Category Archives: Mental Illness

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.

The More Things Change…

I should probably go back a few of months (or a half-dozen posts), and verify this before I say it, but I hate what this industry does to me, and I’m not talking about writing. It’s not job-specific, as I would have to be a complete moron to speak ill of my current place of employment in anything other than plausibly deniable code, but rather my indictment of the restaurant industry. In many ways, it’s like a drug, something that I desperately want to give up, but seem inexorably drawn back towards. I know that it’s not good for me to work in a place like that, as the constant shifting between dead and slammed is a microcosm of the swirling madness within me. But, again, this isn’t what I’m actually getting at. I could probably find studies to back me up on my belief that this industry tends to draw the intelligent dropouts, drug addicts, and the mentally unstable, but, at the risk of repetition, not really what I’m getting at. I guess what makes this so hard for me is just how much of a damn I give. I’m always stressing out about things I need to do, and the little voice inside my head that’s freakishly insistent upon screaming out my flaws within the echo chamber of my skull spends every bus ride out to work making me feel like today will be the day that I will be let go. It’s not that I am negligent, or that I actually believe that I will be let go for anything approaching a valid reason. Of course, I’m still in my first 90 days, and employed in a “right-to-work” state, so there doesn’t have to be a reason. Maybe Bad Leon is right: perhaps I am a bad person.

Or it could be that I simply need to start back up on my medication. I keep saying that as long as I am not doing anything that requires creativity or inspiration, I might as well get my noggin back under control. Of course, my ability to think on my feet, and troubleshoot the worst catastrophes is a direct result of the way I’m drawn to harming myself psychologically. Anyone who’s capable of spending hours a day thinking up all the ways that he could irrevocably screw things up, is also capable of seeing the early warning signs of something which is about to hit the fan, and take action to prevent it, or at least ride the tsunami of excrement and minimize the damage along the way. Now that we’re a month into full operations, the plethora of variables have been winnowed away, and I’m starting to get a better handle on preventative worrying. I’ve seen how shifts run, and I’ve begun to identify the [I cannot use this word, for fear of its misinterpretation] in our armor. It’s a process. And of course, all this last paragraph has done has undermine the point I’d been trying to make about the benefits of being healthy.

I suppose that I could probably be fine if I took measures to ensure my health. I mean, it’s not like other people haven’t taken care of themselves before. And now we’re back to the major point, the reason why those suffering from mental illness almost pathologically refuse to take their medication: the feeling that, for all the reasonable benefits of getting one’s head on straight, the nagging doubt about that action’s worth. I know that I could probably do the normal stuff in my life much, much better if I got back on the Lithium. Hell, I’d probably even start to be a better dad: calmer, less likely to fly off the handle, more… stable. They say that kids need… crave… stability, right? I’d probably even be a better husband, without random days and weeks of inspiration sending me off to battle windmills instead of just buckling down and dedicating myself to the team that my wife and I have legally signed off upon. I mean, there are literally so many reasons to do it, and there are only two reasons not to. The first, and most practical, is that there seem to be ridiculously difficult-to-navigate hoops between myself and my medication. I could understand if there was a possibility that I might get high, or something similar, but I’m only looking to get back on Lithium, which is a damned element. Maybe I should just start sucking on a battery.

The second has no bearing on reality, and seems unbelievably petty and selfish: It makes me so damned boring that I cannot, even now, bear to contemplate it. Sure, I might not be a barrel of laughs, but at least I’m interesting. I’d like to imagine that whether they love or hate me, that people will at least remember me. Maybe that’s why I write. I know that my time drawing breath is, by necessity, limited (though it does tend to drag on a bit), but my words have the potential to preserve the most perfect aspects of myself for as long as they can be read. They will not feel pain, nor the weight of weariness, but will stand in steady testament to those times when I was able to surpass myself, and contribute something of beauty to the world. And then there’s the ego, which insists that I am worth remembering. And the hole in the shape of my self-esteem which assures me that I’m not. I should probably talk to a professional. I think that I am finally ready to seek a professional opinion without harboring the fear (or desire) to rip that person down over a perceived slight, or to simply show off how much more clever I am than the person who I am paying to wade through my issues. It almost feels that I am gradually approaching adulthood, but I know better. I know the steps I need to take, but I refuse to do anything about it because I don’t want to. As bad as it may ever get, I am terrified of losing who I am, and what that means for the tale I’ve told myself regarding the meaning of my life.

The Broken Bat(mart)

I am broken into a million pieces, each smaller than the last, and throbbing in an electric pulse of agony which threatens not only my physical well-being, but also that of my mental state. Tomorrow, or the day after, I will have to pay a visit to the Urgent Care Center and find a way to convince them that I’m going to need something stronger than prescription-strength Aleve. I mean, were I not employed by a ridiculously cartoonish corporation who feels threatened enough by the successes of labor unions back when they were relevant in America to paint them in an obviously nefarious light (I mean come on: That video was essentially Reefer Madness 2!), I would take advantage of my wife’s reluctant acceptance of at least the concept of medical marijuana and be done with it. But because my employer insists on random drug tests (to which I have not yet had to submit myself), and the fact that marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I narcotic (meaning it has no medicinal value whatsoever and a high potential for abuse), even if I were to possess a valid prescription for the THC which would be floating around inside of me for the foreseeable future, I would lose my job for having used an illegal substance. What that means is that, instead of the possibility of taking one thing to combat the pain, muscle tension, loss of appetite and anxiety, there exists the real possibility that I will either have to take something with a higher risk for dependence (or multiple things), or simply receive no help at all.

That was what happened back when I had a regular doctor and health insurance. He refused to actually listen to me, and insisted on writing ineffective prescriptions, which I had to dutifully fill (still costing me money, despite the discount from the insurance), and give a chance while the side effects wound up being worse than my original problem. You see, I made the mistake of letting him know that I have Bi-Polar Type II, hoping that he could just write me a prescription for lithium and order regular blood draws. So when we were trying to address the constant pain from which I was suffering, he decided that it would be better to try to kill two birds with one stone. Obviously that didn’t work. Anti-depressants have never worked for me, as they don’t actually address the mania (lithium, for those of you who aren’t aware, is an anti-manic. It works by limit the scope of the mania, which, in turn, means that it can mitigate the depression.), and indeed, have a tendency to make my psyche go a little… off. By the time he finally got around to referring me to a pain specialist, I was out of time and money (each of his useless visits also coming out of my pocket, $20 at a time). Why is it so hard to get proper medical help in this bloody country?

I realize that there are a lot of people who just want opiates to get high. I can respect that, as life is kind of a bummer, and opiates make all of that just sort of go away. I had a prescription for a little while for Vicodin, and I could understand the appeal. But, having had my fun during my late teens and early twenties, I’m really not that much of a risk for abuse. You see, as much as I would love to fall into the bottom of a bottle of whichever poison lays before me, I’ve got things to do. I have a son to worry about, a job to keep, and bills to pay. There’s a reason that I gave up drinking (aside from just a handful of times per year), and it wasn’t because I couldn’t afford it (though my love affair with high-end Scotch could have presented just the slightest bit of a problem were it not for hard-earned wisdom). I don’t want to get high, at least, not like that. I’m sure there will come a day when I just can’t take it any longer, and I invite the world to come crashing down upon me, but today is not that day. For whatever reason, it seems that I have to stay alive for at least a little while longer, and I promised myself that the next time that get back into harmful things, I’m doing it for keeps. I just want the pain to go away.

I have tried naproxen, aspirin, caffeine, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, epsom salt baths, massage, those handheld electrocution massagers, stretching, and everything else which I can purchase without medical assistance. I’ve also had to deal with a disturbingly high number of anti-depressants used off-label (to deleterious effect) upon the directions of my physician. The only times I’ve ever been pain-free were when I was given the opportunity to take something actually designed to combat chronic pain. And it’s a vicious cycle: as the pain increases (or at least, refuses to abate), I am able to engage in significantly less physical activity, and unable to stomach even the idea of eating more than once or maybe twice a day. So my weight increases, which puts more of a strain upon me, increasing the standard of pain. What I have gotten used to, insomuch as someone can get used to this agony, I would refer to as about a “7” on the pain scale, but that means (to me, at least) only that I have found a way to push temporarily through it, while awaiting the spikes of “9” or “10”. If you were to give that pain to myself from even six years ago, he would describe it with a much higher number. If you were to inflict it upon the me from the mid-nineties, he would probably go catatonic. I just want to be pain-free.

And this job I have isn’t helping. It’s a physically demanding job, and it’s beating the holy hell out of me. If I were my own doctor, my advice to me would be to find anything else. But here’s the thing: I’ve looked. After months of trying to find something I might have a chance of not despising, my current employer was the only place to call me back. I know it’s a shitty job, and I know it’s a shitty amount of money, and I know what it is doing to me, but I need it all the same. When you’re making minimum wage, you have to take whatever hours they will give you, and you can’t do that if you cannot get out of bed. That day hasn’t come yet, but I know it will. I can’t get to sleep until the sun goes down (near enough to 8:30 in the evening, and that means that it doesn’t even start to get properly dark until somewhere closer to 9), and I have to be awake again by 3 a.m. at the very latest, so that I can get out the door by 3:20 to make the walk to work. Do the math. And then, when I get home, David is awake, and the chances for me to sleep are nonexistent (this, by the way, has been one of the reasons why I haven’t been able to write these past few days). Add that in with the worsening pain, and tacked-on responsibilities at work due to consistent demonstrations of competency, and it’s a wonder that I’ve made it as long as I have.

So yeah, I’m feeling a little broken right now, both physically and monetarily. I know that at some point, things will get better, but I can’t honestly believe right now.