by Chaya Grossberg
It may be due to my introversion and need for lots of quiet alone time to write. It may be that my childhood traumas messed me up. It could have something to do with how the psychiatric system robbed me of ages 20-22, ripping me out of college for awhile and isolating and debilitating me. Or it could just be that I’m a loser.
Not that I believe in “losers,” but my mind does go there and it has for as long as I can remember, even as a young child. I looked around and saw some others who were clearly (to me) “losers” and others who were obviously winners.
I imagine everyone who’s been on psychiatric drugs has felt like one of the “losers” in life. It’s a juvenile perspective, yet a commonplace one that has been perpetuated by the media in countless ways, to the point that most people who haven’t thoroughly untrained their minds from mainstream thought, talk about others this way. And if we’re talking about others this way, there has been a day where we worried this loser archetype could be us. The Loser. Officially.
I remember expressing concern about being “that person no one likes” to my best friend in high school. I was going away to a new summer camp and had been, or felt like, one of “those people” at my previous camp. She reassured me, “You just aren’t one of those people that no one likes.” This soothed my ego, but something in me wasn’t sure.
“The loser now will be later to win,” Bob Dylan sang. “The nerds now will be cool later,” my father used to tell me when I talked about the nerds at my high school. The psychotic people today will be the prophets tomorrow. The depressed people today will be the rock stars tomorrow. This turnaround can be done for any psychiatric diagnosis.
On a walk today in Prospect Park with the same friend from high school who reassured me I wasn’t one of “those people,” I articulated something I hadn’t said before in these words. “I think society is moving away from this dichotomy between the lowly and the triumphant, the crazy person and the shaman, the ignorant person and the expert.” The gap is closing. We are realizing how much we LOSE by discarding one another.
I may still feel like a “loser” some days (and a winner others) but seeing through it, I release the fear of being officially discarded or rejected from the human race. Discarding, disliking and rejecting another is always temporary. If you feel alone or like a Loser or Outcast or any other stigmatizing label, such as a mental health label, know that you aren’t alone and that the illusion will pass. The feelings are real, yet in your essence, no label has significance.
The key to escaping the oppressive elements of the mental health system (and society) is to recognize them for what they are: collective illusions. Beneath them you are always you-breathing and bubbling up with the essential.