Mental Health: Nervous Breakdancing

Mental Health Week is upon us, and I figured that I should check in with everyone. In the years since I was first diagnosed with Manic Depression, back when it was still called Manic Depression, I have seen a general decrease in the stigma surrounding mental illness. At least, until the issue of gun control becomes involved, or the police decide that they just don’t feel like putting up with it that day. But at least it’s not something which must be swept under the rug, and hidden deep within the family histories. I’m cynical enough to think that maybe this drive toward understanding was not brought about by the goodness of mankind, but rather that pharmaceutical companies finally had a way to make a fortune off of those of us who had to battle the demons in our mind. And they couldn’t run all those massive ad campaigns if depression was something that nobody could talk about. And now I’ve got a bitter taste in my mouth, forced to admit to myself that maybe The Free Market might have been good for something. Well, I suppose that even evil can wind up doing some measure of good from time to time, if only by sheer accident.

I’ve never gotten a chance to meet my dad, and it looks like I probably never will. I’ve had to piece together the family history of mental illness from anecdotes from people who knew that side of my family, and the reaction from my father when I tried to contact him. My father’s brother, who lives and teaches in Japan, comes back to Idaho every year to check up on his brother and take care of other family things. He was the one who found and read my letter, and got in touch with me. He told me that my father was wrapped up in depression, and suffering from a heart condition. And damn it, if my dad didn’t see that letter exactly as I would have seen it. He kept off to the side, terrified to open it, and then indignant when it was read to him. He blames my mother for a comment she made in passing, and it would take a paternity test, which I would have to pay for, to convince him that I am his son. Part of me wants to just do it, so that I can throw the results in his face, and sit down and talk to him. That’s the part of me that needs to know absolutely everything so that I can try to prepare for when my son displays the signs of what I’m beginning to believe is direct line heredity of mental instability.

My son, the Minkey. The school believes that he’s got ADHD, and so does his doctor. Well, his last doctor did, his current doctor isn’t entirely convinced. The type of pills he takes have also had the same effect on me when I… sampled them a couple of decades ago, and I do not suffer from ADHD. Maybe I’m just looking for something that isn’t there; I wouldn’t put it past me. But from the stories which I’ve been told, both of my father as an adult, and myself at my son’s age, it seems that it will only be a matter of time before my son will face the same challenges which I was forced to face. The only advantage which my son possesses is that his father has been through it all before. I wish I thought that it would matter, though. I’ve never really found a good answer to the melancholia. But at least I will be able to know what’s going on with him, and I can try to help him cope in a less self-destructive manner than I chose for myself. Maybe that will help him feel slightly less alone. That is, if I make it long enough.

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for me. It’s hard to tell what’s a product of the swirling ups and downs, and what’s a normal reaction to the situation that I’m in. All I know for sure, is that I don’t know what to do. No one is calling back about the résumés I’ve left. I’ve been questioning my choice to jump back into writing, foregoing a steady paycheck (or any paycheck). But then I look at what I’ve managed to accomplish, and I know that I made the right decision. I’ve written more over the past five months than at any other point during the past twenty-eight years. I’m better than I ever was, though after rewriting Terracrats, I’m not sure how impressive that statement might be. Last night, when I couldn’t get to sleep, I finally figured out how to structure the novel which I’ve been working out inside my head for the past couple of years. But it’s all come too late. I’ve run out of time, and I don’t know what to do.

Normally, when backed into this type of corner, my instinct is to curl into a little ball and try to build up the courage to finally end it all. I’ll be honest with all of you: Last night, after I’d had my revelation about the book, and then realized that I’d figured it out too late, I locked myself in my bathroom, and… considered certain things. I don’t know what it was that stopped me. I don’t know what’s keeping me from sinking into the soothing madness of a nervous breakdown. I’d like to think that I’ve discovered some secret source of strength within myself, but I think it’s just that I’m a coward. I’m afraid to leave the things I feel I need to do undone. I don’t want all of this to have been for nothing. I just don’t know if I’ve still got the strength to see things through until the very end. What’s worse is when I open up to Flor, trying to find some comfort in her love for me, and she tells me that I cannot go because of David, Cream Soda, and the granddaughter who’ll be born any day now. As she hurls those words against me, I feel the weight of all those years upon me, and I feel that I cannot stand it anymore.

Why do they need me? Why did I give into the loneliness, and drag someone down with me? Why did I bring a life into this world who will most likely face the same things to which I still have never found an answer? What gives me the right to make them suffer with me? Why even bother dragging everything out like this? I’m nervous breakdancing all around inside my head, and I’m trying to find my equilibrium. I know that if I can just stick it out a little longer, that everything will soon seem better. I know that all of this is only in my head. Also, why does it feel like August?

Thanks for bearing with me.

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