Today I visited a friend of mine who had recently suffered a mental breakdown – or a psychotic attack, as some called it – and was therefore hospitalized in one of the places dedicated to such illnesses.
I've known this person for several years now, and despite thinking myself prepared for the experience, I was quite shocked to see him at that place, to see what has become of him. The mental department hall looked exactly like what you see in films such as Cukoo's Nest, and my friend, to my shock, was part of it. It was very clear that he was sedated in some way – he was slow, unfocused, and… I can only describe it as "somewhat childish", but it's only a shadow of what it was. It was a slight lack of something, and maybe a slight addition of something else. But despite the slightness, one could see very well that, at least for the time being, the person that I knew is gone. The one in front of me seemed to be only a shadow.
And this isn't the saddest thing, for this shadow was quite aware of this.
And saddest of all – he tried to hide it. To pretend that he's the original.
Until today, I'd consider the two sentences above to be a nice, if somewhat overused, idea taken from the genre of science fiction. But this is for real, and this friend of mine isn't the worse possible case. He is, I believe, going to be released in several weeks, or maybe months, and continue his life, maybe with pills to take, maybe without. But people spend lifetimes like this, being shadows.
Pardon the melodrama. It was a rather difficult experience. I'll go eat something, which will probably make me again my jolly lovable self.