The other day I draw up, with the help of my daughter Nicky the above 12 day challenge and wishing to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak, I have been keen to take the challenge myself and to see how I get on with it.
Here is my response to day one’s challenge….
Day One – “She” (Or if you are male “He”) – Write a short story about someone who has just been diagnosed with your mental illness/condition and who is the age you were when you were diagnosed. What happened, what were they expecting, what are their feelings etc?
He sat in the taxi, not physically alone, for his wife and son were with him, but mentally, emotionally, seemingly even spiritually alone and he knew it.
Within the hour he would perhaps, most probably even, know what had happened to cause him to come unraveled, to become undone.
Unraveled an undone. Yes they were good words. Horrible, rotten, revealing, naked, vulnerable, bad words but good for explaining for describing where he was at.
Questions and comments addressed to him as they journeyed towards the psychiatrist appointment echoed within the chasms of his mind as he journey back and forth between the urge to escape, the need to hide and the longing to understand.
To understand the very thing that he had hidden for as long as he could remember. The very thing that had begun in and that had tainted his own childhood and now some 30 odd years later was tainting his own child’s childhood.
The secrets of his mental illness – hidden for the past 30 odd years behind a mask of confidence and capability – had suddenly erupted, exploded, perhaps imploded, causing him to hide behind a closed bedroom door for the past 3 month and to steal himself from anyone and everyone even his own family, his own son.
As the car continued its journey towards the answers and his wife and son continued their conversation and comments of encouragement so too did his mind continue its journey into more and more questions and its conversation and comments of discouragement and of slanderous attack.
“They’re gonna lock you up” “They’re gonna put you away” the voices chanted and jeered. “All these years of running and for what? Just to fail and end up where you have always wanted never to be!”
His thumbs traced the furrows of his palms, skating off of the film of sweat that somehow seemed to be there.
“But I need to do this.” He silently screamed at the voices. “I have a son and a wife and they need me.”
“Yeah right” The voices screamed back “They need you like they need a dose of botulism!”
The car pulled to a halt outside it’s destination and he was helped out of it and led to a waiting room within the big old formidable house.
“Oh God,” his fears called out. “Will they see how damaged I am?”
The sense of panic was mirrored by the film of sweat on those palms he had been etching with his thumbs. Lines and furrows now flooded with sweat just as he himself was flooded with fear and apprehension.
“What would they ask?” “What would they ask his wife and his son?” “Would they even talk to his wife and son?” “Would they even talk to him?” “Is there survival from this point on?” “Is it even worth it?” Still the questions came. “What if they see the real me?” “Find the real me?” “Heck I can’t even see, can’t even find, don’t even know the real me!”
He heard his name being called and stood up looking at the doorway from whence it had come. “Is that the doorway to the rest of my life, or to the end of it as I know it?” He asked.
He glanced at his wife and son, there encouraging, concerned and loving faces pleading with him to believe.
To “believe”? To believe what? He didn’t even know what he believed anymore an belief had been a part of his life for even as long as his torment had been. “Did he still believe? Still believe there was any hope? Did that lack of belief speak of God or of him? Even in the depths of the torment he had never had trouble believing in God, but always in believing in him in God.
His eyes lingered before moving once more from looking at his wife and son back towards that doorway. How could he leave them, go through that doorway, and run the risk of not coming back?
How could he not leave them, not go through that doorway, and lose the chance to find his way back to them?
I think that is all I can write right now. It’s long, I know that and I apologize, and yet how can you write something shorter and do justice to the myriad of thoughts and fears and emotions and torments that took place.
In truth is has not been a place, a memory I really wanted to go back to and I am aware that I am left more out than I have put in.
But what is most painful to me is the look on the face of my son during that time and other times, back then. He was I think 9 perhaps 10 when this all took place. I can still see the look on his face at that time and at other times when he tried to reach out to me in the world within which I was trapped. But I thank God those times are behind us and that my son i who he is.