The Tormented Mind – 1 – Strings and things.
I never wanted to do therapy. We should be clear on that point before we begin. I tell you this not because I am sane, fuck, I am anything but. I mention it only because I have no problem with my madness overall. It held me tight like an old sweater, and I loved it for that. It can be annoying at times, this much is true, but the good outweighs the bad. So, you may ask yourself, why am I doing therapy? Well, the bad is threatening to engulf the good. Like a blanket thrown over a fire, the good crazy was losing ground to the bad; the good threatened to be extinguished.
Once called, I opened the door and walked into the room. The shrink’s office was a troika of things. In many ways, it was much like my madness, where I have the good, the bad, and the normal; the room seemed conflicted with itself and its purpose. The walls were painted an off shade of white, just what I expected from a medical office. I would also have expected, being the type of man who looks for stereotypes, a metronome on the desk or maybe one of those physics ball thingies. You know the clacky-clacky fucking things where you release one ball, and it smacks and clacks as it knocks against the others. Well, they were thankfully missing. The desk had only a flatscreen monitor, a phone, and an old ink blotting pad. The pad was now used for scribbling notes, as ink blotting was now a thing of the long past. A memory that was starting to fade into history. It is a shame; I liked the old fountain pens with runny ink pots, but I suppose practicality takes over. Those were the first two observations I made. The medical and the professional, mixing as one. The good was the lack of the ticking, clacking, and clicking balls and a metronome, the normal being the whiteness and brightness of the room.
Then we come to the madness, and this was something I adored. Pictures! The Scream was on one wall, prints of Inferno on another, van Gogh with his bandaged ear, and The Desperate Man. There were others that I could not name; I stood and stared at them. I was engrossed by the craziness of the images. Should a shrink have these paintings that all, in my eyes, echo forms of madness? This was not a complaint; I loved them! All of them. I never have been one for art, but I knows what I likes, as the saying goes. “Do you like them?” the therapist asked, as I stood transfixed and absorbed in the artwork.
“Like them?” I replied, “I adore them.” I made my way to the desk and sat down in the chair. “They just seem unusual to have in a psychiatrist’s office.”
“Oh?” she asked with a tinge of curiosity. She had an accent, maybe Spanish; without asking, I had no way to know for sure. She was about twenty years older than I am, maybe in her mid-fifties. I hope I am not doing her a disservice, or maybe I am flattering her. Does it matter? Maybe not. Do I care? No, I was not here on the pull, looking to sow my seed, and this text won’t be flattering. “You thought it would be all medical and clinical?” she asked. Was she testing me? This, this is the reason I do not like shrinks. I don’t know how to answer. Yes, I am here to get help with my anxiety and depression, but I do not want her to know about all my illnesses. I have hidden ones that are mine and mine alone, a crazy I do not want to be known to her. Who knows what the future will hold? In time, it may not matter, but for now, it does. “It is not a trick question,” she said, “I am not testing you.” Ha! My mind does that helpful thing; it’s not helpful; that was sarcasm. It starts to think, well, that is what a person testing me would say. I don’t think I am paranoid, but I also thought I was an average person until I went mad.
I lied a little with that previous sentence. I was never average or ordinary. I have been broken for a long time. I promised I would not lie in this journal. What would be the point? It is just for my eyes. I suppose it may be read when I am dead, but it will not really matter by that time, will it? So I will continue to ask questions and carry on using both we and I. It won’t matter if it is read once I am dead; I will be worm food or ash in an oversized pot. I have no idea how I will go; I don’t much care. I don’t believe in Heaven or Hell. I am dead and returned to the earth, so fuck it. Like my life, it does not matter. What will be, will be, my dear reader, send me to NASA with no return address; maybe they will send me to space!
I went mad ten years ago. It started with a crawl, like a rock falling down a slope, but as it gathered speed, it quickly got worse. I could not tell you the trigger point; I have no idea what it is or if it even exists. Maybe something started the fires of crazy all over my mind, and there is not one point but many. I only know that it truly started with the voices.
“It is not uncommon,” she said when I explained the voices. “You would probably be surprised how many people hear voices in random noise. It is called pareidolia when you see faces in objects; it is a similar phenomenon.”
“Okay,” I said, because what else is there to say? Sensing my trepidation, she continued ever onwards herself. TV shows, movies, and books made me think I needed to watch out for the uncomfortable silences. The art of sitting in silence and leaving the room filled with nothing. I was prepared for this; I had given myself ample rehearsal. It may be how I am programmed, but I found practising incredibly difficult. If I sit with someone during a conversation, and they clam up, I suddenly feel the need to speak. The silence sits on my shoulder like a whispering demon – a figurative voice this time – speaking into my ear, poking and prodding me to do or say something. What I say or do does not matter; I just feel the need to break the silence. “There was a Doctor once who said that depression is actually a person seeing the world as it really is.” She paused for a moment, and I found myself thinking, here it comes. Here comes the silence galloping in and ready to empty itself into the room, but she continued. “He said that a depressive really has just lost the mask that clouds our view of things and keeps us sane. In actual fact, the depressive saw the world as it truly was.”
I’ve no idea if this was true; I’d be lying if I said it did not appeal. I am a complete layman just living a nightmare; her job is to know the facts. It is a fantastic idea, isn’t it? Being told that you are not climbing up the walls batshit insane, you just see things before the special effects of sanity are overlayed. You see the actors holding the green condom balloon that will, one day, look like an alien! I see things differently, but I do not think – in my case – that her line meant quite what she thought it did.
Maybe I am wrong, but this seemed like a light in a dark room. The quote helped. One minute I saw nothing of the actual world; the next, it was illuminated. I think I preferred the darkness, but that is because I have become quite used to it being light. I have become numb to the horrors of trueness and reality, or, perhaps, I have become so used to my insanity that it now feels like the truth. Can we ever know the truth and stay sane? I can only guess what reality is, but I suspect that the horrors are the real world. The fluffy niceness of illusion that we sell to ourselves feels fake at the best of times; when the curtain is pulled back, well, you just know it is a mirage of the mind. It has been said that the eyes are the window to the soul; they are also the doorways to Hell.
It was, at first, a thin veil of tar that I saw over other people’s eyes. I thought it was a weird shiner initially. How often do you get close enough to another person to really be able to tell? I would steal a glimpse as I walked past others, and their eyes would catch my eye for want of another phrase. The more I observed, and with time, the worse the infection would get. The tar seemed to coat the eyeball, and vision should have been all but impossible, but they managed just the same. A layer of black goo dripped from the bottom of the socket and hung down and around the cheek. It looked like a demonic clown’s makeup. Watching for longer, I noticed it was actually eating away at the eye and surrounding area. The empty socket seemed to drop back into the skull. This was not just a film of tar; it was parasitic and devouring the tissue until only black craters were left. It did not seem to cause the victims any pain; they seemed utterly oblivious to it, but still, I saw what was happening. It did not happen instantly, but I feel that saying it was a slow process would have been wrong. It seemed to eat away at the face between blinks. I would watch, and nothing would happen; then, I blinked, and that tiny moment was enough to accelerate a change.
It feels fitting that they are suffering from a kind of blindness. I know they can see as they are not bumping into things all the time, but don’t we all see things and choose to ignore them. We are often willingly blind to the sufferings of others; we choose to look at the darkness of ignorance rather than the clearness of reality when it comes to specific issues. The filth that infects so much of our system was manifesting on others’ faces and eating them alive. It was hard not to think that they did not deserve it. The film said that the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist. That was wrong; we willingly persuaded ourselves; the Devil had to do no convincing. Party with the Devil in darkness for long enough, and you will soon forget with whom you are dancing. Look around and see the world the way it really is, and then ask yourself why you have been ignoring the problems? The vileness has risen to the top, and we all seem indifferent toward it. Worse! Many seem to wallow in it and enjoy how it feels.
The strings of life started to reveal themselves to me shortly afterwards. I call them this not through some fit of creative genius; I am neither that creative nor vain; I call them it because it is the literal truth. People have strings attached to different limbs. Arms, legs, and head all have tiny translucent strings attached, and those strings drift upwards. I thought they drifted to heaven at one time, but then I should have seen some that went downwards, and yet, I never have. Maybe we live in a Godless world, but why do we have so much evil without a God? Is this really all humanity is? Is this all we amount to? Just a stain on a godless world, the pebbledash on the edge of the toilet bowl of life. I include myself in that assessment. I am in no way better than those people I despise. Maybe I am even worse, for I see the world as it is, yet I am powerless to change.
My first encounter with murder happened soon after the strings. I could not say if the two were connected, but I feel that they must have been. I call this a Godless world, maybe there are only demons left, and they wanted me to see this. I watched a homeless man on the other side of the park. He must have known I was there as I made no secret of my presence; I just sat and watched him, and occasionally he would glance in my direction. I watched him with just the climbing frame, swings, and grass between us. Just two souls sat in this park, wondering about the direction of life. Okay, that one was me being a little self-indulgent and pretentious, so sue me. I have no idea what he was thinking, nor, in truth, did I much care. What did interest me were the strings. I watched as he worked and tied his meagre possessions. The stings pulled and lifted as his arms and legs moved. The twitching of the string seemed to precede his movements and held my attention. The short jerking of the strings came first, and then his limbs followed mere microseconds afterwards.
Was this how they did it, I wondered. Could certain people manipulate the strings and make others do what they want? I had known many reasonable people in my time who seemed to be swayed by arguments that made no sense to me. Were they being tweaked and tugged by these strings? I could only see physical actions, but if they existed, who is to say that others could not see mental ones? Or do the ones I see affect both the physical and the mental? A tug here, a flick of the string there, and suddenly you have someone good voting for the unreasonable. I think of the truly evil people who have won elections and been voted into power. Was this the secret to it all? Could they control others? If I walked to the other side of the park and twanged one of the strings, would the homeless man fall over and find his leg under my control? If I just pushed, could I bend him to my will? I did not dare to test my theory, but it felt right.
I watched the lads making their way across the park. They pushed the swings as they passed them, and one of them swung on the climbing frame like an unevolved ape. I had a feeling deep in my lower abdomen about how this situation was going to play out. It was a tickle of trepidation and a tingle of excitement. Like travelling in a car over a hill, I felt the sensation in my gut; everything told me to help, but a sadistic side held me back. The three lads walked like they owned the place. Grown from the slime of despair and destruction, they knew they were safe from consequences. Who was going to stop them? Who would punish them? Me? Ha! No chance. The police? Shit, there was even less chance of that. A decade of cuts, the forced austerity. People look out for themselves, and the police couldn’t give a damn. If they caught you in the act, all was good, but investigating? Bollocks to that, they have neither the time nor resources. Besides, what’s not to like from the politician’s point of view? One less homeless person equals one less problem?
I’d often wondered what type of hero I would be. Would I be good or evil? Chaotic or neutral, light or dark, are you good or evil? I am sure we have all considered what would we do in a situation that called for heroics. I know what I did, nothing. I thought I would have been better, but I only looked and watched as the lads waved a note in the homeless guy’s face. I hate what the country has become; I am just as bad as anyone. Have I been infected with the virus of vileness and filth? Have I become that which I loathe? I suppose it is an easy trap to fall into, but I do not think I have yet fallen. My plans started to form as I watched the youths beat upon the homeless chap.
As soon as they had started, the strings seemed to sag. It is impossible, I know, but the strings that seemed to hold and control a human seemed to sag even though the homeless guy tried to stand his ground. The man stood as the three yobs shouted at him, and they each waved a note mocking him and his situation. I know there will be many contradictions in this text. I can only write and describe what I see. I have no control over this side of my life; it is not something I wanted. I did not wake one morning and decided to see the world as it was. How much easier would life be if we could decide these things? Not today, depression; I am washing my hair. Anxiety, get ye tae fuck. I am not in the mood. Oh, hi there, stress. It is lovely to see you, but I have other things to do. I have no more control over these things than I would the weather or the direction a bird flies.
I watched the string attached to the homeless chap’s head twang backwards as the yob punched him. It vibrated backwards and forwards as the punch landed, slackened though it was. His head rocked backwards and forwards like a rocking chair in a maternity room, with the string following like the line at the end of a fishing rod. The scum had obviously got bored with waving the note in his face and had moved to the main event. I sat transfixed, the thought of helping never really crossing my mind. Really think about it. Would you intervene? Could you? What about your family if it all goes wrong? It is not something I had to think about, but what about you?
Humour me, and just consider it for a moment. Forget the homeless dude; what is done can’t be undone, and think about what you would do. Really think about it and toss up the pros and cons like coins into the air. Let those considerations and thoughts land upon the floor and then look down upon them. What do you see? It is only us, so you can be honest with yourself. Do you see yourself as a hero? So you stand up, walk over and twat one of the fuckers, and then what? What if his mate has a knife, or worse, a gun? Good job, you’ve gone and killed yourself, and all for what? It may not be that bad. When you are lying in a hospital with a body resembling a blueberry marshmallow, I am sure your family will be grateful. But what about doing the right thing? You can trust me on this; it is easy to say you’d do it. Words are far cheaper than actions. Life is far more brutal than fiction.
One of the youths, possibly trying to act like Billy big balls in front of his mates, ran in and used his right foot to kick out at the homeless guy’s leg. I would be willing to bet that he’d have run a mile if the fight were one-on-one. Fucking twat with all the balls of a castrated hamster. I am sure we all know the type, all mouth and dickless unless with their mates. I did not need to see the kick’s result. I did not need to hear the leg break. I knew it had happened when the string snapped. I should have been concerned; at the very least, I should have called for help, but I did nothing. The police would take six and a half hours to arrive and then complain that witnesses could not be found as I’d be long gone.
I observed what happened as the homeless guy fell to the floor; any spunk and will to fight left him as he hit the deck. I am not some stone energy seeing psychic; I don’t see an aura around others, but I did notice the strings get a little fainter as he sagged and fell. Is this what these so-called sensitives see? I suppose it is possible, but why not say what you see if that is the case? Why not just say that you see strings? They dress it up with all this funny coloured aura nonsense. Why not tell the truth? The truth is so important; we forget that. It is why this journal is going to be completely open and honest. When the shrink suggested writing my thoughts, I recoiled a little. Do I really want my inner thoughts written down? When she said it was for my eyes only, I thought, why not! Fuck it; by the time this is over, who cares if others read it?
The homeless guy lay on the floor as the thugs laid the boots in, cowards the lot of them, fucking wretched arseholes who will deserve it when the world burns. When the strings finally snapped, and the homeless dude had lost his life, I decided I would be the spark. That was when I decided that I’d had enough. I had done nothing to save the homeless man, but I will, in time, ignite a fire of rage that would be remembered forever.