The first time I was hospitalised, when I was about 17, I started hearing voices. Well, to be more specific I started hearing a robot voice.
I tried to ignore it at first. Get on with things. Go about my business. But this robot voice was every where I went. In my room, in the dining area, in the halls. This voice was starting to (if you’ll excuse the irony) drive me completely insane. I began to feel more and more dejected. Here I was. In a psychiatric institution. Hearing voices.
Then I became angry. I couldn’t even understand what the damn thing was saying. I couldn’t even be a normal crazy person. Someone who could actually understand their stupid voices. This is ridiculous!
One day I was waiting for a group session to start when I heard the robot talking again. I decided I had to settle this matter once and for all. I turned to the guy next to me and asked him:
“Did you just hear that robot voice?!”
He looked vaguely startled and looked around. “Robot voice?”
“There it is again!” I exclaimed. “See! That robot voice! Please tell me you can hear it! I’m being driven insane. I know I shouldn’t say that here…but seriously….can you hear it?”.
It was then that he burst out laughing. “That’s Harold!” he told me, in between snorts. “He’s had a tracheotomy, he speaks through a tube. I guess he does sound a bit like a robot.”
We were both silent for a moment. “Well that’s a relief,” I finally said. “For the last week I have been convinced I was hearing robot voices”.
Oh we laughed and laughed after that. I felt a huge range of things. Guilty for starters (poor Harold!), embarrassed, but most of all relieved. THANK GOD! I wasn’t crazy. Well, at least not in that way.
But this experience got me thinking. What is crazy anyway? Do you know if you are crazy? I’ve heard that the craziest people often believe they are sane. But sane people can think they are crazy too. Are you crazy if you are sane but think you’re crazy? Who defines it? Where is the line between crazy and sane?
One day, in the MBU, I was trying to make some lunch for David. Another patient was experiencing a manic episode and was pestering me, talking a mile a minute, following me around the kitchen. In between peals of laughter she managed to say “wow! You must really think I’m crazy!”
“Yes,” I responded rather grumpily. To my surprise she just burst out laughing again.
“That’s because I am!” she sung, before waltzing outside to the garden.
She certainly thought she was. Did I think I was crazy? I’m not sure. Do I now? I don’t know. What I do know, is that the deterioration of mental health results in a need for intervention. Some people resist it, but I was open to it. Perhaps that was the sanest part of my condition. I believe that everyone has their own eccentricities, some are just more obvious than others. I believe eccentricities need only be a negative thing should they threaten the wellbeing or reputations of themselves or the people around them.
Although I can’t define what I was before, at this point in time I’ll conclude that for now I’m swinging around the ‘normal’ end of the continuum. Normal. With traces of nuts 😉