Even The Oblivious Can Still Find His Mercy

Lost in hell, keep moving. No overnight camping!

I have learned over the last few years of having definite “blind-spots” that have shaped my mental illness.  These are things that I can never grasp, and my attempts at grasping on to it are like holding on to mercury.  It simply can not happen.  The tighter I grip, the further away it goes– until it completely escapes me.

I enter a complicated life.  Without even realizing it, I’m quite disturbed.  It’s like being completely oblivious, and yet rushing out to play the game without understanding the rules.  I have no concept of how things work, I just jump in and with a flurry of activity, and it does get ugly really fast.  I don’t understand.  Things are moving fast and with an apparent purpose, and I have no clue.

There were times in one of the mental hospitals, where I was very much disconnected from the real world.  I went through weeks of “not understanding,” I wasn’t able to mesh with the routine around me.  I sincerely thought I did, and I wanted to very much.  But the ‘gears’ wouldn’t come into alignment.

Struggling with mental illness will very often take you into places you have never, ever dreamed of.  As a matter of plain fact, you’ll hardly will grasp what is real.  And that is when you sink into insanity.  And you will slowly realize, without really knowing it, that you are gone. (At this juncture, only outside influences can restore you.)

My heart goes out to those who are lost in their own minds.  But certainly to those ‘loved ones’ who are completely muddled. They so want to explain what is happening.  Those of us, ‘on-the-slide’ down, must realize that we are effecting all those lives of those who are nearest to us.  This is not a guilt-trip, but a simple acknowledgement of what ‘falls-out’ on the recipients of our twisted confusion.

“My mind is a neighborhood I try not to go into alone.” 
Anne Lamott

The point of this is we must accept that there are places in our minds which are “no man’s zones” where logically none can go safely.  Those of us start to transgress that ‘zone’ and we become casualties.

Destruction rules in us, and we are undone.  To mix metaphors, we work out of a place of anesthesia, we don’t feel all that we are experiencing.  We are numbly moving into a deeper confusion. Mental and physical pain are ‘brothers.’ All you want to do is to escape from what is hurting you.  Maybe that is why abusing alcohol and drugs is so prevalent among hurting people.

I do want to encourage you who are waiting for a dear one, a loved one to emerge from their confusion.  They are lost, and have disappeared into the fog.  It’s hard to see them anymore. Your heart breaks because of their condition.  But you must trust in the Grace of the Father.  You really have no other options.

“We are workers together with God, so we beg you: Do not let the grace that you received from God be for nothing.”

2 Corinthians 14:1

Mental Hospital Blues

I must tell the truth.  I have been in a hospital for my mental illness. Actually seven times. And each time was bitter, but I learned something.  They would take me of shoelaces, and belts, and fingernail clippers.  Basically, I was stripped of everything, anything that I might use to harm myself.  (But I was creative, and took the clock off the wall of my room.  I rolled it in a blanket,  I smashed it and used the shards of glass to cut my wrists.)

In spite of this, the nurses were exceptionally observant, and within moments they intervened.  I had already been stripped, deloused and than brought into a ward of very sick people.  Much of all of this is a terrible glazed blur.  There was a real awareness of unreality.  I was quite confused, and it would take weeks before I could reconnect.  Things no longer were no longer ‘reasonable’ and I could discern nothing.  But I didn’t know I was so confused.  The staff were quite aware and accommodating.  They let me be, so time could take care of the rest.  And, besides, Jesus knew exactly where I was.

Days rolled by, quite slowly.  The tedium of a mental hospital is the worst, much more difficult than jail or prison.  You walk in a very limited corridor, back and forth.  You wait for your psychiatrist, and wait, and wait.  You pace and pace. You pray, stupidly.  The other patients were equally disturbed.  There was a great diversity among them.  One guy would urinate in any corner. Once he jumped up on the nurses station, and took a “whizz.” It was hysterical.  He almost “shorted” out their computer.  Another would rock back and forth rhythmically for hours, bending over and over.  He had abs of steel, that would be the envy of many.

In all of this, there was a very bleak and strange awareness, of being incredibly detached, and only remotely aware that something was not right with me.  I tried to get well, but I was mentally lost.  I paced, and I remained confused.  I was most definitely in an ugly place.  Desperate and increasingly addled, I had no place to go.  A fine place for someone who used to pastor, and preach on the streets..

If you have been in this place, you will recognize the lostness of being on a ward of a mental hospital. It is confusion mixed with despair,  with a part of very strong drugs, and there is nothing you can do to be released.  And really, until you come to this acceptance, they will never let you go.  They wait for you to snap out of your confusion, unfortunately that takes time. Sometimes many weeks and whole months.

It’s worse when you have a family.  In my case it was my wife, and two small children.  This at times, would twist my heart.  I would get a very short phone call, once a week.  But this was quite difficult.  I gained very little from those calls, and I found myself quite disturbed after each call.  Being in this life tinged me completely. I was dipped into darkness.  I was very much affected.  Now from the outside, I admit I was quite disturbed, and that knowledge only compounded, but I honestly did not understand a way out.

Dear friend, having a mental illness is cruel and disturbing.  And being committed to a mental hospital is a desperate thing.  Having passed through its locked doors is deeply disconcerting.  The way I figure these seven hospitalizations have stolen over six months of my life. When you see this,  it will touch you in the deepest place of your heart, like nothing else can.  Its work is irrevocable, its fingerprints will be on your life, for as long as you live.  God has given me these “commitments,” each one, each day.

&

ybic, Bryan