If you really really feel the need to go crazy in America at this time, take this advice:
Be an atheist. Or a secular humanist, or an agnostic. If you must have a religion, be Christian or Jewish. And don’t take it too far. Stigmata lost street cred about the time suburban kids started playing with razor blades…you might be able to go crazy in America as a Buddhist, a Hindu, or a Muslim. But that is only a guess. I’ve never met a locked up crazy person who identified as Buddhist, Hindu or Muslim.
Whatever you do, don’t practice a weird religion and go crazy. It really doesn’t help.
I never planned to take up a weird religion personally, but that is how it worked out.
In college I desperately tried to take up atheism or secular humanism. You never saw someone try so damn hard to disbelieve in your life. At disbelief, I was a failure.
It didn’t hurt that I went to college in Boone, North Carolina…before it got big and fancy. It is tough to disbelieve in God in Boone, North Carolina, or, at least, it was then. But I digress…
Failing to become a non-believer, I tried to get close to Jesus. Best I ever got to there was a sort of take it or leave it feeling. I did get close to his mom, though. (We remain tight) Jesus’ Dad was a different story. After the good old college try was exhausted, I began trying on religions in earnest. Judaism and Baha’i were ruled out as soon as I found Jesus’ Dad.
I worked my way through Wicca and ended up at Santeria.
A small white woman in a big black religion. It worked.
I’ve always felt that there are a lot of roads to the top of the mountain, the important thing is just to keep going up.
Some people have felt compelled to judge me harshly for the path I’ve taken. I can see their point. But this IS the path I’ve taken, and I’ve never really felt much like living in a broom closet, a bead closet, or any kind of closet at all.
Unthinkingly I revealed my religion to a psychiatrist. Their reply was, “Like the Sublime song?” Suddenly, for some reason, I had a very. bad. feeling. It rapidly dawned on me that an African diaspora religion that evolves on its own terms, in its own time was not going to do well in the face of modern psychiatry. I guess you don’t need to be very psychic at all to see that one coming.
The upshot was that the psychiatrist began to try to cure my religion at least as earnestly as trying to cure my schizophrenia. From my undignified position on the icky vinyl couch, I tried to debate that my religion was not pathology. And this with a person whose ‘research’ into the matter turned out to be watching “The Serpent and the Rainbow” They didn’t even get the right African diaspora religion to get misinformed about…
Well, crap. Even a crazy person knows not to argue with an idiot.
That was probably about 12 years ago now. And I haven’t gone near a psychiatrist since. I have a plucky GP with big brass balls, and a great big heart. He keeps seeing me, keeps trying. And he listens. We laugh about stuff that nobody else thinks is funny. Like me, the crazy phlebotomist, who is too crazy to have a job being the only person in his office who can draw my blood. (Everyone else in there thinks I’m crazy because I can stick myself. I only manage because I have no desire to die of liver failure brought on by Clozaril…)
I’d like things to be different. I get scared. I get frustrated. I get lonely. My sweet sweet man has been underemployed for a couple years now. Working shitty retail. Getting paid squat. No hours, unless he requests time off. If I was working, we’d be okay. Not great, but ok. But no. I sit here being crazy. And we are not okay. We get tired of eating what the food bank gives us. Our bodies are not used to that much soft white bread or canned vegetables, so we get sick. The cell phones have been off for so long we have quit wondering when we might ever have them. Now there is no gas. No hot showers, no cooking. We are eating from the microwave, the crockpot, and the grill in the backyard.
The whole damn mess is my fault. Or the schizophrenia’s fault, which is mine, too.
And I sit in my room with my phantom screaming voices and jumping shadows, and my kindly ancestors, and my Gods. I try to find a way up. A way out. A road toward the top of the mountain.
But I have this one truth. It is not my Gods that make me crazy. It is my Gods that keep me sane.