Life After Crazy – II. The Nonsensical Ravings of a Lunatic Mind

It’s not painful for me to think about what happened happened to me. Starting from the day after Crazy Night, I’ve gnawed furiously on what happened to me. Some people would say I shouldn’t pick those scabs, or at least not so soon, but I don’t tend to form scabs as readily as most people. In fact, I find it more useful to really look at it, examine what I did or said while I was nuts, and try to pick apart why, what it might have meant, what triggered it, what I can pull out to watch for in the future, etc. All knowledge is worth having, and I tend to analyze the shit out of things that happen to me– this is no exception. The better I understand what happened to me, the better prepared I’ll be to keep it from happening again and/or handle it better if it does happen again.

Here are the things I remember most clearly from while I was crazy: I remember a rhythm, like the beat of a heart, which I was trying to keep going. I remember counting, chanting, beating on things in time. It seemed like if I could just not lose that rhythm, everything would be fine. It felt like I was the only person in the world hearing it and keeping it going. It felt vastly important– bang, bang, bang– to not lose the beat. I don’t know why exactly. It’s like I thought I was keeping something alive by keeping the beat going.

I remember feeling like a track switcher, like something in my head was capable of flipping back and forth the way no one else’s could. I remember thinking, “this is what I’m supposed to do– flip back and forth– flicker.” I would wink alternating eyes, paddle with my hands to make the handcuffs slide up and down the hospital bed rails in alternating time. Something needed to be moving, pumping, switching rhythmically, like a heart. It felt like I was the sole carrier of that task, and it was an important one. (God only knows why; I don’t pretend to understand. I think “why” is irrelevant when we’re talking about something out of whack in my head– there is no “why,” that’s why it’s crazy.)

I remember doing math in the house. Not math with numbers, but math with objects, symbols, and meanings. I moved things all over the house, pitched things out, shuffled things multiple times in multiple places, like an abacus, shuffling everything around me to calculate something very important. It’s like my entire world was an equation, and I was trying to make something click. It was like I was trying to figure out how to fix something wrong in the world (and on a scale much bigger than just me and my life– I remember thinking about Black Lives Matter, about Syria, and a bunch of other current events and problems), and I was frantic to make something right. Possibly I was trying to calculate a way out of the madness, but it felt much bigger than that, cosmic somehow– if I could just do something in particular, I could put the world back on its track, and things everywhere would eventually work out ok. (For what it’s worth, I remember thinking I had succeeded.)

It felt like experiencing the mind of God for a while. It felt like running through the Library, frantically pulling out books and reading, searching for answers while the door was open. It was like I had been thrown out into space, into something vast and deep and all-expansive, and all the knowledge in the universe was whizzing past me at once. I had to snag what I could and get it out into words or speech or anything so I wouldn’t lose what I was “discovering,” things that seemed profound and important. That’s why I couldn’t stop talking for days, and if I weren’t talking, I was typing or scribbling. I don’t remember all of it now, but I can trace threads and see clearly I was trying to puzzle out a lot of “deep thoughts” about God, the world, and the connections therein. It felt like things were being revealed to me, and I was powerless to stop it, or cope with the sheer volume of thought pouring through me. As I’ve said before, it was like someone turned on a tap in the back of my mind, and over the course of a few days, the tap was turned more and more, until it got stuck on full blast and I couldn’t turn it off. I can’t do justice to the speed and volume of thoughts during that time. It’s like my brain was operating on a faster time than the rest of the world, frantically trying to process all the things pouring through it at once.

Speaking of time, I lost all track of it. I didn’t register hunger, or tiredness, or the passing of day into night. It was like living outside of time, as if for a moment I was unfettered from normal human existence and driven mad by the scope of what I could see across the horizon. The universe seemed a vast place, and all the hurt in it seemed so full and present. I feared for lots of people– I remember begging my parents to leave me and go check on my grandmother, whom I feared to be dying. For me, it felt like it was the time when my father found her nearly dead on the sofa in her house– I thought that was happening right then, and my dad was with me instead of being there to find her and call the ambulance. I was terrified she would die before anyone got to her. It’s like I forgot those moments had already happened and been taken care of, or in some cases, perhaps they hadn’t happened yet. I felt all night like my great aunt was somewhere in the hospital with me, that she had been brought there because of her heart, but she wasn’t there. She wouldn’t be brought to the hospital until a week after I left. I haven’t been able to shake the feeling I knew she was in trouble and would end up in the hospital soon. I just wasn’t living in the right timeline. It’s like my train got switched over to some track that runs outside of the rest of the world, and for a brief time, I had a wider view of things than other people. (Not saying that’s true, only what it felt like.)

In the midst of all this, I wasn’t always myself. I will explain this in more detail later, but there has always been another person in my head– he’s been there since I was a little girl. Normally, we can control if and when he is “on the surface,” and we usually coexist in a very symbiotic relationship, but whatever caused me to go crazy for a night also affected the other mind inside me. I had only ever told my wife about the other person in my head, so imagine my family’s surprise when they encountered someone else where I should have been– a voice with a different accent roared out of me, barked orders to the hospital staff, and raged against the loss of our freedom for the night. Lots of secrets came out during Crazy Night; in that regard, losing one’s mind is incredibly liberating. Everything I’d ever hidden from anyone was on full display. It’s been a little awkward sometimes, but for the most part, it’s been refreshing to not wear so many masks around the people who are close to me. Carrying secrets one’s whole life is an exhausting endeavor; I look forward to when life settles down enough I can enjoy the absence of that secret weight.

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