Altered States of Amnesia.
I wonder if in another day and age, mental illness could have been something positive instead of the trauma it’s now considered to be? I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently, sometimes touching the existence of my own depression, something I’ve dealt with since my teenage years (which have grown less powerful over the years, which should be noted), stuff mostly revolving extreme negative thinking - but who says constant positive thinking is healthy for you anyway?
A balance is good, but it must be a balance where the negative aspects of our thoughts are considered at least as important as the positive ones, and not be blamed to be just whining or in general just something bad. Because as usual negativity usually is seen as something unnecessary.
A few nights ago I revisited Ken Russell’s Altered States, the phenomenal science thriller from 1980, and got reminded of this dialogue between Emily (Blair Brown) and Eddie (William Hurt):
“So you don’t schizophrenia can be reduced to a single etiological agent?”
“I’m not even sure it’s a disease.”
“You think madness is simply another state of consciousness?”
“There’s a body of evidence to support that.”
Now, I’ve read too little about the subject, but these lines of dialogue is basically the essence of my thoughts; why do we treat mental illnesses as something bad? Have society turned it bad because it’s not the norm, because it makes certain, more sensitive, people behave different that all the rest, “the normals”.
Imagine a time when people didn’t necessary see deep negative thoughts as something negative, just as some kind of extra hyper-sensitive realistic awareness instead, a direct kind of wisdom. Or that voices who talked to some humans didn’t want anything bad, but instead was an invisible messenger of knowledge - or just thinking outside the box.
Maybe the idea that someone hears voices or perceives reality differently than the rest makes them too different to accept - people in general, as we all know, fear the unknown, something that’s more evident today than ever when skin color, culture, religion etc makes people hide in their dimly lit modern caves and spending all their time screaming stupidities on the internet.
Several of my best friends have been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome (I realize I sound like one of those professional pundits who always have to disprove their homophobic/conservative opinions by telling everyone they have several gay best friends - but believe me, that’s not it in this case), which makes some of them to have “problems” with social interaction, being highly focused on very specific interests and just not always being able to understand what’s being funny with my jokes (the latter I guess many people have problem with anyway, so forget it). First of all, I don’t see it personally as a problem to have difficulties interacting with other humans - why is that important? As a satanist this is somehow the ultimate form of individualism, at least if one accept it. Being highly focused on special interests, whatever that can bem is a thing of beauty. Nothing makes me more interested in a person - and respect him or her - than passion. People without passions lives a pale existence. Sorry for generalising a bit here, but I want to make you see the positive parts of what many consider not so positive. I’m very aware of the pain mental illness can cause. Just just bear with me, please.
Looking at my own depression… it’s made me realize who I am and that I MUST follow my own instinct to feel happy and be comfortable among other humans and in society in general. I’ve learned, sometimes too much, to very extremely self-critical - but that also, after many years, taught me to not let go of things if they’re not perfect in my eyes. To being able to leave a shorter or longer moment of depression (from minutes to months in my case) also made my appreciate everything around me to a much higher degree. The few friends I have left, who managed to deal with me, is closer than ever and I love them more than I ever imagine I could do earlier. I see beauty in the smallest things and those feelings stays with me through the darker periods in my life. Through hard work I’ve been able to harness the good things and keep them in bag with me all the time, and just knowing they’re there when everything is shit makes me feel alive somewhere deep inside.
We’re living in the alternate states of amnesia, a society were we’ve forgotten what we are, numbing and dumbing down all those darker, more extreme feelings, and putting our trust in a chosen few instead of ourselves and those we love.
Let us be superheroes with anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, autism, or whatever rocks your mind, instead of super strength and laser shooting eyes. But that would also be kinda cool.
Thanks to @leifholmstrand and @tobiasmyrbakk for valuable comments, insights and support when writing this text.
#writing #ellowrites #mentalillness #depression #schizophrenia #autism #aspberger #superpowers #superheroes #alteredstates #consciousness #alternativeconsciousness #kenrussell