There’s a beauty in madness
That most will never understand
A love that opens up your heart
To those you never met, never knew, never saw before.
And you love and you love and you feel and you grieve and you fight and you rage and you cry out to God for mercy on the mad.
Until all you are is love and pain
Pain and love
Because the two are so intertwined in this tragic world,
And slowly your heart can’t take it anymore
Slowly there’s too much pain
The love you have to give is drowning in it
You cannot take it anymore
And you take a pill. And it all disappears.
The love, the magic, the madness, the meaning, the pain.
And even if you didn’t take the pill, they would have forced it on you eventually, you know that. You know that because you have done that to others.
When you’re mad there are times when you lose all hope.
When you believe there is no place in this world for you.
And it’s true, there isn’t.
But sometimes I like to dream that there is. A world made of mad lovers, of mad people infusing the world with love and slowness and childish wonder and soulfulness. A garden of Eden, a paradise of chaotic enlightenment.
They locked me up on the psych ward because I didn’t want to live in this world anymore. I tried to die in a gruesome way. Because I knew there was no garden of Eden for me, for us. And because it hurt to be in my mind. It hurt to be me. It hurt to be me in this world.
After a few days on the psych ward and a few days of pills, a few calls with family and a few calls with friends, I decided to grow up. To take the pills, rather than die. Even if it means all the magic goes away. Even if it means my dreams are put out to pasture. Because some dreams were never meant to come true.
And on my last night on the psych ward, I saw Zahra. Zahra with her gaze of childlike wonder and heart full of love, her quiet rage and hunger to connect. Wanting to help everyone, wanting to make meaning of everything, wanting to live in paradise.
They gave her the pill, the same one they gave me. The one that sucks all the energy and magic out of you. We were standing in the whitewashed hallway and she said, “I feel like I’m not real, I feel like I’m fading. All the meaning is gone, all the energy and love I had to give is gone. If I died nobody would care.”
I looked in her eyes and I said “Zahra, from the moment I arrived on this unit, scared and alone, you were kind to me. You held me with love in your eyes, though you did not know me. Zahra, I do not know you but I love you. I cannot touch you, this virus keeps us apart. But I will hold myself tight as will you, and we will love each other.”
And in that moment, I felt my heart open up, with all the pain it holds inside and all the love. And all the love and the pain mingled together as I opened my heart to her. And we could feel our arms around each other, although we were not touching. And I held her with love in my eyes, her eyes that were fading.
A nurse passed by and grumpily offered a sandwich.
We looked at each other knowingly.
“They don’t care about us,” she said sadly.
“No, they will never understand what it is like to be us. They will never understand.”
“How can I survive on just this moment? It will end. And then I will fade away,” she said with desperation and defeat in her eyes.
“I don’t know.”
“Thank you for your honesty.”
“It’s all I have.”
I took her number. And I will call her. And we will talk. And it will feel sad. And we will lose our magic to the pills. And we will lose our energy. And we will be chewed up and spit out by this world that does not understand or love the mad. But that moment of love will exist forever, somewhere locked away in our cavernous, wounded hearts.
Madness is beautiful, the mad are beautiful, and the mad are full of love and pain. But this world was never meant for us. Maybe the next one will be.
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Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.