I totally almost crashed and burned last night (again): From my in-progress book on mental illness …
I’m not a materialist, because I am not a reductionist, but I nonetheless had a conversation last night with a physicist and mathematician, with me trying to figure it all out.
Oh, man, where do I even begin? I was at a poetry reading, where I often seem to get into trouble. My mania was creeping in on me, and before I knew it, I was full-blown manic in front of my friend. I was talkative, too. Mostly talkative, but also worried about where things could go. Or would go. Just to spite me. My friend said we have to label everything, so we label talkativeness as mental illness. Cool.
We had a good conversation outside. I embodied Tom Sawyer, by putting a piece of straw in my mouth, and kicking out my feet in a comfortable, relaxed, sprawled position. I told my friend I was embodying Tom Sawyer, who he said was Gavroche, and I said it was totally Tom Sawyer.
I believe it was in this moment when he told me that I work too hard to construct my identity. I told him about my “imaginary friends,” ranging from Tyson to The Dark Kid. I told him I struggle to understand what it means. And I just kept talking about it.
It was a good moment, but I told him I was worried I’d lose it. I told him I was worried about breaking down.
The poetry night continued, and I was shocked that one of my friends totally stripped down to his underwear to read his poem. As he described it later, it was to make the connection easier. And in all honesty, it was pretty fucking sexy.
Anyway, my materialist friend gave me a ride home, and I invited him to stroll with me in my midnight mania. We talked about many things, I told him that I have friends I don’t understand, these imaginary friends, and he told me, to talk to real people. I can’t stress enough how real these imaginary people are, though, to me. I mean, I know they aren’t real, but I feel in my heart they are real in some way. Is that just a catch I created for myself, a trick? I don’t know, but it makes me sad.
Well, we walked against the freeway, against traffic. Out of the way, of course, but obviously defying the established order. This amazingly wasn’t my idea, it was my friend’s. It was intense.
We sat down for a while, talked some more, and then climbed a fence. I was worried I’d cut myself or fall or do some serious damage to my body, but I did okay, but with his help. He helped me climb over the fence, because he was strong and could do that. Which was good. It helped me get over. I didn’t think I could do it because my meds made me drunk and distracted, but nonetheless, he helped pull my weak body over the fence. He described this instance as a metaphor for accepting help to carry your burdens, something I found very poetic.
I was thinking of all he was telling me over the night, and it was insane. I was thinking of how cool my improv was, because it was natural, and he told me I should write like I improv. I still don’t know what this means, which sucks because I do wish I could write as smooth as I talked into that microphone, about the doors that become mirrors, all that we can’t see, with my friend telling me that the reflection I see is me wishing I was someone else, someone I’m not, with me thinking of how I told him that I like what the Devil I envision embodies, because he just is and I’m jealous of that, that when he said the Devil isn’t real, I said it means something special to say God doesn’t exist but the Devil does, because it implies a world of desperation and loneliness, separation from the divine. He pretty much told me that was bullshit, to strive for a Western ideal we can’t reach, which I thought was interesting. His strongest argument of the night was when he told me that, when I said I was a dualistic existentialist and all of those terms were oppressive because they reeked of the West, that I can’t keep striving to make a perfect theoretical construct just to please the West of which has oppressed me, that I don’t need to live to the expectations of Western culture and science, that I can just be. I don’t know if I find freedom or slavery in that notion, because of how much that characterizes my drive. I’m a systematizer whether I like it or not.
He told me I work too hard to construct my identity, which I was obsessing over, because I know this to be true. It’s because I want to be Phoenix. I was hospitalized and my Phoenix, Arizona shirt was ripped open by the medics. What choice did I have but to become Phoenix, to be reborn? And he told me it was all just chance that it would happen, that it didn’t “make” me who I thought I was, but I totally disagreed.
Phoenix is my identity.
And as we talked, that fell apart, because I started referring to Phoenix in third person. Which was lonely as fuck.
I asked him later what was wrong with me. He said I’m obviously manic-depressive. I told him, how easy that must make it seem, to just say I’m “this.” He told me it doesn’t make it easy at all.
And believe it or not, I totally cried in front of him. He hugged me, I smelled his cigarette smoke on his crisp white shirt, and I felt like fucking dying. I cried in that moment, because I was confronting my sadness, that I confront often, that I feel often, because it’s so fucking intense. The sadness, the sorrow, the angst, the regret, the remorse … for all the things I am not, and all the things I could never be. I just want connection, and in that moment, I was confronting my feelings, which are so strong, and how I’m scared of mania, I’m scared, and I just want to cry because I’m sad. No matter what that means. I told him it wasn’t for attention, he knew it wasn’t, and so I cried and we moved on. I didn’t expect him to hug me, though.
We argued about post-rock, whether the band Foxing is post-rock, I totally lost that argument even though I’m still convinced they are post-rock, and well … I made it all right. I fell asleep, shouting at night at random intervals in my half-wake/half-sleep world that I love you, who I love I don’t know, I just love. Fucking love.
He rode the storm with me. He got to see my manic side. The side few have seen, if really anyone. I wish it was easier, that it didn’t come at such a price. All these things. But they do, and I understand they do, and that will have to work.
Because it’s physics, man. Chemical imbalance, romanticizing suffering through a dark kiss that sucks the life out of you, through love broken, being vegetarian to try and save the animals, feeling pain, hurting: It’s physics. Simple physics. Our energy keeps going.