Sunday, February 22

Raw Youth
or
Another Part of the Pain Body Is Heard From


Little or no meditation is occuring this morning, nor is any likely to occur, as traumatic memories well up and burst like bubbles in a toxic sludge pond. So I blog instead, with as much mindfulness as I can muster & maintain.

Bitter resentment about the period from age 17 to 22, or thereabouts. Sickening outrage at the repeated incorrect diagnoses and consequent inappropriate treatment. Trying to weakly counter this bilious cud-chewing with thoughts like, "Well, they were trying to help..." dispels it only a little.

Remembering...

[The worst of this stuff happened at the Institute of Living in Hartford, CT, but to a lesser degree in other hospitals as well.]

Forced confinement. Locked unit. Trapped. Forced loss of privacy -- months of being on one-to-one, suicide precautions, even at times when I wasn't suicidal. Constant put-downs, derision, condescension; from doctors, staff, other patients. Being tied to a bed; "four-point restraints." Being forced to take medication that was not only not helpful -- because they were trying to treat the wrong disorder! -- but produced brutally painful side-effects, like the Parkinsonian tremors. So painful & exhausting, I couldn't sleep because of all the shaking and twitching, and Dr. Cox still wouldn't take me off the medication, for days... "You have the weirdest liver I've ever seen," she would comment later. It was there that I learned to really fear anger, because any display of anger could so easily escalate into being "gooned": a group of strong staff members grabbing you and forcing you to the floor, dragging you to the sideroom (padding on walls, sticky floor from where previous occupants have urninated), or zipping you into a "body bag." Cold & wet packs: towels soaked in ice water. Don't torturers use these kinds of techniques in interrogations? You're not allowed to express sexual feelings. You're not allowed to masturbate; well, you can if you insist, but staff will deride and embarrass you. True, it was probably uncomfortable for the person sitting one-to-one with me at night. It was dark, I was under the sheet, I tried to be as quiet and motionless as possible, but discretion is compromised by lack of privacy... You're bad. You're wrong. You need help. We're here to help you... Don't talk back. You're difficult. Don't argue. Do as you're told and you'll get along fine... No escape, because I have nowhere to go. Repeated suicide attempts fail. This is your life, and this is unacceptable. You have no choice. Trauma on top of trauma on top of trauma. Cruelty. Brutality. Abuse of trust. Trapped. Trapped.

It is entirely possible that watching a double feature last night of the films "Antwone Fisher" and "The Hours" contributed to touching off this procession of memories.

After a bit of research this morning, it turns out that my own diagnosis, that I've used on questionairres, turns out to be much more clinically accurate than the one Dr. Miller puts on official forms (which shames me to such a degree that I'll not invoke it here). What I say: depression, anxiety (panic) disorder, specific phobia. Many or all of these can be clearly traced back to childhood trauma. Ironic that for so many years I didn't even know I'd been abused, so I answered intake interview questions about abuse with a quick, innocent, "No, nothing like that." Is it any wonder they couldn't make an accurate diagnosis without that information?

This last rhetorical question conditioned a bit of relaxation, a bit of forgiveness. You can't blame people who are acting out of ignorance; that includes the professionals, and me at that time. None of us knew any better.

Maybe it's time for some karuna (compassion meditation) now that I've gotten some of this out of my system.

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