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I am the Revisionist

I am the Revisionist
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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

 

“Cans in the pants! Cans in the pants!”

I can still hear all my friends chanting now, back in Binghamton, New York. Shoving can after can of empty or almost empty beer cans down my pants until my pants were soaked in a manic frenzy. Just later, to have my so-called friend urinate all over me while

I lay on the ground crying:

“I just want to be somebody!” 

Unfortunately, I cannot go back and change the events that unfolded in Binghamton University. Those events happened. The trauma is genuine, but so is the healing at stake in the revisionist’s eyes and hands. I remember those voices calling upon me to ‘make my big finish.’ Barreling my way past the ER technicians, where all my long-lost friends would be waiting for me and were cheering me on to the very end. This ending, or moment in my journey, is much different than I first anticipated when I left for college, but just as meaningful and hopeful for the future.

 

I am a different person today. I am the ‘Revisionist’.

 

“Who am I? My present self, who I once was, and my future self has been a journey marked with fear, etched with courage, and driven by strength. All of these selves are rooted in a mental health disorder. Yet, I, Max Guttman, prosumer, am still hopeful for the future.

 

I hope my life experience will take the course and duration of a very long and happy lifespan. This is the very crux of our health as living beings. Our threshold to be content, comfortable, and find satisfying meaning with what we have become and who we are as people. There is a better measure of our happiness than how we feel about ourselves and how we see and understand ourselves through our relationships with our peers, friends, and family.

Too many of us get caught up in the endpoints. What I mean is that the extremes of this spectrum, the exterior self, and the deepest interior, are spaces in which no person can exist for too long without feeling unbalanced. If not unbalanced, then definitely distorted in perception, and certainly caught up in the limits and frontier of what is truly important.

 

I mean to say that no person can function or exist peacefully for too long if they exist at odds with themselves. There is no question that anyone caught up in such an extreme or bipolar emotional state can persist without becoming agitated or persistently delusional for too long.

 

Some of us focus more on our exterior presentation. Still, all of us are experiencing life in the manner in which we choose.

 

There is no right or wrong in how we live our lives regarding how we see ourselves. Our perception is our own. We own it, and we have to live with it. But for how long can we persist when we are unhappy with what is happening in our lives?

 

This is why and when mania, grandeur, or anything so immensely, disproportionate can become toxic to the body. Obsession and anything so incredibly new and different can trigger our psychosis and delusions when we live at the very limits of our inner and exterior self. Without cause or warning, when we shift our persona with such rapid and unplanned gait, immense speed, and will to live beyond our limits, something is bound to go awry. Whether it be our outward behaviors, articulations, demeanor, or emotional regulation. Something will fail us during such a radical shift in our understanding of who we are at any given moment in time and space.

 

Many of us prosumers wonder about where and when this moment of misery and sickness exists. Where is our mental breaking point? How much can we handle before totally collapsing? All of this depends on how healthy we are before we push ourselves to such radical extremes or succumb to new active symptoms without warning. This is why we always need to make ourselves to be our best selves at all times. Only when we live out our lives at our healthiest peaks will there be enough space from wellness to freefall to the lowest low before our lives become too unsafe to keep going forward.

 

My personal evolution as a consumer of mental health services and a clinician is not a gift bestowed by good fortune, nor is it coincidental. Instead, this journey is a privilege. Growing beyond my present self has happened through self-determination and the want for personal change. So why do some of us stay the same? And why do others choose to transform themselves? I would hazard to say the difference between these two is not a question of the can but the presence of our capacity to capture the greater need to grow. The company of this upward mobility, the seeds of transformation and change, only sprout when we see past our so-called impasse.

 

Seemingly insurmountable impasses, however temporary, or “holding patterns” will only plague our souls if we let them. We consumers must demand from our inner selves to move forward and beyond our current status. We, consumers, will only then achieve what it is we set out to accomplish.

 

There really is no wrong or good self. We need, desire, and think will ultimately be the righteous direction we choose, which maps out and projects the pathway to our next great transformation in life.

 

I choose to live a life of happiness. Goodwill, and my new positive nature, is my choice and mine alone. My capacity to know what I need to exist without illness is bound up in my own understanding of my own humanity. The next successes I hope to find during the next significant life phases continue to hinge on my persistence, determination, and will to move beyond any immediate perception.

 

Instead, I will continue to understand the needs of the moment are just that. The constraints of today are terminal and have an endpoint. My tomorrow and drive to persist further exist in the eyes of the willing. These gates are the very frontier of being in the more fantastic realm of all things capable of transformation and requiring further revision.

 

J. Peters

J. Peters

Max Guttman '08, MSW '12, is the owner of Recovery Now, a private mental health practice. Through his work as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, therapist and disability rights advocate, Max fights for those without a voice in various New York City care systems. He received a 2020 Bearcats of the Last Decade 10 Under 10 award from the Binghamton University Alumni Association. Guttman treats clients with anxiety and depression, but specializes in issues related to psychosis or schizoaffective spectrum disorders. He frequently writes on his lived experiences with schizophrenia. "I knew my illness was so complex that I’d need a professional understanding of its treatment to gain any real momentum in recovery," Guttman says. "After undergraduate school and the onset of my illness, I evaluated different graduate programs that could serve as a career and mechanism to guide and direct my self-care. After experiencing the helping hand of my social worker and therapist right after my 'break,' I chose social work education because of its robust skill set and foundation of knowledge I needed to heal and help others." "In a world of increasing tragedy, we should help people learn from our lived experiences. My experience brings humility, authenticity and candidness to my practice. People genuinely appreciate candidness when it comes to their health and recovery. Humility provides space for mistakes and appraisal of progress. I thank my lived experience for contributing to a more egalitarian therapeutic experience for my clients."
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