Myth, religion and reality

Ancient Sumerians are thought to have believed in a place called Irkalla. The ancient Greeks knew of a place called Tartarus. The Hebrew bible refers to Sheol and Gehenna. Islamic traditions (and possibly the Koran – I haven’t taken the time to research it much) refer to Jahannam. Christianity – and much of modern western civilization – call this place Hell. We all have a general idea what Hell represents, wether we believe in it or not. Regardless of what it’s called, I believe they all have a few things in common – it’s neither pleasant, nor synonymous with hope. Quite the contrary, it is a place of hopeless despair.

I’m writing this because I think there is a hell, but I don’t think you are familiar with it. It has nothing to do with religion, myth, or ancient beliefs. The Hell I’m referring to is a place of our own making – some of us anyway. It’s not something we’ve built, or a place you can visit on a whim. It is both real and imagined.

It is mental illness.

It is not the garden variety anxiety that falls at the feet of mighty Xanax. It is the slippery slope of the profoundly ill, from which there is sometimes no return. It is a laundry list of antipsychotics; the Phenothiazine and Butyrophenone families, with a few of their step-children: such as Clozapine, Olanzapine, Quetiapine, and Ziprasidone. Then when all of that fails, there’s ECT.

Hell is a place of constant torment, with no hope of escape. Sometimes it’s in peoples homes. Sometimes it’s on a locked ward; that place in hospitals no one likes to talk about. If you’re one of these unlucky few it doesn’t matter where you are or where you go, because it follows you everywhere; because it really is all in your head.

This isn’t a story about me, just something that I have to see. Seeing it doesn’t break your heart, it smashes it like a glass on a tile floor – shattered in an almost infinite number little pieces.

Give the gift of words.