A man sits enthralled by the music which plays comfort to his ears. His own rhythm matches musics melodies with every fluid bodily motion. He surveys the fellow commuters and fear moulds his face into that of a boy subjected to neglect. His eyes dart to each face, scanning all possible threats with a meticulous visual probe. He see’s hostility in each aversion of eyes and hate in the creases which signify yet another burrowed brow. Unpredictably however, his head drops dismissive of other passengers. The man’s expression once again reverts to a passenger enjoying a peaceful melody. Deep in thought, his mind seems to provide his lips with a reason to smile. His behaviors are not markedly unusual and yield no further dissection from me as we make or way along Santa Monica Boulevard.
I am not sure what the impetus for his change was, yet suddenly, his feet uncontrollably shift, tapping to a rhythm too fast to match the melodies piercing his ears. The dilating pupils have no filter for the intensity of his environment.The man’s open mouth and gawking eyes test the limits of how far the surrounding skin will stretch to accommodate his fear. His stares direct my own to the front of the bus. Am I missing something? Several seats are vacant, while the ones that occupy spectators yield no cause for concern. My ocular pursuits do not amount to panic. Yet his, his seem to be envisaging impending doom.
Twenty minutes had passed without any sign of agitation, yet within seconds, an unbeknown internal switch seemed to have awakened a conscious daemon. It takes just one block for a man deemed by my brief judgment as “normal” to become subjugated to a world of terror fabricated by his mind. A mind too young to be failing. A mind too young to have the dark creativity that surrounds his moments of absent lucidity. Yet, as quickly as terror comes, it leaves. The tyrant seems to have crawled back into its mental crevasse, freeing man from monster, enabling him to once again enjoy the melodies which caress his ears. We acknowledge each other over a shared appreciation for a roadside beauty. A pristine Harley Davidson becomes the topic of our coherent exchange as we marvel at the reflective beast. Yet, why does this man have to deal with an inner beast? A two headed monster that rears its head without a leash or timeframe for its unruly domination.
What will tame his demons? Is it a reassuring smile or a worded care package offered to suppress Lucifer’s pet. As his mind became subjugated to fracture, mine was attempting to piece together a foolproof contribution to tame his daemon’s. Assistance however, was neither wanted nor needed. Man conquered monster, freeing himself from the wrath of his own mind. We curtly farewell each other as the bus halts at his stop. How long will it take for the monsters tyranny to find its way back into perceived tangibility? Will the next commuting stranger deem him threatening, or will they see what I did? A perpetual fight for reality.
It is a blessing and luxury to experience a shared reality with family, friends and the wider community. The realities for many however, are distorted. My greatest fear is that one day I will lose contact with what others perceive as real and become caught up in a mind that creates its own experiences. In the event that my perceptions become riddled with sickness, I hope that those who love me, pull me from the world I have fabricated for myself. A word, a hug, a smile, a question. Mental illness only becomes feared when those around don’t understand it or regretfully don’t seek understanding. Without a firm grasp on what is real, individuals arm themselves for a perpetual daily fight to remain within the realms of reality. I live in awe of the strength of those who are marked with a disease of the mind. We must start to use our voice with projection rather than articulating in whispers or sniggers. We need to stop averting eyes and veering of our desired course due to those suffering. Arm yourselves with words, love, tolerance and acceptance and we can make their war not such a solitary battle.