Monday, 22 December 2014

How to Make a Cat Skin Duvet and Whoa...that Dude's Mental.

Kind of an attention grabbing headline, but this is a post about brains, the juice that runs loose in a man's noggin, and why schizos don't make duvets out of cat skin. Kind of.

Once upon a time I started a blog, petrifiedtank. I used to ramble about weird shit on there all the time, just for the hell of it, mostly, but also because it was kind of a friend. I could just put some thoughts out there, and the Internet would listen. It was cool.

Then I started getting stories published, started rambling mostly about writing, about books coming out, all that stuff. Tonight, if you'll indulge me, I'll talk about mental illness. Not in some self-serving way (can I get a hosannah? Stephen King's characters might say) but because I hear the same...cliche...about mental illness banded about a lot.

I don't worry about talking about this stuff. I've had plenty of diagnoses over the years, and I'm fine with it. But the thing that worries me isn't people thinking you're fuck-nuts crazy and running away. People I know don't do that. People that do, I don't really give a monkeys about. People do talk about mental health these days. They don't lock you up in a ward unless you're dangerous. You don't get put away for being melancholy...unless you're dangerous. We're a bit more accepting about mental squiffiness. Stephen Fry's bi-polar, and he's fucking awesome, so it's cool, right? Let's all be bi-polar. It'll be fun. We'll have drinks, do lunch, cry and laugh.

But that's the thing I kind of want to talk about. I've heard people liken having mental illness to having a broken leg. Like, if  you had a broken leg, people'd be more sympathic, or, you're about it. You would if you had a broken leg.

But it's not. I think likening it to a broken leg is still disingenuous. Because it's more complex than that. A mind isn't a leg. Never was. Who the fuck thought a leg was a brain?

Mental illness isn't having a broken leg. Depression, Bi-polar disorder, cyclothymia, schizo-affective disorder, personality disorders, schizophrenia...these things aren't a broken leg, and I think to speak of it in these terms is still to minimize it, to belittle it, almost. A mind is infinitely more complex than a leg.

A broken mind can be a broken leg, but it's also a weak leg that can't hold you up, or two legs, one's talking shit to the other one and telling it it's a useless bastard, or you have no leg, or the government put a bug in your leg and you've got to excise that bastard flesh at any cost, or wow it's a great fucking leg one minute and then I HATE MY GODDAMN LEG.

Mental illness is an infinite variation of legs, legs which are sometimes big grinning chickens with spliffs and AK-47's that want to take your arms as an offering for Cthulthu-Mama.

Over the years, I've had plenty of diagnoses, like I said earlier. I've been diagnosed depressed, bi-polar type (all), schizo-affective disorder...but it isn't about a diagnosis, either. Some people are fucking nuts and never get diagnosed as anything. It's just a tag, a gang tag. Psychologists, marking their territory before getting into a turf war with the pharmacologists.

You know why it's not a broken leg? Because a broken leg heals. Mental illness does not. It's for life. But, you can live with it, can't you? You might limp. So what? Limps happen. Like, 'shit happens'...but with a limp. Mental illness is tough. People live with it, though. It's not always fun. But then, I get the impression living in this world without being a nut is just as tough. It's tough in a different way. Here's a thought, though. It's tough for everyone. Mental people, disabled people, mentally disabled people, people-abled disabled mentally people people...whatever.

My point, I guess, is be nice. It's Christmas, yes, but be nice all year. Be nice to loonies, drunks, healthy well-adjusted people with nice hair, the weird fucker that smells of turps, the shouting woman in the wheelchair that makes you jump in the supermarket, the old man with an uncomfortable growth on the side of his head, the woman working on the street corner, the loud guys in the pub, the dogs, the cats. Be nice to that buzz that says 'shout', let it sit a while and it will go away. Ride it out. We all get angry, we all get crazy, we all get stressed. People die on us, or just leave. People get hit by cars, blown up, chopped up. It's a dangerous, mad, difficult life.

No sense in making it any harder, eh?

Happy Christmas. And, as always, love you x