1. ACTUALLY HEARING THE VOICES. It’s self-explanatory in its simplicity and yet it’s unimaginably inexplicable. You simply cannot know until you go through it yourself. Three words I would use to describe them are horrible, horrible, and yeah you guessed it, horrible again. They can go all day and all night, bombarding the brain with evil spiel every couple of seconds. It’s mental and psychological rape and torture, a wicked radio station you can’t turn off. Does your life change dramatically upon hearing voices? Well, if you count getting sectioned under the Mental Health Act and losing your job and home as a result, then yes, I would say that your life most certainly does change dramatically.
2. LOSS OF FREEDOM. Also known as committal to the nearest (or in some cases furthest) secure psych unit, or puzzle factory, as I’ve heard it being called. This fate is perhaps worse than prison. At least in prison you know when you are getting out. The stigma of being an ex-con isn’t half as bad as not having all four wheels on the road, shall we say. When someone has a mental illness they may as well wear a sign saying “Don’t come too close!” You’re scared to shake their hand in case they bite your fingers off. In a small sense, people are right, because there are some very seriously ill people in these loony bins, although by no means is everyone relieved of their freedom insane. Hearing disembodied voices is not a choice one makes; nobody deserves them. When you add the humbling experience of stuffy mental hospitals, full of other people suffering from some very obvious disturbances, it’s one hell of a shitty predicament.
3. PRESCRIBED DRUGS. Like everybody else, at first you naively hope that all will be well with a pill. Surely, with today’s technology, this hallucinatory madness can be fixed (when faced with psychosis back in less enlightened times, doctors would drill a hole in the head to let any demons out). I’m sorry but no, it can’t. The brain has no firewall. Taking a pill for this tormenting menace is like putting a plaster on a broken leg. The meds have many unwanted side effects too, such as weight gain and decreased sex drive. The only good thing is they help you get half a decent night’s kip. And that’s another problem we have right there: Addiction to a poxy tranq tab just so you can get your head down for the night. They’re toxic as well, worse than a pint of beer. They dull euphoria. Someone told me they are like battery acid on the brain. Bottom line is they are big pharma, and we all know what that means don’t we...cash. So line up folks, there’s plenty to go round...cancel all morning appointments...Zombieland awaits...
4. NOBODY BELIEVES YOU. This is salt in the wound, it really is. After your release you’ve got a job-on convincing even your family and close friends that external forces are oppressing you with some very sophisticated methods without sounding like you shouldn’t be getting a one-way ticket back to the nuthouse again, and snappy. Bottling things up is bad: Ranting about voices is probably worse. The only time the media even mentions them is when some grisly crime comes to the public’s attention. This condition is more exhausting than cancer and it’s a condition you must face up to utterly and completely alone. The more you try to say that you are not crazy, the crazier you will appear to be. Sometimes it’s easier, when dealing with professionals or otherwise, to just go along with the illness line so everyone can sing from the same hymn sheet. But I remain convinced – if hearing voices is an illness then yank my leg and tell me the sky ain’t blue. Jeez, yank the other one too.
5. SOCIAL SERVICES. Those goddamn cheeky bastards. One whiff of a mental health issue and they are either carting your children away with Godspeed or stopping you from seeing them because of ‘potential risk.’ They like to shine a flashlight over everything negative to update their embellished records. They like to get together in discussion groups and have meetings all about how to separate families. You’re the bad guy, and don’t you forget it. Christ, they make you feel like Chester the molester! How about keeping your noses out of other people’s business. They are supposedly there for the kids, but what about the parents? Don’t the parents matter at all?