Considering that I lived in a world of my own, replete with sights and sounds that manifested sparkles and colors by the nature of my young life on the spectrum, that was enough for me. While the rest of the year held little intrigue if there wasn’t a parade or Frisbee in sight, Independence Day always delivered.
Like millions of other people whose only connection to the life we might have known once is an online conference call or video chat where a familiar face is only that and nothing more. No actual contact, no handshakes or hugs, no fascia or pheromones. Something’s missing. Something human.
What a mystery, this thing, mental illness. But what exactly is the critical issue? Just how horrible it is? How ugly, how dehumanizing? Or is it something more intricate, more profound than that? A thread throughout the historical narrative of this disease is that the afflicted one believes he is talking to God. Or God is talking to him.
I have a different perspective on life today. I’m less concerned with being normal and more enthusiastic about the integration that medication and wellness has afforded me. My self-conscious behavior and subsequent social awkwardness seem to have waned; life feels more easily manageable. My confidence has returned to a degree that I felt compelled to meet new friends, and with new territory to explore, I feel inclined to take chances that I wouldn’t have—or couldn’t have—when I was living in psychosis.
Go easy on yourself and hopefully when life goes back to normal for many of you, you will find a new understanding, compassion, and appreciation for every level of human functioning.
And that’s what these days are all about now—trying new things. Routines are essential to people living with a mental illness, as many of them will tell you, and unfortunately, with the global lockdown our routines are disrupted. So we need to establish new routines.
Although I’m grateful that there is more openness and dialogue around making peace with food and our bodies in the media, often what we see is over simplified, prettied up and packaged (often to sell products or services) in a way that I believe is a bit misleading and does a disservice to people embarking on this journey.
I’ve been asked outright what it’s like to hallucinate, what the voices say to me, and if I’ve ever become completely unhinged. I try to answer those questions as honestly as I can, shying away from over-exaggeration, thereby inadvertently feeding into the misinformation delivered through newscasts and tabloid journalism. It’s not always easy.