Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Living With Madness

No, not me--not as far as I know, but I have lived with it. 'Insanity' is a rarely used term these days. There are various psychoses and neuroses. There are Borderline Personality classifications. People stay in mental health facilities, places that look like dorms. As the meaning of just what's insane and what isn't has changed, I think this post is important.

When I was married a number of years ago, I had the misfortune of living with a husband I considered to be insane. He had a drinking problem. He was paranoid, delusional and threatening. He refused to see a psychiatrist.

He was able to keep  his job for a time. I left him and understood in time, he was pensioned off fairly quickly. He had by that time, been banned from certain pubs and the like. The illness was no longer able to be hidden or denied.

I write horror because of him. I do. I know what it is like to live with a monster, to live with someone who is not in touch with reality. Your days are not 'normal.' No sitting around watching television or reading or shopping. There is no 'normal' or 'ordinary' in the closed fortress that you share with the insane. You survive (I did) as best you can, planning an escape asap. And then you fly. When I left, I rented a flat and kept locking the front door and unlocking it. I could not get over the fact that I was now permitted to lock a door as I had been told: I WILL HAVE NO DOORS LOCKED IN MY HOME!

Over the top? Only to those of you who have not lived under such circumstances.

With regard to violence, there wasn't any. In fact, I had fully assured him what I'd do if pushed too far. I made the point there was no capital punishment in the U.K. I wouldn't have done that (I am fairly certain), still who can say?

That's all long ago. I forgave him in my own heart pretty quickly. Hatred only hurts those who hate. I have been happily married for years. Yet, i still write horror! I write it because I can tap into terror easily. And perhaps my writing helps people.

When you see madness portrayed in film or fiction, please consider the fact that there are people who really are menacing, violent, and murderous. We read about them in the newspapers and see them in the news. What I find fascinating are the people who live with them and know them inside and out.

Those afflicted deserve our empathy and the best care possible, but please spare a thought for those who live (for however long) under their roof, it isn't easy living with madness.

Note: I have left out incidents of horrific occurrences, those are too painful and personal to recount. Just accept my assurance that they happened and somehow I survived them.


  1. Very revealing piece Carole. I can only imagine what you went through. Of course, I am mad too, technically, having had two mental breakdowns and living with chronic depression. But, a different kind of madness which inspires me to write my thrillers to exorcise my own demons of the mind.

  2. yes there are issues--like your suffering--and demons are exorcised which is good.
    but you are not a violent man, your family isn't afraid for their lives.
    no, that's not the kind of madness i lived with.
    i can tell, my friend. i lived from one day to the next in constant fear of my life.