To be or not to be – this was the question I faced once while dealing with a particular situation. I started to talk about in my post on the manual for psychiatrists about how to ‘perform’ diagnoses (http://porcupineswisdom.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/the-matter-with-manual-for-being-mental.html).
So, the problem I dealt with (while being stuck in a psychiatric hospital) was how to avoid being labelled as ‘schizophrenic’. It was still my first episode, spreading leisurely over two months in a row, and thus, I wasn’t yet properly aware about what to talk with psychiatrists about and what not.
The doctor spotted me. He caught me addressing the void. Obviously, it wasn’t just the void, but Pythagoras who was telling me some mathematics:
"The square of the hypotenuse of a right triangle is equal to the sum of the square of the other two sides,” he was saying, in reply to my worry that all the knowledge of algebra and geometry I ever had I had buried in the ground by chilling out with two of my best friends in the park (and smoking cigarettes) instead of attending the classes at school.
The bigger problem, however, was that while I could see the Pythagoras, my doctor could not.
“With whom are you talking?” The doctor asked, looking suspiciously concerned.
To my greatest shame I didn’t know at that time who the Pythagoras was exactly. I had to Google him, later, when I was researching all the voices in my head.
So, I just answered the first thing which came into my mind:
“He says that he was a genius mathematician.”
“Mhh, is it so?” The doctor touched his chin in a pensive note and went to attend to his business.
And only the next day did I discover what the business was about. He shared it during the interview with my mom and me.
“I think it is schizophrenia,” he announced (with a sad face) to the even sadder face of my mother.
“Shit,” was a glimpse of sanity which passed through my head over the matter.
And so, once I saw the nurse which was new (and kind) in the room of staff, I asked her whether I could use the internet to have a look at my finances.
Once in front (tips as to how to have the best of time in a psychiatric hospital will follow in due term), I quickly googled schizophrenia (I have to admit that I also Facebooked that I was Anne Frank to all my friends, but more on this later).
It didn’t look promising. Not at all. From what I could quickly decipher, people with such a diagnosis were the modern pariah of the humankind. In a politically-correct way, but still, the conclusion was pretty much clear. No one wants to have such a diagnosis in our current times.
And so, after reflecting on this for quite some time, I decided to be smarter the next time. As long as I wouldn’t mention any voices I would be all right.
And that’s how I obtained the official diagnosis of bipolar disorder (where they put all those mental people they have problems to label properly).
Or if I rephrase The Pythagoras: to put it concisely, the square of my insanity is equal to the sum of the square of the insanity of other religions.
So, what does it have to do with Shakespeare, you might ask?
And well, I think that the following line of Hamlet (the voice of my bipolar disorder) describes the matter quite well:
“To be, or not to be, that is the question—
Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?”
Or to put it another way: who is the smartest – the doctor or the patient?
After all, we still keep on walking, as Britney Spears sings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elueA2rofoo
(picture from gloverandsmith.co.uk)