Just today, after a particularly draining day,I was talking to one of my closest friends, telling him that I have feel so hollow on the inside that I don’t look forward to anything. Then he asked me ,”So what next if not any future dreams or goals”. The only logical answer I found was death. If life provides no meaning, then the rational inference is that the alternative must be chosen. Only despite two incidents of overdose, I find myself unable reconcile with the idea of choosing death. The hazy memory I have of overdosing on anxiety medicines two months ago is crying over the sink, saying repeatedly, “Not like this”.Because I am not dying till I find an answer to the question , “Why me”. .
Initially I asked “Why me” in pain and suffering. Then I asked it in desperation. Then in exhaustion. Then in anger. And finally out of genuine curiosity.I asked this question to my friends, my family, to God , and to fate. I received many answers, sometimes in the form of advice, sometimes in a random article I read, and sometimes in moments of introspection.
The answers were diverse. “This is a test of strength”. But to what end? “Because only you can bear it”. No I can’t. “Others are suffering more so don’t as this question and be more thankful”. Only pain can’t be quantified. Who suffers more? The person who is actually haunted by demons or the schizophrenic who imagines it?
Pain depends both on reality as well as imagination. Cage a man in a prison or in his own thoughts, suffocation exists in both cases, with little possibility to measure which is more excruciating. She remains a prisoner regardless.
It has been my personal experience that the more you run away from your fears, the easier they catch up with you. There are days when you know you are going to get a panic attack and breakdown and then no matter how much you try to avoid it. Then you must ask “Why me”. It is important to ask this question no matter how many times people suggest you to avoid such thoughts, terming them as “triggers”.
Because asking this question will make you realize that you don’t deserve to suffer. That you have to live another day to find the answer. That not getting a damn answer is not good enough. That there is no damn value to pain and it serves no higher purpose. The myth of creativity and mental illness might or might not be true. But Nash needn’t have been a schizophrenic to come up with “Game Theory”. Cobain needn’t have died to be worshiped as a trailblazer musician. Sylvia Plath’s depression which drove her to commit suicide in a lonely kitchen room through carbon monoxide poisoning didn’t make her a great author. She was naturally talented. They too should have asked “Why me”?
Because maybe, just maybe, they could have blamed it on genetics. Or on a society which is like cotton candy, just sweet without any substance. This myth of “tortured genius” is problematic because it fetishizes a condition which has proven to be fatal for so many. Pain can be a motivating factor. But mental illness is a damn disease, that needs to be cured, not a topic to be serenaded over. Sadness caused due to mental illness is debilitating. I am writing this article out of pain for everyone who is suffering like me because currently my anxiety is under control. If I was having a panic attack, I would be sitting and crying inconsolably, not feeling inspired.
I am often asked what triggered my panic attacks because though I have always had heightened sensitivity, I could still be absorbed into the fold of this society. The sweet dreams of accomplishments, the aim to be perceived through the lens of adoration from others were all natural desires I had. Sometimes I still do, only now they cause an unbearable friction inside my head with my current self.But my breakdowns seem to have blasted all protective walls around my head, making me feel and process thoughts which I cannot put into words. And no matter how hard I try, I can’t go back.
But I continue to ask,”Why me”? It’s not as if I have a grand song to sing or a painting to paint which couldn’t have been complete sans this experience. If anything, mental illnesses are an anathema to motivation.
In the search for answer to this question, I have undergone shifts in my mental constitution which is irreversible. For instance, I have come to realize that any pain, no matter how devastating it seems, can only go till a certain point. You might never move on from it because you don’t have to force yourself to forget something which affected you. But you move ahead, along with it. With the memory of life prior to a tragedy, looking at it with longing, but realizing that you will move ahead because the answer might lie at the next turn. The realism that people often try to escape from by burying themselves into brighter worlds, with the promise of happiness is no longer a place you can visit. Because doing so will cause a violent friction between your desire to fit in and the truth that you never will.
I am not offering words of motivation because they too are derivative of a world which claim that pain is an essential part of achieving joy. It isn’t. Joy, sorrow, envy, desire for fame, money , adoration are all constructs which once you look beyond, you can never seek again. What you might want is answer to ,”Why me”! And soon you will realize that if with your honest self,free from the clutches of your old notions of pain and joy, you try to find answer to this question, you will realize that it had to be you. Not so that you fulfill some grand destiny but just because it was beyond your control, written in stars, fate, destiny or some other crap. Period.This doesn’t mean that you can’t fight it or must live with it. But in order to control it, you have to acknowledge that this is your burden. You can’t run away from it like you did your whole life. You must stop and look it in the eye, with a sense of dignity and a realization that the answer might always elude you. Regardless, the process of finding the answer to “Why me” will perhaps give meaning to your quest. The tides of madness will recede to leave behind bright pearls of reality one day. A reality that you have the capacity of shaping and changing because there are but a few who have the courage to disregard confining notions of happiness and meaning , to seek a new path.