I will warn you up front that this is a very personal post and I am using this blog and will continue to do so for some sort of therapy of my own. I have found that typing things up helps get them off of my chest and helps me come to terms with things. I know, I know…take it to livejournal…but fuck that. This is my life and my blog. Yes, I am a hacker and all that, but I keep reminding everyone that I am also a human being. this is the blog of a hacker and a human being at the same time. If that makes it less interesting, so be it.
I have been dealing with some personal issues with people very close to me (friends and family) that have really opened my eyes to the reality that is mental illness. I always thought that most mental illness was misdiagnoses of common things that people go through. I still believe this to be true in cases of ADD/ADHD, Depression and many others. Look, we all have bad days, but that doesn’t mean you are clinically depressed and have a mental problem. A lot of kids are hyper, this doesn’t mean that they need to be medicated. These are temporary conditions and I think they are far too often used as excuses to cover up problem behavior. At the same time, I also realize that when the mental illness is real, it is very much as devastating as any physical illness can be.
It is also especially scary depending on the type of mental illness. Some are “functional” where the person can still function in society. This may require drugs or regular therapy or other way of coping with the illness. It may also simply mean that the case is so mild or harmless in nature that the person may simply be viewed as “quirky” or “weird” to others. Hell, I fall into that category. But sometimes they are much more serious and it is a very sad thing to see up close.
A very close friend of mind…or former friend, as it were…had a problem that I have never really seen up close before. It is called Paranoia and you might think that you know what that is. Calling someone Paranoid is very common, especially to us conspiracy theorists. We hear that a lot. A lot of my co-workers think that I am overly paranoid. This is just using the an word when what they really should be saying is “cautious” or “concerned”. True Paranoia is a recognized mental illness. It is also commonly associated with other things, specifically schizophrenia. Both basically describe a person who thinks that everyone is out to get them, but in a very sincere way. In some very extreme cases, the person will hear voices and believe that they are on a mission from a higher power telling them what to do and who not to trust. These extreme cases mean that the person is not in control of their own mind. What I witnessed was not this bad, but it did involve someone who thought that no one was on their side. They feel alone in the world and think that the system is against them. This could be from their family (parents), the government, their friends, their employer, or all of the above. It is very sad because although I can see it very well, they cannot. This is the cruel juxtaposition of the disorder. You want to reach out and hold them and tell them that it is OK and that you are there to help them and you are on their side, but you cannot force them to believe you. If they think that you are out to get them, how do you help them? I offered to go to therapy with this person and they immediately lashed out and said that *I* was the one who needed therapy and we were never able to approach the topic again without me being accused of being out to get them and make them into a bad person. The truth is that I want to help, but I learned that you cannot help some who doesn’t want, or think that they need, help. It is a sad situation and it causes families, friendships, and relationships to fall apart and there is nothing that you can do about it except hope that the person come to the realization on their own that they have a problem. It also hurts the ones that care about them more than they probably realize.
My grandmother has Alzheimer’s. Now this is a physical disease but it has a mental manifestation in the form of lost memory and communication skills. I have had to watch my grandmother deteriorate slowly over the course of the past 5 years to the point where she cannot even say my name anymore. She recognizes me…sometimes…actually, very rarely. Usually, she is oblivious to everything including the passing days. She has some “good days” which you may hear mentioned when speaking of Alzheimer’s patients. Most of the time, however, are bad days (or normal days for her) where she doesn’t acknowledge the passing of time, she doesn’t know how old she is, or where she is. Sometimes I think that the bad days, ironically, are the good days in her life anyway because she doesn’t really comprehend what is going on around her. On her “good” days I visit her and she has some long term memory, but very broken short term memory. On one good day, she understood that she was in the hospital and knew that she was sick, but not what she was sick with. She had fallen and hurt her arm when she first went in the hospital and she thinks that she is still in the hospital for that. She doesn’t realize that it happened 5 years ago. One of the hardest things in the world that I have ever had to do was to look into my Grandmother’s face and lie to her when she looked at me and asked me when she would be going home. I lied and told her through my tears “soon Nannie…soon”. It makes me cry right now as I write this, but hey…I can handle it. I am “strong like Bull”.
And don’t even get me started on my own Mental issues…I have plenty. I think that I am pretty functional though. I am usually just “weird” to most people because I think and act differently than everyone else. I chalk a lot of that up to being a hacker, but some of it is probably deeper than that. I know this though, and I do a lot of self-analysis to try and recognize it so that I can overcome it. I think that this is true for most people. What is “normal” anyway? I may have my moments, but all-in-all, I am pretty normal to most people. It just takes a special kind of person to “get me” completely. I thought I had actually found one person who was special enough to “get me” but that didn’t work out and that is a whole other story for another post. I think this was more than enough corniness for one post.