The absurdities of life

Have you ever really thought how absurd life is at times?  All of the contradictions and abstractions that go on around us are simply wonderful when you realize that they are there.

We have the double speak of politicians, who have an absolute terror of actually saying something that some one may understand, and then hold them accountable to later.  If we had a dollar for every time a politician uttered the phrase, “I have no recollection of that”, or a similar turn of words, I believe that the rest of the voting population could retire immediately!  George Orwell really got it right in his book “1984” didn’t he?

There are terrorists who blow up people in the name of freedom, diplomats who call them freedom fighters because we shouldn’t use terms that may offend.  Countries that torture and commit genocide against their own people chairing United Nations Human Rights committees and the list goes on.

It seems that the situation is as my old family doctor said to me a few years ago, ‘the lunatics are running the asylum’.

Some how having a mental illness doesn’t seem so bad does it?  At least when we get out of balance and act a little crazy in other people’s perceptions – we have a genuine reason to do so.

I loved the scene in ‘The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’, where the crowd reassembles at the supercomputer to hear the answer to the question, ‘’What is the answer to life, the universe and everything?’ and the computer replies that is has got the answer but didn’t think that they would like it – and them tells them the answer is ‘42’.

Isn’t that answer just wonderful?  And just like life.  When I was a teenager many centuries ago, my friends and I had a similar phrase that the ultimate number was 97 and this would turn up in all the most incredible situations.  At the time we were quoting from Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings at the drop of a hat so it probably explained the smell of burnt circuitry if you got too close to our heads!

We all want nice and simple, clear cut answers to our life’s quandaries but in reality seldom get them.  And I suspect that if we did get them that way – we would not appreciate them.

Okay, for those who have stayed with me this long and are perhaps wondering what this has to do about bipolar disorder – stay with me a little longer, and all will be revealed.

When we are in a depressive cycle life seems to be an unendurable, never ending struggle with every moment taking all our energies just to hang on.  Our cognitive facilities sometimes are simply overwhelmed and all we can do is deal with one thought at a time and not worry about the next hour, or day.

At these times, no matter how absurd an event or item is, the capacity to recognize it goes in the struggle for survival.

But when the hypomania starts to rear its head things turn out be very different!

Things that people say or do seem to be sharper and more focused and the gaps between the reality of what is happening to what is said or shown just expands.

For example, when I see a news story about a car accident right outside a large local hospital Accident and Emergency department and the injured are taken by ambulance and helicopter to the largest hospital in the state some 40 kilometres away, not because they needed specialist care.  No – the department was closed due to lack of doctors – and still is!  And the people in charge of our health system don’t seem to see the absurdity of having a hospital without enough doctors to run one of its most basic functions. All I can do is laugh – I should be angry I suppose but is just seems so ridiculous to me that laughter is the only response I can come up with.

At other times random thoughts will strike me as I listen and watch and I cannot help myself finding them hilarious.  My wife or daughter will say something completely normal or mildly amusing and I will be overcome with laughter or giggling because for some unknown reason it appeared to be extremely funny, or an absurd contradiction.

Why is it I wonder – that those of us with a mental illness are looked down at or thought our behaviour is always irrational or crazy.

Who are the irrational ones?  Those who see hospitals without doctors as crazy or the so called normal people who see it just as some sort of administration issue?

For me – I’ll take my bipolar any day!

Graham Brown

5 February 2006

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