Insanity is inconvenient.
There is this impression which ‘normal’ people have that insanity is somehow a result of personal deficiency. As if somehow having your shit together can prevent it from sneaking up on you. That having money or friends or a good family will offer some sort of protective barrier.
It certainly seems that way, right? Because the really crazy people you know are separated from family. They’re destitute. They’re those lunatics on the street, mumbling under their breath and yelling at no-one and everyone.
It doesn’t occur to them that many of ‘those people’ might have had all of those things. It’s simply that insanity pushes those things away. It pushes them away and takes you away and discards you.
It is really hard to form connections with people when you are mentally ill. Doing that requires opening up. Not just opening up and revealing who you are inside (which in itself is terrifying), but opening yourself to damage from the outside. Because other people are dangerous, even if that isn’t their intention. When you are mentally ill, your wrongbrain tries to steer how those interactions are going to go. It sabotages. It distracts. It exhausts.
About a year ago I started feeling things that weren’t there. Burning sensations. Popping sensations. Vibrations, numbness and even feeling moisture on my leg when I could clearly see there wasn’t anything there.
I was diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy, caused by my diabetes. Unfortunate, but normal. Normal to feel things that aren’t there.
I’ve been having auditory hallucinations. This isn’t new. I’ve had them to some degree on-and-off since I was a child and it’s probably why I was originally thought to have ADD. I could sit for hours, staring off into space. I remember performing really well on tests (at the gifted level), but struggling to focus while I pushed the sounds and images out of my head.
Hearing sounds that aren’t there means you’re crazy. Not normal to hear things that aren’t there.
Wshhhhh shhhhhhhh whisper shhhhh wuhhhhh shhhhh
Why? Shhhhh whisper why shhhh no no oh shhhh
Sounds filling my head in a quiet room is not quite so bad. But it wears on me.
Stick me in a room with other people, all competing to be heard, and the sounds in my head do battle. I can’t focus. I can’t keep track of my spot in the conversation. I can’t sing in the choir when there are two voices; the one that comes of my mouth and the one I hear in my ears. It’s wrong. All wrong.
I know that I can’t trust myself to be with people when I start to see them as antagonists. I feel the stares. I hear whispers and can’t tell if they are from inside my head or behind my back. People’s looks feel aggressive. Their words feel dismissive. I don’t want to be around friends because I don’t want my brain to tell me lies about them. It’s easier to hide where the voices can lie, but at least my eyes don’t confirm my suspicions.
But I can’t hide completely. What do you do when your lover reaches to kiss your hand and the nerves endings in your skin send your brain a message of burning and your brain answers back with a mental image of melting, sloughing skin?
My body is sending my brain the wrong signals. My brain is sending my body the wrong signals. Those two things should be the same and reasonable. But I don’t kid myself that they are.
On a drive to the doctor’s with my mother, we make casual conversation. “Do you miss your car?” she says.
“Once the neuropathy and the muscle spasms got bad I didn’t feel it was safe to drive.”
“Ah.” she says. “Good point.”
“I also kept finding myself thinking about driving into oncoming traffic. I couldn’t get it out of my head.”
She says nothing and just presses her lips tightly together and keeps driving.
Insanity says “fuck your schedule”.
Insanity says “you’ll never achieve anything”.
Insanity says “I decide”.