I love it when people give me advice. Especially when it is from complete strangers. Usually those are the best kind of advice. Over the years I have benefited greatly from advice given to me by various people.
Take the advice given to me by Abdullah (not his real name)., an acquaintance of the family. We socialize with Abdullah about once or twice a year. He was sitting in the living room after a festive dinner and we were chatting about world affairs as all us middle easterners like to do. When Abdullah suddenly said that he has been thinking lots about my brother, who has been suffering with mental illness for many years. Abdullah said that he spent many hours attempting to figure out why my brother was ill, and after long thinking and contemplation he has finally figured out. Wow! Abdullah you are a genius, all the best psychiatrists and therapist haven’t been able to help my brother, please tell us why my brother is in his tormented state. Abdullah said “ You brother is sick because of you ihath. You are so successful on many fronts, career and family. Each time your brother meets with you, he feels inadequate because in his mind he is comparing himself with you. It makes him feel inadequate and then he feels depressed as a result”. Wow! What great advice from somebody who barely knows me. I have spent 13 years watching my brother deteriorate from bi polar disease to Schizophrenia. I have been to every psychiatric ward, half way house and group house in the city of Vancouver in order to visit my brother because he was housed in all of them at one point or another. I have talked to a bazillion of psychiatrists, nurses and therapists and heard them tell me the same nonsense. I have watched him take medication after medication, each with such vile side effects that it made me doubt if being insane wasn’t better. I had watched him gain lots of weight till he looked like he would explode and then lose it again with amazing speed where he looked like a skeleton. I have spent hours listening to him tell me about his dark illusions and fantasies. How he walks around for hours and everybody seems be a devil possessed human. How he can actually see horns on their heads. How all these people are after him and want to kill him and he is constantly trying to escape. I had visited my brother in the psychiatric ward where he was locked up in a room with nothing but a mattress and a stainless steel toilette. When he is in that state, I need to be accompanied with two body guards that look like Vin Diesel on steroids, for my own safety. I have watched my parents plunge into their own depression over this and I had to tell them over and over and over that my brother’s illness was not their fault. All this torment could have been spared had I listened to the valuable advice of Abdullah I will mess up both my professional and family life so that my brother will no longer feel inadequate next to me. I figured that the quickest way to mess up my life would be to take hard drugs. From what I hear it seems to be a guaranteed way to mess up everything. Since I don’t have much knowledge about the matter I need advice. Which kinda drug should I take? I hear drug names in Hollywood movies like crack, LSD or cocaine, which is best and fastest at ruining a life? Is there a way to take this drug without needles, I am really squeamish about needles in general and cannot imagine injecting myself with a needle. I get dizzy when the doctors gives me the flu shots.
Off course, Abdullah’s not so successful career and recent divorce contributed nothing to his sincere advice to me. There is no way that this bright middle aged man feels inadequate next to ihath. There is no way that he was projecting his own feeling onto my brother. No, that is absolutely not what was going on in his mind.
I love the fragile ego of some middle eastern men, it can be such a hoot.
So, as I have illustrated with the above example I get valuable advice from people already. So all of you who send me emails about how I should live my life and what I should think, just make me laugh. You pale in comparison to the wonderful advice of Abdullah. Unless you can top the brilliance and deep wisdom of AAbdullah then I recommend that you don’t bother sending me advice. I get able advice already.
My favorite emails are the ones where the sender diagnoses me with mental illnesses that I have never heard off. Considering that I have read several books on mental illnesses after my brothers affliction, I am constantly amazed by new illnesses that I have never heard of. One person diagnosed me with Stockholm Syndrome. Another concluded that I must suffer from evilitis – the chronic state of evil. All this time, when my brother was really ill and he would start imagining that I was one the devil possessed, horn wearing people, I thought it was because he didn’t take his little blue pills on time. Turns out he was right all the way. Hey! The amazing things that you discover from complete strangers can be amazing. All this time I had no idea. Been going to the family doctor on my yearly checkup and he never mentioned a thing. Finally, I get free psycho analysis for free from people whom I never met. Isn’t this internet thing just amazing?
Despite all the wonderful advice I have gotten I myself am rotten at giving advice. In fact if I ever give you advice on anything you should probably ignore it. Had I know any good advice I would have given some to my brother; but non of the advice worked thus far.
Perhaps if I take drugs, I will be reduced to a psychotic state as well. These probably is a drug out there that can induce that. One day, both my brother and I will be sitting on a couch in the psychiatric ward. We will both be wearing those flimsy hospital gowns that show your behind when you stand up. We will talk about the devil possessed, horn wearing people and device escape plans together. At last, my brother won’t feel lonely in the dark world that he lives in. At last I will be able to understand what he is going through. It will be like the good old days, when we were both kids and we would spend hours sharing our fantasies and hopes for the future.