Mental illness is no mere fad, fashion, or lifestyle – it is a way of being. Each particular form of mental illness carries with it a vernacular, a unique configuration of specific attributes reflecting the experiential texture of that milieu. Specific mental illnesses have a diverse palette of associations including sights, smells, sounds, tastes, colors, and even musical forms.
Many of the most popular mental illnesses even have their own favorite day. For example, in the expansive realm of compulsive overeaters there is no day to match Thanksgiving, which, all protestations notwithstanding, is a virtual love song to gluttony. Gamblers, by contrast, live for the arrival of Super Bowl Sunday when even the most risk averse and timid in our midst throw caution to the wind and bet cash money on the outcome of an event they cannot control and barely understand.
Alcoholics, a notoriously hard to please group, are known to celebrate pedestrian events which go unnoticed by the rest of us, indeed, for them all of human existence is either worth celebrating with a drink, or worth fleeing by means of a drink. Even within this context New Year’s Eve occupies a very special place for them. Stripped of all religious consequence, New Year’s Eve offers no distraction from the business at hand, that is, two-fisted tippling resulting in a scorched synapse policy rendering participants tight as boiled owls, speaking with lords, and ultimately calling for Ralph.