By Matti Salminen
Sometimes I like to allow myself to speak only to myself. And I don’t feel this is something which I should be ostracized for…period. Yes, I am someone diagnosed with schizophrenia—and I am goddamned proud of it. I am proud of all the days I’ve spent in isolation, in misery, ashamed that I could not function in this world well enough to be independent. I am proud that growing up did not come easily to me. Without my distaste for normalcy—and my penchant for a disordered life—I’d be boring.
A while back I saw an adolescent acknowledge and say hi to a person who can often be seen talking to herself. Others in this young person’s group laughed and made fun of the eccentric woman. But kids are just kids. And I do not want to judge others as unkempt any more than I like to be judged so myself. However, I would like to be as unashamed of my madness as the person whom those kids were ridiculing.
Social difference runs deep in the fabric of my character. It goes back to the first and second grade. Throughout my childhood and adolescence I was not unpopular, but very fringe. Then in my adulthood I was hard working; but maybe too broadminded to fit into the nine to five routine. Then, at the age of 22, I decided to abstain from sexual intercourse for an entire four years. The intention was to do a spiritual cleanse with which to find fertile soil deep in the recesses of my mind. My desired outcome was to develop my own code of ethics. But in that time of exile I slipped into madness. Where I intended to find a root to my existence, I found a portal. This portal—once I entered it—led to the exact state of consciousness I hoped for when I set out to abstain. I have created a philosophy of learning that is my code of ethics. But because this journey to the “fertile soul” led to suicide attempts and incarcerations—I’m crazy.
Living in exile, you learn to find resources in your psyche to cope with the fear of losing your mind. Ironically, talking to myself is something that I’ve found helpful in times of emotional depravity. I do not think that I—or anyone else—who wishes to talk to themselves should have to hide this for fear of being ostracized. Talking to one’s self does not mean a person is not presently aware of their surroundings. It does not mean that they do not have the rationale to engage with another person. And it certainly does not mean they deserve to be treated as though they were on trial.
Any and all eccentricities can be contorted into perceived “mental illness.” For proof, just look to see how much money the psycho-pharmaceutical industry is raking in. And at how the rate of diagnosed mental illness has risen in developed nations. All of us should feel as though we have a right to the mind-states we choose…or…do not choose. No one should have the power to say that my differences make me less employable or otherwise fit for society. Mad Pride is a movement for all people to be able to be themselves freely.