Tue. Sep 22nd, 2020
“I must pass through the concept of Play traversed in Structure, Sign, and Play as a mechanism to supplement the finitude of language. I will gesture to the notes in Derrida’s margins re-working the content of Levi-Strauss. The point being that this word, both in English and French, means ‘to supply a deficiency,’ on the one hand, and ‘to supply something additional,’ on the other (e.g., Derrida 1950). Beyond the definition of Play, Derrida provides the moment in which this slippage in language becomes a danger to society.”
“Contesting Admission.” (J Peters, 2008
Searching for answers and becoming increasingly agitated on an everyday basis, I would drive to self-soothe and unwind after spending fifteen-hour days on campus working on my manuscript, “Contesting Admission.” During that time, I spent most of my days in the library in between classes, doing research for my paper, and being overloaded with too many courses. Knowing that my friends were no longer available to whisk me away to Atlantic City for a weekend, I was forced to scale back on my recreation time or, at least, how I went about distancing myself from all of the madness on campus.

I still very much needed to escape and preserve what was left of my own serenity. I had the momentum I needed to maintain to keep up with my courses, my evolving paper, my research, and my new life as a non-matriculated graduate student. So I drove, sometimes thinking of it as patrolling. I really got to know the outlying community. I figured back then that because I would be completing a Ph.D. program in the southern tier, it was time to get to know the community.

One such voyage was a trip to Manifest Lane Park that I will never forget. I had just completed six hours of road time, driving deep into Pennsylvania. I was driving aimlessly but generally following a blue route. In case you aren’t familiar with the PA department of transportation, depending on your direction and heading, there are designated blue routes and red routes along certain interstates.

At that time, I was caught up in sending out status messages. Facebook was becoming very popular, and the rise of the “status,” along with my obsession with my student status, coincided and intensified my growing delusional system of how I could signal my general state and condition to my peers. I was also hyper-sexual then, so I chose exit 69 to get off the highway and find shelter. Exit 69 was also “The Colonies,” which meshed well with my other obsession: King George III.

After getting off the highway, I drove around the surrounding community and found a small park: Locust Lane. Pulling up to it, I realized this was the perfect place to rest, take pictures, and figure out a plan. I got out of the car and began arranging signs in my car. These weren’t signs or signals that made sense or would gain the attention needed to really help my situation. Instead, I placed coins, papers, and other office supplies in different positions to signal to the world that I was here, ready to interact, watch, and observe, and was fully aware of the world around me. The truth was that I was so confused, disconnected, and out of it, so much so that I was walking around a closed park that was hundreds of miles away from safety and all without a plausible explanation. I walked around the park for a while, eventually realizing I needed to rest. Then, I drove to a nearby hotel.

I pulled up to a giant sign that read, “REGISTRATION,” and I thought something seemed right about staying at this hotel. My ideas of references and circumstantial thinking were so intense that almost everything seemed like it had hidden meaning. Checking in, I heard a noise from a balcony in the lobby. I thought it was the FBI or government following my travels and conducting their investigation on my loitering charge and abuse from the English department. That was when icons, religion, and history all collided.

I began to hear, think about, and approach the world based on these new and emerging delusions—they pulled me into a distorted reality. So to cope with the added thoughts and my even louder mind, I used the bathtub to cool down my body and slow down my thoughts. That was the last time I took any medication. All I had left was random pills, and they were all strewn about my bag and the car’s floor. As soon as the voices softened, I slept, waking up to a new world—one for my eyes only, for this living nightmare was only beginning to fully form.

In the morning, feeling generally rested, I drove back to New London. I had taken what was left of my medication and felt a little better. Well, enough to drive at least, and that is exactly what I did by heading back to Liberty along a blue route, signaling my safety and a successful trip.

 

 

By J. Peters

J. Peters writes on his lived experience, and also brings his story into the work. Mr. Peters blogs daily on his site mentalhealthaffairs.blog and for other sites around the United States and Europe, bringing his passion for mental health to people everywhere.

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