Once again it has taken me a while to push myself to put pen to paper.
Yes, another admission to a clinic. This time, it’s further from home but with this comes several thoughts: more of a break for me; more independence for her. I believe, both of us are challenged by this mental illness: we are exhausted; we are tired by the daily struggle, we are worn-out by our respective pasts.
But, it appears, we are both taking this time to sort through our baggage and start afresh; whenever that may be. I am doing a DBT (dialectic behavioural therapy) course to help me understand the processes my daughter is learning. She is happy about this, and I feel good that I have made the right decision this time.
I am feeling the weight of my fragmented family: two children, two sets of memories and two different ways of coping with life: there is no right or wrong. Mental illness in a family can consume you completely. Nothing remains private or hidden, everything is discussed, everything is dissected; there can be no secrets in a world where wellness always depends on keeping your balance; it’s like walking a tight-rope, daily.
This period has been one of reflection, stock-taking and sleep. On some days I have no ability to move while on others I’m extremely productive. When I hear that a friend’s niece has become yet another victim of the black dog, the reality of what I came so close to hits me. My sadness for the family is overwhelming. I know how hard they must have fought, and I feel the weight of their sadness.
I also receive some good news from a friend I made in one of the hospitals. It’s good to hear they are doing well. Of course, this merely means they are still fighting the battle. We are in this together. She wishes she could do something to help me. These are thoughts, encouragements, commiseration; mere words but, in fact, they are much more, they create a bond. We are in this together. We are parents wracking our brains to find a way to support all these kids. These kids who spend every day working to stay alive, to manage their voices, to quieten their inner thoughts, and escape the darkness of their lives.
My mood is lifted by a visit to my daughter. Her new clinic seems different and she is learning more. She’s connecting with the material and making informed, considered decisions. It is confidence building; it reignites my hope that, perhaps, this time she may stay well for a longer period before another depressive episode. I am so proud of the work she is doing because I know it is harder, much harder, than I can imagine. Every time I think I have an inkling of what she is experiencing, I multiply it by ten and think that’s how hard it must be.
Her courage, and the courage of all those kids struggling to control their minds, spurs me on to continue with the series on mental health. It lights my fire and reaffirms why sharing these stories is so important. How can we help people, if we don’t understand them?
Here is a poem written by an amazing thirteen-year-old boy I had the pleasure of meeting.
As it moves
From victim to prey
It seeks out the ailing, the ill and grey
From Person to person, it moves with great precision
Hidden yet present, making its decision
When he finds the body, the hostage, the victim
It stays near the shoulder, right were they can hear him
It fills you full of lies and false visions
Crumbling your defences, mutating your decisions
Slowly but surly, it disables your will
Separating you from the enjoyments you elate
And it uses all the empty lies to fill
All of the void spaces it's made in its wake
For the heart it builds a wall
And for the mind a cage
Softening all resistance, quieting the rage
As you disconnect and begin to drift away
The beast that dormantly laid
Rises up to .... the torment
That you will receive from day to day
It tortures you with visions
It tortures your pain
It tortures you with precision
Both physically and sane
Inertia takes hold as you plummet down the Abyss
Your eyes suddenly open as you realise what's coming
But the cunning beast has placed you behind the wall
Governing you thoughts, feeling and all
For it knows that you know, what you see, what you hear
What you sense, what you want, what you think, what you fear
And with those fears it creates an illusion
Realistic horrifying, persistence and confusion
Then it finally recedes to its throne within your soul
Looking over his new domain, looking over it all
And through the lies and deceit the abduction of
Your life is finally complete.