On Beyond Meds, Elisabeth Svanholmer uses the British Psychological Society’s Understanding Psychosis report as a starting point for discussing her own explorations of the meaning and nature of “hearing, seeing and sensing things that others don’t, as well as having unusual beliefs.”
Svanholmer challenges the whole idea of trying to define one’s experiences in any framework at all, and compares “coming up with explanations” to “self-harming”.
“Since my early teens I have lived with strong urges to cut and self-harm,” writes Svanholmer. “There are times when the pain inside becomes so unbearable that all I want to do is grab an instrument and inflict injuries on myself – cut my skin, beat out bruises, break bones – because then the pain might become real, tangible, understandable and explainable. I can see where it hurts and I can tell myself why. And I can care for the wounds that are now visible.”
And then of self-analysis, Svanholmer writes, “So when I hear and feel things that scare me I grab my instrument of reason and analysis and I beat the experience into a shape I can understand. I turn to my arsenal of boxes and shove that voice, this sensation or overwhelming emotion into the box that looks the best fit. And I will get some peace for a while. I am on top of things again… But some of my experiences completely refuse to be defined by me. They scream as if I am hurting them by trying to explain them. They will change shape, size and content to elude my cognitive grasp on them.”
Learning to be with ourselves: a response to Understanding Psychosis (Beyond Meds, April 20, 2015)