There’s a guy who goes to virtually all the same writers groups I do. It turns out he’s a self-employed editor. I guess it makes sense why he attends. He gets to kill two birds with one stone: improve his own craft and build his clientele. Because of the great feedback he gives, I’ve already sent him some of my book. At this point, it looks like he’ll be my editor.
On a more personal note, he seems like a loner and typically doesn’t bring any of his own work. However, last week, he read two essays he’s written. I was excited to hear his stuff, to see what his brilliant mind would concoct.
Let’s just say my mind was blown.
It turns out, the guy has schizophrenia. The essays (there are 19 total, he’s said) are philosophical pieces on his sharing his life with the mental disorder. Each essay explores a facet of how schizophrenia skews or affects his outlook on life. He refers to the world as ‘bipolar’, but is referring to two sizes of a coin: the two different ways he sees truth, justice, etc…
I personally have no experience with schizophrenia, and I admit I was really surprised. I guess I pictured sufferers walking around having random conversations with no one. That’s probably learned from the movies and stories and whatnot. The thing is, if the guy hadn’t told me, I would never have known.
From the two essays, and chatting with him some, I’ve learned some interesting things I wanted to share (I’m assuming it’s OK as he openly shared this with the groups):
1. He hasn’t always had schizophrenia. On a trip to Amsterdam in his 20s, he had a bad drug experience. When he came out of it, the schizophrenia emerged. I asked, “If that had never happened, you wouldn’t be suffering from it today?” He responded, “I probably would. It was always there, buried somewhere, and would have reared its face eventually. The incident in Amsterdam accelerated it, though.” That’s really crazy to imagine – being a “normal” person until an event triggers something radically life-changing.
2. From the essays, it sounds like he basically lives on two different planes. One is our regular world. The other is existential.It’s actually very spiritual; much closer to God. I’d say he’s definitely not atheist, and this other plane is almost a conduit to God. It seems to be a place where peace and stillness are constants. The constant he sees in our plane is conflict. His most recent essay talks about how truth is relative. People often disagree with another’s truth on this plane, which brings about conflict.
3. He’s on heavy meds, which reduces that other plane of existence. The surprising thing is, he doesn’t like taking the meds. He knows that havoc ensues when he doesn’t (I don’t know what that means yet), but he hates the feeling of “having my feet on land while my head is submerged underwater.” From what I gather, he’s considering reducing the meds, but wouldn’t stop taking them.
4. He doesn’t mind being schizophrenic. This one really blew me away. In one of the essays, he said, “I prefer shizophrenia.” I’d always assumed that someone with the condition would hate it. It hampers how you function and affects your job, relationships, family, friends, etc… But he is fascinated by that other plane. And he takes whatever he sees (that we don’t), and studies it. Very interesting.
5. He’s a very high-functioning schizophrenic. This might be why he doesn’t mind the condition. I guess all the horrible things you see on TV and read about (people with multiple personalities and all that jazz) actually exist out there, but that doesn’t define all schizophrenics. Again, if he hadn’t revealed it about himself, I never would have guessed. And he gets more work than he knows what to do with, so he’s obviously doing OK for himself.
Anywho, that’s all I have for now. When he publishes his essays (which he plans to do), I’ll be plugging them here so any curious minds out there can learn more.