of holes to see through. I wandered off down the passage way of darkness.

How long has it been? How long have I been left alone here trying to feel my way around? Is this who I really am?

I am 24 years old. Artificial conversations and mundane musings are the ingredients for a chemical lobotomy. Finally a voice jumps out from the others and an otherwise murky atmosphere gets a little fresher. The anticipation mounts and the ride has just begun. Where it stops, nobody knows. We fast forward and the wheels turn round and round on a journey to an unknown destination. The music is the soundtrack for the scenery, glossed over in luminous greens and thick, black motorways. Love is a friendship on fire, yet sometimes it burns out too soon. From the ashes, it goes from nothing to nowhere, in search of something lost between the cracks at the core. The speed accelerates to dangerous temptations and visions outside the window are switched up to eleven. Being lost in smoke and daggers somehow seems like the better solution. Soul destroying nightmares are now the new reality and ephemeral illusions hide the source of enlightenment.

I woke up with a glow on my face today. It looks like a single beam of light has managed to find me back here. Should I try again? What if what happened last time happens again? Could I bare it?

Reluctantly I walked back down to the entrance to see a similar sight as before. I took my time to chip away at the concrete between the bricks, taking the rocks out one by one. Nervously, I removed the last of the brick and felt the warmth once more. This time I felt safe to stay here a while and maybe even venture outside. After spending a while in the light, it came time to move forward. I didn’t think such things existed. Yet maybe it was the fault of the darkness I had now become and in turn brought with me. Does anything really last for long? I was hit backwards stumbling through the entrance and pushed further back into the darkness which had expanded further. I had no strength left to close the passage way, but I knew I had to. Just a little longer here, then I can go do it before it becomes too much. I took the timber laying at my feet and hammered them across the opening with long steel nails. Now all that existed was me and the darkness. If this is all that I am, then so be it.

I know nothing else. I only see the shadows now. Yet I managed to find a candle and light it, as if some hope still exists to be free from here.

I am 33 years old. An artistic expression in ones and zeros attracts a curious mind. An unforeseen message is sent to receiver and an unfathomable connection is made. Before long there are story boards featuring machines that fly in the sky, along with ocean blankets and pillows of fluffy clouds. This land promises freedom in a melting pot of extremities. The concrete jungles expand far and wide, with super-sized lifestyles to complement them. There are four lives in all to consider here. The responsibility of adopted roles and authority figures changes from one thing to another. Night flights and self-serving friends become more regular than usual. It takes it’s toll. Promises and engagements are made, with little thought of consequence. It’s tearing at the seams like a patchwork doll without the hand to make it all better. It bends, then breaks, and what was once whole now shatters. There are too many slivers to make it meld back to the way it was. False hopes settle down as a bitter taste in the mouth. Time to move on and start over yet again.

I hear banging at my sealed door. The noise is an unexpected one. I crawl up the passage way to see what would make such a sound. A piece of wood is on the floor and a brighter light comes through. “Not again!”, I wonder. Do I dare entertain the dream once again? “What is there left to lose?”, I say. Although where did I put my tools so I can let it happen? I search and find the means to pluck out the nails one at a time, slowly but surely. This is a different kind of warmth and I’m prepared to explore it. I still hold onto the darkness, but I am what I am. I feel welcome here, not just by one but others also. “I could make a home here”, I believe. Yet I ignore something nagging at my soul. Something isn’t quite right. Yet still I continue to be here, amongst them. Everything has to fall. I am sucked back through the opening and further into the darkness which expands once again. Please, no more work to close it. Yet I know I have to – it is all that can be done. I momentarily get pulled back into the light, yet there is no certainty here – there is only doubt. I must get to work. I put up a sheet of thick glass so I will be able to look and see if anything is coming, should I want to look. I can sit in the darkness and keep an eye on things without a need to break it away.

Why do I keep wanting to stare out? Staying lock away like this amounts to nothing. I weather the cycles of disharmony with hopes to rise above them. I look inwards to look out. What do I look outside for?

I am 42 years old.

I see the brightest light approaching and for some reason it wants in. I walk up to the glass and hit it with my fist. It shatters and I am drawn out. I feel safe to now. I feel more welcome than before. Is this real or dream? I can no longer tell. It feels better to be here. Can I just stay here? Yet the darkness speaks to me. It tells me to worry. It tells me that it will just end like before. Will it end? I think it’s right. As wonderful as all this seems, something isn’t quite right. I am not quite myself and myself fears itself to be lost. It is so cosy here though. I don’t wish to go back. Suddenly the skies grey and the clouds blacken the sky. My darkest moment has come and I must walk back into my solitary unravelling. All that can be done now is to seal the entrance forever. I weld the strong steel barrier together and take my candle to the furthest depths of the darkness. I accept that I have to be here now and maybe, just maybe, when I have figured out what I am suppose to do, I will take back my actions. Yet hope is smaller than this flame I hold and the wax is running down.

I feel at peace here now. It’s almost time to leave. If only I knew my way back out and how to take down that cold metal in my way.

The candle is gone, yet the hope remains. The flame I once looked upon outside myself, now resides inside me. I take my time to walk up the passage ways, illuminating all that there is here. I see how much that I have learned from gazing at the carvings on the walls and….I now understand. I know that this darkness was not meant to be shut away for good. It has a place in the light, just as I do. If I am to be accepted and taken for who I am, then all this must be also.

I near the doorway and walk up to it. I reach out and place my hands flat across it’s cold surface and allow the heat to flow through and from me. It permeates the doorway and slowly the molten metal returns to the ground. I look back out into the light and see clearly for what seems like the first time. There are so many orbs of light here. I watch them pass by without noticing me, swimming along going to who knows where. I feel safe leaving the passage way completely open, yet I have grown fond of doorways. I visualise indestructible panels which are free to swing inwards or outwards and then construct them with my mind’s eye. I am happy for others to come and go as they please now, yet it will require those of a special and unique quality to open them.

Soon after I have finished, the most wonderful and mysterious orb of light enters and takes a look around. It stays a while, curious to know what it all means. Then it comes close to me to stare at the flame I hold. It beckons me to follow it out into the light and I am very happy to oblige. I’m curious to know how such a beauty came to be.

We walk along out in the open space and I feel a calm sense of freedom, while at the same time a childish amazement. It’s like breathing in fresh air and being reborn.

In the distance, I see the doors to the heart of another. It looks especially strong, and the pattern formed across them tells of a story full of complexity and hardship. The orb of light whistles by me and glides through the entrance. A figure emerges between the doors – their head pokes through to take a look at me. I am drawn closer and feel excited to learn more. I am given the signal to approach and come in. I smile and skip along, softly pushing through the doorway.

When inside I look around in awe. There is so much I wish to know here which is unfamiliar to me – yet at the same time, there is much that resembles the carvings on my own walls. I am filled with joy to witness all this – it is both a privilege and an honour to be here. I want to stay here for as long as I am allowed to and to discover everything that there is to see.

It may take me a lifetime, but I have all the time I need now.

After all, what I have is forever.

How I Envision our Future Together

Michael Tellinger : Ancient technology and the Ubuntu movement

Having been through what I have, I eventually somehow found myself upon this presentation, which led me to learn about about Contributionism.

I delved deep into it and found it to connect to my way of seeing things when I find myself in oneness with that unconditional love that resides inside all of us.
I would encourage others to watch it and then do some exploring of your own to see if you envision a future like this.

Also, for those who would prefer to read about it, there is this link:

Ubuntu Liberation Movement

T=M

The Afteraffects of Anti-Depressants

I posted this on a social networking site called ‘Experience Project’ recently. I find the place useful because I can piece together what happened to me from going through the events. Plus the people who do engage can be most helpful in getting each other where they need to go.

“About 13 years ago I had a particularly profound experience where I had my mind blown apart and expanded beyond all conceivable limits by a terrible reaction from the withdrawal of an anti-depressant medication. Ever since then I have had periods of altered states of reality on almost a yearly basis.
When my mind was blown away, it felt like the very core of who I was disintegrated into fine grains of something intangible and ever since then it’s been a journey to pull that core back to something whole.
Each time I feel I am getting closer to being put back together, truly whole within myself, I have a habit of unravelling and drifting back again into an altered state of reality once more.
Yet being on places such as EP, interacting and observing others for a length of time reminds me of what I am ultimately looking to become.
I remember the experience of being unconditional love. I remember what it means to feel fully present in the this constant moment of existence. I remember that there is that sense of being fully connected to all that happens in the “now” of the world we perceive. I can recall the memories I need to help give that insight to convey what I wish to describe.
It’s at this point, clarity returns. You start to think of what it means to be a complete person and in doing so you can start to think of devoting more of yourself to others.
You can start to explore genuine selflessness.
However the key is possibly the ability to sustain that state of wholeness in order to devote a life to helping others. You only need what brings that equilibrium to be healthy.
This is now the challenge once again. I consider this coming new year as a fresh start with a clean slate full of possibility. A way to end one cycle and bring about another. One that leaves behind any fragmentation and instead sees things as a unified whole.
With this, purpose and meaning can be realised.”

All the shifting about on a psychological level, seeing hallucinations and being lost in delusions, opens you up to a world where you can transcend Earthly planes of existence.

I feel it is very much real. Perhaps even more real than being contained in our bodies. You could consider it spirit walking.

There is a belief that this whole process and dealings with such things as Psychiatry is a path in becoming a Shaman. Unfortunately we do not have the skills taught to us anymore. However there are tribes out there fully aware of this today. For myself, I am still working on keeping myself together. Yet each time I come back from being lost, I bring that much more back with me. I’m hoping this year, I’ll be able to continue staying much more whole in order to discuss and post about my discoveries.

T=M

A New Year, New Beginnings and a Clearer Direction

Well now,

What a time 2015 was. In my exploration of self and being, I’ve finally come out with a clearer idea of how to push forward with this here rambling thingy.

Far too many people are out there right now are looking for a way to have a fulfilling life. I mean, when I say “fulfilling” it could mean different things, but I am really boiling it down to just being able to have a life. A life where you feel wanted, safe and able to get by each day feeling it’s worth it. A life where you can go to work and feel satisfied with your efforts and feel you can contribute to something more than yourself. A life that leaves you feeling as though you are worth loving and feel the love you have inside for yourself.

It’s a small thing to ask for, as I see it.

Yet, why can it be so hard to have something so small?

Now, I am ready to devote more time to answering questions like this and explain why people with mental health problems get stuck. Explain why the world as a whole is very sick with mental health issues and hopefully I can show you why things need to change and how it can change.

I am also going to shed some light on how these matters connect to the world of spirituality.

My experiences have taught me many valuable lessons which I think many people would benefit from reading about. I believe that others have the power to do exactly the same thing with their lived experience.

I hope this message touches you in some way, so that perhaps you may come to feel less alone out there or feel inspired to follow your own instincts. We all have the potential for greatness deep inside us; now we need to show one another how to achieve it.

A new waypoint laid down

I finally started work on my book today and I feel relieved that I’ve actually been able to sit down and start typing it out at last.

In some respects it was easy to go over some old wounds while recounting early memories, but in other respects it made me wonder if I have enough detail to write much of a book. “How long is this finally going to be?” I asked myself as I worked on the first few pages. “What is relevant to put in and what is not?” I thought. I guess for now it’s more a case of getting down what I do remember and waiting to see which areas of my life have more to say. If it only amounts to 100 pages then so be it. I’ll find a way some how to bring it more up to book standard size.

I also started work on a novel before sitting down to do the book. I figure a good escape from examining and analysing my life to put into words is to write about one that doesn’t exist anywhere else but on the computer screen. I like the idea that I can create a story where I set where the traumas are. Where I can make something fantastical from my own imagination without touching too much on the tragedy of my life history. The novel is about a man that has lived his whole life experiencing possession by some unknown force which makes him do things without his own will. It’s been inspired from my own experiences during psychosis.

So now I’ve set myself the task of writing these two books, I wonder if I’ve got it in me to complete them. I read somewhere once about so many people who start but never finish. Hopefully I don’t end up in that percentile.

T=M

Moving Ahead

Well I’m on the verge of starting to write a book about my experiences with the world of mental health, whether it be my own life, my parents life or others I’ve encountered – including things like the Psychiatric system, to a point.

While I have my doubts about whether it will be worthwhile anyone else reading, I figure it would lay some things to rest about what I’ve been through and witnessed. The hope there is for some catharsis at the end of it.

Much like in the spirit of my last point, I don’t care if it takes me something like 20 years to complete as long as I can write enough pages to make it worth of self-publication.

That’s really all there is to say on the matter.

T=M

 

Rebirth and Reflection

A lot can happen in a minute, an hour, or a day – so three years can mean something special to a person.

Many blogs come and go without really scratching the surface of the doorway to a group of people the author would like to reach. Many people would say “that is that” and be done with it. I’m one to think long term beyond what may or may not be possible.

Thoughts change, attitudes alter. Life continues to throw experiences at us that shape the fabric of who we are from the tiniest molecule up and outwards.

The inner world of our lives becomes richer and more diverse, after new boundaries are pushed and explored, leading to areas of ourselves we never thought could ever exist.

We find a new age of what it means to be the person we are slowly becoming and how to follow the path to become what we assumed was only a faded idea of something dream like.

That, to anyone who reads this, is where I am at right now. Looking to move forward from what has come before to what lies ahead, baring in mind there is still the present moment to be concerned with. A present moment to not be exploited in favour of wishful thinking.

What has come before in the blog itself will be referred back to at some point, I’m sure. However it will be seen in a new light and from a new perspective as it continues. The previous entries of the blog, in their culmination, have been an anchor forming a stepping stone, which I am sure will be the first of many to come over the years. It’s been a long path, with many more to navigate ahead, however with where I want to get to it’ll surely be worth it.

T=M

I’m still happy to be alive! – Part 1

OK, so I’ve been somewhat busy of late and I’ve just got back from a Charity event in Liverpool, which was in order to support EleMental and the work that is being done with those people connected to it. Robert Whitaker (author of “Mad In America” and “Anatomy of an Epidemic”) was the guest speaker, and I truly thank him from the bottom of my heart, and to those who made it possible for this event to happen.

What I have to say here will be both shocking and controversial for people to read, but I assure you, what I have to disclose is as close to the truth as possible. This is both a reason why I have gotten so very angry many a time, and why I continue to have a passion for contributing to change within and around mental health services. I am going to list bullet points which highlight what it is I have to say. Here goes:

* I have often told people that I was born to two parents diagnosed with severe mental illness. Through the first ten years of my life, my parents were admitted to Psychiatric Hospitals – at times together for up to 6 months  – and were subjected to various treatments considered to be suitable by the medical system in place. I was separated from them at a very early age, and this started what would be severe trauma for myself, and ongoing severe trauma for my parents.

Well, it turns out that if someone had actually listened to what their problems were and cared to help them with what were simply their “basic needs”, it would have been unlikely that they would have needed to go into hospital at all. I’ll look to point out why this is significant as I go.

* I remember visiting the Psychiatric hospital that my parents would become familiar with, at around the age of six years old. On one occasion I got to see my mother after she had received a “dose” of ECT (Electro-convulsive Therapy). It was very shocking and disturbing for me to see my mother this way, as she appeared to have been, what I can only describe as being “beaten up”. Her speech was slurred, she was wobbling about as she walked and generally had trouble standing up to spend time with me.

ECT works by damaging the brain – it is designed specifically so that this happens. It destroys areas of the brain which affect a person’s memory, and it supposed “helps” when especially traumatic memories from the person are lost – memories which can become a difficulty to live with. Unfortunately, because the brain is damaged, it has obvious cognitive side-effects for the individual and also prevents efficacy with more holistic approaches, such as therapy, where it can be essential to remember these traumas for healing to take place.

My father also received this method of “treatment”, although I had never seen him after it had happened.

* Due to my parents difficulties, it was a great struggle for them to make a living. The stress of unemployment and the responsibility of taking care of themselves – as well as their only child – would often become too much and trigger their “mental illness”. One thing I started to develop early on as a child, which I was not given the diagnosis of, would be what is considered ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). This is something I have trouble with – even today – and have never been given help to cope with the troubles it presents. As a result of this, I struggled through most of my school years, underachieving in the large class sizes which were too much for me to settle down in. I knew I had a problem – I just didn’t know how to verbalise it or know how to be any different. Teachers and tutors would often report that I was “disruptive” or something along the lines of not showing enough attention in class. Hmmm I wonder why?

Of course, if I had been given this unfortunate diagnosis, I would have been put on Ritalin almost straight away (and I almost did get put on it – but fortunately my mother saw sense). We now know today, that long term use of Ritalin (which is prescribed to children fairly often in some places) has a significant potential to develop “Bi-polar Disorder” and other major problems, in those who use the drug.

I’ll take the struggling I had with school over the drugs that create mental dysfunction.

* On the topic of drugs, both my parents have been given a large percentage of the drugs that have become available through the Psychiatric industry, produced by the pharmaceutical companies. This usage of bio-chemical drugs would span over 30 years. This was also in a time where – at least in this area of the world – there was a lot of experimentation and no clear idea from professionals in mental health services on how these drugs worked. Yet they were using them regularly.

My father was at one point given an overdose of the mood-stabilizer commonly used by those who were “manic depressive”, by the name of Lithium. It has been shown that high levels of this particular combination of chemical salts, becomes poisonous in the blood stream and could eventually result in death due to it’s toxic nature. My father experienced an OBE (Out of body experience) at this time and if left any longer, would have likely been killed by it.

Also another range of common drugs used as a choice for people like my father, and also my mother (diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia) are that of the neuroleptics (anti-psychotics). These particular drugs work by disabling specific areas of the brain, associated with the functioning of neuro-transmitters, and prevent the brain from operating the way it is suppose to naturally. These medications have recently been shown to “shut down” such things as the Basal Ganglia (or more recently referred to as the Corpus Striatum) which is significant because there have been indications that dysfunction of this particular set of nuclei, or atrophy, has been linked to certain diagnoses, such as OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder).

Also, long term neuroleptic use, has also been associated with a drug-created disorder called “Tardive Dyskinesia“. Signs of this disorder can be seen in a person, through involuntary movements of the body, such as muscles spasms; twitches; difficulties controlling the tongues movements; and general difficulties with other areas of the body.

My mother has these problems. It becomes difficult for her to do something as simple as holding a cup of tea, so she can enjoy a hot beverage. It also presents problems with sleep, as there is little respite from this disease, so this adds to the ongoing discomfort. Pain throughout the body often tends to be fairly chronic. At this time, it is unclear if this is always permanent damage, but it is considered that it is likely. However due to the plasticity of the brain – and how amazing an organ it is – there is the potential for repair to be made over a period of time. One can only hope.

Another common problem with the neuroleptics, is that it works much like a “chemical lobotomy“. It tends to disable the frontal lobes of the brain, which are associated with what tends to make us different from animals, allowing us to be human in this respect. What comes with this is a profound sense of apathy. People simply stop caring about what they are doing, even if they had previously enjoyed something that they were gifted and talented at. There may be a tranquillity, however it is at the expense of what contributes to making us the passionate human beings that were are. I’ll refer back to this section again.

* For a majority of my life, I have had to deal with what is considered to be chronic depression. I have also had difficulties with anxiety, especially in social situations (related to trauma around bullying when younger) and a number of bizarre or eccentric behaviours due to my difficulties coping with the outside world.

At one point, I was at a loss as how to cope with this overwhelm, and although naive and ignorant about the medications that were available to help someone like myself, I decided to give the anti-depressant medications a try. All I really wanted was someone to talk to, who could understand.

I tried my first drug, Cipramil (citalopram) and developed unexpected difficulties. I experience what would be considered to be a panic attack, and for a time was scared that I may actually die, due to my heart failing. It’s safe to say I left this drug alone after that.

Then, I was given a drug called Dothiepin (or Dosulepin) which I remained on for roughly six weeks. This was a drug that tended to cause a lot of drowsiness in those using it, especially at high doses. It turns out that I was prescribed a dose of 450mg (the maximum recommended to be 250mg safe usage) by a then junior doctor. After experiencing no recognisable side-effects, or feeling any difference for better or worse, I consulted a different General Practitioner for advice on what to do. I was told that if it was not working for me, then I could come off the drug – and that’s all there was to it. Little did I know, that going “cold turkey” on medications of this nature – especially at high doses – were potentially dangerous. This would trigger my first (but not last) episode of what is considered to be “psychosis“, where I experienced much of a three or four week period blacking out, along with auditory and visual hallucinations. I also experienced a number of delusions.

I hope that this is starting to paint a picture of something fundamentally wrong with what had happened to us as a family, and why I feel so strongly about disclosing this information. We are not alone in this: many families across the world are put in danger through ill treatment deriving from careless use of Psychiatric treatment.

I will look to do my best to finish this story or account in the next part, which I’ll look to complete soon.

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