Catch me on a Monday morning stuck in South Florida traffic, running late to work, having to pass on the venti plain pike, dodging cars, looking down and realizing the stain on my shirt didn’t come off after washing. “I’m late… what is the boss going to say?… stop, your mind is racing” I tell myself- Catch me in a state of battling my own mind and you’d probably label this process as unstable. If at this point you were able to dissect my thoughts and feelings within a ten minute frame, you’d discover irrational, random, illogical, self-defeating, catastrophizing, and possibly nihilistic content. You’d probably change your perception on the kind of person I am if we were well acquainted. However, you’d also acknowledge that every person experiences between 50,000-70,000 thoughts a day. You’d probably reflect at your own thought patterns throughout a 24 hour period and come away with saying “I’ve had days like that.” The reality is our minds produce a plethora of thoughts given each presenting situation. Most of us are fortunate enough to be able to filter, choose, or ignore such thoughts-unfortunately, there are some who are incapable of doing so.
If we explored the thoughts of any stable, mentally sound individual, you would find a vast area of uncertainty, anxiety, fears, resentments, selfishness, regret, secrets, desires, etc. What distinguishes this person from the “psychotic” is a well functioning mechanism of containing, filtering, choosing, interpreting, discarding, and applying such thoughts. The “schizophrenic” wears his thoughts and feelings on the outside, while the majority of us conceal and process them internally. Nonetheless, the thought content of fears, dreams, desires, love, anger, etc is identical. If you ever took the time to know someone that experiences auditory or visual hallucinations, you’ll discover the content has significant meaning. Whether it seems bizarre or incoherent, if we examine our own thoughts we’ll find a common thread-that we all deal with fears whether real or imagined, we all dream, and we all seek to love and be loved in return. The person who bears the challenges of being unable to contain and filter their thoughts within deserve our utmost gratitude. There is something magnificent, a life saving quality of being able to hear a familiar language uttered in a dark and foreign land. Similarly, it’s relieving to listen to an unfiltered emotion- a thought freed from the constraints of what is “right” or “appropriate” in the midst of challenges. It’s in the process of crossing over to understand those society disregards- it’s through the voices and visions of a unique mind that we are able to reflect, relate to others, and manage our own inner world.