It isn’t fair to you to pretend that I’m not crazy. Yes, many of you think I’m talking about the dancing in thrift stores and jumping up and down during board games. No. I am not talking about this. I am talking about the debilitating disease of insanity that lurks around every dark corner of my mind and keeps me worried that someday I will end up being a lady that throws cats at strangers.
But, I digress.
I assume that everyone has the same basic hardware and software uploaded into their brains as I do. Each of us has things that they know are right and wrong. Each of us has things that they know are socially acceptable and unacceptable to do. Each of us has a set of things that they believe are true and know to be true. Each of us has a sense of reality and fantasy.
In some people’s heads, (mine for example) a valuable switch flips and something that is obviously clear becomes…hazy. Reality becomes fantasy, wrong becomes right, unacceptable becomes acceptable.
At the beginning of mental illness of whatever kind, finding this switch is like skipping through a field of flowers that is covered in buried mines. Every so often, you step on one of these mines and find yourself ass-up in a field of daisies. “What was that?” you ask yourself. Then you shrug and keep skipping.
Problem is, until you find out where those mines are, you gonna blow yaself ups, see?
When I was 19, I blew the shit up out of myself. Seriously. I thought I was a normal, everyday college kid. Having fun. Partying. Chillin’ like a villain. Then, one night, BLAMMO! My brain exploded into craziness.
All of the sudden, I was pretty sure I was the reincarnation of Jesus. Or Satan. Or the bride of Satan. I also thought I was a prophet of the end of the world. Then, there was this one time, at band camp…
(That band camp thing did actually happen, though. That was the time I had triple deja vous and then spent the ride home telling everyone how much God loved the saxophone section.)
I should have known that field had mines in it. Deep down, I’m pretty sure I did. They were always there in the beautiful flower-filled savannah of my mind. Just waiting to destroy my life when I least expected it.
Now that I’m all grown up, I am very aware of the dangerous (yet beautiful) terrain inside of my brain. I can scan the glowing horizon and smell the fresh roses, but I’m not stupid. I know that on the west side, there is a bomb that will explode my world. There is also one by that third tree on the Northeast corner of the pond.
I skip through my field of flowers seemingly carelessly, but there is more hesitation there than I would care to admit. What if there are more mines, maybe in the corners of my mind that I have never explored. With each new idea that I come into contact with, new image, new song, I wonder if it will be another lovely addition to my garden or a ball of flame that will send shrapnel into all my soft parts.
But now, it is not me that I worry most about. Because it affects everyone else too, doesn’t it? How can I be sure that I can keep my family safe? How can I be sure that I stay in the safe parts of my mind?
Fortunately, I have something now that I didn’t have when I was 19: a smaller, smarter, kinder me. The small me often takes me by the hand when my world is crashing to the ground. Often, this tiny voice in my head tells me the truth when the rest of me is saying that I can save the world if I jump into traffic.
The greatest, and most wonderful part of myself is the part that has saved me when I was at the most insane. There are many times when I would have done something truly terrible. Things I don’t want to admit or talk about. During these moments, when the part of me that makes decisions is deciding to do something stupid, the small part of me says to stop. The great blessing is that I have always listened.
Well, I have listened enough to be alive and not in jail.
I wonder sometimes if I could have changed it. I wonder if there is a way I could have lived a normal life and not had these moments where my switches flipped, my bombs burst. I feel guilty for making the lives of my family harder. I feel guilty for not listening to that small voice when it might have kept me from making the decisions that have altered my fate forever.
But, I can’t regret what I am and who I’ve become. Although there is always danger in my mind, regardless of how sane I feel or seem, I have learned to become a stronger, wiser person. That small voice whispers that I make a difference, that I am valuable, and that I am worthy to be loved.
That little voice in my head, the best part of myself, becomes louder and louder each day. Some day, I hope it will be the only voice I hear.