After thinking about the #myprison theme for a while, I would like to write about my two personal experiences of prison, the one I created for myself in the need to control my life and the prison that was created for me later in life by my defence mechanisms.
My First Prison
At a very young age I chose not to be involved in the world around me. I hated life for many reasons so I decided to isolate myself from others.
I don’t mean that I didn’t do anything. With a family around me, I talked to people, went to school and did all the usual childhood stuff to seem normal. I did all of these activities in a very detached state so I didn’t ever feel like I was involved.
I realised when I was in kindergarten that I was not ‘normal’ and would never be. To fully accept this without it tearing me up inside, I chose to numb myself fully and watch ‘my friends’ from afar. I would sit and watch rather than interacting with the other children. Participating in their games was never fun for me, just a way to look normal. I would live through them using my imagination to imagine what they were feeling and try to understand why they behaved the way that they did. I could never feel these things myself but these thoughts entertained me during school breaks. Unfortunately, over the years, this eventually got boring.
This led me on to focusing on myself and creating a little life for me with nothing more than what I actually felt I needed. I only wanted to have things in my life that I could control; myself, my thoughts, food and water. I did my best to take away anything unpredictable from my environment. I would live in my bedroom hating the outside world.
I gave up all of my hobbies – from learning how to play instruments to boxing or soccer. I didn’t want it. I couldn’t want it. I didn’t believe I would succeed in any of these so I took them away from myself before they were taken from me. I didn’t want to have dreams/goals. I just lived. I didn’t even let myself dream at night. I had to live in the present.
Quite quickly, my world shrank, getting smaller and smaller. Looking back on it now, it was like a prison cell, one I wanted to be in. And even now, whenever I go back home, it is the same thing. I go up to my room and lie on my bed for 90% of the time, often just staring at the ceiling and thinking.
My Second Prison
After this experience of life, when trying to live in society again, I had to deal with a lot of things that I avoided in my room. As I got older, I couldn’t hide every day, isolating myself from people. I had to learn how to live again.
But the fear of learning how to live led me to developing various coping mechanisms such as emotional numbing, depression and dissociation. As everything was new to me in this society, I really didn’t want to experience it. I wanted to start slowly and to do this I had to become emotionally numb.
I planned to only use ‘numbness’ when I needed to, but I liked it too much. It made it so much easier to live my life looking like a strong independent girl, despite my disability. It helped me to not be hurt when I was bullied by classmates and by the community living in my village. It helped me not to be ashamed because of this. It helped me not to feel anything. It helped me not to want anything. But in this way, life became quite lifeless.
This is where my depression came on strong. Not caring about the world could have been okay, but then I began to not care about myself. I did not care for myself in any way. I could go days without eating/drinking. I wouldn’t brush my hair, etc, etc… I was crumbling. I started drinking and smoking just to feel something. To try and feel normal. I had lost all of my friends except the ones that I would go drinking with. I wanted nothing but then I had nothing and this was horrible. I couldn’t be happy. I needed something in my life to give me meaning, like everyone does but this had been eradicated. I had eradicated everything from my life.
After a few years of this, I knew I had to stop drinking. I was only 12 years old and it was unhealthy. I made myself stop before I entered secondary school but before I knew it, I was dissociating to cope, even more so when other people would try their best to encourage me to take care of myself. For those of you who do not know what dissociation is, it can be defined as a disruption in a person’s cognition so that their memory, physical behaviour, identity and consciousness can be altered. To participate in a world that I did not want to be in, I would dissociate, often forgetting conversations that I had with people or full days that I couldn’t recall.
I would sometimes enter into a fugue state, similar to the feeling of being in a dream, where I wasn’t sure what was real or not. These states were scary but fun as I felt that I could do anything, gamble, attempt to frighten a stranger, jump into the sea, fly, anything really. Right now I am just thankful that I did not try some of these activities and hopeful that I don’t in the future.
These various states of mind are near impossible to get out of, especially without help. They are like a mental prison and it takes time to discover which type of key you need to open the cell door and then where to get it.
As you can see I went from one prison to another and am thankfully, finally getting help!!
By Casey, April 2018. #myprison
Read my blog: https://firststepoutofathousand.wordpress.com/