I am a sufferer of a particularly unpleasant condition, a disorder completely unrecognized in psychiatry but which I personally have been forced to acknowledge in myself. I call it ‘chronic pernicious non-entity’ for reasons that will become apparent. It is an unbelievably rotten condition to have – it is absolutely wretched, and yet I have yet to find a doctor who will take me seriously. Or even anyone who isn’t a doctor, come to think of it.
Basically, and not to put too fine a point on it, I feel that I do not really exist. It helps if other people tell me that I do – not in so many words, obviously because that would be stupid, but in terms of registering or acknowledging my existence in some way. The problem is however that people generally pick up on this burning need that I have to be acknowledged and so of course they tend to ignore me or marginalize me in one way or another. It’s the same sort of thing that people with low self-esteem generally get to experience – when a person secretly has a low opinion of themselves then everyone they meet (or most of them, anyway) pick up on this fact and proceed to treat them like shit, either overtly if they can get away with it, or covertly if they can’t.
That’s just human nature, I guess. No point complaining about it. But it gets to me as I suppose you can tell from my aggrieved tone. It seems so unfair. I mean, if you are absolutely SURE that you exist, if you are eminently confident of the fact (just like a person who has an unreservedly good opinion of themselves) then everyone else will come up to you and confirm this impression (or opinion) that you have. They will love you! They will be all over you! That’s the kind of fickle bastards they are.
Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that the unpleasantness of the condition (or rather the unpleasantness of the feelings it produces in the sufferer) is exacerbated considerably by everyone else’s reaction – or, as I should perhaps say, lack of reaction. People pretend not to hear you when you say something, or immediately proceed to talk over you as if you weren’t even there. If there is a decision to be made you can be sure that you will not be consulted. If something bad happens to you no one will take any notice; either that or they will get impatient with you for mentioning it and tell you to ‘get over it’, whilst if the same thing happens to anyone else, they will of course get reams and reams of sympathy…
If there is anything that is being given away free, everyone else will get some except – somehow – you. If there is ever anything you want or need, you won’t get it. I call this ‘the invisible man at the bar’ syndrome because that’s exactly what it feels like. You’re standing there for what seems like forever, trying your level best to catch the barman’s attention, whilst anyone else who just happens to wander up to the bar gets served promptly, immediately, without having to wait at all… What have they got that I haven’t, I wonder? And the answer comes back to me – they exist. Or, at the very least – they’re pretty damn sure that they do, and that does the trick. That’s good enough.
When you don’t exist no one wants to talk to you. No one wants to be your friend. It’s a very cruel condition, I can tell you. It’s brutal. It reminds me of the joke about the guy who goes to see his doctor. “Doctor, doctor,” he says, “You’ve got to help me. Something terrible is happening to me. I keep thinking that I’m not here at all…” The doctor goes out to the waiting room and calls, “Next please…”
I hate being on my own and yet I feel worse when I mix with people. I don’t have anything like what you might call a ‘comfort zone’. I don’t have anywhere to turn. Once, a few years ago when I had less sense, I made the mistake of buying a quarter ounce of Senegalese heads from Terry, this white rasta dude I knew. He said they were pure dynamite but for me it was the worst nightmare of my life. I rolled myself an untidy joint and ten minutes later I was well into what seemed to me to be pretty much a full-blown psychotic episode. What an experience – talk about bad trips! I had to lie down almost straight way and my mouth went as dry as a bone. Then the next thing was it was like every noise in my flat was being amplified – even the noise of my swallowing (or trying to swallow, more like) was deafening. Then as the dope kicked in properly all the various different noises in my flat joined up together and turning into this one big buzzing noise, which – after a while – resolved into a voice in my head which kept repeating “You’re not real. You’re not real. You’re not real. You’re not real…” My whole world cataclysmically disintegrated into a high-energy oscillation, a rapidly pulsating energy-wave that vibrated cleverly in synch with the voice, and this went on until about five in the morning, when I finally at long last managed to go to sleep.
Looking back I can see how stupid I was to try cannabis as a way out from my problems. I should have tried some ego-enhancing drug like coke or speed or booze but I was too stupid to know this. That bad trip with the weed enhanced my problem a million-fold – it turned it into an outright no-holds-barred full-on out-of-order psychotic breakdown. After that I experimented a little bit with other drugs, including antidepressants from my GP, but nothing helped. In the end I turned to drink: getting blind-drunk every day in the scummiest pub in town went some way to allowing me to feel half-way normal, and hanging around with other alcoholics helped me in the sense that I felt I wasn’t the only person in the world who was an empty husk, but eventually my health deteriorated to the point where I physically just couldn’t take it any more. I was in a bad way, both physically and mentally.
These days I have turned to philosophy. My own take on existentialism. It may sound dumb but I got to thinking – if I’m not real then how can I have any problems? If I don’t exist – well then why don’t I just go along with that and give up worrying about it? Not existing could have its advantages…
I know it sounds stupid but fuck it – it works for me…