It was as though watching a man drowning beneath the ice. I see him hitching for breath, chest heaving, eyes wild, fingers whipping at the indifferent, almost invisible, wall above.
I can do nothing but witness.
I, as trapped in these moments, as he imprisoned below, our eyes now connected. His fear, his absolute and consuming terror is loud within his gaze, as loud, I imagine, as his frozen water screams, muted by the barrier between us.
His fear resonates, pulsates with the realisation that we are both completely aware of what is happening and both completely helpless to alter a single fucking thing.
It was watching time run out.
It was watching a trapped man caught in the throes of desperation.
It was watching a car crash in slow motion.
It was watching a plane fall from the sky, aflame.
It was face pressed to the observation slit upon the cell of a forgotten and falsely imprisoned man in solitary confinement.
It was each and all of these things.
It was as though they were all real.
It was and is, this real.
Witnessing Tilney1’s battle with Paranoid Schizophrenia over the course of the past 12 months, his medication changes, his endurance in isolation, his fight to exist and to navigate existence with and often without the regular support and contact with professional care teams, has been both terrifying and illuminating.
Living alone can often be a vicious limbo. Coupled with Tilney1’s symptoms, fears and the crippling effects of his diagnosis and medications, life for Tilney1 has been brutal.
A change in C.P.N’s (Community Psychiatric Nurse) home visits from crisis teams dwindling, due to their own battle with staffing and budget cuts to local mental health services, led to Tilney1 missing medication. It began, slowly. A missed pill here, a skipped pill there. Soon, bags of unopened medication were stockpiled within his bathroom.
With each pill missed, a little more of Tilney1’s character traits, for years suppressed by medication, would rush to the surface. It was a dangerous game, addictive. With each pill missed, a little more self-confidence and a little more, a little more, a little more.
A dangerous game, for soon, without correct and timetabled medication, with no medicinal brakes nor physical checks to slow his diagnosis and it’s multiple symptoms, this initial rush of confidence, of euphoria, would lead to mania and manic episodes.
A potent and cruel trick, being so close to a remembered self, to be led by a hand, so soothing, to seem in reality to be escaping the trap of the prison within the self, yet all the while being led to the inevitable crash. Especially cruel as Tilney1 was able to watch all this happening to himself, to have that insight, possess that awareness, yet to be completely incapable of intervening, of stopping, to be trapped beneath the ice, screaming for a way out.
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