It is interesting that combating neurological disorders in-the-bare (without or almost without the aid of medication) can teach a person neat tricks.
For example, and from personal experience, people have remarked about my ability to remain calm and collected in “extremely chaotic” circumstances. That is because having a life-long “anxiety disorder” has given me the ability to “instantly turn on calm”. Sometimes I even surprise myself over how I can paradoxically retain my rationale during fire, violence that is directed against me (I do not, admittedly, handle having to break up other people’s fight well) and other emergencies, but sitting sometimes with a group of people or having to follow agendas still often stresses me out to the point of total panic.
People have also been impressed by my “insane attention to detail”, and that I can sit down and draw or write for hours on end. That is because handling symptoms akin to those of ADD/ADHD sufferers since kindergarten have given me the adverse ability to ‘hyper focus’. This isn’t a rare thing, especially in people with ADHD. It’s a tool acquired by many years of desperate (read, cry-yourself-to-sleep at night from ages 8 – 17) manoeuvres to stay caught up with “everybody else”. It also might have lent to my obsessive personality, and is probably helped by the fact that I am a neurotic perfectionist, but oh well.
When people find out that I struggle with depression, they are surprised because I seem like such an “energetic person”. I think this is because I’ve been experiencing periods of what is apparently considered “severe depression” for as long as I can remember, so I understand the impermanence of despair. From what I can tell, few people actually understand what absolute hopelessness feels like. I think that once you have been there and somehow come back from it, for whatever reason, you can pretty much handle anything. Not to say that you necessarily come back ‘stronger’; I think that actual absolute hopelessness is something that stays with you, somewhere, forever; it kind of kicks around and comes up to face you now and again, reminding you that faith is foolish and happiness is pretend and there really is no point to anything. One time I wrote an article about how the whole of humanity might react to having to face this inevitable ‘truth’, if truth really is that we have no ground for faith or morality or reason and everything is just a series of mathematical coincidences; there by being no magic, and that violence is just a thing and love is just a thing and nothing is scared, not even a little bit. You can read that statement and think you understand it, but you really don’t. Even having been there, I don’t understand it anymore, because I have chosen not to grasp these things with such entirety as to render me stupid, again. But I reckoned when I wrote about it that if there was a way to make everyone “see” this side of things and if it all turned out to be true, it would be the only sure way of absolutely annihilating everyone or at least stripping humanity of our up-until-the-present assumed condition, forever. Think about that. Once you’ve reached the point where you at least kind of “get it”, if you can still push on and do the mediocre things a person needs to do just to thrive in this society – if you can still find things that sometimes allicit an emotional reaction in you, even a slight one – or even if you’ve temporarily lost the ability to be stimulated by any kind of joy or any kind of sadness – if you find it in you just to “go”, without reason – then in moments where you sort of jump back into feeling and things energize you and amaze you and make you feel glad and angry and all sorts of things that are supposedly normal, at least you will find you are not eons behind – you will have stayed caught up, and stayed alive, just by being able to assume the robot mode while you were busy not feeling anything. Yeah, I think that’s what a person who suffers from chronic depression kind of has to do – “assume robot mode”. ‘Cause all this mundane shit might not matter to you today or tomorrow or even next Sunday but there’s going to be at least a couple days a month where you feel human and where it bothers you that you body and your environment are falling apart. Gee, what worse way to thaw out now and again from the numbness of depression only to lapse into a world full of anxiety and regret. So anyway, you’ve got to do or make yourself miserable or die. It’s really as simple as that.
There ought to be some exceptions to those rules though, right? Take living on the street; I often felt when I was younger that living on the street would be the only way to free my mind from the laborious process of so-called surviving; that the demands of life were mostly imaginary, that we were convinced of the complexities of survival simply by virtue of the fact that we are made to believe our way of living is the only way of living. Well, everyone probably thinks that for some period of their lives anyway. I figured, if I go live on the street there will be some things that are more of a struggle, but all in all I will not be bound by anyone’s expectations and I will have the freedom to think and the freedom to dream and the freedom to observe, wherever and whenever and for whatever reason I choose. And I was right, in a way. And I was wrong, in another way. I think I realize now that the street life might have toughened my skin and afforded my imagination some happiness, but also it would have fed my depression and my feelings of separateness from the rest of the world. And when at last I decided I was ready for something new, I’d have had a couple options, like to hitch around and be homeless in new places, which might have been fun for awhile; but if I became ambitious, which knowing me I probably would have, I’d have had to start building on foundations that didn’t exist and I’d be exactly where I am today; trying to earn money and get an education.
Or I could have peddled for pennies for ink and for paper and been an artist and I writer like I felt comfortable being. And maybe I would have made it big, and everyone would have told my story. But I feel sad and like I have a dry imagination to have to come to admit how unlikely that was; because given the opportunity for freedom and creative pursuits, I now know that I tend to shift gears constantly, I cannot stay focused on one project at a time for the life of me, and the pressure of trying to make myself do so threw me into so many episodes of depressed mania that my imagination and hallucinations nearly swallowed me deep enough to cause me to lose the job and the homestead I actually did have, anyway. So the chances I’d become some kind of artistic prodigy given the freedom of homelessness is, sadly, realistically, slim to none.
And having gone through the whole process of desire and comparative living, it’s understandable that I get really angry at the fortunate, the rich, and the even middle-class bastards who are so annoyed by the homeless. How they wonder why those ‘street people’ can’t just clean up and get a job. And I want to say, you dumb-ass, self-righteous, ignorant imperialist shithead. You have absolutely no idea what it is like. You don’t understand the cold and you don’t understand the crawl through the dredge and the dark, you don’t understand how much the damp and the dreary begin to feel like home; you don’t know what it is like to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and find out it is a train.