Should I Ever Question My Own Sanity?

Photo taken by me – question mark
Preston, England
February 17, 2017 11:28am CST
They say there are two sure fire signs that tell if you are likely to be insane. 1/. Having hairs on the palms of your hands. And 2/. Looking at the palms of your hands to check whether or not you have hairs growing there. A few of you probably just looked before I revealed the second sign. - The first is not true at all. My mum used to use ‘you are mad’ or ‘you are going mad’ as a put down whenever we argued. A family friend’s grandmother was suffering from Alzheimer’s in the 70’s and she was very forgetful. So if I couldn’t find my socks or school bag, which was common for me, I was immediately accused of going to go just like Granny Wainwright. It kind of got to me. Then there’s the school bullies. I was told that if I was nice and gave no one cause to hurt me I’d be fine but some bullies really do start fights for nothing and I was seen as an easy target. The school attitude was that a bit of jostling helped toughen us up so we had to learn to take it. That was seen as a license to carry on by some bullies. When it got to the point of me being found unconscious at the foot of a stairwell, an later having my face slashed open with a broken bottle at 15 I was sent to a child psychiatrist to see why I was such a soft-target bully magnet. My mum and house master sent me – the psychiatrist told me not to come back and criticised the school for sending all its problem kids to see him. I took that as a proof of my sanity, a bit like Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory saying he’s not crazy because his mum had him tested. I virtually induced my own lifelong fight with insomnia. I used to stay up in bed listening to a shock-jock radio show, which dared to play very sweary anarchic material. It meant I was bleary eyed through school lessons. In 1978 my dad died, aged just 49 and everyone told me I had to look after my mum, and that I was the man of the house now. I felt my childhood had died with my dad. That sent me into a spiral of introspection, and I hated myself for not crying over his death or at his funeral. I can cry over soppy movies but no family death has drawn a tear from me. I began to feel coldly sociopathic. Then came my cult years, 1981 to 1985, with the Divine Light Mission teaching that we were to silence our minds entirely so we could just feel our living guru-god’s grace radiating to us all the way from his mansion in Malibu. Not thinking at all seemed a cure for my neurosis rather than what it was in reality, its inflammation. As Bowie sang I was putting out the fire with gasoline. Worse, the meditation had to be practiced for an hour first thing each morning on getting up and last hing before going to bed so my insomnia intensified I was immunizing myself against sleep, though I craved sleep. Escaping the cult when it’s Manchester branch collapsed in in-fighting, I went exactly the opposite way and got myself a degree in philosophy, the study of thinking, seeing the World and answering all the big questions through mental reasoning, logic and deduction – my degree certificate was again, proof of my sanity to me. I'd set out turbocharge my mind, reactivating it with a jump-start, thinking a hyperactive mind would be too fit and healthy for Alzheimer’s and my mum’s prophetic curse of Granny Wainwright syndrome, but that was a mistake as a/. I ended up further feeding my insomnia b/. Seeing great minds like Terry Pratchett and Iris Murdoch crumble to Alzheimer’s tells me the curse still potentially chases me. It is possible to think too much as shown in the workplace where bosses feared me as I questioned and challenged so many decisions and instructions, as I could no longer take things at face value. I became over-intellectual, too individual, a seriously intense square peg in a round hole, non-conforming, maverick, anarchic, difficult to work with, and in some eyes, just plain mad. I have experienced regrets, and unhappiness, and mourning, but I have never felt what I would call depression. Strangely that leaves me feeling as if I should. I actually get into a frame of mind where I feel as if there is something wrong with me for not having been diagnosed as depressive – that in itself seems totally deranged logic to me at the same time. My creative writing virtually celebrates the offbeat, individual, maverick and strange. I find I actually like my eccentricity and let it define me. It becomes who and what I am, and fuels my passion for writing. So, am I mad? Yes, I’d say I’m absolutely barking. The worst, or perhaps the best part of that is, I rather like it and I’m afraid to let go of it as much as part of me wants to straighten myself out. Should we ever question our own sanity? Probably not, but my curiosity to see inside Pandora’s Box, Bluebeard’s secret room, and what goes on in the room marked keep out is too strong. My mind has a sign on it saying Abandon Hope all ye who enter here, but I just had to get in anyway. Maybe one day, I’ll find my way out. Arthur Chappell
12 people like this
12 responses
@Jessicalynnt (47880)
• Centralia, Missouri
17 Feb 17
that was a lovely bit of introspection there. Although I admit I want to yell at a school who coddled the bullies, and singled out their targets as if you were somehow in the wrong. The only wrong I see is you didnt learn to fight and punch them back (and not wrong, so much as, would have been a good lesson for THEM)
2 people like this
• Preston, England
17 Feb 17
@Jessicalynnt I did retaliate occassionally but it often just escalated things - it was pinning one bully against a wall when I got him seperated from his gang that led to his broken bottle attack on me - stupidly he attacked me in a crowded take-away food shop in front of witnesses so he got caught, but I ended up with a gashed cheek
1 person likes this
• Centralia, Missouri
20 Feb 17
@arthurchappell I am glad he got caught, I know many adults just dont know how to handle such things, or know to take the time and get the FULL story, often times the one they see acting out is just a poor kid bullied to the breaking point
1 person likes this
• Preston, England
20 Feb 17
@Jessicalynnt yeah, he got caught because he was dumb enough to attack me in public in a place where someone could easily get hold of him - had he waited until I left the shop it might have been more difficult to prove he did it - he also got arrested for breaking someone's arm and later for breaking into a house - no idea what happened to him after that
1 person likes this
18 Feb 17
Your Granny Wainwright story reminded me of Joey Deacon. Do you remember Joey Deacon? From Blue Peter. As children we would copy his facial expressions and say his name to show that we thought someone was dumb. In hindsight it was a terrible thing to do, but children have a habit of being incredibly terrible little people. :)
2 people like this
• Preston, England
18 Feb 17
@Poppylicious not heard of the joey deacon story before - thanks - must look that one up
@PatZAnthony (13057)
• Charlotte, North Carolina
17 Feb 17
Maybe we should just let things flow along and not question anything. If one finds hair growing on the palms of their hands, something should certainly be checked, but not sure what it would be.
2 people like this
• Preston, England
17 Feb 17
@PatZAnthony possibly lycanthropy (werewolfism) lol
@Corbin5 (116145)
• United States
17 Feb 17
I think it wise to believe all humans as having a bit of insanity. That insanity makes us the unique individuals we are. If we look at a touch of insanity as the one thing that makes us all special, then it becomes a positive. If all humans were sane, what a boring place this world would be.
2 people like this
@skysnap (18039)
17 Feb 17
I think questioning our own sanity often not a good idea.
2 people like this
• Bournemouth, England
18 Feb 17
A remarkable read, Arthur, and I found several areas of common ground there.
1 person likes this
@lokisdad (4264)
• United States
18 Feb 17
Sounds like life has not been very kind to you but it has made you the strong individual you are today. No point in questioning sanity we are all a little off from time to time. I guess what matters is how we manage to get through it and still be a healthy functioning part of society. Sorry that life has been so awful for you. People back then were harsher and then they started censoring things every thing seemed to become politically incorrect. Guess what now we have a bunch of overly sensitive people. We teach our kids to fight back and defend themselves. We encourage them to talk to us. We are a troubled society and it doesn't seem like its going to get better anytime soon. However you turned out well. Just keep moving forward with your life.
1 person likes this
@Gillygirl (17363)
• Sutton, England
18 Feb 17
When questioning our insanity I feel it means we are sane. Everyone is unique. I was bullied once but punched the girl responsible and wasn't punched again. The last thing that came out of Pandora's box was hope.
1 person likes this
@celticeagle (119862)
• Boise, Idaho
17 Feb 17
You are a very interesting and unique person. I think wondering and examining ourselves only means we are curious. I think it is healthy to question our own sanity. People do it all different ways. Curiosity is great for a writer. I feel sorry and wonder about those who don't question and wonder.
1 person likes this
@pgntwo (22553)
• Carthage, Tunisia
17 Feb 17
Here Be Dragons. Yes.
1 person likes this
@teamfreak16 (41407)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
17 Feb 17
Oddly, even though I am extremely introverted, I was never bullied. My girlfriend was, however.
1 person likes this
@Morleyhunt (20996)
• Canada
17 Feb 17
I think we all have a touch of insanity...it helps to keep us sane.
1 person likes this