Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Lunatic Fringe I

Lunatic Fringe
I know you're out there
You're in hiding
And you hold your meetings
We can hear you coming
We know what you're after
We're wise to you this time
We won't let you kill the laughter

Lunatic Fringe, now a mainstay of classic rock stations, was a catchy song from the Canadian group Red Rider that was released in 1981. Even today when I stumble across it on the radio, I instinctively reach over and turn the knob a couple of clicks to the right. The last line of this verse, "We won't let you kill the laughter" has resonated with me and was the impetus for this post. Let me share with you why.

When I was a younger person, before the ways of this world had hung their weights on my shoulders and pulled me down, I firmly believed that anyone who needed to visit a psychiatrist or a counselor was a certifiable nut job. I have in my mind a picture from the old 1970s Bob Newhart show with his cadre of flakes, nuts, and weirdos. While these cariacatures of troubled folks were intended to bring laughter, they solidified, perhaps subconsciouly, my nascent views on definitions of crazy and the field of psychology.

Through the years, there were rumors that surfaced from time to time of people in my world that went through counseling. I don't remember now any of the details or the faces, but I distinctly remember the snickers and the whispers in clipped and hushed tones. Obviously this was news that was not meant to be broadcast or brought into the light. To my mind, this clearly implied that there was something not right about these people. They must have had some sort of defect. Something was wrong with them. I can even remember some long distant echos of gossip that I spread adding to their shame and the stigma associated with their plight.

If you quickly skim through the movie of my life for the past several decades, you will find some periods of joy and some of sadness, some periods of living and some of enduring, and some periods of reaching out and some of pulling back. However, if there were some running scale that measured the quality of my life or my own satisfaction with living, you would see that it gradually started to move to the negative side of the scale, slowly but incessantly. For a few seasons of my life I fell into such a deep depression that I was forced to turn to counseling to help me cope and figure things out. I was now part of the lunatic fringe.

(Part 1 of 2)