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Dolly Sen's Blog - disability arts online
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Disability Arts Online

Recovery's No Man's Land / 4 July 2014

One thing they don’t tell you about the recovery model is that it will lead some people into no man’s land.

If you, like me, have been residing in psychotic hinterlands for a good few decades, you realise when you rejoin society, you are decades behind your peers. Your first love, job, career, home, relationships are new things in your 30s and 40s. People talk of lost youth like a misplaced item. Mine was never there in the first place.

When you stumble with the mistakes in middle age that most people dispensed with in their teens, it’s humiliating and demeaning, it skins you alive when you have no skin to begin with. Your vulnerability feels like a coat of petrol in a world of fire.  

My passport is stamped with lands no one has visited. I cannot return to the homely tyranny of psychosis, even though I still think in that language. I have become a stateless person, not accepted in my new land, normality’s refugee. Too many people do not want me to be part of their home, their culture. I can’t give them what they want. My mind is too strange to pay the adequate amount of taxes. My soul is too hurt to accept any more bullshit. My dreams do not belong in this world. I can’t say society is meaningful and that I am happy to be part of it. It is very ugly in places, and I am not supposed to get upset by that. That’s life, I am told, and life’s not fair. I know that, but why does that mean human beings should forget to try and be fair?

I can’t return to where I came, and I don’t like where I am going. No man's land is land that is unoccupied or is under dispute between parties that leave it unoccupied due to fear or uncertainty. Historically, no man’s land is a dangerous strip of land, or a place of execution. Where can I go to explore a place that is mine? Will I bump into others straying into this lost part of the land?

No man’s land is unowned, unclaimed. Time to claim it as a land I must create myself. That is why I am an artist.