2003... and 2006
I’ve just remembered another go I gave to counselling, for the struggles I’d had since my entire family imploded into Bink’s illness.
Talk about hope over experience...
I’ve indicated already that the kind of “mental illness” I’ve experienced, on and off for the worst part of twenty years, is so different from what Bink suffers that the two are barely on the same spectrum.
Mine was a disease of malnourishment, starving from without. Bink’s, one of cancer, devouring from within. Both make you feel pretty lousy. But their diagnoses and treatments, properly miles apart.
Nevertheless this is a blog about being nuts. And for a long time, thanks to our circumstances, I qualified.
Our Parson’s Green GP’s surgery would fund up to six counselling sessions. Given what I’d discovered when researching psychotherapy a few years earlier – after our devastating experience of marriage counselling, when I learnt what scant hard proof there is of its effectiveness – I found this curious. Doctors are scientists, used to assessing evidence. After all our surgery wouldn’t pay for the osteopathy, or indeed hypnotherapy, I was advised to procure for myself.
In the interests of fairness I should say Shaun found his six sessions very helpful, being able to offload what we were going through onto someone who had nothing to do with our parish.
Mine were dismal.
Many years earlier I’d been pronounced 100% resistant to hypnosis. (This was because I didn’t like the hypnotist: he told me a fork was hot when it was very obviously not. Now, if he’d asked me to imagine it was hot I would have done, probably better than most.) I seem to be equally impervious to counselling. I find reiterating sorrows usually makes them worse.
The first session, naturally, was spent filling my counsellor in on Bink’s illness.
“Do you feel guilty?”
“Do you feel very guilty?”
I was shocked. “Do you think I should feel guilty?”
“Your daughter has a severe mental illness. As her mother, you might be expected to feel this is your fault in some way.”
Know what? Until you put the idea in my head, it had never occurred to me.
I expect I will now, though…
New Year 2006
So by the time we became homeless in the summer of 2005, the Black Dog and I had become old sparring partners.
What was curious was that all the time I was living in Louis’s beautiful house on the Findhorn Estuary, I seemed mercifully free of symptoms. Looking back, I strongly suspect I should have been diagnosed as depressed: I was barely functioning, except to get my children through each day.
But I felt almost nothing.
That was the mercy of it. No joy, true. But no wild despair either. No helpless hours of sobbing.
Just a numbness, in the beauty of my surroundings.
All that was to change, at the beginning of 2006.
What tipped me over the cliff was do-good-interfering.
From the moment Shaun’s employing church put my children out onto the streets for us to fend for ourselves, various members of the congregation had been exhorting me to forgive.
Reader, I know as well as the next sinner what Jesus taught on the subject. Why would there be any place for me in God’s wide and bountiful mercy, given all my transgressions, if I can’t find a place in my heart for those who have done far less to me?
I have no issue with this. I can’t afford to.
What I did have considerable issue with, was a cheap and simplistic form of Christianity: painted by numbers just for the look of the thing.
You forgive me. I forgive you. Hunky-dory.
No repentance. No justice. No addressing of the wrongs.
Far less putting any of them right.