Descent into madness as a trope is something I have written in a couple of my novels, I have always been lured into reading books that have this as a theme and I think it has something to do with personal experience.
I have been there, twice in fact and I have experienced the rollercoaster of having such mental illnesses, so I can identify with certain characters.
I remember being put into such a violent situation so regularly and though I would fight against engaging in any physical conflict with my aggressors, I did succumb once to a violent frenzy that was uncontrollable, my doctor reckons it was my brain going into survival mode as I explained how I experienced the red into black vision as I went into a rage that I can’t explain to anyone what happened during it, only that others were absolutely horrified at what had ensued.
I went through eight months of daily torture, having to share my life with a group of aggressive adolescents because of a day care school I was sent to, a school which ironically was supposed to have helped me heal from my post-traumatic stress experiences of the isolation and abuse I had at home.
I had recently had lifesaving surgery because of an infection that got too close to the brain thanks to the mastoid problems I had, it was literally just two months before the incident I had the operation.
So you can imagine how delicate I was in the head area, so when the group decided to push me over a wall that had a nine foot drop, I went into such a rage that I had no idea what I was doing and a girl nearly got severely hurt because of my actions!
It was surprising for another reason, I couldn’t bend over and care for myself for two years after the surgery and this was within two months of it, yet I could find the strength in me somehow to drag the ringleader girl across the playground and into the girl’s toilets where I nearly drowned her!
There were lots of witnesses who saw the entire thing, including teachers, who knew that I was a good pupil who didn’t like to interact with anything that would cause me problems (I had enough at home and was often sat in the library to get rest), I was shy and insecure and healing from awful surgery from which I nearly died. They knew I was badly provoked and they supported me through this time and managed to expel this girl, even though she did come off the wrong end that day – this was enough for them to feel that she was never meant to have been around vulnerable children – this school was just a stop gap for her as she had been expelled before.
I’ve experienced such deep depression and loss to the extent I have become anorexic and addicted to exercise to the point of collapse. I have been there; I have even experienced the loss of two pregnancies, one due to violence and the other as an ectopic pregnancy.
I have been a victim of domestic abuse, sexual abuse, emotional neglect and rape.
I know what it feels like to lose control.
When I used to engage with English tutors they would be horrified at the graphicness of my writing, particularly when I used to write horror and thriller more than I do now. I said to them, you told me that it’s best to write what you know and that shocked them even more.
Some people just can’t believe that one person can have gone through as much as I have; I have even had therapists quit on me, due to the extent they didn’t know how to help me as there was just so much to work on – so much crap in my life!
I have experienced a huge amount of discrimination from ex-boyfriends who don’t believe I have gone through all of these things, because it’s too much. Paul is different; he understands and has witnessed a few things for himself.
I have only written about four characters with this trope, horror, thriller and dark fantasy.
Usually the character has some kind of background as being a victim of abuse.
I know the feeling of the spiral of hopelessness, that darkness that descends over you and clouds your vision, that experience of losing control of not only your mind but your actions. Losing such control that no matter how much you really want to talk it through to people, you can’t utter a single word, it is like your mouth has been sewn up and there is nothing you can do. You can’t move your eyes to look at them, it is as though you have been paralysed.
Yes, I have experienced the total breakdown, where I have well and truly become non-comprimentos, it lasted nearly a year.
The thing is, when you are in that state, you can see and hear what is going on around you, but you can’t respond, it’s like you have been turned into stone.
You can still remember what goes on around you sometimes, but you just can’t react. I reacted once, finally, when in this… it shocked me too, as well as the people around me… because I wasn’t eating they threatened to put tubes into me to make me eat and on the day they were about to insert the tubes, I came to again. Fighting against them doing this to me; I don’t know to this day, why it was that which woke me out of that state. But I spoke them into allowing me have half an orange to see how I go. They didn’t put the tubes in me.
The problem was my keyworker loss her kindness for me after this, because in her eyes, I must have been pretending all this time – I wasn’t!