I am fortunate enough to be having weekly counselling sessions with a psychologist through the NHS at the moment. We’ve been looking at my lack of an ability to assert a right to be. Living with M.E. and the threat of invasive thought patterns makes life a difficult trial of juggling balls. I had asked the psychologist for a letter explaining how I needed to pace myself with times in the day for doing nothing in order to maintain a calm presence in the world so I could show it to my partner. The question she asked was why I needed confirmation from an authority to justify talking about why the family need to work together in helping me through the day to day chaos?
Having a brain that is vulnerable to psychosis and the uncomfortable and loud thoughts that come with it occurs, I believe, because of an erosion of ego boundaries. It’s like looking at the world through a fish-eye lens. All the demands, needs, situations of the encroaching world serve to disintegrate a sense of self. As a child I learnt to put myself aside so much it’s as if the world and all the people who inhabit it take centre stage and I am somewhere floating on the periphery. Bringing myself back to reality is a constant game of hide and seek.
A letter from an outside agent confirming that I am at the centre of my own life is difficult to grasp when I don’t feel myself to be anywhere but outside looking in. I developed a powerful reflective capacity as a child as a survival mechanism to contend with all the delusionary thought patterns eg a belief that I was literally invisible. I learnt to understand that I couldn’t trust my mind or what it was telling me and that gave me an opportunity to be able to gain insight into my emotional make-up. A lot of that sense of disconnection can be seen in my drawings inhabited as they are by vague, half figures; forms like cloud-shapes that can be interpreted as one thing or another. The drawings mirror that fish-eye sense of feeling the world all at once in a chaotic whirl of thoughts and emotions.
I wonder if you, dear reader, can relate to this sense of what the psyche means to you? It’s a blessing to be able to empathise and to feel the world from a myriad of viewpoints; to be able to put yourself in another’s shoes, to coin a cliche. Where it becomes a problem is when you can’t put your own base level needs in focus. We all need a sense of ourselves to function in the world. But when the ego gets blurred there is a flip-side. Emotions like guilt and blame can easily become distorted, imposing irrational thoughts through the process of displacement of the ego. I never quite recovered from growing up with a belief in Armageddon imposed on me. All kinds of doom-laden news stories trigger a sense that the world is coming to an end. Intellectually I can tell myself that my thoughts are rubbish, but emotionally dealing with that level of distress is draining, to say the least.
I am glad to have this opportunity to put something of myself out into the world. It’s all a conundrum and I learnt long ago not to expect answers. I guess what I’m looking for is some reflection on how others relate to and experience their own minds.