I've been thinking a lot about mental illness recently – what with the incessant blue fog about Christmas that seems to engulf me like some sort of festive noxious gas every year, wringing my neck with bloody tinsel, as well as the big bare slate of 2018 beaming with opportunity and whomped into the dust before me, I'm inclined to dwell a lot on the ol' brain.
This is largely because I did, in fact, really lose my mind for a good few months in mid-2017 and I'm now attempting to consolidate that loopy little chapter into my internal narrative; rather like if you were watching a Cameron Crowe movie and didn't realise that at some point in the process the producers turned to one another and were like, "Hey, let's get David Lynch to direct ten minutes of this and just see what happens."
I just went sort of bat-shit insane. I had just moved back from a summer alone in London, skipped away from a long-term relationship and all of its associated prospects and then promptly staggered into a ditch to writhe around for a bit and lose my grip on reality. My social media presence deviated HEAVILY from normal programming at this time and all of my Instagram followers must have been hilariously confused (to all of you: sorry about that one! And yes, I was as surprised as you that the portrait I painted of myself fellating an anonymous penis turned out so realistically!)
It's interesting regaining emotional composure after a period like this, after all in a manner of speaking I've been sort of bananas for the great majority of my adult life but never so much to the point where I'm genuinely surprised that people allowed me to drive. I shed weight like a gelid bear, felt profoundly as though I was drowning for three straight months, and forgot the basic laws of social interaction. My eyes must have looked all skew-whiff about my head. Insanity feels very liquid to me: in a long-term relationship I could keep it all bottled up and stored in the apartment for special occasions but without my partner it just started to spill out all nolens volens and take up the shape of whatever container it found itself in.
I think of it now as a very strange prospect, intellectualising mental illness as this very banal, native aspect of my life. It's composed of these objects that have always been part of my social life and household, so much so that they've become part of the furniture; "Oh yes, just pop it on the counter next to the vase and the depression. We keep the silverware above the schizophrenia drawer and the OCD in the filing cabinet." I have very few friends that don't suffer in some way from some obscene trauma or anxiety and it's always slightly jarring to me to discuss these topics with people who can hardly conceive of the notion. A few months ago a friend in London asked me how often I "experience anxiety", which I quietly thought was extremely silly, rather like I could announce to him "Well my dear, tuck your feet under your arse and roll forward with your forehead against that there table, now stay like that for 45 minutes, consider life and all its darkness and that should do the trick!"
I'm lucky for the fact that I'm not especially disabled by my lunacy, in fact, it's a relatively benign component of my emotional life, probably makes me a bit kinder than I would be otherwise, and encourages me to look frankly at all this dark, wiggly stuff – like lying down and inspecting the underside of a car. But it is just a bit embarrassing isn't it? I'm compulsively drawn to discussing it because I'm compulsively drawn to discussing everything that makes me a bit embarrassed and vulnerable – and, bloody hell, if I couldn't openly laugh about it and call myself 'nutso' or whatnot I'd become so pent up with shame I'd end up murdering dogs and stuffing them in bins or something equally horrific. I do worry from time to time that my tendency to openly discuss these topics inevitably infringes upon my employability and, yes, sex appeal but ultimately I fear that far less than any feeling of repression or accusation of inauthenticity.
And let's face it, it is very funny. It's stupid and absurd and dark, that our neuronal splendour was born of the same material that made the stars, that our evolution spanned the millennia, that our inventiveness and intellectualism and industrialisation built cities and wonder and beauty and we strode the plains of Africa to one day stride the moon and then sometimes if your head's a bit funny you have to flick light switches on and off a bunch and can't eat biscuits.
These things come in ebbs and flows and boy oh boy, am I enjoying the nice cool lucidity of an ebb right now but the concept of finishing my Master's degree and piecing together some notion of a comprehensive career does burden me with this hyper-awareness that the bananas is me. I am the bananas. I just have to pocket it and keep walking and hope that people will love me even when what I say stops making sense, or I can't answer calls, or make anything good because even though it is rare, 2017 taught me that it sure can happen. And I now believe the best you can really hope for is the ability to peer at the moment retrospectively and remark coolly, "Well now, that was interesting."