The problem with mental illness is trust.


Brains are funny, right. We believe what we want to believe. If we tell ourselves we’re brilliant, we buy it. And if we tell ourselves we’re useless, the same logic applies.

People who believe ‘The Secret’ paint pictures of better futures. And people who believe in God enjoy comfort and hope. Brains are funny, confusing, brilliant things.

And if you can’t trust your brain, there’s a problem.

I know this, because every now and then I’m suddenly made aware that I can’t actually trust my brain. And that’s a problem. 

I first went mad when I was 17. Nobody really saw it like that, they just thought I was being a prick. Then every so often I’d get excitable, obsessive and irrational around some laser-clear vision that I had all the answers and nobody else understood.

It’s not the best way to make friends.

These days I go mad a lot less often. Every day I go out into the world, full of confidence that everything I say makes total sense. Every night I take one gram of lithium and somehow the chemicals bring balance.

I honestly think I’m one of the luckiest nutters around. If I take my drugs, I don’t go mad and everything is tickety-boo. Until it’s not.

Sometimes for no better reason than the change from winter to spring, I start getting edgy. Mostly nobody notices. Mostly I don’t either. Then little things start bothering me and big things seem possible and people start avoiding me or treating me like a child.

That’s when I notice. It’s the external factors that raise the flags because the internal factors are telling a different story. It’s never one thing, it’s lots of things. An extra glass of wine at lunch time, a refusal to believe that people are making an effort, and the bubbling up of that crystal-clear passion that I’m the only one who knows the right direction and everyone else is against me. It’s not ideal.

In a business built on confidence, it’s even worse.

But I’m one of the luckiest nutters around. People around me are smart enough to see it. Some are brave enough to challenge it - and with a bunch of well-worn tactics to wrap around it. It’s fixed within a week.

The problem of mental illness is trust.

If you have times when you can’t quite trust your brain, you have to trust your friends. Because the best solution to dodgy brains is brilliant friends.

Michael Goldthorpe