From my in-progress work, The Philosophy of My Existence … This really happened, FYI, and I wish it didn’t …
It’s hard to conceive of human nature when you can’t even conceive of your own nature. Last night, was another tough night. Usually, it’s just a hyperactive mania that I battle, the racing thoughts and the desire to be super active/productive. But last night, I dealt with sadness, mania, and even suicidal thoughts.
I want to say, it’s no big deal. Because, I survived, somehow. I want to just chalk it up as just evidence of my super human will, the ability to talk my way out of mania and intense sadness/loneliness and even suicidal temptations. But I know that if I did that, it would be disingenuous in a lot of ways. It would undermine how hard it is to get out of my struggles when they occur.
It might be helpful to first explain why I felt the way that I felt. Because I feel like I am part of an outgroup. In retrospect, I know this isn’t true, as I have good friends and people who accept me as I am … but on the whole, I feel like it’s a very minimal few who understand me, and who sympathize with my schizoaffective disorder. So in that sense, it’s me against the world: The world has labeled me as an outcast against my will because of my peculiar way of thinking.
So that was really bothering me, but so was my constant obsession, with the idea that I’m not living a genuine life … and why? Because society controls so much about who I am and who I can be, by virtue of the fact that I’m the outgroup. There is nothing more unfair. Because society doesn’t value the mentally ill, we essentially become marginalized people, the outgroup, and it is my experience that our needs aren’t met. We aren’t accepted. But because society doesn’t care about the needs of the mentally ill, proven by the horrible history of how the mentally ill have been treated and our modern stereotypes leveled against the mentally ill, well … because they care about the status of other groups and not one of the hardest groups to understand … I am left to alienation and the destruction that that entails.
So yeah … with those thoughts in my mind, I couldn’t help but feel despair. I felt sad. I wandered around in loneliness and alienation. I wandered around in what could be called an acute depression (which hits me when I least expect it). The mania side of me wanted me to do something crazy, such as walk forever and never come back, leaving my apartment and life behind, or become an ascetic Jain, but I knew none of those were possibilities, because this culture has already determined who I can be and who I am. They have determined my value.
So, I walked. I walked, trying to figure out how to get out of my mind. I cried, and I tried to cry. I tried to understand what it was that I was missing, what it was I wasn’t understanding. What I was missing out on. It’s amazing how lonely you feel when you’ve been branded, stigmatized, even if not everybody judges you harshly (and how that stigma stays with your for life, and all the shame that brings) … just by virtue of the fact that you feel like you are the outgroup, that you are unwelcome. It doesn’t matter who are as a person … you’ve already been branded.
I walked, and I cried, and I felt despair. I felt despair when a person stopped to talk to me, asking for a cigarette, I told him I had no cigarette because I pretty much have nothing, and he told me his philosophy, that God doesn’t allow things to happen that don’t serve a purpose, and that when we think the world is all bad, we are deluding ourselves, because we just don’t see the good … but that doesn’t mean the good isn’t there. I thought this was powerful, and this got me thinking more about what the fuck my place is in this world, and how I just don’t understand what that place is. As if I ever will, it would seem.
I walked to the park, the place I’d been just a few hours earlier, and stayed with my thoughts, trying to figure it out, and getting nowhere. But I knew I had to get the suicidal thoughts out of my head. I knew I couldn’t hurt myself. I knew I couldn’t hurt myself in any way, because it would be counterproductive and I would regret it later. But that didn’t stop me from shouting in front of a person, with all of the arrogance and anger that I have when I’m manic/suicidal/depressed, “Yes! Sometimes I wish I could just take a fucking gun to head my head and shoot myself, at least once! Just fucking shoot myself for once!” I think he didn’t give a shit about my plight, but I felt better, because part of me believed that he’d at least heard me, that he’d heard my pain.
I went home, and in the darkness of my living room, begged to be absolved of these cycles, these constant cycles, of strong emotions and symptoms, that I live over and over again, and don’t seem to overcome completely, because they return. I begged to God, the universe, karma, Buddha, Confucius, Mohammad, I didn’t give a fuck who I was talking to, I just wanted to be absolved of whatever had gotten me to deserve this plight and suffering. Because I understood it was too much. I have known this for a while, but I find ways to live, but I knew in that moment that it was too much.
And that was when I was able to slowly start to change my thoughts to something more positive. Because I went to bed, and forced myself to relax, and not feel like the outgroup, forced myself to redirect my thinking, to the good things in my life, such as the publications coming up of my books, such as the fact that I have friends who understand me, that I’m smart and have a lot to offer … and I felt a little better, enough to try and get some sleep for that night. And I did this all alone.
But I realized as all of this was happening, that my notions of dualistic existentialism, namely, that we are in complete control of our minds and that we must psychologically study our own minds and be aware of all we are thinking, are too strong. They are overassertions. I give too much power to the mind. And it made me sad to realize how limiting the mind is.
But that doesn’t mean that today, the day after all of this chaos, that I think differently about this idea, that we must allow our minds to be free and accept responsibility for all we think and feel. Because I found a way to get out of my despair. I found a way to get out of my sorrow, my mania, my disillusionment, my suicidal thoughts. I found a way. I forced myself to think better. I forced myself to redirect and have hope. And for the people that want to consistently argue that our minds are limited and whatever, they can keep deluding themselves. I don’t deny certain limitations, of course. So I know my medication helps me, no doubt, and so does having friends and good things in my life and stability in terms of shelter … but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy to keep my thoughts under control, by any means … and yet I do. I force myself to keep them under control. And I’m sick of people trying to say we don’t have control over our minds, whether determinists or materialists or psychiatrists or crazy folk or ignorant citizens of this fucking United States … it’s all bullshit. We are in control of our thoughts, goddammit, existentialist style, and we’d be foolish to believe anything else, despite whatever limitations we may have. Because if I was able to talk my way out of suicide, calm my sadness despite the feeling that I was just the unwanted outgroup, and relax my mania … then people that don’t have a mental disorder have no reason to complain when they can’t control their fucking mind because they don’t have the will power and discipline that it takes to keep their minds under control.
Because, I’m proud that I survived another night. And I think that in my own way, I’m a testament to this notion of dualistic existentialism. To controlling our minds. To disciplining our minds. And to do otherwise is foolish and irresponsible, even if it is hard and at times even, impossible.