If you haven't heard of the 27 Club, it's a large group of celebrities - mostly musicians - who passed away at the age of 27.
When I first learned about the 27 Club phenomenon, the thought that came to mind was, "Wow! I can't believe they made it that long!" I was 13 years old, and just beginning to understand that the growing burden of being trapped in my own mind could kill me. I guess it would be accurate to say that I was depressed, had social anxiety, anger issues and/or bipolar mood-regulation disorder tendencies, but it would also be accurate to say that I was undiagnosed, misunderstood, and forced to spend most of my energy conforming my behaviors to avoid bullying and other negative social interactions. The stress of constantly suppressing "weird" instinctual behaviors without accurately understanding their source put me in a loop of self-loathing. Why was everything I did wrong?
During my early teenage years the exhausting routine of keeping up normal appearances kept me tiptoeing the line of sanity, and sometimes I would fall off. Billions of thoughts screamed at me, my skin restricted me and I felt as if I should peel it all off and be done with it. Now I know these episodes were caused by combinations of overstimulation and deviation from my routines, but at the time they just were bad days. This is when I learned my first major coping mechanism, and it was a bad one. The conscious pain of self-harm gave me something to focus my brain on while the frenzy of other thoughts died down. I would scratch, bite, burn, or cut myself on an area of my body that no one else could see, and on more than one occasion, when self-harm didn't work and the screaming was loud as ever, it crossed my mind that I would have to kill myself to end it.
This feeling, that life is unbearably painful and there's no respite, is something you can't know unless you've experienced it. People who say that it's a weakness are people who simply haven't experienced the same type of unexplicable pain, and some of them could never experience it - even under the same exact conditions. This is because the differences in our brains causes differences in perceived emotions, and pain is one of the most evolutionarily important emotions. I am hypersensitive to "light-touch" like the feeling of clothing, tickling, and those spider-looking head massagers, but hyposensitive to acute pain like stabbing, cutting, and burning.
My life changed when I found Cannabis. I was able to self-regulate; I was able to start living. I will never forget what it felt like before I found my medicine.
Teenage-me never thought I would make it to the 27 Club, let alone surpass it. Hell, even early-20's me doubted it. And living your life with no prospective outlook leads to reckless and self-destructive behaviors. Three years ago on my 24th birthday I was in a crazy manic phase. I fell two stories from a tree and landed on my head onto the concrete of Commonwealth Ave. The doctors said I was a medical anomaly for only slightly damaging my neck and spine. That's when I decided to get serious about my condition. I sought out many different professional opinions, and finally found an amazing psychologist to work with. He helped me to realize that even if I don't think any diagnosis completely fits, it doesn't matter in the least, because I have my medicine.
All I can say is, I'm extremely thankful that this happened now. Sure, it doesn't fix or replace any of the dark shadows in my story, but it does put them into context. And the struggle of self-understanding is very, very difficult for high functioning atypical young adults. We spend our lives fixing and editing behaviors until we can't recognize our own wants and desires from the wants and desires others are placing upon us. We fit in enough to hide our true selves away from the world, making us feel all the more alone. Our ability to camouflage only makes society enforce stricter rules and expectations upon us. The 27 Club serves as a reminder that successful assimilation into the neurotypical population doesn't necessarily mean happiness. It stood out in my mind like a huge traffic sign that I was constantly getting closer to, but never thought I'd pass. And now that I'm past it, I'm proud. Because for some of us, it's a huge accomplishment just to make it to 27.