Patients kept thinking I was a staff member on the psychiatric wards. It happened enough times for it to be a thing. I must have looked somewhat normal. I found solace in that idea.
A few months ago Len went into hospital for a week. I went up to visit. I chatted with all the familiar psychiatric nurses. It was strange to be on the other side of the equation. I felt no common bond with any of the patients. It’s a different world when you’re visiting.
I had a sweet thing going when I was in my mid-twenties. Nobody knew I was crazy. Well, they thought I was crazy, but in an innocuous, playful way, but nobody knew about my history of mental health problems.
It was liberating, to an extent. I felt like I was free to be an independant person. Everyone judged me by the regular standards they’d use to judge anybody else. I felt more willing to find a girlfriend, socialise, and meet new people.
It’s a different bond altogether, knowing people who are genuinely crazy, whilst it’s known that you yourself are genuinely crazy. There’s no outlier present. There’s something inspiring and comforting about not being altogether sane, and making no secret of it. You tend to accept people more. You don’t evaluate them with the same standards you’ judge everyone else by. It feels like an emancipation.
I kept my secret well, but I was far from sane as I strutted bravely into my late twenties. I got to a stage where I resented the universe around me. I’d go through hardships and hate it. I’d see people living close to me and hate them. A concerning thing happens when you fall into the trap of hating the universe around you.
You start to see your anger as power. Sure, rage and bitterness change you within, but can it change the without in a constructive way? You start thinking that anger equals empowerment, bitterness equals a readiness to be assertive. If only you could be elsewhere, with all the good people, but it doesn’t work like that.
I was fueled by the ideal that there was something noble about struggling. I was surrounded by, as I saw it, culturally and intellectually bankrupt people. They held a mirror up to the very core of my dark, unforgiving soul.
I was mentally fighting with myself to produce energetic states of being. I didn’t eat. I fed myself on the one thing that, in the long run, costs the most. I developed energy as fuel for life, by outwardly hating the world, and everything that I observed in it.
I’m in a state of peace with the world, now. I have the odd snag, here and there. I snap back to redundant ways of thinking. The fallout was harsh. It was the result of being hateful and uptight for a prolonged period of time.
I’ve learned my lesson, now. The one thing I’ve realised is that you really do get out what you put in. I’d like to think I could be in that same location, with the same financial limitations, yet find peace and relative stability, now.
I suppose people thinking I was a staff member on the wards meant something to me on a deep level. Maybe it meant I still had an air of civility about me. The madness hadn’t fully taken me. I was still something that resembled human. I looked around and saw a dozen faces that were brimming over with a passion that wasn’t so obvious to see at first glance.
You get to a stage where you’re staring the psychological pink elephant in the face. Somebody’s saying something to you, and you’re thinking just how insane they sound. Not my beliefs, though. Not my views. That’s something else. This person’s crazy. You try and ignore this faint, swelling sense of hypocrisy within you, and you start to wake up to your own subjective nature.
All I ask of myself now is that I project myself as strong, and good. In the privacy of my own home I’m a clown and sentimentalist, but as far as the world at large is concerned, when I’m truly embodying my ideal persona, I am strong, and I am good.
I like to believe my thinking goes deeper than it once did. I don’t need to know if a person has a history of mental discord. I’ll read every individual by how I feel about them, deep down.
You sit uneasy with the realisation that dysfunctional, but otherwise sane people are the ones you have to be vigilant around. Put me in a room full of drunks and there’ll be a palpable tension in the air. If somebody kicks off, it could easily lead to ugly beginnings. Give me a room full of mentally ill people, and I feel at ease.
It starts to occur to you that people are just people. If I’m the universe manifesting itself in higher sentience, then surely the next man is, and the next woman. If I’m capable of realising my own hypocrisy and the ludicrous nature of my deepest beliefs, others must be experiencing the same thing, even if it’s only on a subconscious level.
We’re all here and we’re all one, except we’re not all one. Give me a companion and there are three of us. Leave me alone and there’s two of us. Really we’re beyond one, when you strip the truth down through several layers.
I am the universe manifesting itself in sentient form. When you begin to realise that that’s the basis of all human life on this planet, you evolve a little. Empathy starts to seem worthwhile. The golden rule comes into play.
I start to appreciate the fact that yes, I am willing to value myself to the degree that I don’t take those other parts of myself for granted. I start to accept that I created this. I created all you can see. I created all that is.
The only time that that’s a counterproductive process of thought is when you leave your awareness of others as one with the whole, look out onto others, and witness separation. I like to think there’s no real need to be constantly aware of separation or oneness, but it’s fun to feel the impact, from time to time, of the realisation that we’re all this one consciousness. It’s the one realisation that can really instill lasting change within you.