Mountains of Madness

On some days they let us go outside for five minutes. Only those that are voluntarily committed and are not a flight risk though. The view from the south parking lot is spectacular, I can see why they call it Ramapo Ridges. Every psych hospital has the word “ridges” in it, but this one has really earned that right. None of the trees have leaves on them, sparse red maple buds are the only color on the treescape. Red dots try to color the landscape but it is utterly devoid of life. Though when all the trees are dead and nothing grows on those mountains you can really see their form. You can just look at them and know their story. You don’t have to be a geologist to understand them. Those mountains were forced into existence. Two tectonic plates that loved each other very much came together with furious heat and passion. Two lonely tectonic plates drifting listlessly on an endless sea of lava found each other. They finally understood the beauty and saw some meaning in how they drifted for all those billions of years. The truth is, those tectonic plates were star-crossed lovers meant to be together by the very laws of geophysics. They poured their very hearts and souls into sculpting those mountains. They imagined every crag, each ridge, patch of iron oxide, and playful streak of quartz. Unfortunately, the hands of the loving artists who brought the mountains into this world were constrained. Like us humans, these mountains were designed and fabricated by compassionless apathetic hands, DNA, geophysics, random perturbations, genetics, inheritances. The tectonic plates could not imagine something in pain coming from their love. Truthfully, these mountains are wonderful. The kind of mountain range that kids look at and decide that they want to be geologists. But these mountains are in pain. They never asked to be here, they were thrust into existence. I would have liked to get to know these mountains better but I was shepherded inside.
On the way back into the ward, I keep thinking of this story I heard. A father and son owned a propane infrastructure repair service company. One day, an explosion occurred that instantly killed his son and wife. The father survived, but his entire body was covered in third degree burns. He lost all of his skin, only his dermis remained. In order to keep the former father alive, he had to be soaked in a tub of saline solution several times each day for six years. The pain of one second in that tub was excruciating pain beyond our comprehension. He petitioned for suicide or euthanasia with every recourse available to him, but none was granted. He attempted suicide many times, but was stopped or failed each time.
He was bathed twelve times per day in that tub for ten minutes at a time, for six years. After many years the saline treatment began to work, but the pain didn’t abate. After the full six years his skin was able to begin regenerating on its own. Soon his skin was fully repaired and he could resume his life, or what was left of it. He soon remarried and even had another son. His new life was absolute bliss by his account. Happiness and fulfillment beyond his wildest dreams surrounded his every sensation and thought. But, even in hindsight, he could not forgive those that stopped him from suicide. He maintained that no sentient creature should ever be subjected to the pain he went through, and that no reward could ever justify such torture. He continued to be heavily involved in euthanasia rights movements and the publication of the Peaceful Pill Handbook. I’m not sure if this story is true, but it doesn’t matter. The ideas in it are.
Unless we can opt out of life, it is rape. Literally for some of us. I never consented into the human experience. Don’t drag me back inside and tell me you know best. Don’t tell me I’ll enjoy it after a while, just hold on for a bit. Don’t tell me it’s my fault, that I just need to lean back and try to enjoy it. Don’t tell me it’s the only way and I just need to make the best of it. Don’t tell me I’m just being irrational if I want to leave, and bind my hands.

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