Thursday, March 19, 2009

Bus Guy

schizophrenia, schizophasia, word salad, medication, small talk
There's this man, who is famous in the downtown of the city I live in for being, well, crazy. He's clearly a paranoid schizophrenic, because he used to go on an on, to anyone within shouting distance, about the conspiracies that rule our lives. Everything, and I do mean everything, was all a plot to get him and possibly the rest of us. All he did was walk everywhere shouting about conspiracies.

For the last two weeks, I been sitting next to him on the bus. His beard is now trimmed, as is his hair, and he has been silent. He hasn't said a word.

Until last night when he asked me if I liked the weather. (We've had a weeklong springtease in NEPA.) I said yes, I love spring. He returned to silence.

Obviously, he's been medicated. Also obviously, he is slowly returning to a world of small talk and normal conversation. I don't know how much courage it took for him to comment on the weather to a stranger, but I suspect a lot.

I'd like to use my blog to say a few things to him that I can't really say to him in person.

Bus guy, I'm glad you're medicated. Life is hard enough without your brain tricking you into a state of constant panic. You seem nice when you're able to be you.

I'd like to engage in small talk with you again.

Please don't give up if other people don't want to converse with you. People are stupid. People can be mean. It's not you. It's them.

For the rest of you, please be kind to people like bus guy. They're sick, and you wouldn't make fun of someone for having diabetes or cancer, so don't make fun of the mentally ill. And don't blame them for their misfortune. That's an ugly thing we engage in in the US and it needs to stop.


  1. I'd like to give this post a very hearty, very secular "Amen."

  2. I am aware of a wall that is my sanity, and I'm sure that if I push hard enough it could go over.

    You know how our thoughts are like voices? How we think in words, and we can think meany different levels simultaniously? Sometimes, very rarely, maybe once evry few years, those thought threads get loud and SHOUT in my head.

    Now, on the one hand, I don't make a big deal about it because I know it'll go away by the next day, it's just because I'm tired or worried. On the other hand I don't think I'm exceptionally different. I reckon, like Kiekegard (sp?) that angst is our normal state, it's what it means to be human. Some of us, good old bell curve distribution, are lucky enough to sail thru life serenely, and others, like your bus man, need a chemical helper to maintain the balance.
    And all along the rest of the curve is all the rest of us, all more or less crazy and all keeping a lid on it.
    Thank goodnes :)

  3. A pearl of kindness in a quarry of hatred. Well done.

  4. I always liked him, even when he was shouting insanity. Plus, it must be lonely to be like that, and I've been lonely, too.

    I've heard plenty of people make fun of him, and that's mean. (Plus, all of grade school, all of middle school and parts of high school being made fun of, so I know what that feels like, too.)

    Stew: sometimes i can't shut my imagination off. it just won't quit. that never lasts long, but i don't think that madness is too far away from that. i could be that guy, and i hope someone is kind to me if it happens.

    i wonder what finally got him to take meds. He's been like that for years. literally years. after all that time, i wonder what made him take the leap, a leap that must have been terrifying for him. the unknown is always at least a little frightening, and for a paranoid schizophrenic, trusting enough to take pills from someone's hand must be the bravest thing in the world to do.

    i think about these things. good to see other people do, too.

  5. i can't imagine living that way. i often think that i live in Hell, but that poor guy...

    that was very very kind of you. i wish everyone were as empathetic as that, to everyone.

  6. There is an expression, which as an atheist I don't like to use, but it does fit here, "There but for the grace of god go I."

    That could be me. Or you. Or your mother, or my sister. It makes me sick when people make fun of or abuse the mentally ill. That is someone's son, someone's brother, maybe even someone's husband or father. Just think of how you would want your loved on treated, and move accordingly.


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