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.


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.



1 thought on “The Other Dude”

  1. I thought of it this way when I was 20 or 24 —

    There’s a vast, primeval forest — giant trees, too thick to get several people’s interlocked arms around… wild animals everywhere, a chaotic symphony of sound and movement, at all times and in all directions.

    There you are in it, and it’s a lot to take in.

    So you cut a few little trees down, make a little hut with a fence, and say, “This is my house. This is me.” YOU are outside, I’M inside. All safe.

    A little clearing.

    If a little wind or a little tremor comes, or if a big animal leans hard against it — it all falls down, and you’re back in the vast wild, naked and afraid.

    That’s the situation with our minds. It’s especially bad in modern times, especially in the rational, technological West. Partly, we’re born into the hut, wherever and whenever we’re born.

    Medicine people all around the world, in all times, learn to move between the forest and the house, realizing there’s really no difference between them — they just are taught not to freak the fuck out when they step outside — how to bring something of value back and not get lost on the outside. In general terms, people should be aware that they’re living in an perceptual or psychological shanty, whether they’re “called” to serve others by self-dissolving forays into the vast primeval such-and-such.

    It’s easy to feel, or be called, crazy when you don’t understand this, or when your culture doesn’t; it’s certainly a burden. But — who the fuck wants to live in a goddamned sitck house? The forest always wins, anyway.

    I mean, so I’m told. haha.


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