Over the years of trying to learn what makes average people act the ways they do, the only absolute I have come to is this; the biggest difference between being diagnosed as insane or sane is the number of people involved. It is considered insane to have crippling paranoia or depression. It is considered sane to complain about your shortcomings but do nothing to address said shortcomings. Over the course of the almost three years I have done this alifeofmentalillness blog I have stated on several occasions I would do just about anything to be sane and normal again. I should be more specific and revise this. I would give anything to not suffer delusions of persecution, hallucinations, crippling bouts of anger and depression, and the general isolation that comes along with it. But I do not want to become what most people would consider normal. By that I mean I do not want to lose my ability for empathy. From what I have seen out of normals over the years, they seem to have a general lack of empathy or ability to see things from others people’s viewpoints. I do not want to be uncaring. It causes a great deal of pain that I sometimes have to be mean and even borderline abusive to people just to get a point across. I hate being angry and mean to people. I’m not a natural jerk. Never have been and never will be. I don’t know how much of that is the illness and how much of that is my natural personality. But I absolutely hate being mean and combative to people. If I can’t be pleasant with someone and have them be pleasant to me, I try to avoid that person. To paraphrase Lee Marvin from the classic ‘Paint Your Wagon’ “you don’t have to love thy neighbor if you just leave the poor fool alone.” But too seldom have I seen anyone, mentally ill or not, just leave other people alone.
Another aspect of sanity I never want to possess is the tendency for group think. I love having a mind and using it. I hate celebrity gossip. I hate reality tv. I hate tabloid journalism. I’ve even come to hate watching sports on tv because of the base nature of what is modern sports journalism. It doesn’t bother me that a pro athlete makes more than any worker that isn’t executive management or an entrepreneur. If I had 50,000 people pay $50 for tickets to read my blogs or ten million subscribers like some popular youtube personalities, I’d be wealthy too. Besides, well over half of pro athletes wind up bankrupt within five years of their retirement. Watch the ESPN documentary ‘Broke‘ to see how true this really is. I am however bothered with how people will build up someone with talent only to knock them down later. That is why I hope and pray I never become famous or wealthy. “More money, more problems” as the late Biggie Smalls said.
I love learning new things, which is a skill which will become more valuable than it is now in the coming years and decades as technological and scientific advances get even faster than they are now. For years I have listened to normals complain about their jobs. I heard the “Oh God It’s Monday” and “Thank God It’s Friday” memes long before I had even dial up internet. And I’ve seen and read articles on both domestic and foreign news sites about how potentially we could see job losses to automation with future unemployment rates that would make the 1930s look like a bull market on steroids. NPR had an interactive article I’m linking to about chances of different types of jobs being taken over by machines and computers. For example many jobs in customer service will likely be taken over, but many traditional medical and STEM jobs probably won’t be automated anytime soon. And I bring this up because now many people are fretting over their jobs being taken over by machines. Seriously? First you complain about how bad you hate your job. Now you complain that you may lose said job that you were cursing not even a couple months ago? Make up your minds, people. Do you think your current job sucks or do you want to do that lousy job? Personally I don’t care if the robotics take the jobs I’ve had, providing there is some restructuring to tax laws and social safety nets. The robots are coming, make no mistake. They will take a lot of jobs. Advances can be temporarily delayed but will win out. Robots and computers will take many, if not most jobs. How will we address a significant portion of people who identified with their work for their entire lives being unemployed and behind on their payments? I normally don’t talk politics on this site, but regardless of your political philosophy these are issues that we need to demand our lawmakers discuss, ideally sooner rather than later.
Believe it or not I have worked before, even after I was diagnosed with a mental illness. I have been a retail clerk, fast food cook, waiter, factory worker, teacher’s aide/graduate assistant, dish washer, janitor, construction worker, farm hand, lawn mower, and newspaper delivery boy (when I was 10 years old). And everyone of those jobs (with the exception of teacher’s aide) was repetitive, mind numbingly boring, required no creative imagination, and didn’t really make a difference to even my small hometown. Most of those jobs stand a good chance of being automated within the next twenty years anyway. So those jobs were drudgery, not stimulating, and I worked mostly with people who were not very creative or intelligent. But those were the only jobs available to me, at least in my small town and rural area. I can foresee a mass migration out of rural areas and small towns all over the world (more so than now) once automation really gets rolling. Even I may be going to a big city if enough of my hometown dries up and or stagnates.
Creative jobs will likely become in demand soon. I liked the teacher’s aide job because I got to interact with above average intelligence people everyday, got to use computers, got to teach a few college courses as a substitute teacher, and was actually encouraged to use my creativity. Unfortunately that job was contingent on me being a graduate student in the Masters in Business program. I loved the job but didn’t do well enough in the classes to keep my job. I could have seen being a computers instructor and research rat for the next fifty years. But I can’t because I don’t have that piece of paper that states I am qualified for a job like that.
So here I am living on the fringes of society because of my disability. Wasn’t my first choice but that is the current system we live under. I don’t make the rules, I just live by them. I never wanted to just waist my mind on disability. But the aspects of the illness that make figuring out office politics and dealing with vicious bosses and coworkers will not allow me to function in our toxic modern work environment. I don’t see how normals function under such systems. Perhaps normals do it only by copious doses of reality tv, alcohol, anti depressants, tabloid news channels that don’t report anything that really makes a difference (I watch foreign news casts even more than U.S. news because I don’t care at all about celebrity gossip or what steroid pumped football god beat up his girlfriend this week). I didn’t like the work environments I was in. Not because I couldn’t physically or mentally do the work. Far from it. I just couldn’t adjust to the environment of toxic coworkers and borderline abusive bosses.
As far as people who think I am lazy and just being a leech off the good tax payers of my nation, I wish to leave you with the following thoughts.
I am definitely not one of the one in ten thousand who can make the breakthrough, perhaps maybe among the one in ten who truly try to appreciate the men and women who make breakthroughs possible. If it weren’t for brilliant scientists working on psych meds I would be in a padded room in an insane asylum as would some of the coolest people I ever met. If it wasn’t for medical science my dear mother might be dead because of heart and thyroid problems. If it wasn’t for scientists and engineers we wouldn’t have the internet, anti biotic drugs, sanitation, etc. I am grateful every day for the ‘one in ten thousand.’ Everyone should be.
Your blogs make more sense than anything else I read. I am so glad you write them.
It’s always good to know I make a difference to ye few yet faithful 🙂
If you haven’t already, I would recommend a crash course in the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, 1844-1900, to inspire your terrific writing. Even if you aren’t interested in his basic metaphysics or find his politics distasteful, I think you would appreciate his technique and style. He was a brilliant iconoclast, which got him into trouble in his life, and still gets him into trouble. Many people don’t understand him or what he was trying to do, a feeling I can relate to. Just thought I’d bring it up, discard my comment if you find it unhelpful. Keep writing!
I read a couple of Nietzsche’s books. I read ‘Twilight of Idols’ and ‘Anti Christ’ while I was in college. Plowed through ‘Thus Spoke Zarathusa’ a few winters ago. I probably should go through Zarathusa again. I’ve been reading a lot of Michio Kaku, Stephen Pinker, and Ray Kurzweil the last year or so. Some of the future tech I’ve been researching the last three years has come from these guys and websites like futuretimeline.net, quantumrun.com, humanprogress.org, and a bunch of videos I found on youtube. But I read some Nietchze, but that’s probably the only German philosopher I’ve read to any real extent.
That’s cool you’re already exposed to much of Nietzsche. Thus Spake Zarathustra is bold because of his concept of the Superman, and the declaration that man is merely a bridge to something greater in evolution. That’s the kind of iconoclasm I’m talking about. I haven’t read Twilight of the Idols but I plan on it soon. I think you’d like his book The Geneaology of Morals, probably his boldest book. Using his method of genealogy, he points out the hypocrisy inherent in many of our systems, though he explicitly attacks Christianity. If you want to read more German philosophy, try Schopenhauer if you haven’t read him yet. He inspired Nietzsche. He incorporates Eastern thought in his systems, particularly Buddhism, in fascinating ways. Then of course there is always Kant and the later German Idealists, and the climax with Hegel. But I mention Nietzsche only because he shares some of your concerns.
It sounds like you like the sciences. Pinker the evolutionary psychologist, Kaku the physicist. I think you can do a lot with them, conceptually and intellectually. Your path is far from terminated, though I can be a radical optimist on some issues. But I only mean to encourage your pursuits.
I’ll be sure to check out Kurzweil.
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