A Battle Rages Inside Me

"What a terrible thing to have lost one's mind. Or not to have a mind
at all. How true that is." - Dan Quayle speaking to the United Negro College Fund

"A mind is a terrible thing." - Omnipotent Poobah, shouting to no one in particular

I've spent considerable time thinking about the connections between my mind and body. I do this because my mind and body share only a passing acquaintance. They loathe each other and often refuse to cooperate, even on the tiniest things.

I'm mystified how minds sometimes drive us into illogical and incongruent acts. For example, a soldier's mind blots out the quite logical fear of being blown up and sends its owner to face the guns and save a buddy pinned down just out of reach. His mind tolerates extreme discomfort and pain to save that person, treating his body as a mere passenger along for the ride. Sometimes it ends in a heroic feat that brings both saved and savior back to safety. But, it might just as easily transform savior into victim, resulting in two deaths where only one might have otherwise occurred.

Minds clearly don't always make the best judgments and the truth is, sometimes we'll never know.

On a personal level, our minds can willfully damage our own bodies. We smoke when we know it causes cancer. We drink despite knowing our livers will fail. Obviously, we don't do these stupid things because we're ignorant of the risks. We do them because our minds take an inexplicable walk on the wild side toward an act of incredible stupidity - an act that your mind comprehends is lunacy even as it does it.

My mind battles itself constantly. As a depressive, one part fights a steel-cage death match with the other - all the while knowing the battle is self-destructive and stupid. On good days, one side gains a temporary upper hand. On bad days, the evil side advances. I take medications to level the playing field, but the battle always rages on - like trench warfare between two obstinate armies flailing away at each other through the muck and blood - having completely forgotten why they joined the battle in the first place.

Although my mind vs. mind battles are awful enough, it's the mind vs. body battles that causes the most damage.

I've had a heart bypass and suffer from diabetes. I go to the doctor regularly and we earnestly discuss losing weight, testing blood, and getting exercise. I have an intimate, and quite scary knowledge of how my body ravages itself unless I do these things.

Yet, I don't do them.

I don't do them despite knowing the grave consequences. I don't do them, even knowing I will eventually die from the damage and cheat my family and me of a long and happy life together. I don't do them in the face of overwhelming physical proof that I'm not doing them. I don't do them despite expensive therapy that focuses on understanding why I don't do them and explores rational methods to help bludgeon my mind into cooperation.

My mind is as petulant as a small child and as abstruse as any decision to stay the course.

Those with even a modicum of willpower can see and understand these irrational acts in a personal way. Each of us has battled something - smoking, drinking, addiction. We see parallels in our own lives and offer more support and good advice than anyone could reasonably ask. However, that knowledge and support means little when your mind willfully chooses to ignore it and remains adamant about any sort of control on its actions.

When exercise time rolls around, I usually choose to sit it out. I blog or watch television, while fully understanding the disease is slowly killing me as I do. Each time I eat a snack I don't crave - and that won't satiate me - a small part of me gets eaten away too. Despite the feel of gnawing teeth on my body, I go ahead and eat it anyway. My psyche bears the scars of a lifetime of such snacks and they make me feel ashamed and weak, like a teenage girl who cuts herself in secret.

But the truly remarkable thing about my mind is that - despite it's cavalier attitude toward my body - the good side keeps rising from the trench and charging against the evil side. The psychic battle rages, but the good side never completely gives up. It tries - in it's battered and weakened condition - to overcome the evil thing that also wars against my body.

There's only a fragile line of demarcation between the combatants and the stakes for my body are high. I'm trying to work out a peace treaty between the warring factions of my mind just as I've tried for a lifetime.

Still, no peace is at hand.

But, I don't give up. I continue to earnestly negotiate for a peace, a cease fire, anything that would allow me to save myself.

And that, is the most mystifying thing about my mind of all.

The Poobah is a featured contributor at Bring It On!

And, sometimes dispenses wisdom at Less People Less Idiots

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Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Sunday, December 10, 2006

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