As I‘ve intimated previously, I have in the past availed myself of mental healthcare services. While this was done only to research the Great 20th Century British Novel I’m writing (that’s 21st Century now. Ed.), this still might constitute “too much information” for easily disturbed readers, so I’ll tread carefully. I’ve also in my portfolio of careers cleaned the floors, toilets and dishes in a psychiatric hospital, sometimes remembering to wash my hands between tasks. All this has given me a special insight into The World Of The Mad. I wish to reduce the stigma attached to not dealing with a full deck by a series of posts examining The Nature of Insanity. Now, I’m a big fan of self-diagnosis, so I’ll show how you can find out if You Are Bonkers by asking yourself some simple questions.
Chapter 1: Are You a Member of The Staff?
The first question to ask yourself upon awaking from the insulin coma and finding yourself slumped in a “trainer-coffin” wing-armchair in a maximum-security care facility. Though it’s not as sure a test of insanity as it seems. For instance, you could believe you’re a member of staff, and lack of patients and not getting paid won’t convince you otherwise. You could be one of the following:
A distinguished psychiatrist with a white coat he’s made from his bed sheet and a celery stethoscope. He’ll tell you what you’re suffering from – it’ll always be “a very serious complaint, yerrssss” – and will then recommend some symptoms.
She fashions herself on that Welsh tart on a bicycle, and her medical technique involves getting her breasts out and shoving them in your face. This works for everyone, especially Nerys, whose behaviour ensures that the staff wash her breasts frequently and very vigorously.
So called, he’ll point out, because he’s an expert on the human mind. He knows what you’re thinking. He also knows what cushions and button mushrooms are thinking. One day he'll be given the promotion he’s asked for but for now he’ll content himself with sucking people's brains out using his telepathic powers.
Ena the Cleaner
Rather a low-status delusion but easily maintained. All you need is a mop and hospital visitors will treat you as a normal person, nobody will make pathetic attempts to cheer you up, and the staff will let you do their work while they cackle and chain-smoke in the office.
An Actual Member of Staff
This situation is the worst of all. Patients are sensitive, beautiful human beings, but the staff are often as mad as hatters. Especially psychiatrists, who gravitate to this branch of medicine for the wrong reasons: cack-handedness, prurience, deadness of soul, or simply the desire to wear bow-ties as often as possible (oohhh, creepy). Nurses are angels and I’m not going to say a word against them.
So, maybe not quite a sure-fire test, but you've made your first step on the road to wellness - congratulations. Now, I want to end each chapter with a piece of music to lighten our spirits. So here’s Jimi Hendrix’s Manic Depression. He’s decided this should be a fast blues in waltz-time… he’s simply a genius.