It’s Hard to Accept Insignificance

by Joseph Merlin Bowers

Most people wonder how someone can believe he is Jesus. After all at any given moment thousands of people believe they are Jesus. At most, one of them is right. It’s far more likely that none of them are. How can anyone really think that he is the one who is? Absurd!

When I believed I was Jesus I was suffering from the psychotic symptoms of a serious brain disease. I tend to believe that the serious mental illnesses that cause psychosis are mostly physical, but I think there is some psychology behind Messiah Complexes. It’s all wrapped up in our fear of our own mortality and our desire to be important and significant.

My most prevalent and consistent diseased symptom was always delusional thinking. I believed at various times that I was God, Jesus, King Solomon, Thomas Jefferson, James Bond, Clint Eastwood, Bob Dylan and others. They were all people I particularly admired for some reason and they were all well known, highly regarded by most, important and significant. Depending on circumstances, I believed I currently was whoever or had been whoever in a previous life and had been reborn to this world.

My own brain was telling me this. It was also making up fascinating stories of past lives or events from my past as James Bond, for instance. My brain had me convinced that I was remembering these events. They were not a product of my imagination but of my memory. I was always here to do something extraordinary of great importance. If I could just read the signs telling me where to go and what to do.

These stories were so fascinating, exciting and intoxicating to my ego that I would get lost in my fantasy world. The stories would came faster and faster. They would get more and more intricate and extraordinary. Every event in my life was quickly distorted to conform with my fantasies, It would become impossible to sleep or tear myself away and focus on homework, job tasks, relationships or anything but my fantasy world.

My landings were sometimes soft but usually very hard.

Sometimes an episode would just gradually taper off and I would slowly return to the real world. Sometimes a climatic event would occur and I would think the crisis over, start sleeping again and return to normal. Often the climax was me doing something that got me in trouble.

In the sixties as a minor I wound up in a state mental hospital. As an adult I got arrested. I spent one night in jail. In the morning I was taken before a judge who convinced me to sign myself into the mental  hospital.

In 1979-80 I got arrested and spent about a month mostly in the Pima County jail in Tucson. During this episode I spent a few days in a psyche ward in a hospital. Most of the time I was in jail.

In 1986 believing myself this magnification amalgamation of biblical, mythical and original figures, I somehow had enough awareness to know that I was in no shape to execute my job duties or be an adequate husband or father to my children. I signed myself into a psychiatric ward.

In these instances I got treatment and returned to reality.

Concluding every psychotic episode of my life came a mildly climatic moment where I had to define myself. I had to take the massive step of accepting the reality that I am not God, Jesus, Jefferson or any exalted, monumentally important figure. I am just plain, simple totally regular Joe Bowers from small town Roscoe, New York.

You can’t do this when you’re psychotic. When you’ve just recovered from psychosis it’s very, very hard, Under any circumstances it’s hard to accept that one is unimportant and insignificant. More so when yesterday you just knew you were someone of cosmic importance.

I remember these moments and how I felt clearly today though its been decades since the last one. The feelings are hard to describe, but I’ll try.

There is a deep and long sigh. It’s a sigh of loss and resignation but also a sigh of relief, While your ego is taking a massive hit, there is a tremendous release of responsibility. You’re no longer of cosmic importance. Whatever you do is of little consequence to the universe as a whole. You can screw up big time and life will go on for most pretty much as if you had never been, Your life going forward will not be nearly as exciting and fascinating as it has been the last many months, but it will be far more relaxed and stress free. Things will be going much more slowly.

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