I’ve been wrestling with a concept for the past several weeks. A concept that has profoundly affected The Madhouse. It was suggested to me that by writing about the Madhouse and my family’s mental health issues I was, potentially, sticking myself with an “I’m sick” mentality. The concern being that I, and thus the children, would never gain optimal health if I continue to think of myself as ill. That by dwelling on the illnesses, writing about them and the effects they have on all of us, I could, in fact, be hindering my progression toward a healthy psyche (yup, throwing the big words at you today, I’m like that).
I’ve been humming and hawing over this concept for several weeks now. Chewing the idea as it were (almost literally since I grind my teeth and clench my jaw when I’m stressed). I can see the validity of the argument – talking about the issues that have so negatively affected my health often takes me back to those times of trauma and I will re-experience all the emotions and physical responses I felt during those times of torment (ahhhh, the joys of PTSD). General Romeo Dallaire, the Canadian commander who was in charge during the UN’s abysmal mission to help Rwanda (see Shake Hands With the Devil or Hotel Rwanda) described PTSD as a movie that plays over and over in your mind; one that you have have no control over (I’m paraphrasing because I can’t find the actual quote). This makes complete sense to me.
It’s not solely the imagery of the trauma that causes me problems; it’s the feelings that come up. I re-experience every last feeling of fear, torment, disgust, shame, hatred, self-loathing, guilt, nausea, embarrassment, powerlessness. They’re all there with their friends; being judged, worthless, indecisive, incapable, unlovable, useless and several other hangers-on. It’s sometimes hard to breathe and remember I’m in the now. What I’m experiencing is connected to the past not to the present (seriously, when I’m in the present I’m pretty happy and laughing; I love to laugh).
Also, the idea came up that writing about the kids was keeping them “sick”. My discussion of their issues could be holding back their progress. That by writing about, and talking about, the kids’ struggles I was negatively affecting my view of their mental health and thus stalling their progress. Talk about walking into a wall. I’ve been feeling horrible, like they aren’t getting better faster because of me (let’s toss another log on the quilt fire, shall we?). This, of course, is in direct contrast to the evidence; the kids have come leaps and bounds in the last year. The blog has had no foreseeable affect on their progress at all.
I spoke with my Wraparound Team about it. Both W. and D. argued that not only does writing the Madhouse prove cathartic for me (it provides an opportunity for me to purge my mind of the chaotic din) it also helps me see the humour in the Madhouse (my first drafts aren’t nearly as amusing as my final edits). I’m given the opportunity to re-evaluate a situation and find the ridiculous in it (what I wouldn’t give for a Pensieve though).
This is part of the reason I haven’t been writing that much (and I’ve been spending so much time hovering over the kids while they’re doing chores and homework…this parenting gig is really cutting into my writing time). I wasn’t sure I should continue writing the Madhouse if it really was contributing to a stalemate in our healing. However, after talking with W. and D. (and running into J., a woman I went to school with, whose daughter has MHIs and who has been a great encourager of the Madhouse), I have decided to continue on this path.
I feel so much better now that I’ve made a decision. There you go, Feelings-of-Indecisiveness, hit the pavement and don’t come back. You’re not welcome at the Madhouse. So there.