S3: Fine Line - Episode 14 - Beth

Episode Information

Fine Line: Mental Health/Mental Illness – Episode 14 – Beth

[Intro Music]

Narrator:  Welcome to Season three Fine Line narrative histories about mental health and mental illness, a traveling exhibition and weekly podcast edited and hosted by Michael Nye, supported by Kronkosky Charitable Foundation. May you find insight and understanding in these voices. Episode fourteen, Beth.
Beth:  My favorite place to be is a place that I’m most safe. It’s a corner in my kitchen, and I’ve got it fixed up to look like a tree house, and on my left is a window with plants everywhere and everything a person would want books, music that’s in my safe place. I spend three quarters of my waking life in that safe place. My family was very stricken with mental illness on my mother’s side, and then partially on my father’s side. And my mother committed suicide. My cousin committed suicide. I have one brother who’s been diagnosed with unrelenting psychotic brain-a-trophy. He doesn’t even recognize me, and he and I were closer because we were about the same age. How is it possible to love someone that beats you up, that uses you, that degrades you? I don’t understand why a parent would grab a child’s hair and twist it around and slam that child into a wall. How a father who’s going through a drought of loneliness, take one of his children and strip that child of dignity and knowledge and give that child pain. Why would a parent deprive them of food? Lock them in a cabinet. Why would that happen?

I’d like to wrap my arms around someone, whether my age, older, younger, wrap my arms around someone that is going through this until they finally believe it’s not their fault. They’re a beautiful person. I have mental illness. I’m diagnosed with permanent post-traumatic stress syndrome. I also have agoraphobia and an intense fear of being outside one’s controlled environment. Um, in my case, I feared people’s looks at me. I feared interrupting their lives. I feared people’s anger and judgment of me more than I feared death itself. I feared it. My agoraphobia involves years and years, and it involves within the last 15 years, it involves a certain corner in my house. It’s, um, almost a good validation to be diagnosed with that because it’s a safety instead of, um, feeling guilty. It’s, it’s an illness.

Kindness is more important than anything else in this world. I, I think that every philosophers probably tried to tell us that that’s what it comes down to. What else are we here for? But to take care of each other, to nurture the planet. What else are we here for? Even though we can survive a lot of horrible things, sometimes inside we can’t, without understanding, we can’t, I’d like people to know that, that they’re not alone and they’re suffering, and that if they talk about it, it does help. There’s a thing when we’re children, we experience usually exists in libraries, and it’s called the hush, like this magic world called hush. There’s not many places now to find hush sometimes. I really do think that if every person would experience hush, even if they almost have to force it on themselves for a while, just the bird, just the wind, nothing else hush. There would be less violence.

[Outro Music]

Host: My wife, Naomi, and Beth, went to high school together, they were friends. Naomi said that Beth was one of the most talented writers in her school. She wrote poetry, short stories, and performed her own original songs on stage. How was she able to do this? While at home, she was beaten, sexually abused, locked in cabinets, deprived of food. As an adult, she has literally stayed in one chair in her kitchen for years. Beth told me kindness is more important than anything else in the world. She not only speaks about kindness, but about the concept of hush silence and the feeling she has while being in a library. Everyone carries a wisdom about their own experience. This project is about mental health, but it’s also about what we have in common. Stories of dignity, questions of shared fragility, discovery of swerving not away from our lives, but toward a gravity that holds us together. A voice has a power. What does it feel like to be that person? Thank you, Beth, for your courage, your voice, and your presence. I’m Michael Nye. You may go to my website, michaelnye.org/podcast for Beth’s portrait and transcript. Thank you for listening.