I Care, That’s Why I Don’t Stay Silent

People are often told to speak up if they are having struggles or problems.  But what is the point of opening up to others if you are met with the whole others have it worse trope.  But, for me, what is even worse than being told others have it worse, or I’m lucky, or that I should quit complaining, is being met with complete silence and indifference.  Being met with silence is by far the worst for me.  I’ve experienced it many times in my life, even from my own family.

I don’t know how to read someone going silent on me when I tell them something.  Do you think I am a liar?  Are you too heartless to say even “I’m sorry you’re hurting”?  Are you too dumb to know how to react?  Do you just not care?  Do you think I am stupid? Or do you not know how to communicate?  Or are you just being rude?  Do you think I’m overblowing the problem?  All of this is going through my head all at the same time when I confess my problems to people and I’m met with a stone wall of silence.  I already suffer in silence for a lot of the struggles with my mental illness.  Have since my teenage years.  When I open up to you, I often do so because I crave feedback.

I know I appear weak in many people’s eyes just for talking about my problems.  But, I have probably appeared weak, odd, eccentric and weird to everyone I have ever met since childhood.  “I am the weirdo” to quote Fairuza Balk from “The Craft.”  Some probably thought I was weird for having emotions other than anger or lust as a man.  Many have thought it weird that I take pride in being well read and active in seeking knowledge.  I never understood why it was cool to be stupid and immature.

Others think I’m weird for caring about others and humanity as a whole.  I cringe every time I see one of these “the importance of not giving a ####” articles, videos, and books.  Apparently it hasn’t occurred to most people that the reason they live mediocre lives, are stuck in dead end jobs, with dead end relationships, have mediocre leaders in government, have mediocre bosses, live paycheck to paycheck, and never getting better is because they don’t care enough, certainly they don’t care enough to attempt to change things.

I’ve tried many times to change myself for the better.  Sure I have failed at most of those attempts, but at least I have gleaned some bits of wisdom and some interesting experiences from those endeavors.  I may still be mentally ill, but I can manage it pretty well, better than the majority of people.  I may not be in good physical health, but at least I’m still fighting to keep some maintenance and stability.  I will probably never be rich, unless by some act of God this blog and my writings get picked up by some group who wants to pay me for work I’ve done, sometimes at great personal expense, for years.  I refuse to give up.  I refuse to stop caring about humanity, nature, my friends, my family, my neighbors, etc.  Asking me to stop caring is the same as asking a fish to stop swimming.  Caring about others and trying to provide insight and assistance through my own personal experiences living as a man with mental illness is what I do.  It’s who I am.  It’s my Definite Chief Aim, according to Napoleon Hill.  Or my Massively Transformative Purpose, according to Peter Diamandis.

Even if by some miracle of medical science I do get cured of mental illness, or at least get the symptoms knocked down enough they no longer affect my lifestyle, I’m still going to find ways to use my mind, my knowledge, and my compassion for others to make life more bearable and meaningful to others.

Asking ‘Why’ and Not Caring About Popular Opinions

I readily admit that I am anything but normal.  I wasn’t normal even before I became mentally ill.  One thing that definitely makes me abnormal is that I have to always ask questions.  I just have to know why things work or don’t work the way that they do.  I imagine in some aspects I’m the six year kid who asks ‘why’ to everything as a thirty eight year old adult.  I found people were annoyed at me as a six year old when I kept asking questions and they are even more annoyed that as a man entering my middle aged years I still ask ‘why’ to everything.

I never understood why people got angry when I asked questions.  When I don’t ask questions is when I don’t learn.  When I don’t learn I make mistakes in my school work, my job, my relationships, my dating life, etc.  And then people get angry because I didn’t ask questions.  I think this is strange at best and mind numbingly stupid at worst.  Do you want people to learn or not?  If yes, then how are they supposed to learn if they aren’t free to ask questions?  I guess that asking questions means you have ‘attitude problems’ or ‘don’t respect authority’ to some people.  I don’t understand this.

I don’t even understand people who don’t question much of anything.  Are they that compliant?  Do they not have any sense of wonder or curiosity?  And furthermore, why do such people feel a visceral need to condemn those of us who are asking questions and looking for ways to improve any and all things.  I have never taken authority as unquestionable truth.  And I never will at this point.  I was always told ‘get with the program’ or ‘wait until you’re an adult’ or ‘wait until you hit the cold cruel world’ when I was asking “too many” questions or trying to ignore things that made no sense.  Well, I am an adult who still isn’t with the program and I still ask questions and have a burning desire to learn.  The cold and cruel world has hit me more than it has some people, and the only time I am not an optimist is when I’m in the deep grips of the illness.  In short, I proved my critics and elders dead wrong.  I didn’t make their mistakes.  And I am a more interesting man and better conversation than they themselves could ever be.  It’s because I didn’t quit asking.  I didn’t quit seeking.  I didn’t quit experimenting.  I didn’t let my curiosity and sense of wonder be murdered by the short sighted demands and duties of adulthood.  My soul didn’t die in a job I hated that I did just to pay rent and buy food.  I didn’t become a bitter and angry old man because I had a few failed relationships and never got married.  I didn’t start condemning the “damn kids” when I became a man.  I remembered what it was like to be condemned as one of the “damn kids” as a teenager even though I was more ethical and had better morals than most of my elders and elected rulers.  It sucked.  I haven’t forgotten that even after all these years.  I never will forget.  I vowed when I was eighteen that I would never pull that on anyone.

I will continue to evolve and ask questions no matter how old I get.  I refuse, flat out refuse, to be one of these bitter old codgers screaming at the kids on his lawn and pining for good old days that were quite lousy in many ways for many people.  I don’t even see owning a lawn as an old man even if I do get rich.  Jack Kerouac once said if you need to own a welcome mat, then you own too much.  I don’t know if I’d go that extreme but I did like Brad Pitt in ‘Fight Club’ saying “The things you own eventually own you” and “once you’ve lost everything, you’re free to do anything.”  I don’t know about that extreme either, but for my own personal experiences I have lost most of what modern society deems the hallmarks of decent living.  I lost my career because of schizophrenia.  I lost the chance to ever become rich because of mental illness.  I lost most of my physical health because of schizophrenia.  I lost the chance for marriage, relationships, sexual intimacy, children because mental illness made me impossible to live with.  I even lost my ability to drive a car in high traffic areas because of mental illness.  Most of my countrymen would think I am a complete loser just because of these measures and stats on paper.  But, with mental illness and entering old age, I have learned that I don’t have to care what others think any more.  As a result, I don’t care what others think.  I don’t want to impress people.  I don’t really care if I am liked.  I don’t even care if people believe me anymore.  I have found that usually when people think I’m lying the most is exactly when I’m telling the most truth.  That, and I’m just ahead of the curve.  I don’t care to stop asking why.  Not now, not ever.  I also no longer feel a visceral need to impress anyone.  I will continue to ask why until I die.  And I don’t care who likes or dislikes me in the process.