The definition of sanity is the ability to think and behave in a rational manner, and being of sound mind. On a daily basis I try to keep track of just how sound my thinking is. It’s important to me because I have skirmishes with mental illness.
With the growing pains of the digital age, and the hypernormalization of the political landscape, I’ve had to work even harder to maintain sanity. I have acquired skills and support that work to restore my balance, but an awful lot of folks don’t. And that’s their business. However, it’s unsettling and arduous living in this new phase of existence full of unshared realities. The apple cart has been upset. It’s like saying, “the sky is blue and clear,” and the other replies, “the sky is a cheeseburger and spongy to the touch.”
The bulldozing pace over our shared reality is at record speed. But for me, it did not start with Trump, it started in my childhood home between my parents. My father saw the world in a very different way than my mother. It wasn’t political or cultural or socio-economic. He had a thought disorder. My Dad is Schizophrenic and on many occasions believed he was Jesus Christ. My Mom who was Baptist was certain he was not. They fought often and violently, yet my mother did not succeed in controlling my father's thinking.
In my not-yet-published novel, WHAT YOU CARRY I explore the role mental illness played on the frayed fabric of the Thompson family. Sure, those Thompsons are an awful lot like my own family. But there’s a heaping helping of fiction given to their overlapping perspectives. My point being: every single member of a family is affected by another family member’s mental illness. The way sanity was restored in my family was when my father broke the law, and was consequently institutionalized. Law enforcement was our divine intervention.
Whether your family illness is addiction, depression, anxiety or some fancy mix of thought and mood disorders, I wish you mental health. What I hope my novel achieves is more awareness, and opportunities for discussion on how we as individuals, families, and even a country move forward, hopefully together, while caring for the mentally challenged among us. Can we be sane and healthy? The answer for me has been yes. Here’s a new song by Aimee Mann from her upcoming album entitled Mental Illness. Enjoy a Goose Snow Cone.