I struggled a bit this past week, and I had to write about it. Maybe you’ll connect.
The suffering that exists for people is no doubt very real. We don’t really know why a person feels pain, at least ontologically, or why someone has to suffer, at least philosophically. Maybe we can analyze the reasons, and come to some kind of mediated understanding, but ultimately, we don’t really know the phenomenon that is pain.
It is something I have asked myself a lot. Why do people suffer? What are the metaphysical reasons for something like the anomaly that is suffering? Unable to come to a satisfactory conclusion of why this is the case, I have abandoned the question, or at least, don’t think about it as much philosophically anymore. But that doesn’t mean I am not thinking about the question, at least in my own way.
It would seem that when it comes to my own psyche, I am oblivious of my motivations, oblivious of my unconscious mind. I just know that I suffer, in ways that I cannot immediately explain, express, or understand. I try to understand it in my own terms, as well as understand it objectively, but I don’t always succeed in this, because my mind is a mystery, an iceberg in the cold dark water that goes so deep. I know that my psychosis runs very deep in my psyche, and attaches itself to my every thought, so essentially, my fears, my anxieties, my worries about death, the confronting of my own mortality, the paranoia and the fear that I have with other people: I can’t escape that, because it runs deep in my mind, the fear that I am about to die in a violent way, or in a tragic way: an amplification of my experience.
I could philosophize all day about this kind of issue, but there are other things I would like to talk about in relation to this larger issue I am broaching. Yesterday was a tough day for me, because I wasn’t treated with respect at my job, and that hurt. I haven’t been treated with respect, really at all, whether in work or the world, and that has been very difficult for me, for a person who already has persecutory delusions as it is. Basically, I find the situation to be absurd and stupid, and I am upset that it destroyed me the way that it did. What I understood, was that I had broken a rule by listening to music on my shift, and my employer didn’t understand that it was because I was trying to cope with a stressful situation, and hold back the reign of my mental illness. But I interpreted her imperative for me to listen to music on my own terms outside, not in front of the kids at my job, as an attack, a personal attack, and my paranoia got kicked up even more. And I can kind of understand why I perceived it this way: she probably was expressing a certain degree of frustration with me and the larger situation at work, that I then internalized, and that made my experience even worse.
I know that most people can do that pretty well. That is, listen to the demands of their employer. But I acknowledge that this is why I didn’t want to have a job in the first place, was because I am not very good at interpersonal relationships, or at least certain kinds, such as those in the workforce. And I would say that people don’t necessarily understand my concerns, a lot of which deals with my mental illness and how that manifests itself in a way that is never productive or helpful for anyone.
So, yesterday was going very rough. It seemed I couldn’t get any respite or rest. But the kids distracted me for a moment, when they wanted to play a game with me, a kind of cops and robbers game. Honestly, it warmed my heart, that they wanted to play with me. It distracted me in the moment,for the moment, because I love kids and their spirit. And it reminded me that I really am working hard to make the best of the situation at my job. But I understand that where I am at, because of many experiences that have happened there, it is not a good fit for me, and it is problematic to be there, in a toxic environment, where the people there don’t respect me or really care about my struggles.
I remember very vividly, when I tried to make a joke to one of the people there that clearly has a problem with me, it was an attempt to be a part of the in crowd. But then she responded with sarcasm, which cut really deep, dismissing my attempt at kindness and solidarity. According to Freud, emotions express themselves eventually, as they boil within our psyche. My friend Preston described to me the realization that emotional trauma and pain is not a one to one relationship, like when you are hit physically, and then you hit somebody back. It often percolates in our mind instead, the emotional struggle and the emotional experience and trauma, and that emotion and pain often comes out in other contexts and situations. I realized that when I basically lost my cool at a pizzeria. I was trying to treat myself to a decent meal after a long week at work, of many discouraging experiences, but I wasn’t able to control my emotions, which came out in a very emotional way. I ended up crying at the pizzeria, upset that they had put meat on my pizza, when I am a staunch vegetarian. Of course normally, this wouldn’t upset me that much, I can just get another pizza made. But because of my mood and because of how the day had gone, and how the week had gone, I wasn’t able to keep my emotions in check. So I started getting upset. Basically, I remember going out to my car with my pizza, and asking people there to just kill me, and when I was inside of my car, I saw the pizza had meat on it, and that was when I realized I had had enough, of my intense emotions and my inability to express them in any meaningful way.
Of course, sometimes people break down. This is something that I need to understand, I just wish that I would have been able to keep my emotions in check, so I wouldn’t have gotten upset at this pizzeria. I didn’t want drama, I didn’t want struggle, I didn’t want trouble: yet that was what happened because I was having such a rough week, being disrespected at work, being disrespected in the world, struggling to make sense of my life and my new responsibilities.
But I would say the suffering is very real. Perhaps I cannot be definitive about my story, because there is so much to share, but the emotions in the moment were very real, like they have been all week for me. I knew that the way I was coping with it, with the situation, by asking people to kill me, was definitely not the way to express my emotions, and I understand that people have a hard time with it, and ignore me because they don’t really know what to do with it except act with callousness and a disregard. But I would say that is part of the difficulty, of course, is that in those moments I need support, I need people to show compassion to me and not make it seem as though I would be better off with a bullet in my head.
But I am grateful for the kindness of people as well, and the beauty and art that is already in the world. As I was having my break down at the pizzeria, upset and telling them I couldn’t eat meat because it was the slaughter of animals, and that I was a stupid dipshit and was spending money that I didn’t have, and that I basically just wanted people to shoot me because I could see that desire in their face: I was listening to Down, Wicked, and No Good, an EP by In Flames, one of my favorite bands. That specific bit of music is very moody and atmospheric, capturing emotions that I feel, such as hurt and pain, and doing it in a way that helps me cope with my strong emotions. I feel like listening to this music in the hard moments allowed me to cope, even if in the moment it was only background music. They were also very kind to me at the pizzeria, the fact that I lost my cool, and they gave me pistachio ice cream. I will never forget that bit of kindness, it really means the world to me, that someone saw that I was struggling and offered to try to make my day better in the best way they could. I will never forget that. It tells me that the world is not all bad, even when I am at my worst.
I know that I have to do better, of course, and it is my goal to be in touch with my emotions, so even while I can’t prevent the storm from carrying me away, I can at least focus on my emotions, focus on my internal narrative, my drives and my instincts, my desires and goals.
Because I know that this fear that I have, of my mortality, of dying violently, of existing in the world of pain, of persecutory delusions, definitely runs deep within my mind, due to past traumas, past experiences, and the pain of my past. There are of course also biological reasons for this pain that runs deep within my psyche, that of which is also important to be aware of. So in that way I have trouble focusing, because my fears run so deep within my head, and I am unable to reign it in at times.
I realize that it runs deep and that in some ways, there is nothing that I can do except do my best to practice mindfulness, meditation, and working hard to focus on the positive. But as you can imagine, it is difficult when my psyche is literally leveled against me, when my very existence becomes a threat to myself, exacerbating the threat that is already in the physical and social world. I really don’t know how I get over these traumatic experiences, of such intense emotion, delusion, and feeling, and that is because, it is very difficult for me to understand and experience these emotions, much less control them. I have to accept what it is, and accept that my psyche is very sensitive to stimuli, and in that way, I have to let myself be okay with the unknown, and with a psyche dealing with so much.
And I know I can do it. I know that I can’t always control what is happening in the world, but I can do my best to at least be aware of what is going on in my mind and deep within my troubled psyche, even when I can’t control it and control the process. I know that I have done very well for a long time, I have gotten through it all, and that gives me so much hope. Because I know that there is good in the world, and there is no reason why my psyche has to experience only pain. Even though these ideas run deep within my head, paranoia, paranoid delusion, fear and isolation, I know that people love me, and that gives me a lot of hope. Because it means that I can continue to live, and be a blessing to others.