This weekend, I have been staying out at my brother’s farm, looking after the animals while the family are away for a few days. I have had a wonderful time, in spite of the wet, windy and sometimes snowy, storm all weekend. It’s been really nice to be with some animals again, particularly the family dog (Duncan, of MEET DUNCAN… A BLACK DOG notoriety) and two cats (Harry and Sally).
Since posting Real a few days back, it has been running through my mind how readers might have reacted to that post, or what impressions you gained of me. It made me stop and think for a bit.
The cats I am staying with at the moment are both quite different in character. Apart from the fact that they both physically are domestic, short-haired cats that’s about where the similarities end.
Harry is my nephew, J’s cat. He’s about three years old and really just does his own thing. He’s not in the house much, and is mostly off around the farm hunting a collection of mice, rats, rabbits and anything else he can find. Actually he’s quite useful in this respect, and seems quite fearsome. He will tackle rodents bigger than him, if he has the chance. (I just don’t need to see rodents that size, thank you)
Sally, on the other hand, belongs to the whole family. From memory she is about 10 years old. She hangs around the house, doing very little. Usually lying asleep under the coffee table. Although on first sight you might think that Harry is the dominate one, actually Sally is. And don’t the other pets know it?
It made me think that we’re all different too. I don’t like using the word ‘crazy’ because of its overuse in building stigma, but we all are a little bit crazy. And in mind opinion, that is a very good thing. We also all hide parts of ourselves from the world, even those close to us, but those parts are still important in making up who we are.
I told you in Real that I talk to my teddy bear. This is n0t a sign of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), Schizophrenia or some type of psychosis. It’s just a part of me that I developed from a very young age, as a way to cope with the reality of the world around me.
Each of us does this. Maybe someone develops an addiction. Maybe it’s a friendship with a pet. Maybe it’s as an expression through music or art. Or maybe something I haven’t yet thought of. Each of these (maybe some good, some not so healthy) become a way to help us cope with the world. I believe that for people with mental illnesses, this becomes much more important as we try to live through the realities of trauma, horror and pain. Whatever we individually do, is simply a means to get us through life. A coping mechanism.
This is exactly what was described in something I quoted in my last post:
“Because,” explained Mary Rommely simply, “the child must have a valuable thing which is called imagination. The child must have a secret world in which live things that never were. It is necessary that she believe. She must start out by believing in things not of this world. Then when the world becomes too ugly for living in, the child can reach back and live in her imagination. I, myself, even in this day and at my age, have great need of recalling the miraculous lives of the Saints and the great miracles that have come to pass on earth. Only by having these things in my mind can I live beyond what I have to live for.”
― Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
As you can probably imagine I have had numerous psychiatrists want to diagnose a range of disorders over the years. Now I’ve learnt not to share this part of my life with mental health professionals because they just don’t get it. But that’s a matter of their failure to look beyond diagnoses. Immediately they see something a little different, they are out with their copy of the DSM-V.
Actually on all the occasions I was prescribed, and then given Electroconvulsive Treatment (ECT), an element of the reasons it was being given was because they wanted to “fix me” of this imaginary relationship. I didn’t always know this at the time, but it’s something I discovered in reading back through hospital notes in more recent years. Something that didn’t impress me much.
Thankfully, the last psychiatrist I dared to expose this part of my life to, came to a conclusion that actually I was “a little weird’ (his exact words) but he couldn’t see any harm in something that had obviously helped me through a lot of my life. My therapist (with whom I have recently finished) concluded the same thing. Although he didn’t call me weird. He said that what I had done made perfect sense.
And then (finally) I was today reading a fellow blogger’s post about his Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Something he said clicked for me. It made perfect sense, and it is something I want to explore in time. He said this about living with BPD, as a quote of an source known to him:
“I feel like a child trying to live
in an adult world”
That’s just how I feel. Not always. Sometimes I can feel like I’m acting the adult, but mostly I feel like a child in a room full of adults. It explains a bit about Ted, and why Real doesn’t seem at all strange to me. It just is.
“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.”
― Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten
- Real (infinitesadnessorhope.wordpress.com)
- Avoidance – Part 1 (mytravelswithdepression.wordpress.com)