The brief period of emotional Hell that I recently endured, the ‘flare up,’ overloaded me. However, I learned a lot about the nature of my mental ill health from it.
When I was a teacher, I learned that to help students discover and learn about something is much, much more valuable than telling them. As a student of screenwriting, I learned to show, not tell, so that audiences could learn in the same way. What follows was experientially learned ….
Fred, my beautiful large Bengal cat, called to me yesterday. I started speaking to him as I sat down on the bed and, by the time I reached out to stroke his thick, beautiful tiger-like coat, he was already purring.
I spoke fluently with him as I explained to him, who I thought he was—a kind, gentle, and loving soul. I told him I noticed how often he groomed Ethel, whereas I have never seen Ethel groom him, and that I notice that it’s always him who goes to sleep with her and it’s never the other way around. And I told him that his few feline behaviors that I wish weren’t in him, are far, far outnumbered by his blessings. They make him a lovely normal male.
A question popped into my mind: “Why can I talk with my pets and not people” What I came up with, is that it’s all about trust and egos.
A wise professor of mine once taught me that most of us can’t remember names because, when we are being introduced to someone, we focus on ourselves. We worry about how we present—the handshake, the smile, etcetera. It’s ironic that when we are introduced to someone, we think about ourselves. Animals don’t do that.
Individually and socially in contemporary society, voice is being sought: Gender is being parsed, self-knowledge and self-fulfillment and individual assertion are primal social values; native and minority populations are demanding representation. We all want to be seen and heard. As humans, regardless of our sociability, we remain focused on ourselves, both individually and collectively. It’s universal, we’re all doing it. It’s our ego, a force in our brain.
If I could see people as I see Fred, I could talk to them. The reality is: The hardest people for me to speak with are my friends. The more I love you, the more I have to lose should I err. The more I love you, therefore, the more I think about myself. And in me, that causes my symptoms to flare.
With Fred, I fear nothing because I’m so secure in his favour. I have no need for self-monitoring. I can’t fail with Fred.
There’s also, ‘trust.’ When trust is the controlling factor of your capacity to speak, it becomes a complex concept to ponder. I wrote: “the more I love you, the more I have to lose.” Did you accept that, and keep on reading? Most would. The same is true: “The more I trust you, the more I have to lose.”
I understand ‘trust’ to be the absence of vulnerability. I believe that to change in a way so as to correct my speech and stop my seizures, particularly with friends, is likely impossible for me again. I believe that for me to become vulnerable is impossible and that’s how, now, I understand my disorder.
When I’m trail walking and encounter strangers, I’m comfortably fluent. I have nothing to lose with them, so speech comes readily. I reckon I finally comprehend how this mysterious malady I have works. It’s not what are my triggers? It’s what isn’t?
Other things thing I know: To best enable my speaking with a friend is to be here, one friend at a time. The farther I get from that level of basic comfort—the further away in location, the more people, the more noise—the worse my speech and seizures get.