Negative reinforcement of childhood illnesses

 

jekyll

Excellent rendition of Dr. Jekyll that summarises my character perfectly. As soon as I read Robert Louis Stevenson’s short novella at nine, I was drawn to the concept of duality, probably recognising my own mental illness as I had a lot of introspect as a troubled child. It probably didn’t help me to read Dr. Jekyll and Mister Hyde and the irony is that it’s now a mandatory text for GCSE English. Had I been lucky enough to get it in my own English exam, I could have done the test without a reference and expounded on the ideologies involved in the book, using my own experiences of duality to reinforce my essay. It might have got me sectioned, though so probably best we did Animal Farm instead.

Now, I don’t know if I’m schizophrenic but I definitely have schizoid personality disorders, predominantly ASPD, OCD and BPD not to mention the yet-to-be diagnosed Tourette’s syndrome, long overdue from the 1980’s.

My brain is a mess, they haven’t got a fucking clue what’s wrong with me and for all I know, it might as well be demonic possession (an avenue already disproved in my youth but still a lingering notion) as opposed to some kind of ‘disorder of the psyche’.

These words confuse me. I don’t speak Latin and I struggle with remembering them. Essentially, what they mean is that my thinking and behaviours, my traits fall short of the expected norm. That’s one way of looking at it. Another way is that my traits are above the expected norm, superseding traditional human emotions and making me unique.

I could buy that, maybe even live with it if not for my duality.

No-one knows their brain better than it’s owner and we know if something isn’t ticking right. From an early age, I suspected that I had at least two distinct personalities and possibly a third composed of the overlap between the two egos. I know known this to be the case.

As I write this, I am an anxious and tense father-of-five , scared about my lack of identity and frightfully worried for the future of my family. I obsess about my personality facets and try my best to keep them separate but modern life makes it difficult.

There is a facet within me that has a core directive of morals, what I would call my own internal divinity, as close to God as I can get without dying. These morals are so cemented that they could never be shaken nor swayed. One of them is that I will never harm my family, either directly or indirectly. Nothing could ever change this; even if I went crazy or something, I would sooner cut my own throat than lay a hand on them or cause them distress. Another concreted moral is to preserve innocence at all costs. I could never be angry enough to harm an animal for its nature is that of primal instinct and inherent innocence. If there is a God, then all animals obey His will and live in symbiosis with their environment. Shit, I don’t even kill ants and I love bees. Similarly, I cannot suffer to see a child in distress because it grates so badly against my own principles. Innocence is a sacred virtue and we should preserve it as much as we can.

I hate littering, I despise people who throw cigarette butts on the floor when a bin is next to them. I loathe bad customer service and disrespect and confrontation makes me feel unhappy about my lack of ability to diffuse tension. This facet has good manners and etiquette. It seeks to empower individuals to forge their own happiness away from corruption and poverty. It wants to help others who have found themselves snubbed by all and have nowhere to turn.

It is the patriarch, the protector, the facilitator, the goodness of humanity as it should be and I don’t mind saying that the virtuous side of me is a ‘damn nice bloke’. He will help anybody, friend or stranger and donates freely to needy causes as just thinking about the suffering makes him feel weak and powerless, as if he should be doing more to change the world. This facet exudes goodness and strength of character and I thank God for imbuing me with such capability for benevolence.

The other side, the ‘Tourette’s mind’ is a different thing altogether and I’m not entirely sure if it’s even human any more, such is the depraved nature of its thinking.

This facet manifested early and it only existed because of my good nature, because in this universe all things must be equal and opposite to be balanced. We could never know happiness without first enduring sadness and if we were born in the dark, how would we ever know the existence of light? Can Heaven exist without Hell to offset it and can life be life without death as its reward?

I’ll wrap you up in philosophy all day because I like people to stop and think about their lives, about what it actually means to be human. But I digress….

The chaotic facet became apparent early on, getting me into all sorts of trouble at infant school and in the community. This part of me wanted to jerk and move, to crotch-grab, to gurn, blink and worse, shout obscenities and spit obsessively, even indoors.

The teachers called it ‘deliberate disruption’ despite me excelling at literature and mathematics. Not really, I just learned to read and add-up early and my library at home was extensive. I always loved words and language, the images they were able to conjure in my mind. They couldn’t understand my contrary behaviour; highly intelligent yet horribly disruptive. It’s a pattern we see all the more nowadays on the Autistic Spectrum but back then, the doctor’s gave my mother the old ‘it’s just a phase’, an attention-seeking ploy by a needy child.

I’ve always struggled with the notion that children misbehave to get attention. The last thing I wanted was to be noticed and singled out. I was sensitive enough about my skin colour and my tics were noticeable, making me the target for jibes. I never misbehaved on purpose and I felt awful afterwards, after some compulsive act that landed me in serious trouble. Getting knocked about at home for bad behaviour was not the attention I wanted, that’s for sure but I got it, nonetheless. As an added bonus, every time I jerked my head or made a vocal tic, I was slapped across the head or face making it a daily struggle to suppress the illness.

The common misconception about Tourette’s syndrome is that it is just vocal tics and twitches. This is not the case. It is a complex mental illness that to this day confounds clinicians everywhere due to its highly unusual import. Tourrette’s syndrome is a disorder of the brain chemistry, of the brain’s synaptic relays and how information is distributed to the relevant cortex. It affects mood, behaviour (noticeably) and cognitive abilities. It’s not just about shouting ‘cunt’ in a playground and doing a Nazi salute.

Tourette’s syndrome seems to bring out the antisocial side of one’s personality and it is an inherent pattern that makes the illness unique. The brain doesn’t just want to cause a disruption socially, it wants to disrupt it spectacularly by invoking the most offensive thing to fit the situation. What makes the Tourette’s sufferer want to bark racist abuse when in an ethnic community? Why do some have to yell ‘bomb’ when in an airport or garble out a litany of filth when in church or school assembly? The noises that sufferers make are always sharp and loud, disruptive and noticeable. I know people who make beeping and barking noises but none that hum quietly or whisper a sound. It is as if the illness itself has to be brash and antisocial,like a gregarious drunk swaying about the town upsetting folk.

My parents were Muslims, their views on sex were pedestrian and archaic and I imagine that when they conceived me, the earth moved about as much as the cat’s litter-tray after she’d taken a shit.

My mother switched the TV channel if even the slightest hint of romance was abound and it was funny when she flicked over from some racy episode of Taggart to the French film noir, Betty Blue. She nearly had a fucking coronary there on the sofa.

Sex was never discussed, it was a dirty word and consequently, my Tourette’s though it only fitting to make me shout ‘sex’ and ‘bollocks’ in a weird throaty voice that sounded like fucking Frank Butcher straining on the toilet after a Ruby and ten pints. I also raked my head to the right like a hanged man and pulled a ridiculous face. Altogether, looking back on it now it was fucking hilarious and if I saw anybody do that in public, I would probably break down laughing.

Naturally, this bizarre and unacceptable behaviour caused all manner of ruckus and whilst I’m actually laughing my arse off right now just thinking about how much of an insufferable cunt I was back then, it was not funny at the time. It is now, though, tragic as it is and maybe it’s good I can laugh about it.

Shouting ‘sex’ and ‘bollocks’ around the house was one thing but saying it at school and in the street was another. Thankfully, I lived in Ilkeston so swearing loudly in the street was completely normal, praised even by my peers. Weird town.

I transmogrified the cuss-words, implementing a technique now practised by psychotherapists to coax the Tourette’s tics into a more socially acceptable form. I wasn’t a psychiatrist, I was a twelve-year old kid with a penchant for swearing and spitting yet this method is used with some success by clinicians to this day.

The word ‘sex’ gradually became dulled and masked into a vowel sound, just an utterance, not really even a word. My parents heard the word ‘get’ in the sound which was much more preferable to ‘sex’. The word ‘bollocks’ was harder to mask and to me, it sounded like I was saying ‘boll’. Half the swear was better than the full thing, I guessed but my parents (they must have been deaf or something) heard the word ‘Mick’ so the phrase became ‘Get Mick’ rather than ‘sex, bollocks’.

I could dig ‘Get Mick’ and the violent head-jerk that accompanied it but it pissed my parents off worse than ‘sex, bollocks’. Go figure?

Every time they caught me doing it, I was rewarded with a clout.

If you were born in the nineteen-seventies, then you will understand that corporal punishment was a standard parental practice. Beating then starving a child was seemed appropriate punishment for the slightest of misdemeanours. We might laugh about it now but some of my associates at school ( for I never had any ‘friends’, as such; such a bond would have been impossible for me to forge) endured terrible abuse at the hands of their parents, both physical and mental.

My punishments were not the worst by far but to me, they were a personal Hell.

My father used an open hand mostly, across the face after lining up the shot with  a little quiver of his palm, to get the angle right. I would cringe and brace myself for impact and it hurt like hell, sometimes knocked me sideways, especially if it was a backhand. Lots of whacks around the head, the temples in particular.

My mother favoured a wooden stirring spoon and worked on the lower body, once hitting me so hard across the back that the round end broke into a wicked looking point, like a spear. I remember her announcing that this was the rebirth of the new improved discipline measure and menacing me with the sharp spoon, now resembling a fucking vampire-stake than anything else.

She staked me, alright and my sister for she was also manic, far worse than me with her obscenities and even at five, she was getting the ‘smacking spoon’ or should I say ‘spear’ across the back of the legs. Of course, I took the brunt of the abuse and for her faults, too which I didn’t mind. The ‘smacking spoon’ left welts on the skin, small punctures where the tip had bitten into flesh through my clothes.

I took that spoon and it was never found again. My mother was furious and I can’t remember what she used after that but by then, she was getting to ill to beat kids and it was much easier to dance away from kicks and thrown punches.

I pitied her greatly but I also loved her and simultaneously hated her.

My parents had coaxed the chaos facet of my personality into something more refined. They had denounced me as ‘born bad’, that either they had not disciplined me enough or, as my father used to say ‘I liked getting hit’. My behaviour ranged from stealing to wilful acts of vandalism and on more than one occasion, shitting on the doorsteps of people who had offended me. I spat so much that I covered the entire lower section of my bedroom wall. It was chocolate-spit, my Tourette’s making it all the more disgusting and outrageous by staining the plaster. My mother had to repaint the wall. It happened a few times, actually in different locations, like a personal spittoon in the bedroom.

Needless to say, I suffered for that.

There were other things, interesting signs that now give me more insight into my condition when I recall them.

One of the first things I did antisocially was to write the word ‘FUK’ on the skirting-board in the tiniest of letters. I had also written ‘SHIT’ on the fifth riser of the staircase in biro and elsewhere on lamposts, chalked other profanity. I was about four, my lexicon rudimentary and crafted from pre-school favourites like Fuzzbuzz and the Slinx and Peter and Jane. Yet somehow, I had learned these words of power, words so forbidden that to even utter them would bring about the wrath of my parents.

Tourette’s made me write those words, at first in the house where only I knew they were but later on the lamp-posts where everybody could see.

I remember feeling giddy as I wrote those words, knowing that I was breaking a covenant but unable to help myself, as if I needed to write them else something awful might happen. I feared saying them and though that writing them might be better but something made me want to push it further, to offend people publicly, knowing the consequences and dreading them yet excited by being scared. I wanted people to be shocked and I didn’t know why. I would never know of their shock, why did it matter? Did the knowledge of my misdeeds give me some kind of power?

On the street, I said the words loudly as if they were magic words. The urge to say them was so compelling that I had no choice. Neighbours heard me and I got in trouble. As each guttural cuss came out, I felt lighter and airier, less stressed and somehow empowered as if the words were trapped in me and I needed to vomit them out. Same with the twitches which at first were creased smiles, lip-pursing and eye-twitching. On the street, I jittered and jived like fucking Shakin’ Steven’s, filth falling out of my mouth like a broken drain. The kids thought it was hilarious, they liked the oddity, the bad swears and the urges I had to climb things, especially cars and neighbouring fences.

So, even though my parents had branded me as bad through and through, my peers thought I was unique, interesting and my skin colour became less of a factor as my personality took over.

The Tourette’s mind plagued me since those early developmental days and in my efforts to suppress my sometimes mad thinking and my compulsions, I became two different people to suit two very conflicting sides to my life.

I gave the Tourette’s mind its own identity, gave it a name and blamed it for every bad thought or strange act I performed. I tried to partition it but it was me and it felt like something was always muscling in on my thinking (for my brain never sleeps, not really), making me do things without even thinking, like breathing.

I took satisfaction from reading alone and once I got a black-and-white television in my room, it became my life-coach. As computers became readily available, I absorbed myself in the game world, obsessing about games as much as books and writing.

Whilst I was inside the house, my tics and compulsions were limited to a few staples. Outside, I got drawn into negative thinking easily and goaded into vandalism or stealing. It wasn’t difficult, some part of me wanted to steal and deface things and I had no idea why. I had no ill will towards any of the victims, I was completely indifferent to their loss and probably just wanted acceptance from my peers, not really thinking about consequences; impulsive acts spurred on by my duality, my desire to be non-conformist for the sake of blending in.

It’s horrible for a child to think that way, even worse to let it go un-diagnosed for over a quarter-century but it didn’t stop there.

Once I realised the concept of money (I never got pocket-money so learned late on how to make transactions), I craved it in order to satisfy the multitude of obsessions opened up to me by consumerism.

Coin-op arcades were popular in my youth and I stole hundreds to feed into the machines, making deals with older children to break the notes for a cut of the cash. I became addicted hopelessly to games such as Ninja Turtles and Golden Axe, Streetfighter and the like. Any coin-op, in fact would warrant my attention. In the arcade, my initials were at the top of most games and it started many a war with older kids about video game supremacy. I was good at the games; I’d spent so many hours playing them that I was well versed in the mechanics.

Getting top rank on video games brought kudos from other kids and I emptied my mother’s savings, tucked away in a sealed jar over the course of a few months. I knew I would be caught, knew I would tell the truth and accept the punishment but by that time, I was well hardened to blows and a good beating didn’t really faze me. If that was the worst it was going to get, it was a fair trade. They could throw me out, I thought but secretly hoped this might happen. I could live with my grandmother then, someone I respected far more than my own parents.

The first time I stole, it was probably from nursery. I was ten when I stole the coin-op money and I dragged an acquaintance into the scheme, insisting that he spend the money with me.

He tried to talk me out if it initially but I persisted, dismissing it completely as a necessary act.

When my parents found out and whooped the shit out of me, they immediately blamed the other boy for coercing me into theft.

It was outrageous. No matter how often I told them the truth, they refused to believe it. The youth was branded ‘Peter-Stealer’ and I was in the bad books for about a week before my mother forgave me.

As for my father, he was in and out of my life due to a military career but when he was at home, the atmosphere was tense and uncomfortable for me. All he did, as I recall was make cutting remarks about our character as a family (calling us ‘shit-one, two and three) in a tone of disgust and moan incessantly about pointless shit. He would bore my mother with his political opinions, all of them biased and ignorant and his ethics bit the ball-bag big-time. He also swore a lot and hit me repeatedly for the slightest remark or perceived look. As for the tics, a slap was mandatory and I adjusted to it eventually.

He once beat me for not eating black, stinking kippers and when I remind him, he laughs about it.

What he doesn’t realise is the amount of times I murdered him in my mind over the years. Had a facet not existed within me of virtue and order then I would have stabbed him to death in his sleep. He has no awareness of how much hatred was built up against him, an almost unholy force of rage and denial that left me crying myself to sleep, not with remorse but with fury, wishing that I had the fortitude to finish him off.

I couldn’t do it, still can’t much as I’d like to. It would chafe too much with the moral code of the order facet. To murder one’s parents is not in the remit of the order facet. It is a big no-no and it left me in emotional turmoil for years.

My father always assumed I was scared of him and maybe I was as a young boy. As I grew, I challenged his violence more and more, invoking further violence but in a way, I wanted him to try to kill me so that I could justifiably let the chaos facet out of the box and murder him in self-defence.

The forgiveness of my mother was important to me where such brutality was concerned. Had she seen a frightened child strike back at an oppressive adult then I would have been forgiven, somewhat for my actions. Had she seen a silhouette in the bedroom with a butcher’s knife then it would have boded badly.

What a dilemma.

So much resentment, built up like a reservoir of hate. I hated myself strongly, despised the tics and the thoughts, the intrusive and crazy ones. I partitioned the bad side of me, knew it was the same facet that was responsible for my tics and tried to suppress it.

My dreams have always been bad, always will be. In them, all manner of depravity is entertained and the chaos facet cavorts in a ruined world, an empty world it has destroyed purposefully. It is a desolate and self-destructive force that cares nothing for family and love. All it cares about is lust and satisfaction, to saturate itself in dopamine and serotonin, to swim in adrenaline. I had never known of sadism and masochism until I read Venus in Furs at thirteen but my already-pubescent mind at even the age of nine/ten was entertaining sexual fantasies, brought on by the books I was reading and the things I was seeing on television.

As I say, I started reading as early as three and by eight, I had an extensive library of books. My parents let me read almost anything, probably proud of my prowess and eager for me to learn more. I read the children’s classics like Moby Dick and Treasure Island, didn’t really get turned on by the Hobbit so I left that. My favourite stories were the ones that scared me shit-less. Anything about ghosts, demons or Satan in general was eagerly read by me and I had vast compilations of ghost stories by such people as Algernon Blackwood, Stephen King, Lovecraft and Edgar Poe not to mention hundreds of other short stories.

John Wyndham, Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury, George Orwell. I read them all.

One novel I remember in particular, not the best story but still chilling for a nine-year old. It was called Witches’ Holiday and I read it in the school holidays in about two days. It was Satanic as fuck and scared the bejesus out of me but in the same breath, it excited some facet of my personality.

This exposure coupled with the late-night stuff I saw on Channel Four’s foreign cinema schedule certainly coloured my ideas about sex and pleasure. If my mother had known the things I saw on my little portable TV then she would have been shocked. The TV was meant to be a monitor for the computer only but I quickly made a coat-hanger ariel and got a proper reception. I watched the TV on silent as most of the films had subtitles but on rare occasions, I dared to turn the volume a little. When I saw Hellraiser for the first time, I linked in with Pinhead like a long-lost brother. To this day, the fearsome and depraved entity is one of my all-time horror movie villains. And is he even a villain because he brings the satisfaction of so many lusts, so many forms of self-mutilation and sexual greed? To be endlessly pleasured, pained, destroyed and reborn sounded exotically satisfying to some dark part of my personality.

hell

Early sexual maturity is a huge red flag for Children’s Services these days. If your child exhibits signs of lewd sexual behaviour then you are likely to be visited by Social Services to discuss this in detail. can you imagine what they would have said when they learned not only of my Tourette’s induced frotting against tabletops and chairs but my propensity to shout ‘sex-swears’ loudly and offensively? I think children with Tourette’s mature quicker than others.

I can tell you this much, had Children’s Services been aware of half the stuff that went on at home then they would have safeguarded me immediately and probably prosecuted my parents. Or not because it was the nineteen eighties, remember and disciplining your wife and children was completely acceptable, within reason.

We can thank religion for that but mercifully, the Christian religion seems to be dynamic enough to update its archaic, outmoded ethics and recognise that women, homosexuals and children are God’s creatures, too. Shame Islam can’t be as progressive.

Muslim religion no doubt coloured my father’s personality and in my opinion, tainted it to the degree that he became an avatar of hatred rather than respect.

At ten, my chaos facet was developing exponentially due to the experiences I suffered. Self-hatred was now the overriding trait, a disappointment and despair so deep that it made me want to die. I started self-harming, finding some kind of comfort in the pain, bizarre as it seems. I covered my arms with Satanic words and references to the Divine Comedy (which I had already studied at eight, drawn to the tale and the language but obviously, the Latin translation could never be as clear as the original), thinking that if I embraced the chaos then it would somehow abate and let me think and behave more acceptably.

It didn’t work. I sliced off my thumbnails with a cut-throat razor stolen from the barbershop and kept them in a plastic case for some inexplicable reason. The agony lasted for weeks and my excuses for my increasing self-mutilation were weak and obviously lies.

Still, my parent saw this as merely me ‘playing up’ or ‘acting out’ as the phrasing used to be. I carved ‘DEATH’ into my arms and it scarred and that was a difficult one to hide. I had no excuse and received a beating for it. I used knives on my stomach, my arms and the soles of my feet. It seemed as though the Tourette’s mind wanted to go for the most sensitive and painful places. The feet were a disgrace and in P.E, I had to repeatedly lie about walking on glass by accident to justify my injuries to my peers and the teachers. I could barely walk but the pain became something necessary after a while and has carried on into adulthood, unchecked.

My parents were key to creating the split in my personality yet I hold them no ill will as a mature adult. I am indifferent to them completely, not fazed by my mother’s death (somewhat relieved it happened to end her miserable life) and have no emotional investment in my father whatsoever.

One might say I’m a cold fish, indeed but it’s not my fault. I had no real sense of family, no understanding of the attachments between mother and child, between father and son. If I had not been told that the Tourette’s mind was bad then it would never have spiralled out of control, gained its own independence and personality and ruined my life. As it stood, I was threatened into ‘being good’ but this was about as effective as pissing on a forest fire. With an uncontrollable facet like Tourette’s, no punishment or penalty will ever be enough to repress the urges.

My mother, after a number of years of abuse decided that my father was being too heavy-handed and coming from a woman who used a weapon on her children, that tells you how hard the clouts were.

“You’ll give him brain damage!” She would chime as my father unloaded after spotting me jerking and muttering ‘sex. bollocks’. “You’ll make him silly in the head.”

Inadvertently, my mother had almost hit the nail on the head, or the child, should we say?

She recognised that my father’s repeated abuse would have a detrimental effect on my mind. Unbeknownst to her, the damage was already done through genetic factors, most likely but she was correct in her prognosis that more abuse would lead to irreparable damage.

Her mistake was that it wasn’t just the physical abuse that made me worse; that was actually more easier to deal with, I just slipped back int my mind and let the chaos facet take the pain. With each blow, I got more hateful and boiled inside with rage and the Tourette’s mind seemed to like this feeling of hormonal overload.

I would spend long periods on my own, shaking uncontrollably, ticcing and shouting in my room with a pillow over my mouth and spitting everywhere. I had become addicted to adrenaline and the feeling of complete saturation of the senses. My mind produced so much that it was veritably poisoning my body, inducing fits, kidney pains and headaches and I had no release for it apart from fantasizing about killing my parents.

In hindsight, I probably should have done it as early as eight but like I say, my divergent mind would not allow me to break this fundamental covenant no matter how much I despised them. Lucky for them, really. They had no idea how close they came to being killed by their own child.

Psychiatrists should take as this says much for the mindset of child-killers. Resentment starts at a very early age and a child’s capacity to hate is potent, indeed just as its capacity for love is overwhelming. Equal and opposite, again.

The child’s foundations for reality are grounded in the parents or carers. To the child, they are God, the creator and protector, the voice of both fun and fear, the whole world revolves around the primary parents or carers.

When I tell my girls off for misbehaving, I have only to voice my disappointment and it precipitates floods of tears and anger. They are so impacted by my mood, seeing that they have been responsible for upsetting me directly and it is likely the worst thing to happen in their lives at that given moment.

Imagine if God came down from Heaven and gave you not only a bollocking but belittled you and hammered it into you that you are not a good person. Not only that but you could forget Paradise as that was reserved only for ‘good people’. That leaves only Hell as a retirement option and the more one dwells on it, the more one comes to accept that they are inherently evil. Moreover, they feel ‘doomed’ and sometimes railroaded into deviancy. Others embrace it after getting too exhausted to fight any more.

Now imagine a child making the same connections with its limited knowledge of human emotions and self-awareness. I might have had a brain but I was a child and susceptible to the whims of fantasy. My overactive mind made it very easy to infer that I was somehow possessed by evil, ridden by a demon and forced to misbehave. My parents reinforced this indirectly by heaping admonishment upon me for failure and little in the way of praise for over-achievement. They told me that I ticced and twitched on purpose, that I could help it and stop it if I wanted. They didn’t make any connections between my behaviour and mental illness despite my grandfather being diagnosed with schizophrenia, sectioned for years and ultimately committed suicide. Neither did my own mother (who I later found out disowned her first-born and took the secret to the grave) question her own mental health.

As for my father, Islam had consumed his personality and made him into a ruthless automaton, a perfect soldier but a useless and counterproductive father.

How much is religion and the Ministry of Defence responsible for my own personality? We could pass the buck all day but the fact remains: people who claim to be ‘normal’ are responsible for their own behaviour; they can’t blame insanity or moral weakness although those that do acknowledge their flaws are significantly more noble than those who choose to ignore their own issues.

My father is clearly mentally ill and I don’t know whether it’s genetic or indoctrinated through religion and career choice. Having read his private letters, correspondence sent to my mother during various wars it is clear he has a dependant personality complex. The letters portrayed someone with sharply contrasting moods, someone desperate for contact and in the event of a late letter, would turn ugly. They portrayed someone with a drinking problem, at war with his own conflicting values, that of the British Army and the Muslim faith.

I’ll examine my father’s psyche in a later blog, something I’m sure he won’t thank me for but essential in the process of self-diagnosis and discovery. In order to understand my own personality divides, I must examine those of the parents, the tutors for they both exhibited signs of personality disorders.

All my life, I never blamed my parents for the divide in my personality and always believed that I was wilfully evil and that me episodes of normality were just a latent side-effect to my dominant evilness. I discovered at thirteen that LSD was an excellent inhibitor of the Tourette’s mind. In retrospect, taking this potentially devastating drug was not the best choice for a developing brain but the experience gave me a deeper insight, I think into my own condition.

The ‘acid days’ lasted a while until the sources dried up but by then, I’d discovered alcohol and its immediate relief from thinking. Not only was alcohol readily available but it there was hardly any waiting period unlike the acid. The effects were welcomed, subduing tics and bringing out a gregarious and comedic character, roguish yet not too chaotic. This persona became my only identity for decades and with the power of insobriety, I was perpetually in a state of toxocis.

Other drug experimentation followed, chasing the necessary high to dissolve all intrusive thought and behaviour. With the drug and alcohol addiction came a need for cash so stealing became my new career and the Tourette’s mind rejoiced as I exploited and robbed my friends and family. Technically, I never saw myself of capable of having ‘friends’ in the truest sense of the word. Therefore, these people were privy to only one side of me, the gregarious addict and habitual thief. I used them quite simply to facilitate my addiction needs, my shelter requirements and my nutritional sources. I spent more time away from home and slept anywhere I fell. I was about fifteen at the time.

My behaviour at school worsened as I stole property and traded in playground deals for drugs, cigarettes and tools taken from my father’s garage. I also started a nice line in recovered beer merchandise from an associate of good character whom I willingly exploited due to his generosity and naivety. I was known for handling cash in large quantities and this brought its own kudos. All of the money was ill-gotten gains and I brough allegiances and affection with it, relishing the power it gave me over others and watching them beg me for a handout. I willingly burned money and watched others stamping it out in horror as they fought in the dirt. I plied them with alcohol and furnished them with drugs and stolen motorcycles. The status associated with deviancy had made my peers heedless to my colour. Racial abuse stopped virtually completely and was now frowned upon by as others as they stated “I hate them fuckin’ Paki’s but you’re alright, mate”.

Acceptance had finally come but it was not for my virtuosity and good character. It was for my reckless abandon when considering crime. Stealing gave me a label that slotted in nicely with my peers. Good kids were led astray by me and my associates, drawn into addiction and bad behaviour. Parents saw me as a cancer to their children as they eventually did something that warranted police attention. They knew me as a petrol-sniffing, drug-smoking thief and their no-doubt ignorant views on racial diversity bolstered their dislike of me. Completely understandable, no ill will harboured at all. Who in their right mind wants their children exposed to corruption?

Ticcing, twitching, addictions to everything that brought even the slightest dopamine release, no sense of identity, self-hatred and chronic depression; a potent mix of negativity that no child should ever endure. I suppose I shouldn’t moan; after all, my parents never raped me or made me eat my own shit (my father did rub my face in piss once, though after an ‘accident’ in my early childhood). Compared to some children, I was loved and cared for and this is the reason that I hold my parent’s no real hatred any more.

They fed me and kept a roof over my head, they clothed me and made sure I was physically healthy. I can’t say that I ever felt loved in any way, more of an inconvenience, a dirty secret to be hidden away. My behaviour and antics were suppressed heavily by my parents, especially from other family members. I can only assume that they thought they would lose some kind of respect for admitting that their son was a fuck-up, that they were exasperated and confused, didn’t know how to deal with me.

I’ve come to understand that, through their own issues and wilful ignorance they didn’t know any better. They honestly thought that physical and mental abuse was formative in constructing a happy, compliant child. They created a monster instead but I’m not complaining too much. I’m still alive and that in itself is a miracle. The monster is only one side of a multi-faced shape; there are other facets in there that are much more positive and useful.

This blog was meant to be about how pressure and stress on an already vulnerable child can create divisions in personality but it turned into some self-pitying overview instead. Sorry about that. The finished blog is actually nearly twenty-thousand words in length but I don’t think anybody wants to read an autobiography of a wasted life so I revised it, made a few edits.

I think this rule not only applies to children with some kind of inherent disorder but all kids, the world over.

If you don’t understand your child, reprimand her for every mistake, tell her that she’s bad, bad, bad then she will learn to live up to that label. She will take solace from those equally as unhappy who seek the comfort of another lost soul to make themselves feel valued. She will be exploited and under-achieve despite showing promise. She will snub authority as all authority in her life has been negatively reinforced. She may seek to blot out the turmoil through drink or drugs, fall pregnant with a child that she cannot care for, embrace the unhappiness and turn to anything that can distract her from responsibility.

Her behaviours may have been impulsive, unusual; maybe behavioural and maybe something else but it is how we reinforce authority and shape the child’s persona that count for everything.

My children are probably all mentally ill with the exception of Lily, my youngest daughter and even she exhibits some OCD-type symptoms. My eldest son has Tourette’s syndrome, his brother is on the Autistic Spectrum, my eldest daughter has violent fits of rage and is extremely sensitive to stimuli and my youngest son is just naughty, plain and simple. Has he got ADD, I don’t know? I hope not but if he has, he will be supported and encouraged to develop his strengths with little attention given to his weaknesses. Just like the other children.

They receive non-violent punishment; sanctions on their privileges and stern words that make them feel uncomfortable about their actions but ultimately, I talk about their strengths and how they are allowed to feel angry about themselves and others. I talk a lot to my children and even when they are curled in a ball, snivelling and yelling at me to go away, they are listening to what I say. I speak calmly, benignly and never get drawn into an argument with them. I ignore their bawling and pleas for clemency and invite them to sit with me, which they usually do after a period of seething anger.

Each child is different, especially if they have a mental illness but they all share the same core principles in that they love their parents unconditionally and absorb every detail and emotion that we overtly display and even some that we think we are hiding from them. Children are highly perceptive and filling them with negative reinforcement only serves to dampen their aspirations. All children misbehave for a reason and sometimes, the reason is not apparent immediately. It might take time and observation, interaction with other parties; friends and school teachers, for example.

If you know you aren’t behaving right yourself, then its vital to admit this and seek help before the Children’s Services get involved through force. I’ve been guilty of neglecting my children’s needs and thank God they were in the custody of my partner where they were safe and secure. Only when faced with losing them entirely did I see that I had to exert will over my chaotic facet. Ironically, this involved stopping the drink and drugs, the only things that had subdued my tics in the first place. So in order to oppress the chaos within me, I had to allow the Tourrete’s-mind to be fully aware.

After cleaning up and drying out, a lengthy process, the ticcs came back with a vengeance. It was like a rehash of an old classic, a Hollywood sequel. The compulsions were similar but different, if that makes sense. There were vocal tics (obscenities) and motor tics, the most annoying being the constant leg-shaking when sitting down and weird nose-pressing one that makes me look like a fucking idiot. Teeth-grinding, which was always a problem became so bad that I had to have teeth removed through wear and now have two gum-shields that I have to wear at night, making me bid my sweetheart goodnight in a voice like the fucking Elephant Man, slobbering through the shields and unable to form proper words. It was funny for a bit, now it’s just annoying.

I’m still struggling to see whether I’ve actually made a point here or if I’ve just rambled on for no reason other than verbal diarrhoea. I don’t know. Hopefully there’s some wisdom in there.

Thanks for reading until the end.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s