I describe it this way to emphasize that sometimes movement for me requires mental effort as opposed to physical effort. For many people, particularly older folks, P advances to such a degree that it takes all the focused will they can muster to move a few steps. Someday in the distant future that may be me. I am able to reflect on this, and observe this, yet I cannot achieve mastery over it.
It may seem like a leap, but this causes me to reflect on what it's like to be trapped inside a mind gone rogue. As one begins to lose one's ability to interact with the world, as one's faculties for clear perception and cognition are stripped away, what remains? What fearful and lonely shreds of humanity pulse within the core of a mind fogged by mental illness?
I read one painfully honest view of this question from an anonymous Harvard student grappling with schizophrenia, published in the Harvard Crimson this week. The piece touches on many issues that relate to our treatment and views of the mentally ill, but I took special note of the following quote:
"What they never tell you about schizophrenia is that you never really believe it, internalize it, identify with it. Mornings are agonizing because every day in the haze of waking up I briefly remember all over again who I am and what I have lost. I remember the friends that I am terrified will see me differently if I tell them; I remember that on my bad days I scare people in class and on the subway; I remember that the academic career for which I had worked is now improbable. I remember that the measure of success for too many of my days will be that I have not killed myself."This belies the common view of the mentally ill as delirious and unaware, and is very sad to me. It makes me also think of my grandmother, who for many years has suffered from Alzheimer's disease. She frequently evinces confusion about where she is and when she is and who the people around her are. She lashes out and says unspeakably hurtful things to family members. It is very painful to watch, but what about to experience? I imagine maybe somewhere in there is my grandmother, and maybe she's scared.
Is it all in that pretty little head of yours?
What goes on in that place in the dark?
Well I used to know a girl and I could have sworn
That her name was Veronica
Well she used to have a carefree mind of her own
And a delicate look in her eye
These days I'm afraid she's not even sure
If her name is Veronica