Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Beating The Retreat

My psychic forces had given up the patrol. The cannon had exploded in the castle of the primeval unconscious. ‘Beating the retreat’ ceremony was in progress. The battleground of the body was in internal turmoil. The gods of absurdity were howling. Forces of material consciousness were putting on their last defense. The call of the day was ‘back to the barracks’ after a final showdown.
A few days after Diwali, I went back to Desai, the previous doctor. I told him about my experience after taking the pill he had prescribed and the other doctor’s advice to change the diagnosis. He talked something about labels being meaningless and new psychiatric wisdom talking about a broad spectrum of mood disorders ranging from cyclothymia to bipolar. He said the only thing that mattered was coping with it and living a seemingly normal life. I was apprehensive about becoming a pill-dependent zombie but he felt it was the only way out.
“Whenever you feel low, call it depression and gulp a pill. When you feel high, call it mania and gulp a pill. When you feel normal, call it boring and gulp a pill. Three hurrahs for the pill!!!” As I was sitting and listening to his idiotic nonsense, I had a strange experience. How should I put it? I lost control over myself. My mind went blank for a while and then words came spontaneously and with conviction, “My problem has nothing to do with psychology. The thing is that I am absolutely alone in this vast world. I don’t have a single soul to truly call my own – not a single soul.” The ejaculation was accompanied by a strange state – I felt an alien in my body- and my consciousness seemed to have transcended the barrier of temporal identity. To put it simply, I was aware, but not of my usual identity. I was just aware of ‘being’ contaminated with a flavor of absurdity. I tried to speak but nothing came out of my lips. When I came back to myself a bit, I wanted to leave the clinic. The good doctor said, “You forgot the payment part.” I paid him quickly and left.
The experience was more than disconcerting. I was filled with a strange terror as I walked around on the highway. Had I lost my sense of coherence? Had I gone mad? I shuddered at contemplating life as a lunatic. I imagined myself roaming around aimlessly – living on scraps from some garbage-pit, alienated from my family, alienated form humanity, worse than an animal. I had forgotten myself for a while in that clinic! I had gone through blues earlier but had never lost my grip on ‘reality.’
I was apprehensive of another fit of incoherence and decided home was the only safe place in case of a remission. I feared I had some psychiatric disorder and was afraid of social stigma in the hostel. I felt against traveling alone in that state of mind. A family friend had been posted as a Colonel in Gandhinagar cantonment till a hew months back from then. He arranged for a JCO to accompany me on my journey back home. I had told about my condition to Anil, my roommate. I was in a very relaxed state, having admitted myself as somebody in the need of help. I watched light movies and enjoyed surrendering myself to the perceived infirmity. Some General visited the cantonment and the leave of the JCO was postponed for some days. Anil suggested that I talk to somebody from the faculty about my state of mind. We zeroed in on Rajneesh Krishna, the Consumer Behavior faculty.

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