How I spend Shabbat…blogging about why I hate people? Oy. Too rainy to go out, joints, back, and feet rather hurt, so this is my form of sharing my world. If you like, it is a form of worship. Even if you don’t like, it’s a form of worship. Mine.
I just heard a TED talk by the author Andrew Sullivan. Sullivan is a voice of the sanity of mental illness in the midst of profoundly sick and disagreeable people. He is the poet of depression, an articulate and soft clear voice among the world of loony-toons and fruit-loops, and his book The Noonday Demon is an epic description of what the illness does to its sufferers. I cannot read it in large doses. It’s like cherry-flavored castor oil. I can get it down but afterwards remembrance and the current realities make me want to vomit.
But I emerge from a reading of Sullivan’s poem of madness understanding for and from myself that the real sick people are not the ones who own themselves as depressive or manic-depressive, but the ones who are judgmental, who act as though mental illness is a self-indulgent way of dealing with the entity called The World. That is deranged and fearful thinking. It is clinically incorrect and it is morally wrong.
That doesn’t make me a martyr or a hero–no, please, and thank you. It doesn’t make me the rebirth of Crusader Rabbit. It simply makes me sick. Hey, what a concept, that this is an illness that might not be the invention of drug companies! It isn’t Big Pharma’s way of hooking us into paying folding money for antidepressants, talk therapy, or succumbing to some Capitalist (or Neo-Liberal) plot to make us quiescent and accepting of moral rape. In fact, I’m one of the lucky ones. My head medications are cheap because I live in a State where our Medicaid-modeled health and prescription coverage is designed for human beings. If Big Pharma is getting rich from mental illness, it’s not taking much out of my pocket.
So mental illness? This is the Real Deal, the single-malt version of feeling really dreadful.
Depression and bipolar are not just “having a bad day” or “feeling blue.” They are corrosive, and they react to and on the world from the inside. The world may press down on us all, but a depressive internalizes it and takes it very personally.
So now and then I get hugely tired of the society in which I need to live. The world of hearing from a well-meaning neighbor that God’s son sacrificed himself on the Cross to save my life and soul. I didn’t speak aloud my fully felt answer to this lady, otherwise it might perhaps it might have been too blunt: No, he didn’t. God bless you if you believe that, but I happen not to.
At times, many times, I feel myself wrapped in misanthropy, a true distaste for my own kind, i.e., other human beings. At times, everyone seems to have a nice hobbyhorse to ride. It could be politics and religion (the worst kinds), science, anything that tells me that they have found a supreme truth and, well, I’m just not there at all. Hey, friend–if that supreme truth is working for you, good. Knock yourself out. But get it out of my face. You are trying to tell me how I am supposed to feel, how I am supposed to believe, how I’m supposed to approach others of my misguided species. And I’m not buying. I feel the way I feel and I act the best I can within my understanding of decency.
All of us bear some stain of corruption. We think and do things we ought not to. In other words, we are imperfect but moral beings. We are ill, we are wounded, we are sometimes angry and in a place where downright rage seems the only comprehensible reaction to what has been said to us. That said, we are not willfully awful people. Before you tell me to Man Up or behave according to your externally-imposed standards, take a good look in the mirror and see what demons live inside you and demand to judge me.