I few days ago I wrote an article about mental health issues. More humane care has been provided and sufferers have been treated in various ways through the 1900s, with questionable success. Writer/poet/blogger Frank Prem, in his younger days, worked at an Australian asylum and has written a number of poems to capture the lives and feelings of the afflicted.
Now he’s excited to be launching his compilation of these poems. He says The New Asylum should be live on Amazon November 1st and you can pre-order it now. In mid-November he’s doing a local book launch — here are the details — and here’s the book cover:
His other poetry books, SMALL TOWN KID and DEVIL IN THE WIND, have gotten great reviews. You can read my review of this second book HERE.
Yesterday’s Word of the Day prompt was BUBBLE. I’m coming in rather late here, but this is my response.
paranoia life in a dark bubble everybody hates me
Not long before this prompt came up, I’d an account I wrote some years ago about a woman I met on a trip we took. She likely would have been diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic — if she’d ever sought medical help. It sounds like her doctors had suggested mental illness, but why should she listen to doctors when they’ve all been ordered by the government to destroy people like her? Another man friend tried drugs, but hated the side effects.
I’ve visited with several afflicted ones over the years, enough to give me some picture of what their world must be like. I know there’s a wide range of symptoms and reactions to treatment, but here’s my non-medical insight, for what it’s worth.
“When I was in the hospital,” this woman explained to me, her eyes shining, “they did experiments on me. They poison a person with mercury. The mercury slowly comes out of you through your skin, you know; I see little silver drops on my carpet all the time.”
What could I say? You’re imagining this? But she wasn’t. She actually saw these drops. Just as someone else saw an upside-down cross on a hospital curtain one night — a sure omen of evil to come. Who can understand why or how the mind perceives silver drops, or beetles on all the plants, or people pulling their hair in the night? For the sufferer, the only “logical” explanation is that someone is trying to drive them mad. Once mad, they’ll be taken to the psych ward and quietly disposed of.
“There are two kinds of people in this world,” another fearful person told me years ago. “Those who wish I was dead, and those who think I already am.”
“Most of the people in this world don’t even know you exist,” I replied. However, that’s reality, and reality usually doesn’t cut through such fear. I wasted my breath.
Many, many times people trying to help a person through their hallucinations waste their breath trying to explain that, “No, it isn’t what you imagine. You still have all your hair; no one has pulled it out.”
I’ve learned that my rational explanations will never combat paranoia; they just can’t pierce that bubble of fear. The afflicted, be they on welfare, members of ethnic minorities, Christians, or whatever else makes them unique, see themselves as slated for destruction — and no one recognizes the danger they’re in. If you don’t agree, if you won’t see how the government is out to destroy people like them, you are either burying your head in the sand or you’re delusional.
Sadly, some misguided religious people see all mental illness as “demonic” and their answer is some type of exorcism. This is usually a double whammy for the sufferers. Not only are they NOT cured by this ritual, plus now they live with the guilt of being possessed by evil spirits, and/or the thought that God must have given up on them, too.
From what I’ve observed, medication has had limited success in treating this type of mental illness. Some works great — for a time. There is some healing in the aging process. I once read that schizophrenia loses some of its grip on a person’s mind after age fifty. The problem is the dangerous situations they tend to live in, often being homeless and isolating themselves.
Another friend of mine who has suffered from fears very much through the years became a Christian in her twenties and the words that help her the most are the scriptures about God looking after his own. He does see, He does care, and He has looked after her amazingly well in her circumstances. When she calls me, greatly distressed because something suspicious happened, or someone said something threatening, we talk about the day when the trials of this life will be behind us and we’ll live in Heaven, safe from evil, free from care. Focusing on that better place makes the troubles of this world more bearable.
Bees are in the blossoms,
birds are on the wing,
roses climb, and summertime
is kissing every thing.
Little pansy faces
wink and smile at me,
and far and near there’s not a tear
that human eye can see.
There’s beauty in the garden,
there’s beauty in the sky,
the stately phlox and hollyhocks
have put their sorrows by.
The gentle breath of summer
has blown the cares away;
all nature sings, for morning brings
another lovely day.
Yet some are blind to beauty
and some are deaf to song;
the troubled brow is heard to vow
that all the world is wrong.
And some display their sorrow,
and some bewail their woe
and some men sigh that love must die
and summertime must go.
I haven’t done any writing prompts for awhile, but when I read this one — Prosery #2 at dverse poets — it connected in my mind with one character in a story I just finished, and also called to mind a real-life situation I once observed. Sadly, some people just can’t be loved out of their bitterness.
So I’m going to try working “I dreamt I was the moon”into a 144-word story.
I Saw Myself
I saw myself as the sun, drawing you into the light. I dreamt I was the moon, touching your emotions, awakening your desire to love. I imagined myself your guiding star toward a richer life.
I believed all your excuses, furious with those who’d wronged you. But instead of drawing you into the sunshine I was sucked into your gloom, not understanding how impenetrable — how willful — your darkness.
Hooked on you, I gave and gave…until our relationship broke me and I became just another burnt-out star in your black hole. I never foresaw the pain, the frustration…or that you’d leave so much darkness in me.
My father says, “Good thing he’s finally gone.” My mother sighs. “Now maybe you can start enjoying life.”
But I’ve been in the darkness for so long; it may take ages for my light to brighten again.
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7
You had to admire the little guy’s spunk. With no means of defense, pitted against an enemy twenty times his size, he was putting up a brave fight.
He was only a mouse captured in the claws of our family cat, but he wasn’t taking this lying down. For a moment the cat let him go and took a step back; instead of running away squeaking in terror, the mouse stood up on his haunches, jumped as high as his little legs could send him and tried to bite the cat’s face.
Whoa, I thought: Kamikaze mouse! Another Reepicheep, lacking only the sword.
For a few minutes I watched the unfair contest. The cat would bat the mouse around and he fought back as best he could, rushing toward the cat, trying to scratch it or nip it with his tiny teeth. I actually felt enough sympathy for the gutsy little gladiator that I might have picked up my cat and removed him from the conflict – had the arena been elsewhere.
However, the battle was going on right beside my garden where I surely did NOT want a mouse to find refuge. At one point he made a dash for freedom under a tomato plant but the cat snagged him and carried him off. I walked away and let nature take its course.
Later on I saw his lifeless body lying on the lawn. Well, at least he died trying.
As Christians, we have an adversary, a foe much greater than we. The Bible describes him as cunning and ruthless, opposed to all that is godly: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist steadfast in the faith…” I Peter 5:8
Yet we are told, “Don’t just lie there and whimper when the devil rakes you with his claws. Get up and fight back.” And we think, Are you serious?
We feel the devil’s hot breath on our neck at times as he sends us evil thoughts, temptations, depression, negative feelings about ourselves, wounded pride, anger, misunderstandings. Maybe we are inclined to wring our hands and say: ”Why are we troubled with these thoughts?” or “Why do I feel the way I do?”
As surely as cats hunt mice, our adversary will attack us. The Bible tells us that Satan is determined to decimate us, to dissuade us from following the Lord, by terror or temptation. Unlike defenseless mice, however, we have God’s promise that resistance pays.