I was told today “You have an awesome life”.
I paused before I answered, mostly because I was stuck in traffic for an hour and a half when it takes me ten minutes to cross town normally. But I also paused to reflect on the last week, to think about the people I’ve met, the struggles they’ve been through, and the way I’ve been humbled this week within myself.
I’ve been humbled because I’ve realized how not alone I am. I’m humbled because I learned how valuable connection is and how valuable trust is. I’ve never trusted someone enough to tell them how much I don’t trust people.
I’m going to severely miss those connections. Although there are other ways to stay connected, it won’t be the same for me.
It’s been a very lonely existence in my life. I stick to my ground that I’m not a social person, I don’t care to have many friends. But this week speaking with people who understand, being able to talk about things like suicide and self injury without someone’s eyes growing wide and them saying “are you safe? do I need to call someone?” without giving me a chance to explain my feelings, is priceless.
There are things we can laugh about that someone without lived experience wouldn’t laugh at. And it’s a different kind of laughter for me, it’s a kind of laughter where you remember a time you were in that situation and you remember how you got out of it, and now when someone is sarcastic about it, you can see the humor in it.
To reiterate, it’s a very lonely existence. I don’t feel comfortable speaking about my issues to people who haven’t had them because I know their level of understanding can only be on an “I care for you level” rather than an “I care for you and I know how hard it is” level.
I met people with a lot of different diagnoses: anorexia, DID, Schizophrenia, Depression, anxiety, Bulimia, Bipolar, e.t.c. But the wonderful thing is we didn’t talk about those diagnoses. In fact, I didn’t know many of them until the last day. We talked about mania as a reaction. We talked about voices as a reaction.
I find it interesting when it comes to something like having multiple personalities that we recognize those voices and alters as a result of Trauma, but when someone hears voices with a schizophrenia diagnosis, there’s no possible way in hell their voices could be a result of inner pain or unexpressed emotion or trauma. That’s just preposterous!
Just like the voices that come next to a diagnosis of depression psychosis. Oh, those voices are part of the psychosis, not the unrelenting pain, never, it’s biological remember?
I’m aware this view is not common, and I’ve never spent my life having common views so I can sit well with them and enjoy them. Other people may get offended. We talked about this as well.
There has to be a clear distinction with this stuff. I am very careful not to say that “mental illness does not exist” because people fly off the handle. So instead, I say the diagnoses of mental illness does not exist, in my opinion. Yes, I experience life a little different in a way than you. Yes, a crowd makes me so anxious and paranoid I lie to get out of going places and instead sit in my bed and wonder about people who don’t have that reaction.
Yes, I’ve hallucinated things briefly that frightened me. Spiders crawling on the wall, people running at my car, demons popping up in front of me, e.t.c.
Yes, I’ve self-harmed and wanted to kill myself many, many, many times.
Yes, there are days when I could conquer the world, when I have tons of ideas and want to execute them all and times when I’ve mapped out plans to do so all night long like a ritual then there are days I could easily drive my car off a cliff or put a gun to my head.
Yes, there are days I feel utterly empty and don’t know what to do about it, so I go drive my car all night, erratically, freak some other drivers out, and smoke weed and hope to get pulled over so the cop sees all the scars all over my body and I can give him a run for his money on whether or not I should go to the hospital.
Honestly, I feel like luck has kept me from the hospital.
Sometimes I feel like I’m three different people. Each of us has our own view of the world, our own way to act, and they each have their own opinion on how I should handle things.
There are many more things, but lets not bore each other here.
Now, who is to say that those things, the way I experience my life, is wrong? Take into account my only experience with drifting from reality is derealization, so I don’t necessarily know the fear and pain that goes into descending into full psychosis. But even then, there are ways to see psychosis and ways to think about it that relate to a way of expression, a way the brain tries to handle the world it lives in.
In fact, that’s how I see these things we called “disorders”. I see them as different ways our brain reacts to the world around us. Different interpretations of our own personal head space and our own lives. One person may see the color red, another person may feel like it’s more of a pink. One person likes the taste of cucumber, another person puckers at it. One person hates the smell of gas, another person, for some reason, enjoys it.
One person hallucinates a looming man while standing in the shower (taken from someone I met a few years back) and is tormented by it until the person is forced in the fetal position in the bottom of the tub; another person paints until the pain is gone.
Our brains are like finger prints. They will handle situations differently, they will react to situations differently. Does that warrant characterization? Does that warrant sending out the message that “your brain is broken, it’s sick, and so are you”?
Well, your tongue is broken if you think black olives taste bad. You have a tongue disorder.
Vinegar is too strong a smell for you? Well, it’s not for the majority of people. Your nose has a disorder. It probably needs some surgery and some daily nasal spray.
You get my point.
So to reply to the first statement, yeah, you know what? My life is awesome. My struggles exist like everyone else’s and I am lucky enough to experience the world in a different way. To me, that’s also priceless.