Stupid genius

Low latent inhibition ( LLI) and highly sensitivity personality. Dear readers, I present to you these two bad boys that have me wired in a wholly different way than most. My nervous system is extra sensitive thus amplifies all sensory things; sound, touch ( pain), light, taste. Not only that, but the standard filter that the mind has in place to ferret out the countless information it takes in to only attend to those of interest or novelty -my mind is rebellious in that it takes in more data than it should. Let me demonstrate with an example:

When people see a wall clock, they usually do so fleetingly, only taking in any outstanding data that they haven’t seen before. This mechanism prevents sensory overload that would otherwise  have crippling effects on the mind in its’ efforts to both deal with all the excess data and make sense of it. Yours truly however does the opposite. I see the clock but I also see the part it is made of, its’ shape, colour, the hands. I wonder who made it and where. In short, I try to pry its’ entire history out of a glance.

This might sound cool and like a superpower. But it’s not. It’s as much of a liability as it is a strength. You have to brace yourself and your mind so that you do not crumble under the pressure. In fact, research shows that only a higher I.Q. can derive benefits from LLI in terms of creativity and awareness, because it can bridle the constant stream of data, whereas someone with a lower I.Q. and LLI would present with some type of autism. The line between genius and madness is very, very thin and you have to somehow zero in on that thin line despite all the distraction.

One running  theme in my life has been intelligence.  Since my quiet demeanour didn’t give away any clues but a penchant for all things books, I was dealt with the ‘genius’ card, which I have never been the rightful owner of. So, people projected the image of genius they see in media ; a super nerd who you better suck up  to around exam times, almost like a savant. What people were seeing and consequently became infatuated with was only the side-effect of an overactive imagination at best. What lay under the periodical bursts of correct answers and college – level essays was something very dark that went on to engulf my life. When I did go down in flames, people were perplexed. They thought my ‘genius’ should have stalled this; but what they missed is that my ‘genius’ ( their words, not mine) was the whole cause of my breakdown.

While the perks of a fast mind seems alluring to outsiders, what lies on the other side is something only I bear the brunt of. There are only two settings; ‘ continue’ and ‘die’. At times when I want to catch my breath or rest from the sheer workload – my mind doesn’t take orders from me – or pleas for that matter. The data keeps streaming in, the theories to be scrutinized keep piling up and that’s when I lose my footing and get lost in it all. Darkness sets in and it can get potentially fatal from there. Severe depression and suicidal thoughts. My mind is bent to kick me out at that point and all the reasons not to is locked away somewhere I can’t reach. I’m blank, I’m tired, I’m in pain- at that point you don’t think objectively. Or subjectively. Or at all, for that matter. Suicide is like a knee jerk reaction at that moment. But at the 11th hour, it all comes back to me. The answers that bail me out.

As a child, I asked and explored to my heart’s content, and turned down playing kurragömma with the kids to stay indoors without thinking twice about it. Life had no limits or rules. As a teen however, the world around me started to shift and it wasn’t in my favour. I started to realize the stark contrast between my person and what a 14 year old girl was supposed to be like. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was supposed to be, but I was pretty sure that being book smart and curious didn’t get you popular. I embarked on a mission to pigeon-hole myself into the standards set by media and glossy magazines. I tried, I swear I tried so hard. But so did my mind- it fought being silenced and refused to ignore my hypocritical identity crisis. A war ensued between society and my mind, and I stood in the middle of cross-fires. I was being pelted with devastating cognitive dissonance arsenal and I didn’t know who the enemy was – the two factions firing at me, or myself? I spiralled down a very, very dark void that I somehow found a way out of.

I was made to feel useless because I couldn’t swim like a fish, when in fact I had wings to fly. I berated myself for always looking to the sky with a near irresistible urge to just take off, and I would have to continuously remind myself to focus on the water. The water in front of me, the gushing river…But all I could see was the sky reflected in the water, as if it was talking to me. I tried to clip my wings; perhaps that would cure me of this strange ailment.

I don’t know what I wanted to arrive at with this post but then again, maybe my mind is once again shaking off the reins and is beckoning me to soar up to an unknown destination. Either that, or the 33 hours I’ve been awake is beckoning me to sleep.