Sunday, June 29, 2014

De-Pathologizing the Human Experience


There’s been an article floating around Facebook lately, that I’ve found myself afraid to link to it, even though reading it was one of the most gratifying things I’ve done for myself lately. I’ve been gathering courage and other necessary emotions, so here it is:

Although some of what is referred to in this article rests on a more serious side of the spectrum of mental illness, something clicked when I read this that I hadn’t really been able to articulate until now.

Yeah, I thought. What if there’s nothing wrong with me and there’s actually more RIGHT with me because of how I feel -- and how much I feel?

As far as “mental illness” goes, I’m not even on the radar. Yes, I’ve dabbled with depression. Yes, I know and have dealt with addiction and mental illness in others, and a lot of even deeper shit of my own that I’m not interested in getting into here. But to the average person looking at my life, I look pretty normal: I am a 32-year-old freelancing woman who is building a life that can be as nomadic or stationary as I wish, battling demons both quietly and out loud here on my blog, and dealing with—I have discovered – many things that many people feel. I know this because very often an invisible audience member will peek up briefly to tell me that what I write applies to them, and that they admire my ability to say it out loud.

Anyone who’s been reading my blog at all has probably noticed some themes. Please don’t hate me for being different; let me try to explain why I do this is one of them. The deeper root of this is an even simpler sentence: please tell me I’m not crazy for being this way.

There’s a lot in my head. But you know what? There’s a lot that’s NOT in my head, invisible audience, and that article pointed it out. I have thought I was crazy because I could not make myself happy with the things that we’re told we’re supposed to be happy with. In our society, there must be something wrong if you have everything anyone could ever want — shelter, food, family, relationships, vacations, even! — and yet you still find yourself restless, nomadic, deeply introspective and unable to rest within the role you’ve been given. But what if — WHAT IF — that lingering depression, the melancholy that comes after spending an evening with people discussing things you don’t care about is your entire being telling you not that you’re crazy, but that your real responsibility in this lifetime lay elsewhere? What if those niggling feelings of doubt and fear and restlessness were your psyche trying to tell you that there was something more for you out there, outside of the existence of “having it all,” when "all" is a predefined notion set by someone else, with no regard for the yearnings you have in the middle of the night, when everything is quiet and you're exhausted beyond all belief and surrounded by all you've created, but you can't help but dream of something different?

This is where I have arrived, invisible audience. I am done arguing. I am done explaining. And I am done trying to justify my actions in a way that makes them sound not crazy. Because there is no fighting the cloud that makes me feel crazy. It is a non-entity just as invisible and strong as gravity, and the trick is not to fight it, but go dive into the ocean, where the rules around gravity are different; where I have always known how to float when others sink.

I have been really angry lately. And that anger is a new feeling. It’s not polite, you see; it will not follow the social norms I have been taught about respecting my elders and not interrupting. It would make me look crazy if I let it erupt out of me, but you know what? As far as that spectrum goes, my craziness is already established. I burned some shit in a pile in my yard the other day just for the hell of it. I’ve been standing naked in the rain a lot. I have shut the door to my bedroom for more privacy in a house I live in alone. I’ve been singing loudly and badly on purpose on walks, and I have given up on trying to explain my reasons for anything. Because sometimes I don’t have reasons, invisible audience. Sometimes I am simply sad, followed by being simply angry, followed by being simply and profoundly grateful that underneath all this gunk, I have found that feeling ME is not as crazy as I was led to believe. 

So instead of scrambling around trying to rid myself of the half of the feelings on the spectrum that I learned were signs of a problem, I’ve decided to acknowledge that they are signs from myself that something needs to change: something is not working, and something else can take its place. When I’m tired, I take a nap. When I’m angry, I snap at people. When I’m happy, I whistle, sing and dance in my yard. And when it’s all over, I am me, all of me: all a human is supposed to be. 

Love and wholly human kisses

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