Mental illness is a lot like a game of pinball. People my age will probably know what I’m talking about because who can forget stuffing quarters into the latest pinball machine at your local arcade? How is it like mental illness?
1. You are in constant danger of TILTING the machine and losing your game – kinda like in life with a mental illness you are constantly in danger of being “unstable” and for some this can mean a loss of the game.
2. A pinball is like what a brain with mental illness thinks like – bouncing around frantically, bumping against things and making all sorts of noise …all while desperately trying to avoid the ball going past your flippers – kinda like when the thoughts intrude past your own “flippers” you have in your mind.
3. Sometimes, in pinball you get lucky and shoot the ball into a secret spot and score all kinds of points and the screen lights up and makes all kinds of noise – for me this is what being manic feels like! Like I’m on top of the world and I am kicking ass!
4. The game keeps score – just like someone with mental illness keeps a score of absolutely every bad thing that they ever had happen to them or that that they did themselves and uses this information to beat themselves up. Almost always trying to beat the “high score”.
So we are truly “pinball wizards”.