I have exercised this blog at times with the same assurance a bowed cane gives to an old man. No doubt the flow of my life and more specifically, states of mind have been present here. Having been well versed in the ways of keeping on keeping on, it is more important than ever for me to take the time to mention the following. I trust you’ll excuse the lack of wit and sparkle. Stasis is a true enemy of mine and results in a quick trip down to where doing nothing perpetuates doing nothing ever more.
It takes a very special person to understand what happens inside for someone who has a mental illness.
“Get over it!”
“Put in a bit of effort, would you!”
“You’re not trying”…and my favourite,
“If you had some real problems, you’d realise that things are not that bad”.
I do indeed realise that I am privileged. I do indeed understand that I am free from the need to search for food, potentially risking my life or at least integrity to feed my family. And that is just one of the horrific circumstances that I do not have to take in hand. But I do feel the fear of something bigger than myself coming after me.
We are a strange animal, us human beings. No other living creature has within in it, a secular group capable of self-destruction. Whilst so many living things fight for the right to live, some of us humans are capable of turning against ourselves. The human brain is a magical thing and in its mere concept, inspires me no end. It inspired me straight through a degree in psychology in fact. But unfortunately I am one of the relative few, who during their existence will go behind enemy lines in a battle against themselves.
People like myself, if they are lucky and have the resources, must go about learning how to win these battles. How to motivate a mind that haunts you, how to trick a brain that momentarily wants to keep you down.
Yesterday the toolman commented that I am just “so mean” to him. That I bring him down and make him feel horrible. He also commented that when I am the other person I am “incredibly loving and kind”.
“I agree with you” is all I said before walking away.
Stephen Fry, a British actor, writer and less commonly known as my personal hero was endowed with the courage and strength that led him to “out” himself four years ago. He travelled the world talking to people with mental illness and asked a very poignant question of them all. He asked,
“If I had a red button that could take this away for you right now, would you press it?”
Nobody said yes. He himself admitted that he couldn’t bring himself to do it. However, nearly all of them said that they would like the same offer extended to them during times of deep depression.
You see, when I’m good, I’m great. My life is verbally vibrant and stimulating. I have lots of ideas, love a chat, love to read and love to think, even if much of that occurs in my own mind. But when I am bad and energized (as opposed to bad and mute), I direct every misgiving, every misfortune I have ever encountered directly at the person who has decided to love me unconditionally.
Loving me unconditionally does not mean that the toolman loves me all the time; just that for some reason that I haven’t fully understood, knowing all that he does, he has decided to love me anyway. He has resolved to bear the brunt when I express states of mind so diligently controlled outside the home; or at least I think they’re controlled.
When I care, I care deeply and give a lot of myself. But when something changes me, when I am challenged by the rage that channels me, I am unable to control it.
Someone very dear to me said recently,
“I’m responsible for the first drink. I’m just not responsible for what happens by the second. I cannot be held accountable.” He has a very serious allergy to alcohol.
What an affliction, we chime, and it is true. What is more difficult to understand is the wife, the daughter, the sister, the cousin, me, standing before you looking exactly as I always have but completely transformed from within. There is no slur of speech, no wobble of gait, just me firing misdirected missiles in your direction.
When you hate yourself, as I truly do in those moments, I have no control. Don’t misunderstand me; I don’t hate myself for behaving like that, I hate myself despite of it. Oh no, in the moment, I am being completely reasonable. I am expelling the rage and hatred in my life, screaming…..
“How dare you!”
I know what you are thinking. Free pass to bitch-town. But as you consider this as the most reasonable explanation of behaviour, I assure you that I also have a free pass to experience depression, self hatred, shame, guilt, abandonment, fear, and a ride that teeters on the edge with a clear view down.
And believe me; they’re all right next to bitch-town.