“Always Ask ‘how?” Final Guest blogger #6: Lyttleton

Today’s entry is from Lyttleton, and it relates to the mental illness category. Specifically Bi-Polar.

As most of you know, Lyttleton is one of my favorite bloggers. Partly because he just finished his 10 cities 10 years journey and has been an amazing help to me. He’s given me so much advice and is extremely humble. I initially wrote about him here. If you’d like to visit his blog -Which I know you will after this – you can click here. He also has a book entitled “The Road So Far.” and you can buy it here! Next month I’ll be purchasing it as a gift to myself for my 22nd birthday. His guest blogger entry is well written, relatable, and contemplative. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

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House’s Head

I wanted to be Dr. Gregory House. Sherlock Holmes, perhaps. I wanted to believe in the ineffable grandeur of my own genius.

No, I had no interest in practicing medicine. I didn’t care for the professional structure of being a doctor, or even a criminal investigator. I did, however, wish to astonish the world with feats of mental acuity and logical rigor. I wanted to use my mesmerizing intellect to tie human experience together in a sparkling Christmas bow. I wanted there to be a flipside.

Because I was frequently, consistently miserable. In public, I was rigid and stoic, though prone to bursts of frightening, confounding anger. I used humor to disarm when I wasn’t using it to dismantle. Other people were hurdles, at best. At worst, adversaries. Privately, I collapsed into despair, sat on the cold, wooden floors of my sparsely furnished apartments and wept like a child who had lost a parent.

I was. I used. I did. I am. I use. I still do.

If I am going to be such a wretched misanthrope, can’t I at least be gifted? Isn’t that the tradeoff that humanity agreed to at some council when we were still hunter-gatherers? You can be happy, well-adjusted and beautiful, but you’ll only possess average intelligence and creativity. Or you can be a genius, capable of unparalleled acts of brilliance, but you’ll be nothing more than burnt wreckage. Short for this world.

When Dr. House solved impossible medical mysteries on a weekly basis, it was easy to get lost in the fantasy that I could be one of the mental elites, one of the rare specimens. After all, he was depressed and surly, mean and acerbic, a self-medicating loner who was attractive in a damaged sort of way but unable to resist pushing people away. It stood to reason that if I recognized myself in the man’s worst traits, certainly I must share his best.

It doesn’t work that way. The Myth of the Wounded Genius isn’t exactly a myth. Such people do exist. Many of history’s most famous artists and creators were tortured souls, a great number of them sharing my own diagnosis: Bi-Polar. Unfortunately, for every artistic titan hounded by demons, there are a dozen unspectacular plebeians in need of an exorcism. Being an asshole doesn’t make you a genius. Being miserable doesn’t make me special.

It doesn’t go away, the depression. It wanes or, in brief periods of my cycle, it inverts and explodes outward like a 4th of July display of charm and intense, fleeting pleasure. But even in those manic episodes, I am conscious of the inevitable reemergence of the depression. I pay for every high with a crushing low, a trough that only gets deeper with each passing year. I am a well, drying up.

Those of us who will never solve the mysteries of the world will leave our mark in other, perhaps less admirable ways. Friendships buried in unpacked boxes. Ex-lovers who refuse to reminisce lest it lead them to locked rooms. Family suspended in aged Christmas photographs. A worn, kind written note that, in the moment, made up for a litany of offenses. We might never know if the marks we left are the indentations of pressed lips, or merely scars.

I will actually never know how the world sees me, because I don’t even know how to see myself. My condition literally reshapes how I see the world. There are two different people who stare back at me when I look in the mirror. I don’t mean in a psychological, literary device sort of way. I mean, depending on where I am in my cycle, my brain sees two completely different reflections staring back at me. I don’t know which one is the real one. Maybe neither.

Which is why I wanted to be Gregory House. Which is what makes it so devastating not to be. If I will never be able to see myself as I truly am, if I will never be able to fully trust my own eyes, it would be a relief to have a totemic image to believe in. But as a paraphrased House would remind me, wanting to believe in the best version of myself doesn’t make it true.

I am this. I don’t know what it is. I know what it is not: Not a genius; not a healer; not a savior; not a fictional character who will always find the right answer in the end. Oh no, none of that. Just a real person living without a script.

Making it up as I go.

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Thank you a million times for your entry. Thank you to all of my guest bloggers for taking the time to write pieces for my page.

Readers, thank you for reading them and reblogging and liking it. It always makes me smile when I feel like someone got something out of my blog. I hope you all feel safe and welcome when you come to my page.

And that is the official end of “Always ask ‘how?”

-Jess

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