Category Archives: Mental Illness

On Anxiety and Depression

So, I’ve managed, once again, to completely ruin the holidays for my wife. Why this would come as a surprise to either of us is anyone’s guess, but it still stings that I couldn’t help but do it.

Christmas was pretty much a fiasco, but I kind of knew it would be, as I was unexpectedly devastated by a fierce attack of bittersweet sentiment of grief, and the fact that, from a personally selfish point of view, Christmas has been, for the past decade and a half, generally disappointing.

But I’d really been hoping that I could get it together yesterday for my wife’s birthday. I’d spoken with my psychiatrist, and stocked up on my anxiety meds with the expectation that I could deaden the nonsense inside of my brain long enough to appear to be a functional human being, of whom my wife was not ashamed, and for whose absence she would have to make no apologies.

To be fair, I was running off of very little sleep, and despite the fact that I got home several hours earlier than my normal workday allows, I was completely wiped. She insisted that I try to rest, but I was afraid that if I let my body dictate my affairs, I would sleep through the changing of the year. Would that that had been the case.

I went to the store to grab a couple of highly caffeinated beverages (which I didn’t consume until much later), and a couple of canned cocktails which I felt that she might enjoy, and then took her advice to lay down for awhile to try to rest.

Hours later, I was still dicking around on my phone, and trying to squeeze in some last-minute reading to pad out my 2018 reading list. Basically doing anything to avoid doing anything positive to mend my mental state and growing unease at the notion of being surrounded by entirely too many people (which is apparently any number over 3 or 4). I dutifully took my medication and waited for the numbing to begin.

As the sun sank beneath the horizon and the shadows of dusk became evening’s darkness, I could hear people beginning to arrive outside my bedroom door. I decided to wait awhile for the meds to kick in, but the longer I waited, the harder it became to engage some form of social inertia required to launch myself into the orbit of these people (with most of whom I had no real connection, or even previous knowledge). I could hear the conversations and laughter beyond the door, and felt that it would be unfair for me to make an appearance just to bring them down,

Eventually, I did manage to abandon my seclusion for a bit to hide out in the kitchen, where I was asked for my expertise about the cooking ham. A few test chunks later, I proclaimed it ready and delicious, only to finally truly notice all of the additional people in my apartment.

I’d told Wildflower that she should have the people over that she wanted, as it was her birthday, and that I would try to cope with it as best I could. My best, apparently, was to quickly exit stage right and briskly make my way back into the safety and solitude of my bedroom.

At some point (though where on the evening’s chronology it fell, I cannot for certain say), Wildflower did come in and ask for help removing a table which we’d been storing there (presumably for occasions like last night). I should have been more conscious of my reactions: irritability, inability to work out simple geometry, and entirely misplaced anger, but I couldn’t. Apparently it takes the next day’s anguish and depression at having failed so completely at such a simple task (and by this, I am not only referring to the passage of the table, but at my inability to be an actual fucking human being for any length of time) to realize that there was no way that I could have been of any use in that moment.

The longer I remained secluded, the more the shame and terror built. In between the bursts of laughter and merriment, I could plainly hear the silent recriminations of my absence, and the shame my wife most assuredly was feeling as her useless husband hid away like some sort of antisocial personification of rudeness.

I watched the clock inch closer to midnight, just praying for the year to finally be done with; hoping that, somehow, at the year’s end, I would be washed clean of everything, and that I could join them in their celebrations as if nothing had ever happened (though, I suppose, that should read as if something had actually happened). Alas, it was not to be.

Toasts and cheers were made, and I turned off the light and wept myself to sleep, for I had missed my opportunity to spend yet another special moment with my wife.

When I woke, sometime in the early morning, she was snuggled up beside me.

When I woke again, she was gone.

As the daylight grew, I could hear the voices again, the noises of a household already waking up. By the time my nicotine addiction had given me the courage to try to make it out the front door of my apartment, I still found that I could not bear to face the people I’d managed to let down. So I left my phone to charge, that no one could reach me on the chance that I allowed my melancholia to win, plugged my headphones into one of my old and dead phones (with which I can never seem to find the courage to part ways), and pretended to have a conversation with someone while walking through the living room, past all of those judgmental eyes (author’s note: I’m pretty sure the intent which I’ve ascribed was entirely in my head), and out the door, waving meekly at those with whom I’d failed to completely avoid eye contact.

At that point, my intention was to rid myself of the burden of myself which I have, for a dozen years, inflicted on my wife. But, as I wandered in the outside world, free of the physical and social claustrophobia I’d been enduring for so many hours, I felt that, perhaps, it wouldn’t be fair to my wife for me to end my failure to her with an even larger one.

I bought a beverage for myself, and a pack of snack cakes for her, and came back to the apartment.

I wish that I could say that I managed to be sociable, or that she wasn’t deeply hurt by all I’d failed to do the night before, but I think we all know how these type of stories wind up ending.

And so I sit here in my bedroom, typing up my failures, and generally avoiding the family to which I pledged myself when I married Wildflower.

‘I wish that I could be someone who deserved her. I wish that I could be someone whom she deserved. But I remain myself, and seem destined to ruin everything between us until the day she meets someone who makes her happy (without a preponderance of tears), and decides to leave me.

Believe me when I say that this is not my ideal outcome, in terms of positive life choices, but I am honest enough with myself to recognize that she deserves some modicum of happiness (especially having had to endure over a decade of Tex Batmart), and this velvet voice inside my brain (the one I know to be a master misinterpreter of truths) assures me that I will never be the one to give that to her, nor, for that matter, am I even capable of providing her with that.

tl;dr- I suck as a human being, and especially as a husband.

Quod est dicere cum gravibus corde suo qui non est paternitas (and other poor translations)

We’re going to concede that this sweeping melancholia may, in fact, be a reaction to the increase in my medication, as well as the time of year. Despite the fact that this is the first year in a while in which I’ve not lost someone to the icy hands of death, I seem overwhelmed by a sense of grief. Nothing is going quite as I had hoped, and with every passing day, it seems that I can no longer recognize my victories, however insignificant.

Perhaps it’s that the house in which I spent the majority of formative years is passing into the hands of someone (as yet to be determined) else. Perhaps it’s that my expectations of my personal life are unrealistic, and that my dreams are simply too lofty for my ability to achieve them. Or perhaps it is the knowledge that I have failed my son in ways which I have not yet begun to comprehend. Regardless, it all seems to boil down to a single common denominator: the man who abdicated his role as my father.

Somehow, no matter how hard I try to convince myself, it seems that I cannot get over his absence, and what it meant for me. Was it my mother he was escaping, or was it myself? Had he remained, would I have grown up in toxic home, somewhere in Boise, Idaho, or would fatherhood have helped him to discover something within himself that would have transformed his pain to joy? Then again, have I?

How can I be an effective father, or for that matter, husband, if I still have yet to have made peace with myself? I must have written this dozens of times, but what if I’m not cut out for this? If I cannot figure out how to live with myself, how can I expect others to live with me? If I cannot figure out how to help myself get past the pains of adolescence, how can I hope to help David survive his own?

I have been in stasis since the onset of my disease, and, despite the strides I’ve made toward understanding the secrets of reality, that’s been merely and intellectual exercise. I’ve stagnated emotionally, and face the world, and all it holds, not with wisdom, but with the terror only a child can muster. And now I must square the circle, and reconcile these disparate parts within myself to become greater than the sum of my parts. 

***********

My psychiatrist is worried that I’ll do something stupid, as I have made the mistake of being candid with her, but if I am to find a medication which works, I feel that honesty is probably best. But as much as she is concerned about the risk of self-harm, I cannot seem to get through to her that I have dreamed of little else but the cessation of existence for as long as I can recall.  For some reason, this answer doesn’t seem to satisfy her, no matter how many times I try to tell her that my desire for the end is not an active one, which I am seeking out, but rather a passive hope that one day I will permanently fail to wake. Perhaps the distinction is too subtle for her to have noticed, not that that should surprise me.

***********

I have built up a coping mechanism over the years, though I wouldn’t say it’s healthy. I have found that humour, especially that involving wordplay, is am extremely effective balm for those around me. I slip silently into the mask of a clown, disarming the worry of those around me, and allowing them to believe that I’m okay. For me, however, it’s not as simple as screaming Dad Jokes into the Void. I mean it is that simple, but it’s not terribly effective at relieving the existential pain.

I suppose I should find it amusing that I am using Dad Jokes to combat the ache inside me where the love of a father should have been, but it only compounds the misery, and lets loose a sigh from betwixt my lips.

The only thing my father ever gave me was an inheritance of mental illness, which he, in turn, had been gifted by his father. And it looks as though I’ve regifted it once more to my own son. They say it’s better to give than to receive, but having lived these nearly three decades with Bi-Polar Disorder (Type 2- Neurochemical Bugaloo), I wish that I’d been able to hold on to it a while longer, instead of lavishing it upon my son.

So instead of facing this head-on, I merely cry at any presentation of interactions between fathers and sons, be they cinematic or literary, and seek out catharsis by proxy in the words and images of others. I would ask why there seems to be such a prevalence of estrangement, but I think I know the answer. Either that, or I am like a salmon, returning home to hurt, and allowing it to spawn. 

I cannot help but wonder how things might have been, had they been different from the start. Would I have loved my grandparents as much as I did? Would I have even known them? Would I have survived my adolescence? 

I am, at best, an ineffective husband, and a distant father. It’s easier for me to throw myself into work, than face having so fundamentally disappointed those who love me. 

***********

I was hoping that by the time I’d reached this point, I would have come to one, or at the very least, managed to maintain on topic, but alas, it seems that my depression has held the reins all along, weaving me erratically between self-recriminations as I’ve tried to make my point. 

Depression lies, but it’s not really that.

Depression wouldn’t be deceptive if it could get caught in its own lies, for it is a master of half-truths, brutal and incapable of giving quarter. It reminds me of all of my failures, which I know are not untruths, but it also fails to allow me to acknowledge my victories, which is where its brilliance lies.

We are human, bound to the wheel of uncertainty and doubt, capable not only of exceeding expectations for unlikely successes, but for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Whispers in the dark remind me of my fears, but also cloud the revelations of the light of day.

Shall I step boldly forward toward the future, or cut my losses and congratulate this indifferent universe upon a game well-played? The candle which burns as proof against the monsters in the night is almost gone, and I don’t know if I’ve got it within me to find another before the light has finished sputtering and gone out.

But I will try. I will try for as long as I can, until the weight of it all will no longer let me rise. I will keep doing what my father never could: being there for my son. 

Maybe. 

It’s one day at a time, which means no promises. But it also means no worries, at least not for today.

Harvey

There are two forces which tend to influence my mood in the attempt to get me to take action: the first is the result of an over-analytical mind, which has limited powers of prognostication, and the other is a sense of self-hatred which desires, above all else, that I place my head into the lion’s mouth to boldly snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. But, because I am a biochemical meat sack propped up by a skeleton, both forces are relegated to a painfully simple vocabulary, The result of this is that, while my gut may be shouting, “Go! Danger!”, I’ve no idea from what I should be running, to where I should escape, or, most importantly, why. And due to the fact that this communication is carried out chemically, on a subconscious level, I have no clue from whom I’m being warned.

I am a  creature of habit, fearing change much as would a germophobic panhandler, and often remain in harmful situations because I’ve come to know that devil, and, for all his faults, he’s a hell of a conversationalist. In an attempt to keep me from the inevitable despair of stagnation, my Hippocamp Nostradamus will begin flooding my awareness with subtle signals of disgust and frustration, in the hope that I will lose control and either quit the scenario outright, or scorch the very earth so that the status quo cannot continue.

This has happened any number of times, and though the process has been painful, I have always landed on my feet, and even wound up coming out ahead. That’s not to say that I am grateful, for I carry the stress of my entire life upon the diminishing capacity of my shoulders, like a mistreated and forgotten Atlas. That, and the extra three stone I carry about within my gut (a nod to the fears of harder times ahead) can make it difficult at times to stand up straight, hold my head up high, and tell the world to just fuck off.

Now, my depression is another matter entirely. In the past, I jave likened it to a sensual seductress, enticing me to fail, or some rotund, alcoholic, and abusive heckler, reminding me of all my failures (including those which resulted in a net victory, but with the redemptive postscript deliberately removed). In reality, such as it is, it is no more anthropomorphic than yesterday’s underwear (if anything, slightly less). That feeling of self-worthlessness is best represented by a hand-stitched quilt (always just a tad too warm), made up of every memory of when I had failed to be the man I know I should have been (every shame, embarrassment, and lie, neatly stitched up embroidered in a dazzling display of craftsmanship), draped over my shoulders to remind me not to get above myself.

Though metaphysical in their description, these entities seem very real, especially to someone who walks the narrow line of sanity to peer into the hidden depths of insight which the human condition may provide.

Now, for the sake of carrying on, imagine these two, not as disparate enemies, one foul, the other fair, but rather, as identical twins, down to the dimple on their left cheek, Got that image firmly in your mind? Good. Now get rid of it because it’s completely wrong.

Neither foul nor fair, nor twins of DoubleMint, this pair of overactive malcontents are, in fact, one in the same. They are a double-headed coin*, tarnished a bit from all the years, yet worn smooth from countless handling. They both despise the status quo, and hate me for who I am. One side would prefer that I live up to my ideals, while the other is more interested in my baser natures. And they can both read past and present to glimpse into the future, and nudge me toward one of their preferred destinies.

This isn’t a campaign waged on a scale of weeks, or months, or years, although I’m fairly certain that they’ve both and endgame in mind for me.

No, these skirmishes within my psyche happen in the beats between the moments which eventually coalesce to become that thing that I call life.

Say “fuck this!” now, and lose out on that promotion they were about to offer, but couldn’t yet discuss because they were checking the financials, but say “fuck this!” now, and miss out on a massive clusterfuck of corporate restructuring resulting in a stagnant wage and overwork ad infinitum.

It’s all contained within the spaces between words, in that anxious moment between heartbeats, and rather than being immediately obvious and clear cut, it can often take months or years to assess the benefits of damages of any given choice.

And that’s just if I am able to decipher the rumblings and pains of my padded tummy enough to make a choice at all.

Then there are the times when it’s just gas**.


* Phew, almost wrote dildo there.

** For the sake of appearances, I’ll not mention into how may existential crises I have launched myself in a response to lactose intolerance.

Well, Shit (Ah, Fuck It Part 2)

Yeah, so it’s looking grim for our hero, dear readers. When we last left you, Tex Batmart was facing the question as to how quickly he could boogie down from off of his mortal coil. At the moment, it’s not so much a worry that he will no longer be resident of this particular reality, but, rather, just how long he can endure it.

The current situation could still easily be described as “Continuing to Come Up Exclusively Milhouse.” It doesn’t help that I know that the vast majority of the melancholy exists entirely between the my sensory inputs and the biochemical tool which processes their reports.  I’ve almost grown accustomed to that, much in the same fashion as I learned to compensate for the warped billiards table in the local Teen Center when I was a youth. There are complex mathematical equations running constantly, adjusting the variables so that all I have to do is try to make the shot.

I wonder if, should I ever approach something like “normality”, I’ll be as hopeless at functioning within the world as I am at playing pool on a pristine table: still overcompensating for obstacles which are no longer there.

Of course, in addition to all of that, I have some objectively shitty things going on which, though not entirely caused by my perception of the world through smoked and fractured lenses, were at the very least, greatly exacerbated by it.

But even there, the temptation for self-recrimination is too great. With every problem (real or imagined), my first (as well as second third, and on until the 37th, where it takes a break for a quick moment, continuing on with 42nd) instinct is to blame myself for being such a generally shitty person. I mean, if I wasn’t such a complete fuck-up, I wouldn’t be faced with any of this bullshit.

Finances are rough, because I dared to risk everything on the pursuit of a lifelong dream, and now I’m left with repayment of failure with added interest due. And I was so fucking close…

Seriously. Look at the progress in my rust removal from December 2014 until May 2015. I got back to fucking form! I was doing things. I was so close to actually being able to write the book (or books) that I’d been waiting for, unable to fully articulate myself in a suit of armor which had very nearly completely oxidized. And then fucking life reared its goddamned head.

I had to grab whichever job took me first, which was Big! Lots!, and we all remember how that fucking fiasco went. I spent almost every other weekly paycheck on visits to the doctor and the medication she prescribed for the damage that job inflicted upon my body. When I got the news about a management gig at a restaurant in Berkeley, I was fucking stoked, despite my promise to myself that I would never again return to Food Service (or management).

Bear’s Lair Redux was, itself, a massive disappointment. A restaurant/bar should never be designed by committee, nor should it be operated and overseen by a soulless corporation. And while I met some cool people there, I was glad to bid it a fond farewell.

In the gap between that and Jupiter, I actually wrote something like 30,000 words (which I published in June (or was it July?) of this past year). Once again, I was really getting into my groove, when, suddenly, my life reverted to its relentless rhythms of: work too fucking much and then burn the fuck out.

Sure, there were other factors at play as well (including the death of my grandfather, which I have covered in several other posts), but if one is a huge fan of Oktoberfest, he should never take the backstage tour to see how the sausages are made.

There were a lot of good things about Jupiter, despite my current feelings, but it finally boiled down to lack of follow-through regarding their commitment to me in the form of salary level and insurance, especially the latter. This, combined with a very nearly complete nervous breakdown, made it almost certain that it wasn’t going to work out.

My current employer is great. There are things about the place that I don’t care for, but I’m fairly certain that’s true of any job. And I know that I have become an Expert in Curmudgeonry by now (I may or may not be fully disclosing the truth of the matter, due to the fact that one does not shit where one eats). There are some fundamental things with which I disagree, but I think that’s not really the issue.

You want to know?

Fine.

I’m not doing what I feel in my bones that I need to do, which is this, but more focused and, to be honest, better.

I don’t have the money to give this another go.

The financial issues have put my marriage on what could charitably be considered life support.

I am not happy.

 

That last part isn’t a huge problem, in and of itself, for dissatisfaction is often the impetus for positive change.

I just feel like I am fading away, and the only thing that’s left is for my body to get the fucking message.

I have a choice (well, I have several, but, you know, narrative conceit): Do I keep doing what I’m doing, trying to clean up after my financial missteps, or do I give this writing thing one last shot?

But wait, you say, didn’t you say that you couldn’t afford to write again like 850 words ago?

I could always disappear. Pack my shit and ride the waves while surfing on the couches of America. Trigger a cascade of financial avalanches that could only be remedied by me becoming the best-selling author in the history of ever. I’m not saying I couldn’t, mind you…

But that would also mean losing my wife and son. I mean for real. That’s not really something that you can come back from- abandoning your family to crippling debt, just to chase a dream. And no matter how successful I were to become, that sort of bullshit just doesn’t get forgiven.

With all of that, and my mental illness, you can see why I think that it would be easier were I to die.

 

Ah, Fuck It

Before anyone tries to reach out with sympathy, advice, or “thoughts and prayers,” let me just say one thing: Don’t. I’m not writing this in search of human connection. I’ve fucking had enough of that lately. This merely exists so that I can bleed some of this bullshit out of my fucking head.

This has been an incredibly trying couple of years.

I wasn’t prepared at all for when my grandfather died, and it completely fucking blindsided me. Since the early 90’s, I’d kind of known that my grandmother was going to pass, in a very real sense, but the rapid decline which led up to my grandfather’s end just outpaced my ability to prepare for it. In the end it took copious amounts of mushrooms and completely torching employment bridges to finally begin to reach a state of tranquility and acceptance.

And when I said just now that I’d known that my grandmother was tenuously grasping on to her mortality: yeah, I haven’t handled that all that much better, At the time, I broke down, cried, and channeled my grief into something funny and beautiful. But I never really felt it. Now, as the lead-up to 38 has come and gone (please see any number of other pieces I’ve written here for more information regarding the Fuckery of November), I find that I never really dealt with it at all. Writing her eulogy was cathartic, and but, at best, only a delaying tactic. And I didn’t even realize it until I went back up to the Island for my mother’s wedding.

It was just little things, like her not actually being there, despite the fact that she’d been an immovable fixture in my life for its entirety, especially in her home. Or when I walked up to the Jiffy Mart to buy my Red Bull because caffeine withdrawal is a complete and utter bitch, and got choked up as I made small talk with the owner, as I tried to screw up the courage to thank him for all the wonderful moments he provided to my grandfather for the many years he attended daily meetings of the Prevaricators’ Club at that location.

Or the fact that gave my mother away at her wedding. Or that I’m experiencing my first first holiday season with no living grandparents.

I know that many of you have lost grandparents, and that perhaps were unable to spend as much time with them as I was with mine. Perhaps, you’re thinking, I should appreciate all of the special times I had with them, and get the fuck over it.

To that, I so delicately respond, fuck you, and reread the first fucking paragraph. It’s there for a goddamned reason. Right fucking there, first thing where you cannot fucking miss it. Go ahead. Read it again, I’ll wait (Actually, I won’t because that’s not how fucking writing works).

But enough about external misery.

I also suffer from Bi-Polar Disorder, Type II. You know, not the cool, running-through-the-streets-naked mental illness, but the oh-wait-sorry-to-inform-you-but-that-guy-you-knew-who-was-on-top-of-everything-and-shining-like-a-fucking-star-was-just-a-manifestation-of-my-fucking-illness-and-you-don’t-get-to-fucking-complain-when-the-less-productive-symptoms-arrive-and-wreak-havoc-with-goddamned-everything. Fuck, that’s a lot of hyphens.

No one, aside from perhaps those who have been on this Merry-Go-Round with me countless times, really minds when I am firing at 235%. I am brilliant, charming, and goddamned invincible (except for the Summer Solstice of my Mania, where I am constantly mistaken for someone with a cocaine habit the likes of which even the 1970’s and 80’s cannot comprehend.

But it seems that everyone gets “concerned” and wants “to talk” or “check in” with me when the fucking bottom drops out. Fine, but please know that during these times, I cannot take even the nicest worded and most constructive of criticisms. Please understand that for weeks leading up to this conversation, I have been beating the shit out of myself for fucking daring to exist, and recalling in vivid detail all of the times I have gone and fucked literally everything up (whether or not any of those failures actually occurred outside the confines of my head).

And don’t fucking tell me to see a fucking doctor. I’m mentally ill, not fucking stupid.

Do you know why I avoid the doctors who might be able to help me? And don’t say because I have a mental illness, because that’s just fucking stupid.

The fact is, I have tried many times to see someone about the bullshit neurochemistry lurking within my gleaming noggin. I have tried, if not all, then most of the gimmicky pharmaceuticals they have to offer. To date, there has been only one medicine which has ever even come close to working: Lithium Carbonate, and even that is barely better than nothing at all.

You see, all the fancy and shiny new drugs are anti-depressants, which is great, but they don’t work for me. SSRI’s, such as Prozac and Zoloft, give me auditory hallucinations approximating, I am told, the symptoms of fucking schizophrenia. Gabapentin interacts with my system by dropping me into a pool of hypersexuality (and not even the useful, married-for-a-decade kind). Wellbutrin, an (and I had to look this up) aminoketone, flips the rage switch from “Selfie” to “Murder all Humans.” Tetracyclics, like Trazodone, actually make me feel insane (in a slightly different way from SSRI’s ), insofar as I feel that nothing is quite right, kind of like the universe is off by a quarter of an inch. What they all have in common is that they are the product of decades of research at an investment measured in the millions, if not billions.

Lithium carbonate is an antimanic agent, and the result of cosmic forces. It’s a fucking element. It is literally one the most generic drugs there is.

And do you know what never gets pushed by drug reps? Fucking shit that cannot help their company’s bottom line.

I have tried explaining this to doctors. I have begged to set up appointments for blood draws to monitor lithium levels to avoid toxicity. I have tried to be fucking responsible when it comes to the treatment of my fucking disease! And I’m tired. 

For the past three weeks, I have been actively contemplating suicide.

My major stopping point was that I didn’t want to fuck up my mother’s wedding.

And now I don’t want to fuck up my son’s Christmas.

And I just realized this evening that I wouldn’t be the first friend of my best friend’s (actually, friends’, as it’s applicable to both) to commit suicide.

I’ve been through this before, but this time I’m a little scared.

For the vast majority of these episodes, I merely wanted to not exist anymore. This time, I want to fucking hurt myself. Like fucking blades and shit.

Okay, stop! Put down your fucking phone. Do not fucking call me. I don’t want to talk about it. Every fucking reason you could give me to carry on is just another nail in my goddamned coffin. You think that knowing about all of those people who love me and who depend on me (in some fashion) is going to help? 

It won’t. That’s just more fucking pressure upon my shoulders.

Please. Please. Please listen to me when I say that there is nothing that anyone can say that will make things better, unless it involves several tens of thousands of dollars (with no obligation to repay) and the ability to fucking spend the time I need to do the one fucking thing that I have ever wanted to do with my life! So, unless you’re offering me, at the very minimum, $60,000, please don’t. Just… don’t.

I know that the inner monologue has shifted and whispers only lies. I get that. But I also have been dealing with this for over a quarter of a century, and I’ve kind of internalized the talking points. I may have an ego the size of a small geographically discrete mass, but I have almost zero self-esteem. I really do fucking despise myself.

No! Shut the fuck up! I’ll tell you when I’ve goddamned finished!

I am really good at precisely one thing (okay, two, but despising myself doesn’t really fall neatly under “Life Goals.”): exactly what the fuck I’m doing now (despite how disjointed and shitty this rant is).

Will I get through this? Probably.

Do I want to? Not particularly.

Okay, that’s it. I’m done.

Unless I kill myself tonight, I have to get to sleep soon so I can go into work tomorrow. And as I don’t want to fuck up Christmas for my son, I guess I ought to go to fucking bed.

Ah, Fuck It!

Mad as Hell

Normally when one says that they are “Mad as Hell,” and that they aren’t “going to take it”, they are referring to anger. When I say it, I find myself discussing my mental illness, but it a humorous fashion. Oh god, it going to be another one of those posts.

That’s right, Inner Monologue! It’s time for another belly-jiggling installment of What’s Lurking in Tex Batmart’s Brain? or What Makes Batmart Tick (Like a Bomb)? It’s been a bit since I’ve tried to be funny, and since nothing else seems to be working at the moment, I figured I’d give this another try. I’m also going to see what I can do about keeping to shorter paragraphs because apparently I’ve got a problem with that.

So what brought about this topic for today?

Well, it all started when I sat down to write a couple of things, and got to thinking about how inept I am when it comes to other people (especially of the feminine variety). It’s not so bad these days, as I’ve no skin in the game, so to speak, having been married for nearly eight years, and with the woman unfortunate enough to have become my wife for almost eleven. To be fair, I’m still convinced that most people are trying to flirt with me (regardless of gender), but I’ve chalked that up to being mentally unsound. When I was single, it was probably an unrealistic suspicion to imagine that there was interest in me, but as I have been with someone for over a decade, it appears to be slightly more plausible.

Not, of course, that I am looking. Even if my marriage were to dissolve tonight, I don’t know that I would want to get right back on the Relationship Horse (similar to a Unicorn, but anatomically… rearranged). But having had someone who, for some reason, purports to have loved me for so long has made me dubious about one of the most fundamental foundational neuroses I have: that I am inherently unlovable.

So I see interest where none exists, and feel flattered where umbrage might be more appropriate. In the absence of my lack of self-esteem, my ego has been left in charge, and it is known for its inability to make good decisions on my behalf. Inevitably, however, my self-loathing realizes that I am feeling something other than despite for myself, and forcibly regains control of the mess which of which I am comprised, reminding me that I’m no good, and that everyone and everything will leave me in the end. For the most part, this manifests itself as hearing tones of insults where none (most likely) exist.

Obviously, there is the rational part of me which wants to get better (something remotely akin to approaching healthy), wants me to be capable of sharing human moments with people which take place outside of the confines of my head. This is the same part that has, in the past, tried to remind me that not everyone wants a piece of this (metaphorically speaking, of course). The problem with that is it’s sometimes too similar to the soothing voice which begs me to just burn it all. So there’s that.

I wish I wasn’t the type of person to notice when the magic goes. Nothing (aside from brain damage brought on by blunt force trauma) would make me happier than to be content with all of the successes which I’ve been forced to suffer. But, to make matters worse, I seem to be the obnoxious type of artist who was born to be a hopeless romantic.

It wouldn’t surprise me to find that, in another life, instead of settling down in domesticity, I had remained a vagabond, surfing along the couches of this country, who knows what sort of mischief I might have been able to accomplish. A dear friend of mine once voiced their surprise that I’d chosen to settle down, as opposed to throw myself wholeheartedly into the lonely debauchery of the tortured artist. I understand what they were trying to say, but there is something slightly unnerving about imagining an army of little Batmarts around the country (or, perhaps, the world), following in my wake by a distance of nine months.

Hell, one kid is more than enough for me (although I don’t think the point of their assertion was that I would be anything more than a genetic donor). I’ve got so say, though, that the way they put it: Hell, it’s almost enough to make me give it some serious consideration.

But also getting older, and the time for sowing my wild oats has most likely passed. Then again, depending on my life expectancy, it might be almost time to start on my mid-life crisis. I think that this year I finally became middle-aged.

See how easily I get lost in my own head? This whole thing began when I pointed out that people and I have a mutual misunderstanding of one another. But that’s really just the tip of the iceberg. In all honesty, I’m locked into a mutual misunderstanding with myself. My cognitive dissonance had juxtaposed itself into the moments between moments in which I am alive, so that in the middle of answering the sum of four and four, I find the total to be purple.

There are times when I just want to wander off into the wilderness and hide out from the world, eschewing all of humanity in favor of becoming mildewed. And there are others where I want to remember that first spark of a new romance, to feel the infatuation fill me with unreasonable hope and certain stirrings most frequently felt by the young. To my amazement, there are yet even a few select instances where I look back at what I’ve got, and feel kind of lucky to have ended up where I am today.

I just wish that I knew which of these desires was the one which I was meant to follow. ‘Spose that would be too easy, though. I guess the best that I can say us that I’m Mad as Hell (and should probably start medication).

Frustration

Just when I think that I can breathe a sigh of relief, safe in my choices at work and home, I find myself buried beneath a mountain of frustration. I won’t go into work things, because they are working themselves out (probably). That leaves me, of course, with the ever-abundant source of grim revelations: those found within my home. For days, I have watched my living room transform into something of which I don’t necessarily approve, the result of my granddaughter’s full-on assault on everything which she perceives may be destroyed (most of these items are, of course, mine). I awoke from a nap a week ago to find her in my room, with the remnants of a pack of my cigarettes splayed out before her on the floor. Books are being torn to shreds (this is particularly irksome, as her father has said that it’s okay if she tears up his books, which is all fine and good, were she able to differentiate between his books and mine). Discs are being forcibly relocated (mainly to the floor, or beneath furniture, such as my office chair). But today I found that my sweet little Goldilocks had outdone herself. My trusty Chromebook (which I’d purchased as a secondary machine so as to spare my main computing device the ignominy of its senility) is now a multi-colored paperweight whose cracked screen would cost more to repair than a new machine would.

So now, in the midst of the Holiday Season, I am in need of a new computing machine. I mean, to be honest, the one I’ve got left is still more or less okay (or, at least until the Fates realize that I have tempted them), but it’s a bit unwieldy, and something that I will need in the coming months, if I am going to find a way to balance work and writing, is a machine with portability. Also, I’d like to have something that wouldn’t crap out on WiFi just when I was really getting into my groove. So what do I do?

I’ve already seen that I can’t fit in a pocket of time before work, or once I get home, as I am simply too exhausted to function after a full day and nearly half again as much on my commute. I want to write. I want to do these again. Every day. I need to get back into doing what I love because I can’t keep working in the industry forever. I want to write for a living. And I can’t do that if I can’t make the time to write. I know that since May of last year. I’ve already begun to oxidize. Three decades, now, since I made up my mind what I was going to do. I mean, I know that I am a Master of Procrastination, but it seems to have gotten out of hand.

Upon further reflection, it seems that I can make do with the damage to my Chromebook’s screen, but it still doesn’t address my need for something upon which I can write in an unconnected world. What I really need is a portable word processor. Something that I can use to bang out my words whilst I am on my commute, and then upload once I’m back at home, and connected to my WiFi. Honestly, I suppose that I could just use a notebook (of the original variety) and pencil, but I’d prefer to only write them once, and typing is far more effective.

It’s kind of funny, in a way. I used to have stacks and stacks of notebooks which I’d write in all the time. As a matter of fact, I still have them somewhere. I never used to need a computer to focus my inner wordsmith. Well, almost never. It’s come in handy as a method of safekeeping (definitely a priority since the Great Purge of 2000), and as a way to preserve the forests of the world.

There is a distinct possibility that I am going through a depressive phase right now. It usually begins somewhere in November and finishes up sometime around… October. In all seriousness, though, I think a bigger one has reared its head this time. It’s been a tough year for me. My grandfather died, my dream (non-writing) job didn’t pan out (something I may eventually discuss when I feel able), and I spent another year not doing what I felt that I was meant to do. Hell, about the only decent thing to come about this year was the new Metallica album, which, Holy Shit!, right? Intellectually, I know that I am in a good place (or a better place, anyway), but it doesn’t feel that way.

I just want to hide under the covers and never come out. The fact that finances do not allow for this seems to be exacerbating my anxiety on the matter. Which in turn is driving me deeper into depression.

I’ve got health insurance now, so pretty soon, I should be able to see a Medical Professional. Despite the fact that I know that what I got is a lifetime commitment (ha!), there is still a small part of me which hopes that maybe one day all of this will come to an end, that one day I will wake up and not feel this way anymore, and that, this time, that feeling will stick. I wish that I could believe that sort of thing could happen, but I know better.

I also know that whatever imbalance exists within my brain has also given me ability to do what I most love: substances of a questionable nature. But it also allows me to string words together in an interesting fashion, and the desire to do so. It allows me to see the world differently, so that I might interpret it in such a manner that has not been done before.

Once again, I seem to have gone round and round in circles and wound up somewhere I never truly intended (especially impressive considering that circles generally bring you back to where you where, and not to… I don’t know… taupe.

Outsmarting Reality

Today is the day that I put on pants and sit at my desk to pound out some pretty words. As far as Life Goals go, it’s not so bad, really. To be fair, I’m not really that into the whole notion of pants in general (as I may have mentioned a time or two before), but I do recognize that bumbling about in pajama pants while sipping on a beverage and munching on Gummy Bears isn’t a solid plan for success. If I had unreasonable amount of money (in the other direction, that is), I suppose that I could be called eccentric, but as it is, I’m just this dude who wanders about looking like shambling grump. At least the haircut I got a few weeks ago is helping. Now the only thing to really give me away is the wrinkled clothing and days’-old stubble. I can get away with it while I am holed up at home, safe from the judgments of the outside world, and if I’m not dressed for public consumption, I feel no obligation to step farther out my door than the requisite number of steps it takes until I can smoke a cigarette without a stern talking-to.

Today I am going to go outside for no reason other than my desire to eat something other than Corn Nuts and Tootsie Rolls. Well, that, and there’s Crystal Pepsi at Walgreen’s, and I’m feeling a touch nostalgic. As part of my strategy to venture into the great outdoors, I’ve invited my stepdaughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren to come with me. At first glance, it would seem as though I’ve only done this to put a small measure of pressure upon myself so that I might actually make it happen, but anyone who actually knows us will understand that my intention was entirely more nefarious than it might otherwise appear. You see, there is a real chance that it might not actually come to pass. First, the adults have to get ready to go. Then, the wee ones have to be prepped for their adventure. For some reason today, this involves baths. So, add that in to the diaper changes, battles over wardrobe, complete domestic warfare and accusations of abandonment, tearing the apartment to shreds in search of something that may or may not have ever been there in the first place, tears and temper tantrums, and at the end of all of that, there’s a decent chance that everyone will be so upset and butthurt that they’ll decide that they don’t really want to go anywhere.

You see, I’ve made a foolproof plan to feel that I am actually accomplishing something whilst simultaneously ensuring that I might not have to go through with anything. There’s a certain smug satisfaction that comes with having outsmarted reality. Of course, there’s only one flaw with this entire scheme: There is a better than average chance that I will have to go through with everything, and I place the blame entirely upon the shoulders of my Wildflower.

She is hundreds of miles away on her vacation (which, as it happens, is kind of a vacation for me), spending time with my family on The Island. This was to be my time to really cut loose and let myself go truly and completely. My wife, it would seem, has other ideas. She is under the impression that I need sunlight and proper nutrition. I don’t even know how to react to that. It’s like she hasn’t been paying attention this past decade (or perhaps paying a little too much attention). Why she thinks that I will suddenly begin to give the slightest crap about self-preservation after three decades of neglect is not only unfathomable to me, but the source of at least forty percent of all of our arguments. And now she’s got her daughter on my case as well. Completely intolerable.

I guess what it all boils down to is that I don’t really know how to accept someone else caring about me. If I’m to be brutally honest, I think that I’m still under the delusion that I will die young and leave a moderately… well, I’ll leave a corpse at any rate. I’m sure that there are things that I could do to raise my quality of life, such as eating something apart from snacks and a drastic reduction in the amount of energy drinks which I consume on daily basis. Hell, I could even give up smoking, if I really wanted to make a change. But the fact is that I’m not all that interested in doing any of that. Sure, I’d love to eat something that wasn’t processed until it only nominally resembled a “food-like product”, but I have neither the time nor the money to cook the meals which I am interested in consuming. But this is only what sits upon the surface.

I think that if I were to be left to my own devices, I would simply allow myself to fade away. It’s just so hard sometimes to make myself exist for other people, especially when I don’t particularly wish to exist for my own self.

On a side note, thanks to Facebook, I’ve been able to look back at previous summers, and it looks like, statistically, they’re not my best time of the year. In the past, the only season which truly stood out in my mind as a festering pit of days I’d rather not risk was the month leading up to my birthday (or, as other people know it: November). As it turns out, however, the summer months seem more likely to cause trouble than any other time of year. Perhaps it’s the over-abundance of sunlight which is more likely to trigger manic episodes (something much harder to notice in the moment than depression), which are far more destructive than my depression.

So, what do I do?

I guess I’ll just put my head down for a moment, collect myself, and force a smile upon my face. This is the beginning, and the male equivalent of Resting Bitch Face is no way to face it. So let’s have a chuckle, shall we?

Mental Illness: Edification

Perhaps it’s mean-spirited, but I truly wish that everyone could suffer from mental illness. Well, for the most part, that statement isn’t entirely accurate, but there are days, or even single moments where I wholeheartedly wish for it. I’ve touched on this subject several times before, but I felt (for some reason or other) like it needed revisiting. Mental illness is, by and large, invisible. Sure, its effects can be as plain as day, but it’s not like jaundice or chicken pox. It gets even worse when its sufferer is intelligent, and capable of “maintaining” for some length of time. At least, believing that he (or she) is maintaining. It’s not always obvious what is wrong, and there are many people who are terrified of admitting that they suffer, for fear of retribution due to the stigma of mental irregularities. Sometimes I wish that I had never learned any coping mechanisms (effectiveness and results may vary), so that I could not force myself to hide behind the curtain of normality. For all the progress we have made in erasing the myths of mental illness, we are not so very far removed from the world in which my father lived (the father who suffers from a depression so severe that he could not bring himself to open the letter which I sent him, relying instead upon his brother, who was back for a visit from Japan).

I honestly believe that the only reason that what little progress has been made came only after Big Pharma realized that they could make a profit off of inner demons and melancholia. I remember, twenty years ago, when Prozac was the Next Big Thing. My family practitioner diagnosed me as “Manic Depressive” (yet more evidence of how old I am), and was eager (a little overly so, in my opinion) to get me going on this new class of crazy pills. As I was a minor at the time, and suffering from a contentious relationship with my mother, I am grateful that I had second thoughts. Can’t say why, but I felt this cold chill in the pit of my stomach at the very thought of those pills, and graciously declined (as graciously as any teenaged Caucasian male is able). A year later, I did decided to try Prozac (just one pill), and suffered immediately from auditory hallucinations and a sense of dread. A year after that, I gave Wellbutrin a try. When I was in the hospital, they taught us that depression is just rage turned inwards (psychologically- biologically it is something else entirely). Wellbutrin took my depression away, but left me with an overabundance of rage (directed in each and every direction).

It wasn’t until my hospitalization that someone decided to try Lithium. You know, the medicine prescribed for well over a century. The element. The drug off of which there is no money to be made. If I’d had the money back then, I might have been able to afford to stay on it. But, you see, it wasn’t the prescription which I could not afford, but the blood draws which were required to ensure that the levels in my system remained below toxicity. A few years later, I managed to get another prescription, but lost my insurance too soon to be able to continue. That was in 2004.

Since then, no matter where I’ve gone, or to whom I’ve spoken, I cannot seem to get the one thing which has ever been effective. Either I get brushed off all together, or the doctor insists on trying out all manner of medications which I know (with a growing level of experience) are only going to mess me up far more. No one seems to want to hear that Lithium actually works for me. Sure, I feel exhausted all the time (nothing out of the ordinary these days), and wrapped in a numbing insulation, but I also do feel safe from the pendulum’s swings. It also stifles my creative instincts, which would be unacceptable if the preponderance of my income came from writing, but is tolerable if I have to deal with other people. Not that it actually matters: there are no drug rep kickbacks for a freaking element.

So no wonder that so many people have turned towards self-medication. When you can’t get help from medical professionals, you look to squelch the pain in any manner you are able. Some turn to drink, other to pills, and others to any other number of substances. When the illness exists, for all intents and purposes, in one’s own head, it’s impossible to accurately convey the struggle to someone who doesn’t understand. And then are some people who have it easier than others, or have had better luck in dealing with their own private demons. Hell, I’ve been extremely fortunate myself, as I’ve been able to pass for “normal” for the majority of my life by merely accepting the mantle of “asshole.”

It had been my intention of seeking out medical help tomorrow, to enlist the aid of those who are able, to assist me in fighting my own particular demons. Don’t really see the point now. Everything repeats and falls victim to entropy, and there’s not much point in fighting it anymore. Exhaustion has set in, and apathy is ever-present. I’m just tired of fighting, you know? Better to just throw in my hat, and let everyone have their laugh. I guess I should have finished up Hiraeth, but it’s kind of epic where it’s at.

Thanks, everybody.

Don’t know where the night will take me, but if I see you all on the other side, so be it.

Do Not Read This

Do not read this if you love me.

Do not read this if you have believed in me.

Do not read this if you feel that I’m worth saving from whatever malady from which you think I’m suffering.

Do not read this if you’d prefer a happy ending.

Do not read this if you think that everything will be alright.

Do not read this if you have ever cared for me.

Do not read this if… you know that I am right.

 

It hurts inside, like a constant tearing at my soul, a barrage of suicidal butterflies exploding deep within me. Who knows if this is actually a thing, or just something that happened frequently enough to make me notice, and expect it, therefore causing it to come to pass. The last week in November, and the first day of December are always a trial for me. Nowhere else within the boundaries of the calendar do I feel more helpless before the vagaries of my Disorder. You know, I wanted to try to use the pain to write something heartfelt and beautiful, something which could justify my suffering, at least in my own eyes, and force some sort of validation upon this seemingly failed existence which I have been assured on frequent occasions is my life. I am not afraid of death. I do not fear the nothingness which will devour me whole. And after my failures as an author, so starkly driven home this past year, I do not even fear fading into the realms of the forgotten. Better that I end this damned experiment, and let the world move on without me. Better to be forgotten, and allow the wounds which my passing have caused than to stick around just to witness everybody suffer (most especially when gazing into the mirror).

It might sound like I am angry, though nothing could be further from the truth: if I could only feel the boiling passion of the roiling rage, I might feel human enough to stick around, if only out of spite. I guess that I am merely resigned to the fact that I have failed in almost every single endeavor in which I’ve applied myself, and tired (so very, very tired) of getting everything completely wrong. No, that’s not entirely true. It’s just that I am out on sync with everything else around me. I keep meeting people out of order, at precisely the wrong time, and knowing that some other me should have met them later (or sooner, as the case may be). I used to think that I was collecting people who would help me change the world, but it now seems that I am only bumping into strangers to remind myself of how far I have allowed myself to fall. I used to be better than this, I’m sure of that. I used to believe in things. I used to want to make a difference. I guess that I have been a grownup for too long. Too many years of compromising both my ethics and my soul. Too many decades of putting off the things which matter until tomorrow. Too many decades, period.

This isn’t anyone’s fault, beyond my own. I keep forgetting that when I dare to spread my wings and fly toward the heavens, that, despite the darkness of the hour, my wings will melt, not by the heat beating downward from the sun, but by the friction of an exponentially increasing velocity as I try to put infinity between myself and the prison which I’ve built to keep me whole. And safe. My life of the mundane is nothing more than life support as I struggle to wrap myself into a vegetative state. But it’s not as though I didn’t want it in the first place. There have always been the two of me (and I’m not referring to schizophrenia): the regular dude who’d like to know what it’s like to have a “normal” family, and the Phoenix, who burns himself so brightly that he is reduced to ashes, only to climb out of them once more once he remembers how to light the flame. Maybe it’s just this week, or maybe, like some sort of vestigial attachment left to atrophy, some remnant of that egotistic being of purest wrath and judgement remains.

I am not afraid of death. I am not afraid to close my eyes, knowing that they’ll never open again. I am afraid to continue living. I’m terrified of learning just how much further I can diverge within myself before I completely and irrevocably shatter into a million pieces, leaving the both of me in a fine dusting upon the floor. I’m tired of surviving; I’m tired of always landing on my feet. Just for once, I’d like everything to just fall apart, with no way for me to fix it. Sometimes I just want to drive everyone away, so that when I am done destroying the things which keep me afloat, there will be no one to turn to when I lose my nerve, and whimper that I’d rather not face a change.

I just want the pain to go away. I just want the ability to freeze a single moment for forever, and breathe in life once more, before the pace of everything sucks me below again.

I want to feel attractive. I want to feel important. I want to feel that there was at least one single reason for me to have ever have existed. I want to know I mattered. And while I’m listing off all of my impossible dreams, why not ask to be a millionaire as well?

I hope you didn’t read this.

I hope that you just glanced at the picture and gave it a “thumb’s up.”

I hope that you don’t think that it was your fault, because it wasn’t. You made me feel alive, and while that fire may have burned me, it also gave me the courage to face my misery without prevarication.