There’s a scene in an episode of Scrubs, when Carla is telling Elliot that everyone is a bit crazy, and that the only reason people think she’s normal is because she only lets out the crazy a bit at a time. Then they cut to one of their fantasy sequences where one of the characters imagines what it would be like if Carla let it all go at once. It shows Carla opening her forehead to reveal a bright light, and the other characters watching have the flesh melted off their bodies. Although, I’m having second thoughts now – is that when she’s angry not crazy?
Anyway, that’s what this post is going to be like, I think – me peeling back my forehead to reveal some of the stuff that’s going on in my head. From this point on, I’m not really going to be thinking about how I structure the post, or how it’s going to look, or what I should say to reassure people. So, if you think that exposure to my craziness might trigger or worsen your own (I know it works that way for me sometimes), then please don’t read the rest of this post.
Well, I have what I think could reasonably be described as the worst-timed case of mild hayfever in the history of my life. I know it’s hayfever and not bacon flu because I have an itchy nose, and I get an itchy nose when I have hayfever, but not when I have a cold. Still, it’s really not a great time to be sitting here with a roughened throat and a slight stuffed up feeling and occasionally sneezing. I worry especially about the sneezing, on the grounds that my neighbours will probably be able to hear me when I sneeze, and it’s probably causing them a major panic, if they’re like me, or, if they’re not, a slight and transitory feeling of unease.
I am severely limiting my exposure to the news at present. I had thought about cutting myself off entirely, but I don’t have the strength of mind to do that. I am limiting myself to watching the brief two minute summary of headlines on the red button twice a day, and one visit to the BBC news website. I’ve cut out all other news sources apart from the BBC. I know ITN will be just as responsible in their reporting as the BBC, but they have a greater flare for the dramatic in the way they present stories, and at the moment that would trigger me off in quite a bad way. Yes, I know, I am very pathetic. Rest assured, I hate myself for it.
I am feeling very curiously detached from other people at the moment. I see people going about doing ordinary things, and I want to scream at them, ‘Why are you doing this? It doesn’t matter! We’re all going to die’. I feel the same thing when I hear that there have been new developments in the fight against the Taliban in Pakistan – it doesn’t matter who’s in charge in Islamabad, everyone in Islamabad is going to die.
This is really the heart of the problem, and it’s a problem I seem to have written about again and again and again on this blog. I can do my rational thinking, my challenging of my own thoughts. I know why thinking things like ‘we’re all going to die’ is mistaken. I can sit myself down and talk myself through all the reasons why it isn’t going to work out like that, even if there is an outbreak on the scale of 1918, when up to 50% of the global population got ill, but only 2.5% died. Although that was still an estimated 50 million dead people, most people didn’t die.
But it doesn’t work. Because at some more fundamental level I absolutely KNOW that we are all doomed, and that we’re all going to die. It is quite separate from my rational mind. There’s no rationality in it, so there is no way rational thought can stop it from developing. It’s almost as though I’ve travelled back from the future, and have already seen the bodies lying in the street, and the smoke rising above the ruined cities. When I look down from my window I can see two versions of the street, the version that’s there now, with the kids playing football, and people waiting for taxis, and coming back carrying shopping bags, and the version of the future with bodies lying on the pavements. It’s as though I can see them already lying there, dead. I feel like an old testament prophet, warning of doom, and doomed to be ignored until it’s too late. I have such a clear sense that there are two worlds – this world, and the world that will be – and that I am standing uniquely in a place where I can see into this world and the other one.
This is quite a big deal, or at least it feels like it to me. I am scared because of the gnawing anxiety about the flu itself, but I’m also scared because of the way my mind is working. I was thinking about this earlier today, and if for some reason I was told to do something that I have decided is on my ‘not to be done’ list – use public transport/ visit a GP’s surgery or a hospital/ leave the flat in any but the most tightly controlled circumstances – I would resist up to and including the point of physical violence. In my head, I’m convinced that going to those places or doing those things would mean instant exposure, and exposure would mean death, and so it feels logical to me to fight against it, to the point of dying. I know it isn’t logical, for now, and that there is a difference between what feels logical, and what actually is logical. But the feeling is stronger than the knowing, and I’m scared: what if I lose that part of my mind that tells me the difference, and which to trust to? What happens to me then?
If I were, and clearly I won’t, but if I were to become peculiar enough to need to go to hospital, I would have to be restrained and dragged their screaming and kicking like the most floridly psychotic person out there. Which is kind of scary, because it suggests that, for all I like to think my mind is still functioning in an odd but fundamentally rational way, it very possibly is not. And the fact that the possibility only occurred to me in the context of thinking about it in a fairly oblique way suggests that I might be within vague shouting distance of losing the ability to judge and evaluate my own thoughts, and that’s the sign of properly disturbed people. Though the fact I can talk about the possibility proves that I’m almost certainly not in any real danger. But, yeah, like I said, scary.
I’m writing this bit of this post later than the rest. I’ve just been out for a bit of a walk, and to buy food. Again, I was really struck by the unreality of people going out to restaurants for meals, and waiting for busses, and all the rest. Don’t these people know there’s a plague on? It’s not for the media’s want of trying. I saw an abandoned copy of a tabloid paper lying on the ground, folded over so only the bottom half showed. The paper had a black background, and in red the words FLU IS HERE. Well, yeah, way to calm people’s nerves there.
Ok, time for me to stop thinking about this now. Sorry for a rather disorganised post.