Apparently, I am ‘mentally ill’.
A couple of years ago, I remember telling a friend that I had finally realized that there was nothing WRONG with me. At that time, I was waking up from the necessity of using labels with which to refer to myself and my experience. Feeling as though I was probably just like most other flailing human beings on this dying planet – I was expressing the need to be accepted as is. Well, I’ve since revisited that initial thought, and while I still don’t think that there is anything wrong with me per se, I can also state with great confidence that being ‘neuro-typical’ is definitely not my issue! And in the context of life in this society, apparently, this makes me ‘sick’. A brain chemical imbalance! Well, it’s been said that people like me ‘lack insight’ into this. So, I present to you my oppositionally defiant attempt to explain this lack.
Apparently, I am ‘mentally ill’ because I sense and feel things that other people do not. I suppose you could call it ‘delusional’ if you find the labels helpful. The fact is that I seem to possess a hyper-sensitivity and empathy in which I physically, emotionally and spiritually sense and feel negative energy from others. And it overwhelms me. Do I go out looking for this? Not a bloody chance! It’s something that just happens really – on a sensory level. Too much stimulus. Perhaps a nervous system too finely tuned? Research has suggested that different people have different levels of tolerance to pain. It does not seem to be a stretch to suggest that this could be true for the neuro-processing of external stimulus as well. When I was younger, I used to describe myself as a sponge, just involuntarily soaking up the energy of others (as a sponge will soak up liquid on the counter), left to deal with this toxicity and despair that doesn’t belong to me – or does it? We are all each other, just not at the same time… No? Don’t we all have distress and despair at different points in our lives? Maybe distress and despair is more of a phenomenon shared by ALL of us at some point… A kind of omnipotent energy floating around in the atmosphere caused by our seeming human necessity for mass destruction… But I digress… For me, being in large crowds is the worst, particularly if there is a great deal of consumption going on (or if we are surrounded by riot police). I stopped going to shopping malls a long time ago, as the overwhelm from generally unhappy consuming people – along with bright flashing lights, ‘happy’ shopping music, noise and massive waste – was too much for me, and I would become seriously agitated/panicked without understanding why. Now I know. But of course, that is also part of my ‘mental illness’ – as this sensory experience of overwhelm has no proven scientific validity! Few academics are studying this and because of that, it does not exist. It is not REAL. And of course, once again, I am lacking insight….
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