the infinite elation, pain, and terror of a psychological illness
friendless and nowhere to go but here
About a month ago I was in hospital, and so ill that the nurse said that I looked like a bad advertisement for death. I had lots of scans, tests, and examinations, some treatment, and after a few days I was discharged, supposedly fit and healthy. I believed I was cured of my ills ~ I don’t believe that anymore. I think I’m still very unwell.
Whatever ails me does not seem like a physical illness ~ I’m still meeting my 10,000 steps a day meditative walking target, I’m not sitting in the armchair all day, too knackered to do anything but watch TV, I haven’t taken myself to bed, and I’m not on any medication at all. I don’t think my body is sick, I think it’s my mind.
(I take some of that back, when I comes right down to it I’m physically not that strong.)
I have a very strange set of unmatched symptoms. To begin with there is the red V shaped mark on my forehead. It’s prominent, angry looking, and if you met me it’d be the very first thing you noticed. I’ve had that red V shape appear on my forehead ever since I was a young boy, and it has always been a certain sign that I was pretty poorly.
It’s like having the mark of Cain, and it tells me that in one way or another I’m fucked.
The headache I’ve got now I’ve had for three or four days. Everything I eat tastes like cardboard, (apart from chocolate). And I’m dropping things; keys, books, a full mug of coffee, (that makes a hell of a mess), and this morning while I was doing the laundry I dropped the electric iron. That thing was plugged-in and hot, but I didn’t want it hitting the tiled floor in my kitchen pointy end first, so I caught it before it hit the tiles. How the fuck I had the presence of mind to catch the iron by its power-chord I have no idea, but I did and I didn’t get burned.
Oh, and another thing, I am saying and writing the F word a lot, (and a few other choice cuss words), and that is just not the polite English Gentleman I am usually.
Generally I feel like a young boy who has been sent to see the school headmaster for a dressing-down and some corporal punishment, and that young boy hasn’t a clue what he’s done wrong, or why he’s being punished.
You know what? I think I haven’t been so well lately.
Some say that the sick never truly lose the chaos within. And that a sick thought can devour your being more thoroughly than a fever. All I know is the bravest thing I ever did was continue to live when I wanted to die.
feeling like that lost little boy today
when all that’s left are the empty promises
the sun was going down on my life
Christmas had come and gone. I couldn’t remember the New Years’s at all, time had slipped from 2019 to 2020 completely unnoticed by me. It was January 7th 2020 and I had been smashed and broken to another low rock bottom. My life was a slow-motion freight train wreck at the end of the line in a place called Hell. My mind was numb and empty, my soul was tortured by demons of my own making, my body was suffering from a lack of food and too much booze. Part of me wanted to die, part of me hoped I would die, and a small part of me entertained dark thoughts of painless suicide. Walking into the cold North Sea would kill me, but that would mean I had to get out of bed, leave the garret, and walk the hundred or so yards to the beach. That was never going to happen.
But something happened. Call it sheer bloody mindedness, call it being protected by a guardian angel, call it the universal unconscious helping me, but I did something positive. It took a while.
First I got myself out of bed, went to the kitchen counter and poured a half-full bottle of vodka down the drain. Thought about coffee, but I knew I’d throw up. Drank some water, threw up.
Bathroom and alcoholic constipation hurts. Stood under the shower in my filthy clothes and stripped naked there, soaped up some. No chance of my risking a wet shave.
Got dry and left the wet towels in the middle of the garret, on the floor, discarded at random.
Combed my hair, got dressed in clean clothes, even clean socks. Looked at the clock, it was just on half-past-six, and I didn’t know if it was morning or evening, nor did I know what day it was.
Collapsed into my armchair, exhausted and shaking. Sat there for a long time staring at the wall, my mind empty, my soul in pain. I could see scuttling things out of the corner of my eye I knew weren’t real, weren’t there at all. Electric shave.
After a long long while I made myself a coffee, felt like throwing up but didn’t. I knew that somewhere out there someone or something was sending me all good wishes.
My thoughts and feelings were being led by demons down a dark road that only led to bad things, so I picked up my tablet as a distraction. Tried to play solitaire, not enough concentration. Instead I read some posts by the very special people I follow. I read a post by Rhapsody Boheme about The Wolf Moon, and the special things that could happen then ~ transformation, renewal, rebirth….. And here, The Wolf Moon was at 19:21 hrs on January 10th, 2020. I resolved to stay sober until then. Before then I would clean the garret, only demons will enter a place that looks like a pig-sty.
At around 19:15 on January 10th I darkened the garret, lit some scented candles, and put some soothing music on the record player.
19:21 on Friday January 20th, 2020 a sense of peace I had not known ever before in my tortured existence, the music playing was The Memory Of Trees by Enya; the simple vocal refrain on that instrumental track is Be Yourself. It was a profound message, and I knew exactly what it meant.
My life hasn’t been the same since. My life is different and better, and improving day by day, hour by hour, and something or someone is still guiding me. If you are suffering as I was, I know that you can have that too. Nobody with even an ounce of goodness in their soul is abandoned forever.
infinity came for me and lifted me up
life is really simple, but I insist on making it complicated
the desert isn’t complicated
I live in a world where being busy and achieving things is expected, and there are other expectations, arguments, and contrary opinions about everything. My mind makes my life more painful than it really should be. Life is really simple but I make it complicated.
At this time of year I look around at those I used to know well, and feel a little compulsion to keep up with their lifestyles and successes. I feel that urge to fill my days with stuff to do and goals to achieve ~ creating new subordinates, colleagues, co workers, and money to fill the empty spaces in my life. But colleagues and co workers are never friends past lunch-time.
I have planned vacations and dreamed of women who would enjoy doing very little with me. But those women would be empty vessels and not real friends at all. I will not five up all I am for a couple of weeks of fun.
It turns out that this is a had luck life and I had better accept that and live a simple life. It’s not an easy choice. It will take a bit of strength to find straightforward solutions to my problems, and rid my life of self-made complications and toxic people. But it’s past time to de-clutter my life and my emotions. Simplicity is the smart choice for healthy people.
Keep it Simple Stupid is a good mantra for me. It’s a good life choice to rid myself of people that only make my life complicated. No matter what happens I should ask myself ‘do I really want this’ am I just adding more stress and complications to my life? Is what I am doing honest, open, clean, decent and with some real purpose? Actually, over the past week the answer to those questions is no.
I have not been 100% honest and straightforward, I’ve been as crooked as a snake about some things, lied about some things, and wanted some other things I shouldn’t want. Jealousy, envy, and covetousness are where I’ve been.
I know that I have a problem, and I should think twice before saying anything. Fuck I am not a saint, and that’s what I need to be to get over Borderline Personality Disorder.
Some say that yo just have to carry on giving. And that there is no end in sight. All I know is that everything will be all right.
I was there, and I was happier
I understood myself only after I destroyed myself
Psychiatrists tell us that there are 10 different types of personality disorder, and that suffers do not necessarily cleanly fit into just one category. They also tell us that there is a remarkable overlap between those diagnosed with a personality disorder and those who also display one or more addictive behaviours.
I suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder, (BPD), and around 80% of those diagnosed with BPD also have substance abuse disorders; the most common being alcoholism, followed by addiction to cocaine, opiates, prescription drugs, and marijuana. Suffers from BPD are also likely to have other addictions such as being dangerously promiscuous and / or have gambling issues. In my case I spent several years as a near-alcoholic.
Any addictive behaviour, particularly booze or drugs, by those suffering from a personality disorder just makes everything much, much worse. Lives become more difficult, they become totally unresponsive to treatment, they become violent, and will threaten, attempt, or actually commit suicide. Around 10% of those diagnosed with BPD commit suicide, which is 1,000 times more than in the general population.
Therefore, in order to recover from Borderline Personality Disorder, (or any other personality disorder), the first prerequisite is to cease and desist from any addictive behaviours. In my case this means just don’t drink, stay sober, never touch booze. This never, ever means that someone in recovery can have one or two drinks, or smoke the occasional joint, or go to Vegas once in a while. Stopping means just that, stopping completely, forever, just one day at a time.
Sadly, the success rate for those attempting to recover from alcoholism, substance abuse, or any other addiction, is very low. More than half of all those who want to stop drinking will relapse within 3 months, more than half will die from booze, the side-effects of booze, accidents, or suicide. (Some say that 100% of those who don’t stop drinking or using will die from their addiction, its side-effects, or suicide. From personal experience I agree with that.)
There are a few rules to follow to stop drinking, using, or other addiction;
- stop being friends with people who you used to drink with, use with, have sex with, gamble with
- stay away from bars and other places where you used to drink or use, or whatever
- never, ever take the first drink, joint, pill, or whatever your addiction of choice
- do not get lonely, angry, hungry, or tired
- change your routines completely
- live one day at a time
Some say that the survival instinct is overwhelmed by the addiction. And that once an addict always an addict. All I know is that if I drink I will suffer very bad things
recovery means staying out of bars
there are some thoughts you can’t avoid,
and some feelings you can’t deny
When you have a personality disorder your mind will lie to you. Your subconscious mind will take a grain of truth and build it into a dark castle in the clouds with lightning all around. When that happens you will struggle to stay grounded. Your demons will create dismal feelings and negative thoughts that your conscious mind will need to react to and act upon. The anger, jealousy, paranoia, and resentments will overwhelm you. You will plan and scheme and in an instant come up with a way to hit back, to get even, to relieve the pain in your soul.
The saner part of you will know that it’s all twisted logic and internal doubletalk, but right there and then the saner part is no friend of yours. The very last thing you need when you are in that dark space is reasonable self-awareness and self-control, because you know that everybody lies to you and everyone betrays you. No one and nothing is to be trusted nor relied upon. The only things you can trust are the voices in your own mind. You will truly be all alone in Heartbreak Hotel.
The demons with their doubletalk are insidious, persistent, and pernicious ~ your demons are always there and they will never let up. Your demons will give you insane feelings and nightmares, driving you down to another rock bottom where the mental anguish will torture and torment you.
You may try to escape into booze, drugs, gambling, casual sex with strangers, isolating yourself, just disappearing, violence….. or you may attempt suicide, and you might just succeed. I suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder, (BPD), and about 10% of all those with this mental malady commit suicide. Or , you may just threaten suicide. BPD is the only personality disorder where attempted suicide and threats of suicide are among the diagnostic criteria.
How then do you escape from your demons and their destructive doubletalk? Sad thing is you can’t. There is no cure for most personality disorders, (and the majority of other mental illnesses). There isn’t even any effective medication if you have Borderline Personality Disorder, and no responsible doctor would give drugs to anyone with BPD.
All you can do is try to recover from the worst effects of your mental malady. The demons will never go away completely, but you can stop listening to them. Act as if you know what love is. Act as if you have only good feelings. Act as if you are not being torn apart inside.
All I know is that if you keep doing what you did, you’ll keep on getting what you got.
the truth will always find you out
but lies are more powerful
the only way our problems will go away is if we solve them
Most of us, myself included, tend to ignore problems unless and until they step up and smack us in the face. If something bothersome, or a bit irritating, or mildly inconveniencing is going on in our lives it is very much easier to close our eyes and ears and ignore it, rather than deal with yet another piece of crap.
So; the check engine light has come on in our car….. and how many people will just ignore that for days or weeks until the next regular service is due? Or, we are fed up with opening the mail, which is always just bills and junk anyhow, so we stop opening our mail altogether. Or, in my own case, sometimes I would feel so bad that I would get blind drunk for days and days just to escape the emotional pain, rather than work on the causes of my torment.
I can absolutely guarantee that if there is a problem, no matter how slight, then unless we accept that there’s a problem and do something about it, that problem will grow and grow until a minor issue becomes something
fucking extremely serious. In my own case, my getting drunk and insensible was nothing to do with alcoholism, or liking the party life, it was because I have a very serious mental illness called Borderline Personality Disorder, (BPD). I’d, (sort of), known that for a few years, and so had my doctors, but did anyone actually do anything about it? Hell no. The easiest thing to do was ignore the real problem and get me some easy alcohol counselling instead. Controlled Drinking is an oxymoron.
About 10% of people suffering from BPD commit suicide, which is about a thousand times higher than the norm across the whole population. Booze was never my real problem, Borderline Personality Disorder was.
Same with car problems, the easiest thing to do is ignore them and assume they will all get sorted out at the next annual service….. whenever that is. That check engine light could just be a little electrical fault. Of course some real problems with your car might leave you stranded on the interstate in the middle of the night. Or kill you.
If you notice a small problem, or you’re unhappy about something, then you could just ignore it and assume it will go away of its own accord. And it might. But it’s more likely that in a while a small problem, that would have been so easy to fix back then, has turned into a very serious issue indeed.
I have learned that there are no shortcuts in life. That all the bad things that we feel, all the suffering we go though, and all the shit that happens to us are usually not the real problem ~ rather these are merely the symptoms of some deeper and more serious issue. Unless we put in the hard work, dig deeper until we understand our problems, then every now and again something fucking frightening is going to happen.
smoking and drinking in a bar alone solves no problems, and neither does casual sex
alcohol is the world’s most addictive and most dangerous drug
Alcohol kills more people each year than all the other drugs combined ~ world-wide some three-million people a year will die from alcohol related causes. Cocaine, heroin, marijuana, meth, prescription drugs, tobacco…. all added together don’t kill as many people as booze. One third of all traffic fatalities involve alcohol. Booze will cause alcoholic poisoning, malnutrition, strokes, heart attacks, diabetes, cancers, a fatal coma, liver failure, pancreatitis, pneumonia, multiple organ failure, fatal accidents, suicides….. And when you end up in the emergency room the doctors and nurses will treat you like shit.
Yet drinking booze is socially acceptable, in fact if you don’t drink most people will think you are rather strange. And, if you used to be a boozer, and stop, and then go out with your old circle of friends, they will pressure you to take a drink and indulge all of your other addictions. And these are supposed to be your friends?
If you drink, then over time your drinking will get worse and worse until it kills you. Before the booze kills you, you will know physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual suffering.
Of all those people who try to stop drinking, only 2.5% will make it to 90 days sober. Of that 2.5%, only 2.5% will make it to 2 years, that’s 2.5 people out of every 1,000 who will be sober 2 years after they made the decision to stop drinking. Be one of the 0.25% who succeed. You have a better chance of success if you get help.
Those who tell themselves that they want to control their drinking, or stop all together, may try some futile and self-destructive strategies;
- lying to themselves about how much they are drinking ~ denial is dangerous
- switching from spirits to wine to beer, drinking only organic booze
- limiting the number of drinks they have ~ that never, ever works
- resigning their job and moving from where they are to somewhere different ~ this is called doing a geographical
- religion, counselling, hypnosis, psychotherapy, doctors, taking anti-drinking medication ~ I have seen people on antibuse drink a hell of a lot in a session
- drinking in different bars where nobody knows them
- switching to a different addiction; smoking, gambling, unsafe casual sex, using other drugs, stealing, impulsive spending ~ although the chances are that real boozers were doing all those things at the same time they were drinking
- joining a gym, sports club, walking club, doing yoga, meditation classes…..
None of the above really works because most boozers are liars and cheats. You will drink again if you don’t do something radically different. Take a long hard look at yourself and accept that nobody and nothing is responsible for your drinking except you, and what’s going on with you. And if you are brutally honest with yourself, then you will probably be confused because you have no idea why you drink. The brutal honesty is good ~ stay with that
Don’t worry about the confusion for now ~ for now, just stay away from that next first drink. Next, stay away from everywhere you used to drink, and all those toxic false friends you used to drink with. Give up on all your other addictions. Now find yourself some support; Alcoholics Anonymous, counselling, hypnosis, psychotherapy, doctors, the church, sober friends, YouTube…..
And over the next 90 days find out the truth of why you drink, and deal with that. In my case I was drinking because I have Borderline Personality Disorder, and now I am dealing with that.
Some say that you are just a worthless alcoholic, and will never think that you are anything else. And some say that they never want to see you again. All I know is that everyone has the angel of recovery inside them.
single malt scotch was my drug of choice
Drunkenness is nothing but voluntary madness. ~ Seneca
There’s a 1945 film noir called The Lost Weekend, starring Ray Milland, which explores the really bad side of drinking far too much. The lead character literally loses an entire weekend ~ and then tries to kill himself over the things he learns when all the misery and pain start to come back to him.
Alcohol and suicide go together like ham and eggs.
As it goes, any booze at all counts as drinking far too much for me. I have no tolerance for alcohol whatsoever. Most people can take a couple of drinks in safety; nothing really bad happens to them. These days I can’t even smell strong drink without something bad happening to me.
Ignorance is a lot like alcohol: the more you have of it, the less you are able to see its effect on you. ~ Jay Bylsma.
I took a couple of drinks on April 13th, and didn’t really come around again until April 19th ~ that’s very bad. I lost a whole week out of my life, and for what? I don’t even enjoy the best wines anymore
dawn breaks in sadness
sullen anger and tears
free me from madness
take away my fears
or leave me in blackness
to end these bitter years
words and pictures by jack collier