Who am I? In some ways a psychiatric facility is the ideal place to encounter this question, but I personally haven’t broken step with sanity – a statement which you’ll have to take at my word. I maintain that the question is lucid and indeed I asked it long before I was admitted here. Perhaps it is fair to say that it is my protracted inability to answer the question which has delivered me this latest opportunity to again consider my identity. Though this time I’m in a place where identity and culture exist principally as pathology – sources for interpretation, rather than celebrations of individuality.
I am supposed to be sick. I can understand this much from having been admitted to hospital and, before that, through being diagnosed and medicated. But is this who I am? I don’t feel sick, apart from the side effects of medications. Sick, then, to mean somehow disordered, or dysfunctional. What does that look like? Is it supposed to look like anything? If not, then why – how, even – should I ‘be’ that (or myself, if the two are different)?
In here, reality unites all of us who for whatever reason can’t hold our issues at arm’s length to see their place in a bigger picture.
Such surmising is considered unhealthy here. I’ve been told it is not the content of ‘normal‘ thought — that it suggests disorder. I did ask what I should be thinking, but clearly that wasn’t it either, because my query was met with a blank stare and written in my notes. Obviously there are norms here to deviate from. I wonder, then, if the norm is my identity from which my behaviour deviates, or if there are social norms which my identity is deviating from. Perhaps it is both. Or neither.