Originally published at The Homepage of Michael John Bertrand. You can comment here or there.
The eternal questions : who am I and what do I do?
I’d really like to know. I have felt like I served no purpose except to subtract from its overall productivity Useless… that’s the word that got hung on me at an early age. And it stuck. I have a deep sense of being a net loss to the world. Nothing but a pathetic blubbering mass of flab, completely incapable of supporting himself, and my only hope in life is other people’s pity.
I know this is not true. I actually have extraordinary talents and an amazing mind. A lot of people would give their eyeteeth to have what I have always just taken for granted. There is a vast latent power in this megavolt mind of mine.
And that scares me. Perhaps irrationally. Maybe the fear is just one of the ghosts that my mind uses to keep me “safe” by making sure I don’t step outside my teeny tiny comfort zone. Maybe I have nothing to be afraid of.
But I have had a sense of my power since I was a kid, and how much damage it can do, and because I am a morally responsible, sensitive person, this power frightens me. I am terrified of hurting people via a careless use of mental muscle.
There’s a part of me – my id – that would love nothing more than to pull out all the stops, disconnect the safety systems, and shine as hard as I can without worrying about hurting people’s eyes. To take the attitude that I am just a normal person with no extra responsibilities and use my extra worldly power to make a life that suits me, and to hell with the consequences to anyone else.
I’m going to be me as I am, and the world will just have to deal with it.
But that would only change the polarity of the error. Take it from too much to too little. For every wrong solution, there is an equally wrong opposite solution.
Sometimes I wish I had gotten the clue about how much my life sucked and how it totally did not have to be that way when I was younger. Say, when I was thirteen. Then I might have rebelled and copped a massive attitude that basically said “Fuck you, I’m smarter than you” and dared the world to prove me wrong.
Secretly hoping that it would. Then there would be some sense of authority in my life. Your teenage years are supposed to be about testing your boundaries and seeing what you can get away with. They’re about testing the limits of your capabilities and discovering the walls of your world.
But I never did that. If there was some kind of urge to go crazy and push the boundaries in my teen years, it was hidden under all the depression. Despite my prodigious intellect, I was markedly incurious about the world around me. The world inside my head was so much more interesting to me.
And as far as I can tell, I was never much of an explorer. I recall exploring my neighborhood when I was a preschooler. I remember doing it slowly and cautiously. But once I started going to school and getting bullied, all I wanted was to be safe and that killed whatever exploratory urge I possessed.
I wanted to be safe and safety meant home. That’s how agoraphobia is born.
Instead, I took up the depressive defensive posture – the one where you bend over with your hands on your stomach in order to keep your guts from falling out.
I suppose that’s what happens when you go through life as one of the walking wounded. I suffered a lot of trauma as a child, and those wounds were left completely untreated and left to fester with infection unimpeded.
And that stunted my growth. Not physically, obviously, but psychologically. Socially. Spiritually. I never really grew up. It’s easy to get away with that when you are as intelligent as I am. All you have to do is keep flashing that advanced IQ and talking vastly above your age and such, and nobody even imagines that you are not growing up.
But I wasn’t. I was largely in my own isolated world. I went to school. I ate supper with my family. I went to the mall with my allowance. Physically, I was present, and at a glance I seemed to be fine.
But I wasn’t. I was deeply ill. And I didn’t know how to express it. I am very lucky that my mother got a sense of my depression and arranged for me to go see Doctor Klein. He probably saved my life, because when I was in high school, the depression got bad enough to distort my sense of reality and there were times where dying seemed like the easiest thing in the world, and not even important. Like I could kill myself and it wouldn’t be a big deal. Nobody would even miss me, least alone myself. It would be fine.
Luckily, I had Doctor Klein to talk to. As a therapist, he was average, but just having someone I could talk to about things helped enormously.
That kept me alive till college, and I didn’t feel useless there. But then my parents pulled me out of college because they wanted to take early retirement (or rather, my Dad did) and brough me back to high unemployment Summerside and the depression took over and I was useless once more.
And that’s how it has been since then, really. I foundered in the pits of depression for two decades because there is no disease more deadly than one that prevents you from seeking treatment. It took me many, many years to get over having been dumped by the local hospital’s psychiatric outpatients program.
It was only when I finally got my shit together enough to bug my doctor to get me individual therapy with Doctor Costin that I began to recover. And even then, it took five years to have anything like an appreciable effect.
And now I am only 2.5 months away from actually having that precious piece of paper that proves to the world that I can do things.
Surely someone needs my genius!
I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.