Kin Lane

Being Able to See Those Moments

It has taken me about 30-40 years to be able to “see” how mental illness manifests itself in my life. I find that mental illness is a lot like alcoholism and drug addiction for me, in that it doesn’t look like what you think it will look like when you are younger. How it gets portrayed in movies, television, books, and other media is just a very narrow view of it. The daily anxieties and non-stop emotional roller coaster ride has a completely different color palette, audio track, and residual effect than I would have imagined. Granted, there are many different flavors of mental illnesses, and what I suffer from probably isn’t as severe or debilitating as others, but it can really throw my day or week for a loop, and if unrecognized it can make decisions for me that can have severe long term impacts. It is something I have learned to manage more effectively over the last 20 years by teaching myself to see these mental illness moments as they are forming, and quickly take necessary action to course correct and bring things back down to stable levels.

I always first notice the glittery edges of instability. It will come out of nowhere, usually with just a single or coinciding event triggering the mental illness moment. I learned early on in life that if these moments were left untreated it can reach insane and dangerous levels unless I stabilize them quickly, resulting in me making extremely poor decisions and leaving me in a state of diminished capacity for days or weeks afterwards—-something I haven’t seen very often in the last decade or two. I have learned to keep my mouth shut and to stop taking action as soon as I see those glittery edges. Once I notice the glittering, the world around me becomes continues to become unstable like Neo in the Matrix, but it is something that much slower, and nauseating. The trick for me is to always maintain a grip. No sudden movements. No immediate decisions. I am talk talking about a hand grip, I am talking about a reality grip. And it isn’t about stiffening up and resisting the instability, that will only make it worse. It is just about maintaining a cautious gentle grip on who I am and why I matter. It is all about seeing the moment, recognizing the moment and maintaining who I am in th emoment, and not letting me get swept away with anything to drastic while in this state.

Words aren’t easy in these moments, so when someone else asks if I am ok, the default as is always yes. If I have to explain myself I may lose my grip and slide further away. If I am in a meeting it helps to just assume one of my well honed personas and stick to the script. If possible just be quiet 100%, or if necessary just excuse myself and go to the bathroom or go for a walk. The most important thing for me is that I see the moment, and that I acknowledge I am in the moment. Otherwise I may mistake the moment for something that it isn’t. Like a time to try something new, speak my mind to a friend, co-worker, or rando person online. Over the years I have managed to minimize the moments by reducing the drama in m life, avoiding other uncontrolled mentally ill individuals as they will spin me out, and focus 100% on seeing the moment and being in the moment. I get asked a lot why I don’t seek medical and pharmaceutical assistance, and I think the answer to this is that I really believe in myself. I have seen evidence of being able to maintain stability and recover effectively from instability, so why would I want to introduce unknown variables into the equation.

The main reason I do not seek out a pharmaceutical solution is that I actually find my mental illness to be extremely useful. I have not only been able to recognize the moment, but I have been able to recognize it and take full advantage of it by loading up some kind of task for me to accomplish in these moments. Think of it as a controlled burn or sustained spin, which is something, especially within the digital realm, that can be very effective for getting large complex tasks accomplished in a short period of time. I like this. I need this. I depend on this for my career. Ultimately I don’t find mental illness as something that I should fear. It is something that I embrace. It is me. It is about living in the moment with me. While the sparkly edges, unstable ground, walls, and sky above used to be terrifying to me as a teenager and young adult, I now simply see as a reminder of the power and control I possess as Kin Lane. I don’t see the illness as thing, and I see my response to the illness as the thing. This gives me super powers for bending reality, shifting and controlling the world around, it just happens to also have sparkly edges like a shiny object in the sun, absorbing some energy, but reflecting most of it back to the world around us for anyone to see.