When you have a mental disease, the one thing you are guaranteed is a life that often takes on the dimensions of a horror movie. Unfortunately for all involved the horror movie is not physically scary – there isn’t anyone chasing me, usually – but rather it is a mental game between your reality and the truth.
It was Ann Rand who said reality exists independently of our consciousness. In other words, our brain may see and feel one thing, but the real truth exists despite the fact we can’t see it, touch it, or even believe it. Another way she describes it, facts are facts outside of human wishes. [Read Ann Rand’s Philosophy of Objectivism] We once believed the world was flat, and no matter how much science said otherwise, and no matter how much the reality was so different, there was a time when we would have died swearing that this is the truth.
A mental disease is often just a running example of objectivism. There is a reality that we perceive to be true and then there is a reality that is in actuality. And it doesn’t matter how good our meds are, or how diligent we are in taking them, that reality changes in degrees that is frustrating and scary. I think of that movie, “The Game” where what he believed to be true and ultimately his actions because of that were not in fact what was really happening. This is a story line many mental patients suffer daily.
Those with seasonal depression, or mild causes of anger and fear because of real events can’t honestly understand this concept. They may have seen a magic show when the magician performed a trick that the brain could not adapt to. But for the most part, if they put something down, walk away from it, it is still there the next day.
This however, has never been my reality. Long before I really understood that my life was a horror movie, and my senses were not reliable for anything, I often cursed and became frustrated, jokingly saying that I must be losing my mind. But the truth is I pretty much was losing my mind. I am pretty much constantly losing my mind. And this an incredibly horrifying thing; when someone physically is coming after you its easy to have the flight or fight response. When your mind is convinced that something is perfect, when everyone around you sees the actual truth but you can not, life can get very, very scary.
It means that you can’t trust yourself. It means that you can’t guarantee that what you are doing and they way you are doing it is right. It means that you can’t guarantee that the sun is really rising or the window is open. You can’t trust that which you see, feel, touch, smell, or even hear is real. It is a uncomprehensible reality to those who do not suffer from a brain that distorts the very real things this universe gives. And while occasionally, especially when the sufferer doesn’t know better, it can be like Alice’s fall into Wonderland, for the most part it is a stressful reality that has no basis in the truth. Most can not understand, and most can not forgive that.
And yet we all still have to live. And yet, I still have to be able to function. I have to be able to work for money and I have to be able to seem sane doing it. I can’t check myself in a hospital just because I am dreaming in vivid colors, and I can’t hide behind the couch just to keep the real world at bay. The good news is this disease while often affecting those around me, rarely, if ever, plays the same tricks on them. I can depend on the reactions of those around me to determine what is real and what is just a trick of my mind.
An example. This morning I went into my medicines to take them, and I noticed that mixed within my daily pills were the emergency pills. The emergency pills are a serious matter; taking more of them at one time will trigger unimaginable problems. Not only because they can easily kill me, but ultimately they have the power to destroy me. They are used in emergency situations when I need immediate relief. They provide that relief by shutting me down, and making me act and look much like I imagine a zombie would. They take the panic, they take the fear and simply take it away. And because I rarely take them, they will often simply put me asleep.
Once, a couple of years ago I took a whole bottle of them. I am lucky to be alive. I can’t tell you why I took a bottle of them, because my memory for a whole week of my life is gone. Not buried, not on the fringes where something – a sense – can bring back the memories, they are simply gone. I went to a restaurant with a friend – a restaurant I have never been to – and I have no memory. I cooked food I don’t know anything about, and apparently I had sex that I can not ever get back. These are very real things that I did, that are not ever going to be a part of me. I got in a car wreck, and I can’t even tell you what that felt like. And the withdrawal from a week of those pills was excruciating.
I remember taking the pills at first because I was in a bad place and thought that I needed them. The problem is I didn’t stop taking them and I truly don’t remember why. This is not an excuse, this is my reality. And there is guilt because of this, and there is fear because of this. And there is always the knowledge that it would be such any easy way to go. There is now the understanding that I have found my way out. A way that will be painless for me, but a horror movie for those I love.
And this morning, the pills were mixed in my daily dosage. Had I not looked and recognized the problem, and it is a minor miracle that I did, I would have taken multiple emergency pills and maybe once again, I would have tried a door I would never be able to enter again.
I will separate the pills. I will make sure that one is far away from other, again. But what concerns me, is I have no idea how this happened. I do not mix pills, and even if I tried, the bottles would have been too small to fit it all. I do not play with my medications often, and certainly I would have tried to remember the sheer destruction of taking too many emergency pills. And I live in fear, that tomorrow my mind will continue to set traps for me that will cause me to lose all that I hold dear.
The world is a scary place. There are demons, there are monsters, there are holes so wide that we can’t help but to fall through. This truth is as deeply ingrained in those that don’t have troubles like mine, as well as for those who have minds that can’t work like they should. I often am faced with the question, are the things I have done so wrong truly bad enough that even my own mind can’t allow forgiveness? Because I have done those things. But the question is, do our minds compensate for its own mistakes with the horror only it can devise?