Chris Tomlin O Come all Ye Faithful

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Beginnings of my End


Think of a cigarette, its tip a smoldering red ember.  Think of a mental anguish so great that to take that cigarette and hold it to your arm, allowing it to tunnel deep, hissing and smoking, would actually be a relief to focus upon rather than being cognizant of the pain in your mind.  Think of a mental agony so persistent that it requires an entire pack of cigarettes to be burned down to stubs against the skin of your forearm…taking an entire night…hours of pain that seems to be not a pain because it is so slight compared to your internal distress caused by Voices which do NOT let up in their demands.  Then suddenly you snap into the reality of your tomorrow and realize with dismay that you have yet another wound to be concealed.
THAT is my reality.  That is my past and sometimes my present, (although I have not acted on these impulses in quite a while).  And telling my past to you now seems a great risk…requiring maybe more courage than I have.  One of my former psychiatrists once said to me that, to find someone with an illness as severe as mine, who is still able to convey their experience in coherent words, is a rarity and that such a story would hold great benefit to the medical community.  I’m sorry Dr. S. but that is not my purpose here.  I do not intend to educate curious doctors as to what goes on in the mind of someone who is psychotic at times. So what is my purpose?


It is to describe a life ravaged by illness, a biologically induced depression and psychosis, and riddled with other hardships and to portray the fact that DESPITE all of that; I serve a good God who can take these broken pieces of myself and use them to encourage the people I know and those I encounter.  It is to show you and perhaps to encourage you with the fact that, regardless of your circumstances or your history, God loves you and has a purpose for your being here…and that, in the discovery and pursuit of this purpose, there can still be great joy.

me in 10th grade

 It was amidst the unhappiness and busyness of my eleventh grade year that I experienced the frightening at first, but increasingly familiar Voices that were to be so much a part of my life in later years.  The first time I heard them I was in class and strangely, from nowhere, there came a voice, which was female and located just behind my left ear…”This is rubbish, and YOU are rubbish”…I looked around panicked thinking that, once more, I was the butt of taunts, but all eyes were fixed on their books and I knew that the voice had not come from any of them.  I was frightened…and thought much about this in the days that followed.  In the successive years, the Voice came again, at great intervals at first but then, with increasing frequency and eventually was joined by others until the whisper became a tumult....
me in 12th grade

It was around this time that my parents, I believe, alerted by one of my medical doctors; took me to see a psychiatrist and to undergo psychiatric testing.  I was frightened by the very real possibility that this doctor would be able to see into my mind and know of the confusion and sadness there that I'd guarded so carefully from view.  So I was very careful in the interview to appear lighthearted as we casually talked small talk of items that I thought had NO bearing on my circumstances or on the dark recesses of my mind, as the cliche puts it...  At least I was casual...he was more skilled than I gave him credit for being.  


As I took the LONG, long series of tests...I deliberately tried to skew the results..carefully hiding anything about me that might be construed as other than normal.  I am (or was back then) quite intelligent and I was sure that I had the stupid test beat.  After we drove home after an excruciatingly long day, my parents told me that I did not have to see the doctor again. I was relieved...and triumphant... "You SEE? I AM smarter than that stupid test or that stupid doctor!" I told myself with satisfaction....


But it turned out that I was the chump that day and not the doctor for, years later, my parents told me that in their concluding meeting with him, he told them that I had a serious mental illness...but was far too guarded for treatment to be beneficial.  So.  checkmate.  By the man in the suit.
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