The Itch in the Soul.

When a person becomes or has been seriously ill, it is, perhaps, a normal response for the person in question to ask, "why me?" Before the intrusion of such things in our lives, we probably, most of us, go around thinking "it'll never happen to me." I can honestly say that I was the same. The thought that one day I may become what is, somewhat inhumanely, referred to as "a schizophrenic", could not have been further from my mind. I suppose the thought of "losing your mind", so to speak, sometimes goes through the brains of most people, being, as it is, perhaps one of our deepest, darkest fears. But, it would appear, many of us dismiss the idea and we are unable to identify ourselves as ever being "one of them". Thus spring up all the old stereotypes of madness, perhaps the embodiment of our fears, the psychological projection of what secretly haunts us.
But, to return to the original question of "why me?", I suppose it is one almost ubiquitously asked by those who have suffered any, not just mental, severe illness. And, it seems, one can launch out on countless lines of philosophical speculation in attempting to answer this question.
Speaking for myself, I have often wondered why I got ill when others didn't. Was it just my fate? Was it just, as psychiatry would have us believe, a simple matter of a chemical imbalance in the brain? Was somebody "up there" trying to tell me something? Was I being punished for something? And if so, for what and by whom? God? I probably asked all of these questions upon first experiencing mental illness. Later, I have come to ask the similar, related question, "why did I get well when others don't?" Again, has it simply been my fate? Have I been suitably punished and finally atoned? Or, again, was it simply a matter of chemicals, in the form of medication, working on my unhinged brain?
At one point I came to think that there was something, just something which had helped me through it all. As if some hidden hand had guided my path and decided it was not my fate to remain deluded and unwell. Call it chemicals. Call it God. I thought that something ineffable had taken place which had resulted in what appeared to me to be bordering on the miraculous.
And then it struck me that this is perhaps what all of us do when trying to answer some of the above questions. It is as if our minds reach out to somehow try to impose order on what can only be described as chaos. To seek meaning where there might, perhaps, be none. It is as if we have an itch in the soul, forever wanting to be scratched.
I once attended a talk by the psychologist and author Dorothy Rowe in which she broached some of these issues. Although I cannot recall all of what was said, her stance seemed to be that, eventually, we have to accept that some things just happen to us, and there may be no rhyme or reason to it. The universe is perhaps a capricious and, even, meaningless place, where, to put it bluntly, shit happens. To me, this is, now, enough of an answer. And I am happy with it, or perhaps even because of it. I was not being punished by some omnipresent and omnipotent force. I was not a mere puppet dancing at the end of the strings of fate. No, I just got ill, then I got better. Shit happens. To be free of my previous probing is liberating to me, and although mine and Rowe's conclusions may seem to lack profundity, they have enough meaning for me to give me a modicum of happiness.
So, it seems, most of us will continue to put our faith in...something. Whether it be God, or medicine, or if you're like me, just the vagaries of chaos. But, it could also be said that it is the searching itself that's the point- that itch in the soul, which, as Philip Larkin put it, continues to send "the priest and the doctor/ In their long coats/ Running over the fields."  


David, I share a quote with you -

“There seems to be a kind of order in the universe, in the movement of the stars and the turning of the earth and the changing of the seasons, and even in the cycle of human life. But human life itself is almost pure chaos. Everyone takes his stance, asserts his own rights and feelings, mistaking the motives of others, and his own.” (Katherine Anne Porter)

Here's to rising above the chaos, my friend. Great post, as always.

bazza said…
Hi David. I love that comment that is posted above. It seems to make sense of the human condition.
You seem to have arrived at a particular point in your journey. It's impressive that you are able to analyse your current situation so well.
Click here for Bazza’s Blog ‘To Discover Ice’
David said…
Dear M.,
Thank you for sharing that insightful quote.
I think what I was trying to say in my post was that life sometimes deals us a "bum" card, so to speak, but trying to find a meaning behind that can sometimes be fruitless. I think there is a quote on your own blog which perhaps encapsulates what I was trying to say, which goes something like "acceptance of what life deals us may be the measure of our happiness". I can't remember it verbatim but it is something like that. So here's to accepting what life brings and, indeed, rising above the chaos.
Very Best Wishes from your freind,
David said…
Dear bazza,
Thank you, as ever, for your comment.
I guess I am one of the fortunate ones in that I am able to analyse my situation. One thing which people are said to lack when going through a mental illness like mine is insight. Fortunately for me I seem to be an exception. Why this is, and I hope as my post explains, I do not know.
Thanks once again, bazza, and Very Best Wishes to you.
dcrelief said…
Dear David,

I'm so happy when I understand another person's point of view. It's like 'the brain fairy' has given me a moment of cognitive recognition.

Your post is absolutely wonderful, and exciting to hear your thoughts of being human.

One of my doctors tells me that when I itch, I'm either 'getting well' or 'in pain'. Sometimes I suspect they walk hand in hand.

Thank you for visiting my blog..
Happiness to you,
David said…
Dear Dixie,
I'm very glad that you can "cognitively recognise" what I'm trying to say here. And, as always, it is very good of you to take the time to comment.
With Very Best Wishes,
Claire said…
Wonderful blog David,"Tread Softly, My Love Lies Buried Here" treasured.
David said…
Hi Claire,
Thanks for your comment and kind compliment.
Also glad that you like my poem- at least someone does, then!
With Very Best Wishes,
klahanie said…
Dear David,
My humblest apologies for arriving so late in the proceedings.
I do believe you are continuing to move on in your 'journey'. There was a time in my life that I thought mental health issues only happened to others. Of course, I realised how wrong I was and a negative environment and the possible combination of genetics can have a devastating affect on our mental health well being.
"No, I just got ill, then I got better. Shit happens. To be free of my previous probing is liberating to me" David, that just about sums up my perspective of my own situation. I now consider my illness a bizarre blessing. I've worked through it and consider myself to be a better and stronger person.
You continue to move past the chaos and that makes me most pleased. David, it is my honour to know you and keep embracing the more positive way forward. Yep dude, shit happens, eh.
With very kind wishes, your way, Gary.
David said…
Dear Gary,
I'm glad that you appreciate my "shit happens" philosophy. And, of course, it is also an honour to know you, my hippy, hairy friend.
Thank you for your continuing support and friendship.
Wishing you all the very best,

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