Recently, I was reading “Life is what you make it” by Preeti Shenoy. And its story brought back to my mind one thought that has crossed my mind many times and every time I have brushed it under the carpet in order not to think about it. How close I’ve often come on the verge of madness and how often I’ve survived it…
Reading the novel was horrifying. Horrifying because I was reading what could possibly have been my state(in a hugely altered form obviously), if things would have been different. And its not just about me. I’ve seen enough examples, of both the cases; people on the edge of the precipice, somehow hanging on, and people in free fall, abandoning everything.
Why do humans go crazy? What is it the drives them mad? Is it a gradual attrition of logical reasoning and mental safety nets? Or, one day, something snaps inside you, and you go down the bottomless abyss? I’ve seen both the scenarios, both equally believable. Sometimes a mixture of both.
All kinds of people go mad. The reckless, moody, depressive, hyperactive, strange, weird, aloof, loners. Also, worldly wise, sane, ‘normal’, sociable, friendly, successful(in conventional sense of the word), cautious, outwardly sensible. For the first kind of humans, madness is like a back-alley of the mind. Depending on what kind of a person you are, this back-alley can be dark, shady, filled with unknown dangers, or your own dark side which you’re afraid of, or your silent niche to hide from the world, you inner sanctuary, or a place to let go of your uniqueness which the world is not able to recognize and accept. Remember, I have described it from the point of view of the person herself, what it signifies to the rest of the world depends on the person’s resulting actions towards society and people around him.
For the other kind of humans, the second category, it’s very difficult to say anything. You get lost, in a world of masquerades, lies, hidden fears, conflicting emotions, philosophical dilemmas and inner pandemonium. For those who are sane, and consider themselves sane in their honest eyes, madness is the Satanic nightmare, a ride through hell. They deny the existence of a world beyond sanity, but when the forces out of their control devastate and subjugate their will to believe in themselves, they discover the madness in all its horrifying detail. Seriously, kind of like a ride through hell. This madness can either destroy them completely, if they are unable to break from the rigid walls of their mind, or it can liberate them (could be in all kind of ways). Those who look outwardly sane, but inwardly are tortured by the same whirlpool of thoughts as the first category, are aware of the precipice called madness facing them in some distant vague area of their psyche. Their struggle with themselves define the path which will either take them towards the precipice or away from it.
In any case, no one can entirely control whether or not to go down the precipice. Because nobody has complete control over her own thoughts, has answers to all the questions that life poses in front of us.
At one stage in my life, I was badly thrown up in the same whirlpool, and was in the danger of being destroyed by it. At that time madness was a distinct reality for me, lurking close by, waiting to ambush me lest I take one wrong step. Fortunately, I hung on the precipice, no looking down too much, and still not ambushed. But I know, I’m still in the whirlpool, and I’ll never be completely out of it. The precipice is always there.
Not just me. I’ve seen so many people around me, struggling inside them, struggling with their demons, struggling against themselves. One, whom I left long ago, was rushing headlong into his own precipice. Whether he fell or not, I don’t know, and if he fell, it is yet to be seen whether the precipice was a liberation or a downfall. Seen many things in my college life. People giving up on everything for their addictions. People going schizophrenic by intense and prolonged drug abuse, people giving up on their life, oppressed by the environment, people free-falling through life in a nightmarish euphoria of drugs, people shutting themselves closed inside their shell of fear and ignorance, and hatred.
Life has its own way of teaching people. Sometimes Madness has to step in to teach some important lessons.