What's Goin On?

Mental Illness and Insanity are not Mutually Inclusive

I chose a panic so deep it gained its own sentience and humbled me, personally, over the pain – imagined or real – of another.

I am beginning to understand something about the mind.  It is like a genie trapped in a bottle, a captive audience, Narcissus locked in the echo chamber: the mind is a granter of wishes.

What we speak into existence, it seeks to experience, to corroborate with reflection – or rather, through projection – that the inner world may be equated or balanced with the outer world, to see one’s thoughts be made valid and justified.

My own wishes, hitherto only dreams that I threw my spirit into then lost in the blind spot that is my own guilt, still unaccounted for, come to light.

I, at some point, asked for the corroboration of my fear, which in my short twenty-four years, is still decades old, if not centuries.  Is someone being harmed upstairs?  Is someone calling my name from the alley?  Are their cries, emanating from the building across?  I haven’t enough knowledge, nor outward-focused charisma, to even guess if my ears know their own domain.

My own wishes, hitherto only dreams that I threw my spirit into then lost in the blind spot that is my own guilt, still unaccounted for, come to light.

By the fountain?
Underground?

The darkness of guilt grew so condensed that charcoal became carbon crystal and a black light shown through.  The intuition of my body led me into the places I feared, much like a cat’s.  What I found was of no import; just the glimpse of my own fallibility, and an internal cry of help so shrill and piercing that most had gone deaf to it, save for my own mind.

So I shot out into the darkness to find both the answer and the questions that haunted me.  Was I hurt so deeply, and at an age where I had no language to describe it to others, much less to myself?  Statistics say, probably.  Society says, don’t ask that question, the polite answer is always no, when raised.

And even in this, there is guilt.  Depression and indeed much of mental illness – at least in my experience – is often externally harmful because it is so isolating and poised to lash out in defense.  I am sorry that finding the answer meant treading into spaces which were not mine.  To pain the others around me – both strange and familiar – with knowledge of my presence, and a tangible insecurity with it.

I lived, in that moment, in a world and timeline that no one else could witness.

To make my cry heard, it became necessary to create the need to hear in others.  But what was the worth of those actions?  Was it worth it?  I can’t say for certain, but my intuition tells me (and what a fickle thing it is) that the question itself is of no use.  Insanity is an easy claim to make – and certainly, I would have claimed honestly a temporary insanity: I lived, in that moment, in a world and timeline that no one else could witness.

Was the number two or three?  Who rose from slumber first?  Where did you go?  What was it worth?  Reality by its very definition is only concrete when subjective.  100% certainty means that someone’s reality was discounted, and the chosen loss, in that moment, was mine.

Mental illness and insanity are often equated with each other, as though they are in all facets synonymous.  My temporary stay in a mental health clinic did teach me one thing, however: they certainly are not.

What is insanity?  Anyone may answer: insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results.

What is mental illness?  A dis-ease or dis-order – chemical, psychological, or otherwise – of the mind.  Individual and capable of easing with medicines or therapy.

Bureaucracy into which flows capital and out of which comes disorder, confusion, and frustration, is insane.  Expecting that something may be done on behalf of a patient, simply by answering “I don’t know,” and deferring authority to someone else over and over again, when it is one’s job to know, is insane.

Bureaucracy into which flows capital and out of which comes disorder, confusion, and frustration, is insane.

Non-functionality is not a disease, it is a facet of any illness grown severe, as one would not expect me to walk perfectly while my leg is broken.  Insanity is putting a mentally ill person in a kind of daycare/prison where one’s adulthood is denied, one’s access to sunlight is heavily rationed, and needs are called privileges (what is privacy when doors may never close, and when a fellow patient may saunter in and rifle through one’s belongings at ease?), and expecting them to heal.

To function as one is not expected to: this is the crime I committed.  A transgressing of the boundary of public and private.  First it was my ears, hearing beyond the walls within which my space was situated.  And then?  My concern.  And then, paranoia and obsession.  With it followed action.  All to answer the question of guilt: was I complicit in the pain of another in hearing without proper reaction?

My life, in this past year it seems, has become an experiment of the bystander effect.  How much may one endure of the public suffering of another, before one bounds into action?  And what, when one finds out that one has become the victim of one’s own mind – and the refusal of others to respond to a cry for help – all along?

A while ago I had written this:

Pride is what you must contend with.  Your greatest strength and vice.
How can you accept this power if you do not understand the burden it presents?

They will not follow, where you must go.

Perhaps this moment is what was required to teach me the gravity of this statement.  What was, was not insanity, then, but an expression of my own illness.  A voice in my head, a calculation of probability (what was the likelihood that I was hearing someone being abused?), an inability to let go, a fear taking hold, a violent, self-directed, and then outward-bound release.  A dam breaking.

I would call myself mentally ill now, yes, but not insane.  Breaking with tradition in such an abhorrently public way, in order to right a wrong that may not have occurred in my life time but before (or after? or never?)  is certainly some kind of mental illness.

But insanity? Ignoring those who hear that cry, refusing to offer a concrete yes or no, did you hear?  Fearing guilt and so disguising any crime, self-made or otherwise, as a means of clinging to a semblance of sanity?

That, I would never – and have proven to myself at least, couldn’t ever – claim to be a fault of mine.  I chose a panic so deep it gained its own sentience and humbled me, personally, over the pain – imagined or real – of another.  And that, I can’t apologize for.

Everything else, though, as it comes.

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