A Chronicle on Schizophrenia
By Zekria Ibrahimi
Key Themes: poetry, prose, schizophrenia
This is a journey into schizophrenia,
Into the core and heart of it,
And the aim is that ….
The reader should never find his way out again ….
It is a book as a trap,
For you who call yourselves sane,
Perhaps need to be caught in the necessary snare that is madness …
About the Author
Zekria Ibrahimi (born in 1959) is defined by his schizophrenia. It first hit him long ago, in his late teens. He is fifty years old now, almost a pensioner, and he does not always want to remember how, as an adolescent in the late 1970’s, he suddenly became afraid of everything surrounding him, and, worst of all, of himself. He would run around the countryside and knock at the doors of strangers because he feared the apocalypse was pursuing him … He would pick up rubbish outside in alleys and streets and hoard it in his not very palatial lodgings … He was always wandering away from home, searching for … what would never be found again … the straight route, the level way … He was a tramp, freezing during the nights in public toilets where he had various unsavoury insects as company on the cold concrete …
There were years of pain when his schizophrenia became almost his only companion- albeit a sadistic one, punishing him even as he hugged it. Perhaps, to echo both R. D. Laing and Emily Dickinson, it is the entire globe, it is general society, that is truly insane. Schizophrenics simply burrow all too deeply under the surface. They reach the very core of the savage reality in us all. Most varnish over the anarchic truth within through the superficial sham paraded as ‘civilization’. Schizophrenics prefer to be uncomfortably honest barbarians.
Eventually, after much psychotic shouting on Hammersmith Broadway, the hapless Zekria was confined at the Charing Cross unit in the West London Mental Health Trust. Following the unsafe unstable freedom of his schizophrenia, came the restrictions of Section 3. He would not have survived without the multi- racial compassion of the individual doctors and nurses in Charing Cross. Yet the overall SYSTEM remains an ogre of rules and restraints, and the INSTITUTION of psychiatry can be as cold and vicious as in the days of lobotomy and insulin shock.
Now he is elderly, but still he muses about being locked up, drugged up, about how, with schizophrenia, the treatment can be worse than the disease …
MADNESS AND REBELLION- A TRIPTYCH is an inevitably bleak and savage essay on schizophrenia that could not have been commenced without the research materials provided at the Coombs Library, West London Mental Health Trust, Southall, and the Institut Francais Mediatheque, Kensington. And it would not have been completed lacking the computer and editing expertise of Jenny and Joseph Hemmings, operating from their distant literary den in Norfolk!
A woman’s mind has crashed into a wall. It is a wall made from her own doubts, her own terrors, from the mess of her past and the chaos that her future will always be. She is put under Section 3. She is the unfortunate, the veritably blighted, victim. This is the tragic maiden taken away by a chunky NHS ambulance. The vehicle is, for her, like the stinking bowels of a dragon. She is hauled to the local psychiatric unit- that Bastille or Auschwitz built by Normality so as to lock up the outsiders and rejects diagnosed as insane. The nutters. The psychos. The schizos. She is admitted into the looking glass world of lunacy. And what she unfortunately discovers is that the System, for all its apparent neatness and order and regulations, manages to be far more deranged and unwholesome than she herself could ever be … And there is no creativity, no love in it. Not ever …
ADMISSION, PSYCHIATRIC WARD
She is hauled, weeping, flailing, to the ward,
Surrounded by nurses, she is injected.
Her brain is like prey, grasped, slashed, strangled, clawed,
Like a scared specimen, soon vivisected.
Other patients look on, half- scared, half- bored.
The cold captivity becomes perfected.
Nurses, with frost- like faces, have ensured
That not one atom of warmth is detected.
The fog of drugs clutches, gouges, her mind.
Icebergs squeeze up against her consciousness.
The ward rounds, timetables and routines grind …
Even her former fear, her old distress,
She wishes she could know them. But, confined,
She is frozen in, can feel less and less,
Just one more zombie in the TV room,
As passive as putty in the armchair,
Its grubby cushions, ugly like a tomb,
And all she now does is just stare, stare, stare,
At a screen, at the colours of her doom,
At nurses who prowl through ‘compassion’s’ lair,
At electronic doors, at the sick gloom,
At chipped walls, at her own broken despair.
The channels change, there is a football match,
And then a game- show, next some song and dance,
Banal programmes to look at by the batch …
She does not alter from her waxen trance.
And, like a cabbage in the cabbage patch,
She vegetates, hemmed in by can’ts and shan’ts.
She screams in her room, at the window’s bars,
Yells for freedom that her heart never touches.
She begs to be kissed by the Moon and stars.
But, shoved into the dark Mental Health hutches,
She and the others only hug their scars.
For she is no princess, she is no duchess,
No Venus who dances above with Mars,
Just a doped creature in the system’s clutches.
Four nurses march in, bolt her to the bed,
Force liquids that embalm her frigidly
Down, down her throat still quivering with dread,
Still yelling back at her captivity …
The chemicals swamp her, till she feels dead.
A corpse? A ghost? She is taught: YOU’RE NOT FREE …
She trembles and squrims from Haloperidol in her dormitory that she shares with three others. Afterwards, she scribbles down an ode in strange praise of her own schizophrenia. If so- called ‘sanity’ can be so cruel as to construct such a Foucault- like nightmare of a mental hospital, then she will favour her own alleged insanity instead …