It’s always difficult to know where to begin. To many people it seems obvious: that age old saying “start at the beginning”. But like many common sayings this one is mostly flawed, based on the most rudimentary of “rational” thinking, the kind of thing we might expect a five year old to say if we posed him the question.
Think about some of your favourite stories. Imagine if THEY had “started at the beginning”.
“Hmmm, yes,” thought George, “I’ve got this one: once upon a time, in a galaxy far far away, Darth Vader (evil mastermind) had a baby named Luke Skywalker”.
Sure, there is ample literature that is written this way. But where is the drama? Where is the lesson? Some people may even like the simple things in life (they’re often the best, if again you listen to that five year old brain that so many of us seem to base our lives upon). For my liking, on the other hand, I’m seeking something more.
I’m going to start in the middle.
I may not tell you the end. I don’t even know it yet, and even if that weren’t the case how would I recognise it even if it occurred?
If we’re lucky, I may eventually get around to the beginning…but even that may be trite. All our beginnings are the same essentially: “it’s getting a little squishy in here, what if I just roll over…oh my god! What is this??? Squish..splat.”
All of this, so far, of course, is mere mental gymnastics. Procrastination of a sort. It would make sense if you knew me intimately, but you don’t, and that’s what makes this so difficult. Hopefully it will make sense in time.
So here I am. And where I am right now is filled with a deep sadness. It’s there most of the time. I won’t call it depression because that’s such a loaded word. It seems, at least, more complicated than that. Depression conjures up images of physical illness, almost irrational sadness for want of a better phrase. There are reasons for the way I feel though, even though they’re quite complicated.
Mental illness is a strange beast. Something they don’t really tell you is how underdeveloped we are as a society to deal with it. It has taken me many years, decades even, and many approaches to come to the understanding I have now. And it’s probably fair to say I still have more to learn.
Seeking help is not like going to the GP to get something for a cold, or seeking treatment for disease. A lot of it is guess work, or at least that’s how it seems to me. Apart from some small indicators, such as checking dopamine levels for instance, you can’t just do a quick blood test, or have an X-ray. “Oh I see Mr Jones, you have a contusion in your unconscious sense of self. Take these pills and call me in the morning.”
Oh, and that’s another thing. There are “physiological” mental illness for sure, such as schizophrenia. But much mental illness, especially of the anxiety and neuroses types, barely even fit the standard model of illness at all. There’s no physiological problem, which makes it all the harder to take seriously I guess (but that’s another topic altogether). It’s more akin to a computer virus, like a sickness in your thoughts, so ethereal you start to wonder where illness ends and personality begins.
I dare say that to many people, except those close friends and family, this will come as a surprise. I’ve learnt to hide it well from general society. That’s something that goes along with my condition (if you can call it that), but I’m getting a little ahead of myself now.
It’s a special case I guess, not unique but certainly not your garden variety. (“Ooooh, it’s a bumper crop of arachnophobia and oral fixation this year Mr Farley, but ewww what’s that thing growing over there?”) It is a little hard for me to judge objectively though, because I have little bits and pieces of all sorts of complexes, and there’s a good chance that one of them incorrectly convinces me that I’m irretrievably different to everyone else. On the other hand my neurotic desire to doubt everything I think gives me pause and I’m back where I started.
To be completely honest, I’m not entirely sure where I’m headed with this. One thing I’m sure of is I have a deep desire to communicate, but the specific reasons for that are still unclear. So I thought I’d start to write. Maybe it’s an attempt to find some truth in the telling that one can never quite find when mulling an idea over to themselves. Or it could be some vague attempt to help others who might follow in my footsteps.
Mainly though, I do get a kind of perverse pleasure in bringing people down. I hope you have a miserable day.
Next time: Xbox vs Playstation: who really gives a fuck?