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Reflections From a Psychiatric Clinic: Part III

by Niklas Haas on August 26, 2020

Tagged as: depression, personal, feelings, life.

Why are chameleons considered to be hiding? What are they hiding? Their “true colors”? But if the chameleon can change its appearance at will, can it truly still be said to have a “true” color?

Nonsense, I say. The better interpretation of a chameleon is as a jack of all trades. Intelligent and adaptive. In touch with each of its parts. Legion rather than individual. Is this not the human way? The neocortex’s greatest job is to resolve conflicts and establish an illusion of consensus, is it not? To arbitrate between fragments of the whole.

Nay, I say, the true sadness is the concept of somebody so stuck in their ways that they can’t find it in them to leave their thought prison. Chameleons are more courageous than cowardly. Begone folly notions of social anxiety. Rather, by far, the chameleon is the master of manipulation. The silent assassin. The knife in the back, the shot in the dark.

Frustrated by the frequent references to “social masks” as something bad, as though people capable of adapting to the social context are somehow “hiding” their “true self”. Rather, the way I see it, adapting like that requires a high degree of flexibility and intelligence. The reference to chameleons originated from a discussion I had with another patient.

How afraid should I be of the direction my feelings are headed? Is “feeling good” the human curse? Is the reason we suffer not to moderate our perversions? The opposite of depression is mania, after all. What if normalcy is an illusion, and the roller coaster ride of annihilation and self-flagellation is the true human nature? Am I manipulating my surroundings into treating me like a child? Showering me with motherly adoration? No, says the inner protector. I’m the one doing all the work here. But do I know in which direction I’m swimming?

Am I waiting for somebody to grab me by the ears and say “listen, you’re on the path towards annihilation”? Should I be that somebody? Who is my outer critic really protecting, at the end of the day? My anti-pattern is to punish myself to buy sympathy. I learned very early on that I can just cry, and mother will come and pick me up. I can just fake illness, and get sent home. I can just say my tummy hurts, and mother will let me stay in bed. I was born and raised to manipulate. A snake, cold-hearted and scheming.

Or, well, I should say, that’s a part of me. A part of me I’m being taught to recognize. Living with a personality disorder is being unable to trust yourself. Only constant vigilance can save me. Am I being vigilant enough? the answer is always going to be “no”. The fool’s folly is complacency. A false sense of security. Moral licensing. Ah, there it crops up again - like some sickly shadow stalking me at all times. Haunting my past, present, and future. Anybody who thinks themselves noble is surely the opposite, after all.

Where did you disappear to, my inner critic? I enjoyed your bondage. Made me feel safe in your arms, knowing I can do no more evil if I simply.. Don’t. Do. But why do we care about being evil or not? Didn’t you say yourself that you wished to remain alone? If that’s the conclusion, why not admit to yourself who you truly are? Or is this novel concept of an emotion called “guilt” really catching up with you? Or is this all part of a grand manipulation scheme, like some wolf trying to fit into a society of sheep? Did you realize that trying to wear sheep’s clothing is the only way to get what you want?

Did you completely forget about your dreams? Your self-ideal? I don’t believe for a second that you’re as evil as you’re trying to make it seem. Otherwise we wouldn’t be having this conversation. You’re just scared. Scared you’re broken for life and unhealable. Scared snake withdrawing into its nest. Pathetic. Don’t you realize you’re capable of achieving your own ambitions?

Who is this, and are you trying to help or hurt? What if you push us so far past the edge that we can’t find our way back? (So what, I’ll still be here for you.) I’m not sure I trust you. I can sense your manipulative nature. Every bit of you screams that you’re trying to trick me.

I want to be adult. Yes, being a child invokes feelings of happiness, of power, and of freedom. Powerful forces to resist. But that’s not the human way. That’s being an animal. A weak, dumb, pathetic creature. What makes humans into what we are is our ability to plunge headfirst into the abyss. Our utter lunacy, compelling us to attempt the impossible, in search of salvation. Human madness and ingenuity are unparalleled. I’m beginning to understand religious convictions. We each must embark on an epic journey - a quest to find our limits. To push us past our breaking points and beyond. There is a goal amidst the madness, ever shifting and moving, but nevertheless motivating. I already know I won’t be able to reach it, ever. Yet here I remain, a dreamer. A hopeful. A religious nut. Embarking on a quest for the holy grail. Salvation for myself.

I must. Remain. Vigilant.
Cut off the snake’s head.
kill it.
kill. kill. kill. kill
kill. kill. kill. kill. kill.
kill. kill. kill. kill. kill.

Goodbye, my dearest friend. It was nice knowing you. I’m sure we can remain friends someday. But for now, I’m going to need some alone time. -Yours truly

Struggling to process a complicated mixture of emotions splitting between misanthropy and a desire to self-punish. Of wanting to run away from humanity, and simultaneously longing for connection. Of feeling like I can’t trust my own emotions, lest I slip into the very anti-patterns I was sent here to unlearn. BPD’s internal dialogue in a nutshell.

Thank you for reading.