We all know that mental illness is due to a chemical imbalance in the brain but it doesn’t stop it from being frustrating. We know that it is due to this imbalance but we don’t know why or what triggers it. What makes the chemicals in our brain change what we do, think & how we act? What do we go through in life that might make a person become the way they are?
This question has gone around around in my brain for so long, it’s almost driven me insane! What happened to my mum to make her ill? after all she wasn’t always like this. She was the life and soul of any party and actually held fab parties!! But was she hiding her depression and this was her way of coping? Her way of hiding it?
Throughout our lives we all deal with different things which some of us cope with & some of us don’t. You can have two people that both have depression & one may be able to deal with situations completely differently from the other. With my mum it can take a very small thing to trigger a really bad episode of anxiety or psychosis. At the moment we are going through another phase where she is convinced that she is going to die & in a brutal way. No amount of talking will ever make her believe any different, I have literally sat for hours and hours over the last 10 years and tried to talk her through her thoughts and to reason with them.
Even today, some of her memories from when she was in a Psychiatric ward in France are still very evident. As we sat in the doctors waiting room she told me about some of the horrific sights she saw in that ward. She told me that before I came to collect her they had scrubbed the ward profusely because it was covered in blood. She also told me that she saw someone actually being tortured, which led to them dying.
I asked her for specific details of the torturing. She went on to explain that she saw staff holding a man down and inserting something into his rectum. He was screaming “pas plus pas plus!!” (no more! No more!) whilst they held him down & violently inserted this object.
It is very difficult, if not impossible to tell someone who has had psychosis and hallucinations that what they saw wasn’t real so I never really tried to say those exact words. Instead I tried to dissect those memories and those versions and break them down into parts. I asked my mum why she thought the staff were holding the man down in the first place. This is how it went..
Me: you were in a psychotic state at that time, you had been put into a psychiatric ward with other people who were also very ill and a lot of them were psychotic. Why do you think they were holding the man down?
Mum: because they were torturing him
me: and why would staff torture a very ill man in a psychiatric ward?
Mum: because that’s what they do, they are evil. It’s all part of the plan, can’t you see that?
Me: So let’s look at it another way. For example, say that man was refusing to take any medication and he was extremely ill and showing signs of hurting himself or someone else around him. The staff have no choice but to give him some kind of medication rectally because maybe they couldn’t give it to him orally. Maybe that thing you saw them inserting was an enema or possibly a suppository because he couldn’t go to the toilet and was severely constipated. Can you try to think outside the box and think of other possibilities like this?
mum: I know what I saw and I saw them torturing people and then they killed them. I saw young women having sex with old men. Before you arrived all the floors had to be cleaned and all the blood washed off the walls, it was disgusting, they were all going crazy to clean up the place before you arrived .
me: what if your brain was making you believe that you saw those things? What if you was so psychotic that you are hallucinating?
Mum: I know what I saw I was not hallucinating.
me: could you possibly entertain the idea that maybe you were? Do you think that you were psychotic?
mum: yes I was psychotic for a while, but not in that ward.
me: when you in the ward in France you had been driving around for around 24 hours until the car radiator actually burnt out. You had left the house telling my dad that there was a tracking device under the car, that the mafia were after you & then you disappeared for over 24 hours. You were eventually found in the car & had tried to take your life. I think you were at your most psychotic in France, why would you have believed that was happening to little old you? Why were the mafia after you?
mum: I know what I saw & I they still are.
Me: when a person takes LSD just like they did in the 60s and 70s it makes them hallucinate, you’ve known people who used to do it. When the chemicals react badly in your brain this could also cause you to hallucinate, what is the difference?
Mum: The difference is they were druggies and I am not 😂🤷🏼♀️ (True)
Me: do you think the chemical imbalance in your brain could have made you see things that weren’t there or that you could have possibly interpreted situations incorrectly?
mum: they had everyone sedated, they killed people, tortured them, had sex with them and I was lined up to be killed. I should have died that day.
me: do you think someone is still trying to kill you?
Mum: I know they are
me: (with black humour) well, they must be a bloody bad shot because if someone hired a hit man almost 11 years ago and he still hadn’t done the job, I hope they have sacked him!
Mum: (laughs) we then get called into the doctors office but not before her saying again “I’m not scared of dying, I’m scared of the way I am going to die”
You see, this is the type of conversation you can sit and have for hours, days, weeks, months and years and believe me we have. You simply cannot get into the mind of someone who is psychotic and convince them that the horrific things they have seen are just not real. Just as with a person that has taken LSD, they think what they are seeing is real and at that moment and even after that moment they are convinced they saw it, the difference is, Someone who has willingly taken LSD can then reason with the hallucinations because they know it was the drug making them hallucinate.
The long and short of it is, you simply can not argue with someone who is psychotic because in their mind they truly believe what they are thinking and seeing is real. The last thing I want to do is ever undermine my mum’s thoughts and make her feel like she is completely crazy but of course this is exactly what I have done. My mum functions on a daily basis but she is surviving not living. We go about and do our daily shopping, have coffee, walk around the shops but she is always on high alert and extremely anxious. From an outside persons prospective she might just look like an average Joe on the street. The fact is she is living in a land full of nightmares, things we only dream about or see in films. This is her reality. This is what she copes with every single day & minute of her life.
And then sometimes I am left thinking, but what if it was true?…………