They creep, crawl; grub about above her pockmarked skin,
she claws hard at them with sharp life-dirtied finger nails,
they deny her defence, manage to wriggle in
and (deep)below the surface leave their itchy trail,
gnaw at her flesh, mesh her dark thoughts, consume her mind,
tormented she begins to scream begins to wail
and delusionary arthropods’ maligned
continue merciless onslaught upon her flesh;
round her intestines worms and maggots intertwined
stranglehold agonise; knife raised she begins to thresh -
seed cut from straw momentarily relieves her distress.
Delusional parasitosis can present with differing levels of affect – although the end result is the same (irritation – often extreme) – and accounts of its impact vary amongst sufferers. The (sufferers) belief is held that parasites (insects etc.) crawl upon the skin and/or burrow into/under it and are accompanied with cutaneous sensations of biting, stinging, crawling and itching.
It is considered primarily as a hypochondriacal psychosis, but is also induced by psychoactive agents and is associated with mental (ill)health states.
The poem relates to a female patient I knew in my student days. She had intractable schizophrenia and her life was that of sheer torment. I have never met a poor soul more damaged than she. Her distress distressed me then as it does now thinking of her. I have written of her before, here. I don’t think I will ever forget her.
Tony at dVerse has us attempting Terza Rima – thanks for the inspiration Tony. Although the iambic pentameter is not exactly spot on - the above is my attempt.
Image: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons