I guess I have to start somewhere with this, and the place that makes the most sense, I think is with me.
Please allow me to introduce myself. I’m a man without wealth or taste. I hope some day to have wealth, but as for taste, I could do without it, I think.
The most important thing that I can tell you about myself is that I am mentally ill. Specifically, I’ve got depression and anxiety. I strongly suspect that there’s more to it than just that, but those are the ones I’ve been diagnosed with. Well, sort of. Diagnoses related to mental problems are a bit different than diagnoses related to physical problems. Basically I just told a shrink that I spend a lot of time depressed for no discernible reason, but I don’t have any periods where I partake in excessive risks or think I’m immortal and she goes ‘yeah, that’s depression.’ I don’t know exactly what I expected, to have to pee on a stick or get some blood drawn or something. Honestly, I think it’s the word ‘diagnosed’ that through me off. I spent years thinking ‘hey, I’m anxious a lot. maybe I have an anxiety disorder? But I shouldn’t say that for sure until I’ve talked to a doctor.’ Then when I do they just go, ‘oh, yeah, anxiety for no reason? Okay, I can give you something for that.’
Sorry, that’s a bit of a tangent. Just something that always felt weird to me.
Anyhow, I’m currently medicated for the depression, and sort of medicated for the anxiety, which has helped me more than I can express. I mean, it has literally been years since I’ve laid in bed, crying, praying that I’d die before I woke up. That sucked.
The funny thing, looking back, was the little voice in the back of my head doubting everything for me. I remember, very specifically, thinking ‘this is it, it can’t get worse than this, I have to see a shrink and get something to help me deal with this.’ And then this little voice in my head goes, ‘but what if there’s nothing wrong with you. What if this is how everybody feels, and you’re just such a giant pussy that you can’t deal with it like everyone else does.’
I don’t know if there’s a name for that little voice, but there should be. And he should get his ass kicked.
Well, that was another tangent. Let’s see, what was it I wanted to talk about? Oh, right. So, one of the interesting patterns I’ve seen is that a lot of people with mental illnesses end up working in the arts in one form or another. A lot of painters, a lot of authors, a lot of sculptors, when you look into them, they were pretty screwed up. They would maim themselves, kill themselves, go bat-crap crazy. I’ve felt for a long time that the reason for this is because those of us with mental illnesses find the standard means of communication to be insufficient to encompass what we feel. People use words like happy and sad, frustrating and invigorating, and we know what those words mean, so when we feel something that seems to press beyond the stifling borders which normal speech allows, we feel that we need to find some way of expressing it. I remember somebody asking me once what I thought the job of a writer was, and I said, after much consideration, that I thought our job was to help readers experience the full range of human emotion. Because so many of us don’t experience it.
Perhaps we need to create bizarre scenarios to allow those feelings out, but in the end, I believe that what all of us are trying to do is connect with others, to communicate those things that standard words and pictures don’t seem to quite accomplish. So we have to reexamine language. Sometimes that means making up new words, sometimes it means building an entire universe.
That’s what’s on my mind at the moment. Hope somebody got something out of this.