The Abyss’ Gaze

What is the gift of psychosis? (You can substitute psychosis with any word of your choosing)

Seems an odd question and likely answerable with “none”. Except, that’s reductive and untrue. Any and everything can be a blessing/curse, tool/weapon, lead/gold. It’s a spectrum far more than a binary. In fact, they are one in the same with the spectrum of choice lying within us, and our perspective can be a filter and a north star. To be honest, I’m not sure which “lie” I mean, and why it’s not both.

“Or” is a word responsible for more destruction than any other grammatical convention I know of. Heads or tails tends to be irrelevant when you owe someone $0.25 cents. If life is a coin toss of your calling, how can you lose? This binary obsession makes me wonder why my nuance is bipolar and society’s strict adherence to black and white thinking is now defined as sane (whilst simultaneously being listed as a diagnostic criteria in the DSM-V) Does it even matter? Black is every color, white is none, so either way you’re using more shades than you think. Right?

Computers may work in 1’s and 0’s, but it’s the unique combinations of the 1’s and 0’s that produce the programming, the programming that produces a pantone rainbow, right? I hear so many people say things like “I know I’m supposed to be/feel/think x but I feel more y…” and every time I point out they can be both x and y, it seems a shocking notion that two completely oppositional forces can exist at once. What goes up must come own, yet wouldn’t you say there’s a spectrum where it’s more up and less down? Do either of these words matter without the other?

I must note, if only to give myself a boost of confidence to one day finish what I’m writing and post it. I have been trying to read Nietzsche lately and I can’t. He babbles just like me, and it’s too much. But, if Nietzsche became Nietzsche by babbling and everybody thinks his babbling is special. Nietzsche put his shit out there and nobody gave a shit til he was dead. “Ahead of his time” and all…I don’t know why it has been such a long road to see Nietzsche went nuts and spent his last years in a mental hospital, and I get it. I get it without having read his books because…I’ve been to the places he babbles about, and I get how hard it is to coherently discuss any of it. Far easier to just fictionalize a metaphor. But, I can’t not babble. That damn abyss gazed back, after all. It may be a weird way to look at the world and generally be okay going out like Nietzsche, but despite my inability to read Beyond Good and Evil, the man taught me about a bridge. I’m fairly certain I can cross it whether or not anyone ever reads my babbling. The purpose is the gift, and both are always just doing it in the first place.

Speaking of metaphors: lately, I’ve been realizing just how good I am at pissing on my face and telling myself it’s fresh spring rain. I wonder if, then, maybe I can piss on somebody else’s face and tell them about the spring rain. Or if maybe I can just make it rain, and I’m not sure if I mean water or cash, and why it’s not both? So, what is the gift? I know all of the bad stuff, but here we are 6 months after the fact and my eyes are set on what is, not what was. And – I’m a liar as I type it. A homeless lady in the mental hospital told me years ago I’d spend years trying to write this out. She said I’d do better with comedy. I still don’t know what the hell that means, or if it even really happened. Yet, she was right, it has been 5 years and about 1 month since she said this to me, and here I am. Still trying to whatever the fuck I’m trying to…whilst writing about her. Yet, I don’t even know if that actually happened, and yet, I perpetually come back to now. When I try to ___ nothing happens, but when I just write or just wash dishes or just take a shit: shit gets done. But why is there such a disconnect between what I wanna inside and what I do outside? Who is this voice that keeps saying this could or should shit, and why don’t I listen?

Furthermore, and probably most importantly: WHO the fuck is talking to me? Am I even talking to you? I’m so tired of pretending I don’t have too many voices in my head, so I started talking to myself. Then I realized I’m generally only ever talking to myself. A gift of psychosis is realizing I never actually know what happened, I don’t know if my memories are true, and I’ve experienced conversations that may or may not have happened. Inside and Outside. Psychosis taught me that all the shit I think is hidden inside is everywhere outside… I just convinced myself it is not me pissing on my own face while convincing myself it’s actually rain.

I can crack jokes about psychosis and make other people feel awkward and weird because it’s supposed to be super serious and I’m like… Super Sized crazy. I’ve described my mind like a rubber band that has been stretched too far. It has either snapped or is unable to regain its former shape. I used to think that was a bad thing, but I’m relatively freed of a lot of… baggage. It’s okay to act crazy, cause I’m crazy, and crazy people talk to themselves…and they talk back. It’s crazy to say it’s God, and you go crazy until you find yours. God may be dead, but how dead can it be if resurrection was always on the altar? I suppose, for me, it is like sacrificing pride, fear, your opinion, and so forth. Then, and only then, it and I made sense. As Corey Taylor raged back in the day, “All I’ve got is insane”

The only way I’ve found to … recover? is to accept what is. Somewhere, somehow, everything is all as completely true as it is completely false here. I existed in a reality of my own making for a period of time. That reality was unacceptable because it did not align with the accepted majority reality. Yet, somehow, I saw a literal movie that no one else saw. I watched the same movie again when I was “sane” and saw a completely different one. But I was there in the theatre. I watched and reacted to a movie that, apparently, no one else was seeing. The characters were the same, but the plot, dialogue, events… all of it was completely different from the same movie that I watched later. I don’t know how to reconcile that beyond: the movie I saw then is not the movie I saw now. The end. Somehow, I created a completely different movie….and reality for an indeterminate period of time that may or may not happen whenever for whatever reasons.

And that leads me to my point, my question, my… whatever the fuck:

If my mind created a movie that only I saw in real-time as I was watching it, including dialogue, plot, etc. … how creative am I? I like to think and tell myself I’m creative, and I even remind myself frequently of my belief that anxiety is merely misdirected creativity. It’s using all your creative power to imagine horrors and worst-case scenarios instead of using all that power of your imagination to do whatever the fuck you want. Is psychosis the same? How many times was I watching a different movie and didn’t even know it? Am I still? Was I ever not? I could be psychotic right now, it seems to me a label applied based on someone else’s level of discomfort, although I have felt like going to the mental hospital was my version of crying uncle. But it doesn’t matter because I don’t know.

What I find terrifying on one level and exhilarating on another is: why is it when I start writing a lot, really get into and lose myself in the process, abandon my bullshit and recklessly pursue the freedom of me going away and my typing fingers taking the reign…. Why do I go psychotic then? I’m always checking the proper boxes: my diet will be very good, I will begin exercising with the motivation and rejuvenation that writing brings me, I will be meditating a lot, and I will be losing myself to writing as much as I can. Mania, mania, mania… maybe? I guess? But I don’t understand why that dismisses everything. So, okay fine, I got more dopamine and/or serotonin flowing in the grey matter than “I should” yet… for how long now, these creative cycles, high productivity, etc. have been a marker of the artistic process and mind. Every past great mind gets a post-mortem diagnosis. Einstein was autistic, Edison had ADHD, who’s to say Jesus wasn’t psychotic?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and it freaks me out. What separates say, Jesus from David Koresh? Or like, the random homeless dude screaming about end of days and that he spoke to God and God said ____?

The only answer I can get is follower count. Jesus had a lot more followers than Koresh, the homeless dude, and me combined. It’s the same reason my reality wasn’t…sustainable? so to speak? I had one follower – me. And I don’t know if that makes sense, and I don’t know that I care, because the whole purpose of pondering shit is to ponder shit.

I just find it… fascinating how much art speaks to this part of me that I can’t quite explain and when I tap that place and start bringing whatever piece I’m bringing forward from this collective pool of inspiration…I seem to end up hanging out in a mental hospital, and ya know, lately … I end up having a great time at the mental hospital, so I don’t know that the fear of psychosis can hold me back anymore. I don’t care anymore. Nietzsche spent a lot of time there too, and we both apparently know how to gaze at an abyss, and let everyone know what the abyss has to say. Isn’t that a definition of artist?

I used to think I was special, then I thought I was broken, and now I think for whatever reason… I’m here in a place that doesn’t know how to teach, guide, or anything me. I have to wonder if I wasn’t born in a land of Shamans who get a Microsoft Word template certification that they completed a weekend Shamanic Shamaning course for the low low cost of $5k to learn how to bang a drum…. and I was born in a place where someone would take me to a cave or bury me alive or give me a tincture of some sort… and yet, I’m here, so I’m supposed to be here. And apparently, I give myself my own tinctures because the best description I can give of “What is a psychotic break like” is “have you ever had a bad trip? Imagine the best trip of your life and then crash for an indeterminate period of days/weeks/months.” Oh but that’s just mania… that’s not real… that’s blah blah blah…It was real to me, and I know – as the homeless lady may or may not have told me: I can’t deal with any of this shit unless I write it out, and it generally doesn’t matter how. I could probably write “My psychosis was a big poo poo pooington and I just poo poo poo” and as long as I’m not really the one typing, I’ll feel better. Maybe? I don’t know!

And that’s fine because I was supposed to do it in the first place, clearly, since it happened. This last time, I was so terrified of a second time, I wonder if I just.. manifested it, and oh how I hate the constant use of that word with the wu-wu’s. The first psychotic break made me less afraid of “being crazy” cause I went crazy. The second seems to have made me not afraid to break. Every break breaks me free….I think? therefore I am? I think maybe I am a zebra or what if I’m just a painted horse? That, however, is putting Descartes before the horse, eh? (ba-dum-ching!)

Supposedly, I’m supposed to “be myself” and in my authenticity, I will find my purpose, gift, calling, meaning, whatever. But… who am I? and is there a difference between I and me/myself? Is either real? What is real? What is authentic? Does it matter? Who is typing? Who is reading?

I can’t be the only one shouting questions into the abyss, and yet everywhere I look, I only find me. Now, supposedly, if I shout into the abyss with my “real” voice, I’ll find the others, and yet … every time I find one, they go away. And yet, and yet…here I am checking those boxes, babbling, and awaiting my next series of diagnoses. I can’t hate on the pills I’m taking, they cleared the space to do the shit like exercise and diet and self-talk that gets me to the babbling. And sometimes, the babbling makes sense, and sometimes, that abyss speaks back, and I find if I don’t … write it out, I lose the script.

Have you ever heard of the Cosmic Joke? Ever since I saw The Truman Show, I thought I was the punchline. Then, I finally learned the easiest way to transcend my ego is to replace I with We. Then I have to wonder What is so funny about peace, love, and understanding? I suppose, that’s just another day’s delusions.

Have I answered my question? Have I given you questions? I don’t know. I don’t know anything more terrifying and liberating than the realization of how little I know. “I know enough to know I don’t know anything” is basically the wormhole/portal/whatever that shot me into my own reality or whatever the hell you wanna call it. Telling myself sincerely “I do not know what I do not know” and meditating became a 3 week trip and I’m not sure whether or not I am orange juice. Somehow, I suppose that’s the dragon, that’s the gold, that’s the whole thing Jesus, Buddha, Socrates, Marcus Aurelius, Nietzsche, Jung, the Wachowski Sisters and whoever else have talked about.

“My psychosis is my purpose” and I suppose that is the gift.

I guess my life is the equation that brings me to the point where I understand what that prior sentence means.

I am x, solving for why.

I guess that’s a lot and all I have to say.

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