My heart is heavy today. I don’t know if it’s the weight of two days of rain, of our family member’s most recent delusions, or, in light of those delusions, some of the reading I have been doing. My limbs feel heavy and I’m walking slowly, each footfall an effort. My cheeks even feel heavy and it takes considerable effort to smile a half-hearted insincere grimace at people walking by. My brain is slow and scattered, and I’m having a hard time settling into my work. I’m frustrated again.
A man I work with is a philosopher. I’ve never worked with such a person before. Knowing I have a love of words and writing he has started talking to me about a lot of early 20th-century writers and philosophers, who I may or may not have heard of, and may or may not have actually read. I’m embarrassed that I can barely keep my head above the water of his intelligence and breadth of reading.
Maybe it was just because of our family member, but I swear at least 50 percent of the brilliant folks he mentioned ended up completely mad, their rational minds gone forever or never really there in the first place. He asked, do you have imagination or does your imagination have you? I am even sadder than I was before the conversation.
Is our family member’s rational mind really gone forever or is it just temporarily suppressed. Or, even scarier, was it never really there in the first place? Even though I know she’s not rational, it hurts my feelings that I am one of the people she imagines have wronged her, and that she doesn’t want to see me right now.
Last week I picked up a random book from the library called, A Mind Apart: Travels in a Neurodiverse World by Susanne Antonetta. She is a poet and bipolar, and the prose in this book is beautiful and mindbending. She examines consciousness, and differences in consciousness, or neurodiversity. She illustrates the link that has been identified in psychiatric research between creativity and mental illness, the connections and leaps she makes with language. She mentions that she writes books when she is manic, and indeed, there is a manic energy to this book, flitting from anecdote to philosophy of the mind and evolution to eugenics.
She says that given the chance, no parents would choose to give their child(ren) a gene for bipolar disorder or autism, but she argues that our culture would lose a lot if we lost these individuals. More than we can even know, since we can never know what characteristics will become evolutionarily useful. Apparently there is someone who has argued that we must identify and eradicate the genes for these and other neurological disorders before they take over humanity and destroy the earth.
I am beginning to wonder if our family member is bipolar, maybe always has been, but somehow has managed to control it by herself. Until now, when her delusions are becoming upsetting to her, not fantasies of hope to hang onto on an uncertain and stormy sea of difficult circumstances.
I think about the person who shot 32 innocent people a couple of weeks ago, and how he showed evidence of mental illness long before he pulled the gun out. I think about how hard it is to get help for someone who doesn’t want it, doesn’t see the need for it. I wonder when paranoid delusions get dangerous, and whether we would be able to identify that turning point.
Today I googled stuff to do with mental illness. I came across this site, in particular, I landed on this story. Did you know that there are people on death row in the States who are severely, blatantly, beyond all doubt, mentally ill? I think this is a terrible injustice. Just more reason that the death penalty is wrong, in my opinion. Of course, it’s equally wrong to let a mentally ill person languish in jail instead of getting some form of help, ineffective as the help may be.
I must try and drag my thoughts to the sun again, which hopefully will come out tomorrow (Oh no, I’ve got that Annie song in my head again… which seems fitting, because I LOVED Annie when I was a kid. She was one of my cool redhead role models, along with Pippy Longstocking… there now… my thoughts have already lightened up.)
And I have an exciting weekend planned, and they’re calling for sun.
Weekend Reading: The Extra Long Weekend Edition
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