As I was pondering a title for this post, the visual of a whirling circle came to mind. Something like a frenzied game of ‘Ring Around the Rosy’ my five-year-old daughter would have played all day had I not stopped from sheer dizziness.
I am dizzy again now. All I can think is ‘ashes, ashes, we all fall down.’
For months I have worked closely in the community with a woman who has been in and out of prison for years longer than I have known her. Many more. She has also been in and out of the state mental hospital, when Vermont had one.
What has become ashes is my hope of truly helping her. All the reasons are beyond my control. None of which makes me feel any better. This woman has significant mental and physical health issues. She is too belligerent for crisis assistance; too claustrophobic for her cosy apartment; too distraught to see herself, though she tirelessly seeks relief.
Her team wants her to learn to self-soothing skills. This is beyond her. She wants them to keep her safe. They think she isn’t trying. All fall down.
No drug, no therapy, no amount of reason can provide the safety she seeks. So she has perfected the one form of self-help that works when all others are denied. She gets herself arrested for assault or trespass when she demands, and cannot get, the security her frightened mental state cries out for.
This smart talented woman, trapped in a body and mind riddled with dis-ease but without prospect of improvement, has given up advocating for herself. She is exhausted and dispirited. Her life on the outside is no match for what lives inside. She has decided she’s better off in jail. She has fallen down, ashes.