Author: Robert Poposki
What it Feels Like to Lose Your Mind
This title seems a little misleading. Cause, well, I don’t think I’ve ever possessed my mind in order to lose it. That, or, you know, you can’t really lose your mind, man, it’s stuck in your brain, and without it, you’d be dead.
Nevertheless, I like the expression. And in a way, it actually does make sense. Anyway.
For a “normal” person, your mind is like a red balloon attached to your index finger with a thin, white string. When it gets windy – metaphorical for, when shit goes down in life – the red balloon wobbles around, and it tugs fervently at your finger. The end result is a chaotic balloon (mind), a taut string (a tense body/mind), and an overall loss of control. The balloon is, however, still connected to your person. It’s just being strained a little more than usual.
When you actually lose your bananas, like depresive people do, the tie connecting you to your mind is completely severed. And this doesn’t necessarily require that “shit go down”; its trigger is random. Thoughts, ideas, emotions, and concepts absolutely subvert your conscious wake, and you’ve no choice but to let them peal with intense ferocity. You start to muse on all the stupid things you said ten years ago to people whom you love. Pictures drawing on the death of all your loved ones, and your own self, sweep over your mind’s eye. A bubbling brook of black, dark, bleak fictions scream inside of your ear, while you sit there, helpless, only able to watch them play the sound they’re gonna play.
When you lose control over your mind, you realise that your thoughts are not a product of some conscious will – a rational “I” hiding behind this person that is “me” – but rather, they are patterns entwined with your mind, stuck to your thinking, and engraved in your biological framework.
Being manic-depressive reveals this point for what it is like nothing else can. It’s a perfect balance demonstrating how, on the one hand, you feel that you are the sole engineer behind your thoughts, and on the other, you are no more than a lost soul, adrift a never ending sea of blue, lost, alone, and without hope.
When you’re manic, it’s like you are walking across a tight rope suspended over an extraordinarily deep chasm. You’re on your own, there’s nothing to catch your fall. You don’t even have a long stick for balance. The thrill of this life-death situation exhilarates you. It excites you. It burns you and the sensation of it awakens you. You feel so confident that you try running across this tight rope. The rope’s only a hair’s length wide, and 80% of your feet are hanging off its side, but you in your mind, you’re in total control. You’ve got this. You’re balanced, you’re amazing, you’re practically flying. That’s what it feels like. It feels like your thoughts are yours, and you are some form of deistic entity that doesn’t even need the support the rope provides – you defy the laws of nature – because you control them.
In the back of your mind however, deep, deep down in some receding pocket of consciousness, you know that one small slip, and you’re fucked. And then it comes. You take your focus away from the other side for but a single moment, and the abyss once beneath you surrounds you, it swallows you whole. You fall. You scream. Your screams echo. Those echoes grow louder and louder. So loud that you forgot what your own voice sounds like. It is but one, tiny ripple in an echoing ocean. Which ripple is your own, and which is its mirror? You can’t tell. Your thoughts undulate, expand, race. You can’t catch them. They turn negative. Self-deprecating. They hate you and they hurt you. But they’re mere echoes bouncing off the walls of a bleak skull that traps you inside itself.
You keep falling and your thoughts keep fattening, loudening.
You think that you’re eventually going to hit some form of material bottom, which will allow you to regain your footing, and to grasp the echoes for what they are. But you just keep on falling; you’re caught in a bottomless pit. Like a dream; the sensation of falling is delusional, you were in your bed all along, but your bed is invisible. You can’t recognise it no matter how familiar it looks, no matter how many times you’ve slept in it before. You become a stranger to yourself and the image of you that you once could see vanishes into a void of utter nothingness.
That’s kind of what it feels like to lose your mind. The thoughts you could once guide become the shepherd. And you the sheep. The only thing that you can possibly do is ride the wave and hope that its current doesn’t wholly sweep you in.
Cross your fingers and hope that the breadcrumbs you threw off your ship, leading you back to yourself, haven’t all been consumed.
It’s a manic world.