Mania and Other Departures

Let us (me) discuss smoking, tattoos, mental illness, and other forms of trying to be cool today.

I started smoking cigarettes at the age of 14 because I hated my life and thought the people that smoked were cool. I think I thought that because they seemed to agree to be my friends. I still live in a strange and sad world, because I had very few friends when I was younger because I was (and still am) a weird kind of guy. I’m not sure why I thought smoking would make me cooler, I think it had something to do with Kurt Cobain and the romantic notion that killing yourself slowly would make you feel good. Of course, when I began to smoke I didn’t realize that I was killing myself. It was only as I grew older that I noticed the correlation between my depression and suicidal thoughts and the fact that I was spending at least $10 a day to hurt myself from the inside out.

I realize a similarity between smoking and the tattoos I purchased when I was younger. It has been 9 years since I have gotten a tattoo, but I have 18 of them, I think. I remember telling someone, “I’m always going to be the person I think I am today” when I was 16 and got my first tattoo. Now I know, you are wondering how I got a tattoo at 16. So did my mother. In reality, I just walked into a shady tattoo parlor and asked for one. He laughed and put me in the chair. This began a seven-year relationship where I covered my body with small tattoos. I now regret these decisions, I think because I am a completely different person than I was when I got those tattoos.

A part of me wanted to be like this artist I knew when I was young named Manwoman. I also once declared that I was to be God’s artist. This is something that I still feel up to, but that makes less and less sense to me now that I am not concerned with the Devil and his influence over my high school. Most of these thoughts were, even to paraphrase Manwoman’s words (which always came across kinder when I would send him letters full of mania and fear), probably the effects of some kind of mental illness. I remember seeing Ganesha come down from the ceiling while in history class in grade 12 and explaining that he was my Grandfather to my Mom, who sent me post-haste to the psychiatrist and began to give me heavy anti-psychotics.

The medication had a strong effect on me. It didn’t cure the mania, the delusions took years of thought exercises and meditation to learn about. The one thing the antipsychotics did for me was to make it impossible to talk, which served the psychiatrist just fine and he felt that because I was not discussing aliens and Gods coming down from the ceiling anymore that I was probably just confused sexually and getting better with time. I don’t really understand where he got the idea that I was confused sexually, but I read that when I asked for my mental health documents from a freedom of information act request. I was also surprised at how few notes they had taken regarding me.

Anyways, because of the mental illness and the inability to talk I lost basically every friend I had ever made, mostly because we were 15 and teenagers don’t like weirdos. This was a difficult time for me because all I wanted to do was be liked. In my home life, I wasn’t too liked, (my Mom liked me but the others were pretty mean) and I think that made me think that I was in need of love elsewhere in the world. I would discuss the meaning of life with the voices in my head and thought they were people far away that I was yet to meet. I still have this ailment, but now I tend to think the disembodied voices are people in the room with me. This is still difficult because people I see exist as well. It is like living in two worlds simultaneously and can be troubling for those who love me.

They say that you hold on to the things that happen when you are this age because they are the formative years when your brain is doing the most growing. I just wish that I could leave the suffering that I went through behind and that I could create a life that I can be proud of with love and peace in my heart. The world doesn’t work like that. You must suffer in order to grow and I am thankful, in a way, that I suffered as I did, because now I am more understanding and forgiving of other people’s troubles.

A part of me wishes that I could be one of those functioning adults who runs a business and gets awarded great amounts of money for their efforts, but my work has been about rebuilding a fractured consciousness and trying to create a sort of normality to my life. I’ve never been one of those normal people, but I don’t really think anyone is stereotypically normal in this world. Even the one kid I am thinking of (he’s probably an adult now, too) is probably some kind of outlier. It is rare to be one of the successful ones, even if everything is handed to you.

I am a terrible worker most of the time because my mentality is to learn as much theory as I can and the transfer the knowledge I am learning to some kind of media. There are many successful people who do this – and I am going to lie and say that I am one.

I often disassociate from reality (even today a little bit) and tell myself that I am more successful than I am. That doesn’t really give the proper effect. It is as if I am being told that I am more successful than I am. I keep telling these voices in my head that they are voices in my head, but they don’t listen. I think they think that they are real people or something. My friend was telling me that they are spirit guides, and another (crazier) friend was telling me that they are false angels or something.

It is like I mentioned earlier, the thought that haunts me as if I am living two lives simultaneously and both of us are doing what I am doing, perhaps backward from each other. This creates great art and magic music when I play with the band, it creates interesting radio and a lot of happiness in my life. My imagination is the greatest gift that I have to use. It is going to add something important to the world because I keep repeating that it is. The flip side of that coin is that it is also something that causes me a lot of trouble. My therapist told me that she says that all the time to people, “Something that is your greatest problem is also your greatest gift.”

Alan Watts told me (in an audio file) that there is nothing without another side to it, “Imagine a person with just the left side of their body. It is absurd.” That is why these things are interesting to me. With smoking, after a while, I made a lot of friends who smoke and it seems like those people are the more interesting and depressed people in the world, whether they know that or not. With tattoos, I don’t see the point of the ones I got now, but when I was younger people thought they were cool. Even Sheena thinks that I look badass, as this grown adult with startling markings on his body. With mental illness, everyone has a cross to bear. I have learned more about myself and the nature of reality because I have struggled with the crazies than I would have if I was one of those functioning people in high school. It made me interesting as a person. People like interesting people.

I fear what I could have become if I was one of the normal ones. I think that is my point. Be glad that we are all different and all insane. All knowledge is created by people, so there really is no divine work and beyond thinking that there must be some logic to the entire creation of all knowledge wrapped together in this grand celestial burrito we have no idea what exactly is going on. That is to say that nobody knows what we are supposed to do in this world and I guess that makes me no different.

Some people make plans, execute their plans and see successes. I’ve done that, too. It seems to work. Right now I just want to find my life’s purpose, but that is the main issue for almost everyone. The brewer thinks that his purpose is to bring beer to the people. That can’t be the only purpose for that person. That is just what he is currently doing. Who knows? I guess that is the purpose to life, to find out just what reality is and create something wonderful that you can be proud of. I heard on a podcast the other day that, “Humans are the noblest of creatures because we come here to co-create with God.”

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