The Other Dude

Author’s note:  I do not, nor have I ever, experienced voices as a form of psychosis.  I’m well, safe, and pretty happy right now.  Thanks for asking.

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There’s some shit I regularly just don’t understand.

I don’t get people who are the same every day.  I continue to struggle to understand people who aren’t, at any given moment, found talking to themselves.  In fact, I’d take it step further and say that if you don’t recall a time where your conversation with yourself wasn’t heated, passionate, and/or filled with expletives I’m wondering how you’ve made it all this time.

Some people talk about consciousness as a separate voice that is often confused or conflated with psychosis.  I’ve attributed my experience as similar in other posts.  He tends to be this beast, and as I’ve said before, I’m learning not to hate him.  The Other Dude AKA Merged Hulk can stay as long as he doesn’t get out and ruin my life or kill me.

I am still afraid of him.

But he has some great ideas.

Ideation is typically associated with negative things, like self-harm or paranoia. But it also is connected to the creative process, specifically the ‘aha’ moment when you come up with something new.  The part of your brain that does this magical thing is called the superior temporal gyrus, but really just the right side.  On the left, your brain has dendroids that can grab information but they’re really short.  The right side?  They stretch longer, expanding into areas that are distant and unrelated.  Intelligence, while giving you more info to work with, doesn’t mean you’ll be creative but it does allow you more opportunities for greatness.

There’s a lot of derision about the association between the two meanings, but I actually think there’s something interesting about the accidental relationship our language forms between the moment of discovery and the swirling blast furnace that is madness.  I also think it is profound that we’ve lost that relationship almost completely and now have just attached it to the darkness of a mind that sees only harm.

Mental illness, as a term, gives me hives.  It seems like the same problem as the one we have with ideation, but stickier.  There’s other labels out there that are better for this work, I believe, but the point isn’t the word.  The point is that there seems to be something underlying within these choices.  It reminds me of a kind of etymological depression.  Not all of my ideations are suicidal, obviously, but they’re not normal either.  They feel wild, like flowers that push out of kudzu.

Making something as supernormal as having moods that run in the night like werewolves or a mindscape that occasionally slides into universes of numbers made of grass and concrete a thing I should fear feels so insufficient.  While terrifying sometimes, they might contain the mysteries just beyond the beyond.  Current systems are seen as the answer but I’m often left wondering if they are the problem.  What if we built our world around honoring our minds as things that can produce as miracles?  What if mental health was as relevant as heart health?

Merged Hulk often looks like my best self when I feel weak or rudderless.  He seems so sure of everything and appears to have all the answers.  But when I’m healthy he’s just a frustrated writer who is witty at parties, occasionally coming up with a good idea or two when he takes his meds on time.  He has his space, I have mine, and neither of us is moving out.  I can’t kill him because I know I’ll just be killing myself.  He’s unconvinced of this, so I’m the one that needs to put the work in.  Otherwise, we both lose even if he wins.

So we need to be steady and be clear.  Wild ideations aren’t just flights of fancy, probably.  They’re maybe the star stuff that the Gods gave us to bridge the gap between the impossible and the real.  Looking at it harder, we might not like madness (for good reason) but we need to accept it as part of the package.  Without it, our world wouldn’t be what it is.  Mad people have been the spark of every industrial revolution, the penstroke that has done or undone blouses and boots, and provided the backbeat to rhythms that may have caused (or at least kept time during) your conception.

From what you drive to what you wear, your world has been shaped by crazies.  Unlike you, mine will never go away.  So I do what I know how to do.  We sit and we work it out at the table as equals.  Some days I win, some days I lose.

Negotiations start at 6 AM.

 

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2018

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I’ve got some Christmas posts in the hopper so I don’t have to work on stuff over the holiday.  This’ll be my last somewhat current post though I hope they’ll all be coherent.  Even if the sky falls, I’m sticking to my long neglected to-do list and the kitchen for a good while.  I might even finally beat Turtle at Candy Land.

I mean, first of all, fuck 2017.  This year has been a terrible year pretty much from start to finish.

First there was the inaugural garbage that ate our souls with bloody, plaque-ridden teeth.  We unwillingly watched as a guy who can’t even run a business with a million dollar head start, white skin, and a penis got crowned pumpkin king of America.

Then, he proceeded to ban a bunch of people and trash relationships with foreign governments and hire the villains from the last season of Justice League Unlimited to run everything and encourage the worst of us to lead all of us and make nice nice with the white supremacists.

I mean… what?  I’d say more but you were there and this whole thing is starting to depress me (not literally so don’t call me about it.)

This year has been the source of a great deal of grief for a lot of us.  A lesson from previous forays into grief have taught me that this time period doesn’t leave space for much.  In fact, in times where grief threw me into depression I found myself using the slowed time and inward turn to focus on letting things go.  I am amazed at how this time seems to consistently coincide with winter for me.  This year I feel so grateful for it because unlike previous years where I felt like I was saying goodbye to old lovers or giving away that one thing that has stayed with me for so long but outlived its usefulness, I feel like there has been a stinking bag of trash that I’ve just been too lazy to throw away sitting inside me.  I’m happy to put these things away, knowing that they’ve been here far past expiration and need to be turned into something else.

I’m making 2018 the year I take out the trash.

I’m leaving behind cynicism and poisonous hot takes.  I’ve been trying this out a bit, staying away from academically-disguised takedowns as much as I can and trying my hardest to hear my own feelings on things.  In their place, I’m going all in on a commitment to pushing us to be honest, clear and willing to show up for one another even as the politics get more complex.

No more middle-school dance conference calls where people act too cool to speak.  I have no patience for that bullshit.  My introversion does not support this course of action as I get nervous and have to push through oceans of anxiety just to have a conversation on the phone.  I’m going all in on bringing trust into the room everywhere I go because we need each other.

What trash are you trying to clear out in 2018?  What will you put in its place?

Be safe, drink clean water, and take care of your heart.