Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Mental healthcare: madness within and without

A major part of me is still this five-year old child, lying curled up in that dark room, sobbing to themselves as the harsh, loud voices of those adults resonate in their ears. As the sensation of their hands groping, grasping and pulling on their body doesn't seem to want to fade.

It'll always be my fault. I'll always feel that I am the problem, that I just have to make things more difficult than they should be. How could I deny such an obvious fact?

Childhood abuse trauma is still special kind of madness. Left unacknowledged and untreated, it comes to define one's very existence as a child, as a teenager and finally as an adult. It means feeling unable to establish an emotional connection with others, as well as a general inability to rely upon and trust others.

It means struggling with a lack of self-esteem and of being overly critical of oneself. Of feeling that those adults back then were right to blame it on us, on somehow being responsible for the horrors that they inflicted upon us.

In my own situation, I wasn't aware of what had happened to be for the longest time. Not consciously, at least. It was always there, affecting my behaviour and life from right after those childhood events until the memories began flooding back, decades later.

It's horrible to see how much those events have changed me as a person, and affected my life. From turning that happy, carefree child into this withdrawn, quiet child who wouldn't even let their own mother touch or hug them, to the young adult and finally adult who simply could not get over what had happened. Who would remain stuck in that dark room, crying and feeling too terrified to move, let alone leave that room.

The events that happened after the initial traumatic events served to feed and reinforce it. From getting bullied during most of my time at school, to later having doctors and psychologists try to make me believe that I had to be transgender, or simply crazy, dismissing my intersex condition as an infantile fantasy.

Finally living together with an abusive flatmate for months with things totally spinning out of control at the end and losing all of my money and possessions. Months of being told how everything was my fault, how I wasn't doing enough and was weak and incompetent.

Then years of dealing with slumlords after moving to Germany, having them play the 'justice' system like a fiddle to make my life hell and drive me ever closer to either accepting homelessness or seeking to commit suicide once more. Of course everything is always my fault. It's pointless for me to hope for a better life, as me being alive makes things by definition worse. Such happy thought processes.

That last situation leading to me ending up at the psychiatric hospital for a few days recently. Not that this was the first encounter with mental healthcare, of course. I had seen plenty of this back in the Netherlands already, and had just stopped seeing my regular psychotherapist after one and a half years of weekly appointments, on account of this therapist constantly retriggering severe post-traumatic stress disorder triggers without seemingly understanding what was happening.

I'll be the first to admit that there's this madness inside my head that I keep struggling with, every day, with the darkness trying to claim my every thought and action. Some days there's too much darkness, because of other people's actions. Not because I want to feel like that.

Being at this closed, high-priority psychiatric ward was... a different kind of madness. While there, I was stripped of my identity, of any freedom and choice, while limited to this one, shared room and shared facilities. Shared with others who were struggling with their own madness and darkness.

There was the bossy woman, who seemed to be living some kind of fantasy, the tall guy who seemed to be mostly trapped inside his own head, always talking to himself and sometimes screaming for hours during the night. The girl with whom I shared the room had this massive burn on her left hand. It seemed like she could no longer use that hand, and was completely withdrawn into herself.

There were others. Each different. Each making me want to get away from that place. To return to the outside world, with the people whom I felt are more like me. Who show me the brighter parts of life. Not these shambling wrecks of human beings, who through no fault of their own are kept inside what is essentially a prison, where they are surrounded by the madness of others. Slowly forgetting what it is like outside, in society.

I am glad that I am no longer in that psychiatric hospital. For now. I hope I won't ever have to return there. But there are people here, outside the hospital's walls, who bring darkness. Who make one feel that life is about suffering and loss. That life maybe is too hard, that one cannot do it. That's it all too much, too painful.

I want to get away from this darkness. To get away from this current slumlord, to get that job, follow my dreams and ambitions, make more friends and hang out with the friends I have. To feel alive and happy.

Yet I fear that all there will be for me is the darkness of that silent room, with five-year old me lying on the floor. Alone, sobbing. Right before I give up for good.

I wish I could see the light.


1 comment:

Jules Tabak said...

You will live through this too.
Healing starts when you are able to forgive...
Forgive yourself, be gentle to yourself like you would be to that 5 year old.
The seemingly gray mist will disappear eventually, when you allow yourself to be free from mental captivity like holding on to the past and being a victim still.
Take that little child by the hand comfort it and lead it to a bright future.
The best of luck to you both!