I had one of the worst nights of my life, and when I least expected it.
Picture this: It’s about six o’ clock on a cold winter evening, and a kid named Phoenix is experiencing a touch of mania to surprise him.
I hadn’t had mania in a little while, but that night, I was experiencing a manic jolt. It was hard to explain, but basically, I was at my age-old quandary, wondering if I was doing anything useful in my life and being a harsh critic to myself, and feeling like I needed to push the boundaries. I needed to explore, I needed to expand. I needed to try.
But at the same time, at the same time that I had this crazy urge to explore, to try new things, to get into trouble, I was also thinking about how much I’d fallen flat on my face over the years, with complete and utter failure, and how I didn’t want any trouble. I just wanted to have a good night, an exciting night, a fun night: a peaceful night.
This was wrestling within me, this tension, and I wasn’t sure what to do with it. Except to acknowledge it was confusing. How could I want to explore and expand and yet fear the inevitable sting of persecution for being who I was?
Mania had reared its ugly head.
To be clear, the mania was pretty much under control, compared to how it had once been. The meds were keeping me in check. That said, I needed to do something. I needed to try something. I need to push ahead.
I needed to know.
So, I walked to the library. I explored a little bit. I knew I was going to do this, I was going to be okay.
I knew it, no doubt, I knew it: I had to know it.
So, I checked out the philosophy section in the library, and immediately, I saw a book on Fatalism, about David Foster Wallace and his dissertation against a paper on fatalism. This was too interesting. I also picked up another book that I didn’t get to that night, I believe a book by a philosopher named Sydney Hook, and I went along with the night, no telling where I was going to end up.
I read, but couldn’t really concentrate. David Foster Wallace is too much of an intellectual giant for me. But, I knew I wasn’t going to give up on exploration, so I thought, how about I check out a magazine?
I’d been thinking about expanding my consciousness by going to sources I’d normally avoid or ignore, and so, I looked at a Mad magazine, and even checked out The National Enquirer. What an amazing waste of time!
Though Mad made me laugh, I’ll admit. It was funny, all the political jokes and pop culture references. It was clever. I supposed it expanded my consciousness.
For wasn’t this what it was all about for me that night? Expanding my consciousness? Wasn’t that what I wanted to accomplish, what I wanted to do? Yes, it was.
I then wrote a poem. I concentrated hard, wrote a poem, and enjoyed writing it. It was from my poetry collection Separation: Healing. I enjoyed it. It was in fact a highlight of the night, for only fate knew it was just going to get worse.
I decided I was going to see what was going on in the city, so I walked to the Broadway Theater, and checked out the films and their descriptions, and saw, especially when the guy at the ticket office ignored me, that this wasn’t a night for a movie.
So, could I go to a bar? Oh, if only I could have known the tragedy that was headed in my direction, all because I made the decision to go to the bar!
It started well enough. I walked around, hung out, put up my hood, didn’t really do anything. Just kind of existed in my head. I needed a safe space, a quiet space, to think, to get my thoughts together. It wasn’t working, I was getting more and more depressed as the night continued. Especially when an old friend messaged me on Facebook, and we talked. They had great advice, but it struck a raw chord with me, because it told me that I was in my head too much, that I relied on logic, my safe space, too much, and missed out on what the world was actually offering. If only I could have explained it was because I didn’t have a choice! I go crazy without the intellect.
Anyway, time passed, I hung out, and then things got bad.
I was already depressed from the conversation I’d had with the friend on Facebook, but I wasn’t expecting anything bad to happen. I thought something bad might happen, but I didn’t ultimately think it would happen. I wasn’t doing anything. I was pacing a little, and I had my hood up, but that wasn’t anything bad. It was just my habit when I was stressed out.
But that was when a guard came up to me and said, “You’re out.”
He may as well have said, “Get out.”
I was shocked. I thought about protesting, but I knew, what good would it do? But nonetheless, I was shocked. I hadn’t done anything. (A friend later callously said it was because I was pacing and wearing my hood, which I said was a misunderstanding of mental illness and a missed opportunity, as I wouldn’t have done that if I hadn’t been manic; I disagreed with the supposition that I was in the wrong, because I wasn’t, and I knew it.) Sure, I was acting a little strangely, but I’d been to this place many times before and I’d been fine, and essentially, what I really needed was a safe place and space: Why weren’t they going to give me that?
Needless to say, it upset me greatly, but I left, literally more crushed than I was walking in, but stopped at the guy outside, and said, “I want a reason for why I was kicked out.”
He gave me a whole bunch of nonsense about how it wasn’t his job, about how it wasn’t his responsibility, about how he didn’t know what had happened (suggesting I was guilty … motherfucker), giving other curt and horrible equivocations that showed he wasn’t going to do the civil thing and at least get a reason as to why I had been kicked out of the establishment. I wanted to know, so I could correct it: Was it my hood? Was it because I wasn’t drinking? I could buy a fucking beer, for God’s sake: you don’t just kick people out without a reason, for crying out loud.
And yet, he did.
So, I babbled on about physics (energy equals mass times light squared, Einstein’s equation, and force equals mass times acceleration, Newton’s equation), because I needed something to understand. I told him that I was glad I wasn’t wearing a hijab and obviously Muslim and refused service, because that would have hurt (in reference to him telling me they could refuse service). He told me to go the bar next door if I really wanted to go to a bar, which wasn’t a bad suggestion, but I told him, because I was manic and not thinking clearly, that I wasn’t a hipster, and I wouldn’t be allowed at a hipster bar. Which was true.
I continued talking, told him I wanted to shoot myself, and it’d feel good, that maybe that was a bad joke, but I got depressed. I read him some of my poem Beauty, which he said, basically, he wasn’t in a position to listen to my poems. Whatever, man. Whatever the fucking hell.
It sucked. I wasn’t getting anywhere with the guy, everything I did to elicit empathy was a waste of time, so I left, went to the bar next door.
And then, I just lost it: I started crying, heavily, upset, disappointed, and mostly, just utterly heartbroken. This was only one time among many where I’d been isolated because my mental illness led me to act differently, which often led to intense hurt. This was just one rejection too many, one discrimination too much. So, I cried, recalling the time when I cried on my college campus because I was so depressed, and listening to A Thousand Suns by Linkin Park.
I knew no one would stop to ask if I was okay, would just talk and go about their business and be shallow motherfuckers, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t hoping someone would ask if I was okay, just someone. I wanted hope in humanity.
But it didn’t happen, and I was so jaded, I didn’t care, just went on their patio, and crazily enough, incidentally, was crying in front of the guy I’d just talked to, the one who could now see what a total wreck I was because of his lack of empathy, and the lack of empathy I was feeling in general.
So, I knew I was certainly sensitive, but for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why I was so upset. Why was I allowing this one thing to upset me so much?
I later figured out it wasn’t just that incident. I was already on edge, and honestly, I was sick of not knowing what to do with my mania, make it useful and maximize it, and feeling the resistance from society simply for being mentally ill, being discriminated as a consequence, and feeling like a loser. It sucked. I was used to not getting support from society at large, but they had helped create these circumstances, surely they’d take some responsibility.
Some people just like bullying others. Picking on the little guy, bullying, as I had told the guy earlier.
Anyway, I was done for the night. I had to get home. I was a wreck, crying in public, a mistake: So, I listened to Astral Body over and over again, by Between the Buried and Me, and walked in the cold. Seriously considering suicide.
I stopped on the way, still crying, and posted on Facebook that I was sorry I was crying, and still crying, and that I was sorry, but sometimes I felt like a street kid. Because in that moment, I did. It hurt.
It all hurt.
And then the unadulterated rage hit. I started yelling. I passed a taco stand and told the guys there, all about cutting off dicks, all about doctors slicing people open, all about organs being cut open, all about doctors destroying innocent people, all about how I wanted someone to shoot me and not be such a fucking coward. This was familiar in my routine: Once before, I’d snapped, and I had pled for the same thing: Could someone just fucking kill me, do what they wanted to do and just shoot me?
But no. They never did.
Anyway, I yelled some more. And it hurt. It was a chaotic night for me. One I didn’t expect. I found it wonderful that I’d asked the universe or God or whatever the fuck for no conflict that night, because I just needed space to figure things out. And that wish was granted, as I was kicked out of a bar without a reason, and literally triggered into a psychotic break.
But what’s sad is this is life. This is what I go through. It’s the norm. I don’t expect sympathy from society for suffering with a mental illness: I expect police officers and guards and mean people who are content to just do whatever they are doing and not be empathetic towards another human being. It’s normal. I expect it. I expect it all the time, now, even though I secretly hope someone will care.
All of this seems minor, but it wasn’t. As I’ve said before, mental suffering is your own private hell, and it has an impact. It destroys you. Which is why I get so mad when people treat me the way they do because they see a supposed “threat” in my behavior. Just so you know, motherfucker, my mind has nothing to do with how you idiotically perceive the world. In other words, my suffering is none of your business. Stay out of my life.
But when I got home, after yelling my lungs out, I slowly started to relax, being in a familiar setting. It was late, but I was doing okay. I wrote a poem, in my collection The Beautiful Mythology, about a longing to see The Light Kid. To see my friends.
It was sad, melancholic, but so necessary.
I also wrote some notes down for my Expression of a Universe, and slowly fell asleep, and woke up depressed, but better than I was the night before. The feeling of being singled out for having a mental illness still stung, but I knew, I was going to get through it.
And ultimately, I did get through it, which is why I was able to write this essay.
Such is the strength of logic and rationality, it seems, to look at mental illness and one’s own thought process …