Medicinal Paranoia

Verdant Medicine, Dharug country

I’ve always had a healthy dose of paranoia – probably a latent genetic inheritance – and in my teens, the sleeping giant awoke with a roar at the realisation of society’s invasive attempts at spiritual colonisation. I actively resisted enslavement, using the wisdom of printed tomes and tools of the technological revolution to armour my mind. However I am still, to this day, overshadowed by a fear of Orwellian hells. And so, because I was already pre-disposed to paranoia from my larval years, I am still highly susceptible to conspiratorial hypotheses as an adult. Although I have stronger barriers today, this wound has never completely closed and transdermal reinfection is recurring; propaganda permeates even the toughest membranes.

Familial baggage has also been a blessed preservative in my case: the effects of transgenerational trauma ensure that I have never trusted the medical and welfare establishments to have my best interests at heart because historically, these institutions have rarely done the right thing by my kin. I have always refused to take the pills that various medical charlatans have ignorantly prescribed me to treat the symptoms of socio-spiritual diseases, because I’ve always intuited that these dubiously-tested psychotropic drugs are not the cure for what ails me. Besides, I have been self-medicating from an early age. Biochemically and entheogenically both – experimenting with substances, breath, endorphins, trance, creative pursuits – in various combinations, dosages and means of administration. I’m no physician but I know what medicine to use to heal myself. And I know that if I ingest their pharmaceutical toxins, I will become a dumbed-down, apathetic and unfeeling shell of myself. My fire will be extinguished.

I am suffiently paranoid to fear that their drugs would annihilate my curiosity, eradicate my creativity, eliminate my sex-drive, obliterate my passion and terminate my righteous rage. These things are good and necessary in a functioning person. Any paranoid, depressive, anxious or manic symptoms that surface show me that I am functioning well; these are healthy reactions to a sick culture. Only the living dead show no symptoms because they have no fire left. Without fire, we are easily controlled, herded and sacrificed. I will never be one of those. I will always burn for something, no matter how inconvenient it may be for society.

A few weeks ago, I awoke with a mild case of apocalyptic paranoia; disturbing dreams did stalk my sleep and their hangover carried over into my waking existence. Later on in the morning, a particular social networking site further fuelled the fire. Facebook: that intangible yet all-too-real noosphere that is the habitat of the voyeur and/or narcissist. It has truly opened up the ways in which we can understand each other. Before, we only had contact with certain facets of certain people’s faces. Now, we can gain an experiential understanding of more than we ‘should’; we gain knowledge of people by seeing the things they like and judging the content of their comments.

With Facebook*, I can step outside of myself and into the paradigms of other people; or rather, I can let other paradigms infuse my own. I’ve had to become selective with what gets on my feed – no more song casino poker quiz shit, no more rednecks, no more bimbos, no more ignorant nationalists, no more boring drivel. Instead, I let myself be affected by the stuff that really matters: astronomy, political critiques, heavy metal lore, plebian art, living geography, obscure Youtube film clips of the first wave of hardcore punk bands, backyard tattoos, psychedelic consciousness, Indigenous rights and cultural pride, Carl Sagan and other less important scientists, drug law reform, Earth-centred theologies and DIY lifestyle tips. I’m a discerning woman, so I sort through the chaff to find the seeds that will germinate in my subconscious and inspire my evolving and increasingly complex worldview. You can’t change the world, but you can change how the world appears; by choosing what is emphasised and what recedes you can thus manipulate how the world materialises.

For an empathic person like myself, I must be careful what I take in because I truly take things on, mind body and soul. I’m highly susceptible to other people’s altered states. I get free contact highs, I get sick with other people’s anxiety, and I am soothed in the presence of relaxed folk. Back when I had a television, I wasn’t able to watch the news without crying uncontrollably and I couldn’t even watch puppy dog ads without misting up. I’m not as tough as I would lead you to believe.

On this particular morning, I was inundated by unsubstantiated pseudo-evidence that a tidal wave was going to drown the city in which I reside. Intellectually, I knew it was bullshit, but I found myself enjoying the immediacy of the doomsday prophecies. I promptly threw the essentials in my car and drove two hours inland; not so much ‘just in case’, but more of ‘a need for verdant medicine’. And so, to the mountains! Apocalypse or no, I wanted to be myself again, and my paranoia was a timely reminder that I was long overdue.

On the first day I explored the mountains, stopping the internal chatter and being where I was instead of in the past or future, in books or theory, in social paradigms or spiritual crises. The air was so clean and cold and it was snowing. I sat underneath a sheer mossy cliff face and ate some fruit. Soon, a lyrebird came over near me and started foraging in the littoral rot, and in its wake three tiny sparrows scavenged around her abandoned sites. I began to remember that I am a part of the world, not apart from it – a forgetting that is unfortunately somewhat necessary to function in a zoo city life. More and more, I was listening, connecting and communing without the social mind.

On the second day, I walked over twenty kilometres through majestic rainforests and down steep cliffs and up mountains following the trails of pristine waterfalls. I got high off myself and had profound psychedelic experiences. I relied on my ears and turned my vision down, letting the sounds come to the fore, and all the subtleties revealed themselves to my ears when I relied on them more. I was hearing everything which was amazing because I’m ninety per cent deaf in one ear. I was hearing all the high and low, close and far sounds as though they were inside of me, not out there. I cried a few times with joy and I was dizzy with the greenness, high off the clean green air. Again, there was no distinction between ‘me’ and ‘the world’. I was not moving through the landscape; rather, we were one and moving together. My skin wasn’t a barrier anymore.

This walkabout reawakened my yearning to quit my lifestyle and live in the mountains where I experience the most natural acceptance. This was a legitimate experience of singularity and it was especially powerful in this place because it’s where some of my ancestors are from. The trees were singing a welcome home song to my DNA, and my DNA was singing a love song of belonging.

– Defender Of the Faith, 22.08.12

*Quit Facebook? Check. My reality is now my own.