I’m not normally all that big on keeping up with the news of the world. I didn’t know of the Asian Air crash until someone linked the dashboard cam to Facebook. I get angered by online political debate, and I don’t care “why” gas prices dropped… I’m just glad I don’t need to finance my trips to the city anymore. But this morning on my drive into the city listening to CBC radio2, a news story came on that even I couldn’t let go unnoticed. A Jordanian pilot, being held in ISIS captivity was burned alive. now I don’t care if you’re a God-beliving man/woman or not, either we as the human race or evolving back to the Dark Ages, or the world is coming rapidly to an end. They burned a man alive… to make a political point. To flex some muscle. To strike fear. Seriously, what is wrong with people. And how callused and jaded are we that stories like this are become “normal”. There are videos all over the internet of executions, beheadings, physical torture. We aren’t even content “hearing” the horrific news anymore, we have to track it down and watch it for ourselves. It’s really quite disgusting.
Now after all the spiel of an intro, I must shamefully admit, that when I got to work I got out my phone and brought up trusty old Mr. Google. If anyone knows what’s what… it’s him. I started typing in my search. “J-… I only typed in the letter “J” and auto-fill brought up “Jordanian Pilot burned Alive video”. At 9:00 this morning, this video was already so widely searched that you merely have to touch the “J” on your keyboard, and it’s there. Dilemma time. I knew full well that I didn’t want to watch it. I suffer enough from nightmares. My mind gives me a hard enough time with out throwing graphic images of burning flesh into it. But it’s kind of like the old car wreck analogy… no mater how hard you try… you just can’t look the other way. So I did the exact thing I did not want to do… I pushed play.
I had kind of built myself up for what I was about to see. “I’ve seen people burnt in movies, I just have to think of it that way” or “I’m sure it’s recorded from a distance, you’ll likely hardly even be able to see anything.” Friends, I was all kinds of wrong. This was far and away, without a doubt the most haunting and disturbing thing I’ve ever seen in my life. I HIGHLY advise AGAINST watching this. All the preparing that I had done did absolutely nothing to soften the blow. It was like a professionally made video, not from afar, but from numerous angles…some extremely close up. It was like the movies. Just like the movies, but it wasn’t. It was real, far too real. That was someones son in there. It could have been someone’s husband or father. Locked in a cage, and burnt alive.
This got me to thinking. Now I don’t want you to think I’m trying to compare living with mental illness to being burnt alive in a cage, but I think that it would be fair to say that the hopelessness of being on the outside watching in, though not nearly as horrific, could be similar. In many ways I feel that having mental illness is like being trapped in a cage. Not in the sense of feeling like a prisoner, not even from the perspective of the one suffering the illness. But to the family and friends that are on the outside looking in, it can seem like you’re trapped. That you are in confinement. You can get the captive to reach out and grab for your hand, but no matter how hard the try, how far you stretch, those bars are still there. The only thing is the bars are not made of cast iron. For me, living with BPD & NPD, those bars are depression, anxiety, fears of abandonment, self hate, dissociation, self-harm… We all have our bars, and we all know how sturdy they really are. They’ve been forged in fires of hostility, and are welded strong with insecurity. Often even when the doors are open, that insecurity is what keeps us inside. And all we do is allow those bars to close us in. to confine us until we are no longer even able to reach for that outstretched hand. It’s sad, it’s cruel. It sucks.
That look in her eyes. I’ve seen it far too often. I wish there was something that I could do to ease that pain. That sorrow. She desperately wants to help. She would do ANYTHING to help. but she can’t reach me, and I’m not reaching out. I want to reach out. I long to reach out. I even try to reach out but it feels like my hands are tied. I’m stuck, trapped, confined. Alone. It’s like she can see what’s coming and desperately wants to save me before it’s too late. She doesn’t give up, She’ll never give up. Standing on the outside of mental illness, I believe, is extremely challenging. I would, in some ways say more. I’ve lived most of my life dealing with emotions, and now I expect my wife to just “get it”. You have to be strong at all times, as showing weakness causes instability. You have to keep life as chaos free as possible while risking the very strong possibility of being yelled at for not being able to release me from my cage. And you can do nothing but watch as that cage gets smaller and smaller, and the bars tighter and tighter. It can feel like all you can do as watch as “Mental Illness” reaches down to light that fuel.