Dealing with Aces

October 11, 2012

I am, on occasion, asked how I know that what I think is reality is what everyone else is experiencing. I have no clever, canned response to this. See, it’s not a simple “Because ‘x’,” or even an “I’m not.” The reality is I’m sure it -isn’t-. Which is both terrifying and incredibly mundane, the latter is terrifying in it’s own way, but let’s try to keep this more linear than my actual thought process (I promise I’ll free-write for you sometime soon, so you can somewhat glimpse how my train of thought works. Imagine less train, more plate of spaghetti.)

I -know- that people don’t hear the constant sound of a crowd at a distance, see shapes darting around their periphery, and watch lizards crawling alongs surfaces that they aren’t. I know that it’s unusual to greet or speak to thin air. It disturbs me when I see others do it, because that’s not normal, right? I know what normal looks like, it surrounds me, and I’m not playing the same game.

Or I convince myself of that at least. See, objectively, there’s no real proof. I could be a brain in a jar. None of this could be real. Or I might be locked in some awful ward, trapped inside a world of my own. My hallucinations might simply be parts of the delusion that aren’t perfectly integrated. It’s occurred to me. I know I must seem crazy at times when I react to the nonexistent. But… I can’t really allow myself to care.

What would the actual, functional difference be? I could devise any number of tests, but if I can devise them, surely I can devise the “proof” to maintain the illusion. Or break it, which would be remarkably upsetting. Occam’s Razor suggests that I am at least close to a fully-functional person. I don’t scream at walls (often); I control my wildly inappropriate violent urges; I don’t make mention of anything I see that seems completely out of place. Of course, this is New York City, so often I don’t comment on the bizarre unless other people actively seem to notice it. For the most part I seem to interact primarily with real objects, things happen the way physics suggest they should, and so long as I’m not alone, there’s always someone else who I can at least hope will react only to real-world stimuli. The rest I can (usually) ignore.

It is a surprisingly uninteresting reality I occupy. Okay, so most people don’t see dinosaurs or have to let others enter a room first because it’s clearly on fire until someone’s inside of it. Most people don’t hesitate to respond to a stranger’s greeting on the grounds they might be a momentary loss of “normalcy”. Paranoia that makes every laugh on the train, every whisper, something cruel and derisive of oneself isn’t something common, at least at the severity I feel it (I gather this particular paranoia is normal to a small extent, but it’s one thing to feel off, it’s another to have to cap your retort because you’re -sure- they’re laughing at -you-). Most people don’t freak out when something isn’t where they remember putting it because it -was- there, I know it was, I put it there… didn’t I?

But… you either learn to tune it out because you’re lucky enough it’s a mild enough problem you can, or it drives you mad. I guess that makes me very lucky. So what if I never seem to get a quiet moment with this crowd always following me? They don’t really bother me even if it’d be nice if they SHUT UP for once. They don’t get in my way, so… whatever. Oh,  just dropped change onto the sidewalk, not a homeless person’s cup. Alright. I’ll pick that up then. Or leave it, it’s just sixteen cents. That room is on fire. But there’s no smoke and people aren’t panicking. Cool. Someone will walk in and break that for me eventually. I just won’t go in there for a bit. That cat’s head totally was twisted the wrong way for a moment. Creepy, but probably done in After Effects.


It’s unsettling how -glib- you become. How jaded. How desensitized. Because after a while, or, y’know, life, you just adapt. Leaves glow during the summer, did you know that? It’s beautiful. But they really don’t. I always thought it was pretty until I realized it’s just a -symptom-, it’s just a reminder that part of me is -sick-. Kinda soils it. Pizza has the most colorful flavor of delivery foods, but it doesn’t. Because flavors aren’t colorful. That’s a misfiring neuron or something. My size relative to other people is variable. Sometimes they’re so much bigger, other times I am. But that’s just a matter of perspective and perception. I know that to be true, even if I only have what I want to be real’s word on it.

Tangent: You might expect it, given my tone and previous post, but I hate movies and shows that make mental disorders out to be almost-super-powers or romantic quirks. You can describe it romantically, until you really understand that any beauty that these delusions present (and they are usually not beautiful, but rather mundane or upsetting) in ruined by sheer fact that it’s a -lie- some disquiet part of my brain is creating. But back to the plot.

I’m told I’m considered eloquent. I used to have speech issues. On a bad day, I still do. Reading numbers is hard, and if the “fuzz” is really bad, it hurts. Oh, and I mentioned that these illusions are “dispelled” at times-I can’t touch them. I get tactile hallucinations rarely, and never combined with visual, but I can’t touch the visual ones either. It’s a good test. If I can’t get myself to touch it, it’s not real. But I don’t usually think like that. Who prods a stranger to see if they exist? My brain just finds ways to avoid even broaching the subject. But other people, naturally, pass right through them. And it breaks them.

I use the term break, because that’s what it feels like. It -hurts-. I know what being forced to break one myself feels like. It’s worse.

There was one time I had a minor panic attack because of something similar. I had just washed a cup and put a tea bag in. I was holding it and pouring in hot water when the cup randomly and suddenly cracked down the side. It startled me, and I wasn’t sure it was real. It seemed irrational and hallucinatory-but I was touching it. Remember when I said I never see what causes the tactile hallucinations? You see where this is going. For a brief few moments, or minutes, I’m not sure, I was abjectly terrified and certain that I was getting worse. If I could touch and see things that weren’t real, if my reality were cracking that much and so suddenly, my foothold on the “real” was meaningless, and thus so was I.

I was scared, tears flooded out of me, and I doubt anything I said for the first couple of minutes as my boyfriend comforted me made any sense.

See? It’s more complex than any short statement could encapsulate. I spend every day dancing on Occam’s Razor, wondering how many times it will cut me. So, in point of fact, there’s little point in wondering how I know if my perception of the world is real. If I worried about that, I’d misstep and those days are never good.

And that’s why I’m dealing with aces.


One Response to “Dealing with Aces”

  1. Craig said

    Well put man

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