‘Altered Perceptions.’ I guess we all suffer from them at some point or other in life don’t we?
The idea that someone really doesn’t like you when actually they do. The notion that we are fat when actually we aren’t. (Not a problem I face you understand.) The idea that you are perfectly capable of something when the truth is that actually you aren’t.
These are but a few examples and I am sure you could easily add others to the list. But where do they come from?
Christmas Eve I was with a dear friend of mine and her family and during the course of the evening her children were allowed to open one present each. One of the children opened his present and it was the tower stacking game ‘Jenga’.
We watched as the kids played it and I made a joke that I had the Christian version of the game – Babel.
Not a particularly great joke but we all laughed but it did get me to thinking. Those who are familiar with the biblical story if the Tower of Babel will know perhaps that this great tower was being built by man but that their efforts were then thwarted by ‘confusion’.
In the game of Jenga you stack the uniformly shaped blocks on top of each other and then take it in turns removing one block at a time without causing the stack to tumble. Additionally you place the block that you have just removed on top of the stack and this not only increases the potential for accidents and resultant tumbling but also extends the potential length of the game. If you have a keen eye and a steady hand it can be a simple enough game but one that provides a great deal of fun.
I wonder however just how easy it would be if each of the players were given a pair of spectacles to wear that contained distorted glass and that thus distorted what he or she was seeing.
Life can be very much like the game of Jenga in some ways. A series of experiences stacked one upon another and which sometime cause us to tumble and to have to rebuild. And if life can be like the game of Jenga then certainly poor mental health can sometimes be like those spectacles made of distorted glass.
Just as distorted glass corrupts our perception so can poor mental health corrupt our perception.
And what about these corrupted perceptions that we get that are crippling or debilitating in some way?
I have to be honest here and say that this is perhaps one of the spin-offs or side effects of my mental health that I find to be the most damaging and most harmful. Not only because of their cancerous nature but because often they can become self-feeding and self-perpetuating.
I think a great many of them stem from uncertainty or doubt and in a lot of cases from being subjected to criticism or critical environments.
I also have to say that in a great many cases this happens in early childhood with the resultant difficulties manifesting or re-manifesting in later life.
One of the primary roles of our parents, siblings and teachers when we are young is to teach us how to grow and live, how to view the world and how to get on in the world.
They are in many ways the spectacles through which we do view and understand the world that we have been born into until we are old enough to view it and understand it for ourselves. BUT what if their perceptions (the glass that they are in our spectacles to life if you will) are distorted? Doesn’t that provide the potential for us to develop wrong thinking, altered perceptions, distorted concepts and precepts?
Even in later life, the very fact that we know we don’t always think correctly can mean that we can all too easily take ownership of doubt or uncertainty or criticism that doesn’t belong to us and that should by rights have no part in us within us. Especially where we were taught and/or treated incorrectly and subjected to such negativity or criticism when we are young.
Suffering from poor mental health at any age can, I feel, breed an environment where this doubt or uncertainty but even more so I think when that mental health is experienced in the young.
If my mind was a computer I am sure that this following warning message would pop up on a regular basis….
Of course we don’t have such luxuries (or annoyances) inbuilt within us and very often have to rely on others for their input and feedback.
This places a huge responsibility on our caretakers does it not? But it also places a huge amount of power on them also and sadly this can be sometimes be misused or even abused.
For me personally I have suffered poor mental health from a very early age (or at least for as long as I can remember – since a great deal of my early life is hidden it seems from my memory and part of my mental health is certainly self-doubt, uncertainty and self-criticism.
Knowing that my mind sometimes “encounters a problem” and that my perceptions are often ‘altered perceptions’ and thus untrue I very often doubt myself and when something that I say or do causes others discomfort or pain I go into a form of self-destruct that is neither productive or healthy.
Readers of this blog will know that my mental health has worsened greatly over the past few days and indeed has caused me (and sadly one or two others) some difficulties which have caused me (to a certain extent) to tumble and to withdraw and isolate.
Because I live alone and thus do not have a primary caretaker/caregiver this is very easy for me to do. So all I have to rely on are my faith, my intelligence, my experience, my logic and the communication that I have with my family and indeed with the readers of this blog and especially with those readers who choose to comment.
Whilst I am still not sleeping and whilst I know that the self-harming and suicidal thoughts and suggestions are still present I do feel a little stronger today and am very thankful for that. I am convinced that it is i no small part due to the fact over the past few days I have been greatly blessed by some of the communications and comments that I have had and I wanted to take the opportunity to thank everyone for their support.
If you are experiencing any of the things I have mentioned above please know that there is hope and if you are a caretaker/caregiver – especially if you are a parent of someone experiencing poor mental health, please do take note of my comments. Your role is extremely important in the management and recovery of the mental health of the person you are caring for.
It is my fervent hope that this last episode of extremely poor mental health for me is coming to an end and I can sleep and concentrate and focus once more. But regardless of how long it takes before things fully improve I really am very grateful for all the support I have received.