Category Archives: Mental Illness

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.

Walking On Sunshine

So I am a published author, kind of. Maybe it’s not the way in which I ever thought that I would make my first money as a writer, but everyone needs to start somewhere. I was hoping to have sold more than the two copies which I have currently managed, so that I could talk about raking in the tens of dollars, but as it stands now, I basically have enough to repay my wife for that pack of smokes and energy drink she bought me yesterday, so I can’t really complain. And, if I am to be completely honest, I wasn’t really counting on a collection of things which I have shared with everyone for free for months to be a money maker. Sure, it’s convenient, and it’s only $5, but it’s nothing new for those of you who have been with me since the beginning. Terracrats is a step in the right direction, being fiction and all, but it’s only a short story. I’m not going to get down on myself, though. This is more than I have ever done in the twenty-eight years in which I have known that I wanted to be a writer, and I’ve waited so long for this to become a reality that maybe a little longer won’t be the end of me.

I just wish that I didn’t feel so damned… chipper. I mean, since yesterday evening, I’ve been wandering around with a bemused grin, uncertain exactly what’s going on, but somehow pleased, nonetheless. It’s positively infuriating. I just want to slap the smug joy off of myself while sternly reminding… me… that it’s all well and good, but unless I somehow manage to connect with a lot more people, I’m still basically in the same position I was yesterday, but with some pocket change in a month and a half. Wow. It’s sobering to equate my writing sales to date as a ten dollar bill which I’ll find in the pocket of a jacket that I haven’t used in months (and yet don’t remember having misplaced any money the last time I used the jacket). But as jarring as I find all of this optimism oozing from my everywhere, I have to force myself to remember that it’s better than feeling miserable all day, no matter how much I love to remain curled into the fetal position. I guess there’s just no pleasing me.

So what lies in store for me in this slightly happier world,where things appear to be just a little bit more positive, and I might stand a tiny chance to be able to do something I want to for the rest of my life? I don’t even want to imagine a world like that! Where things happen as they are meant to, and I don’t feel like finding clever new ways to just end it all, playing them over and over again in my mind. I’m not prepared in the slightest to face a lifetime of contentedness. My whole “thing” up until now has been to be a mopey type of individual, railing against injustices and complaining that those damned kids need to get the hell off of my lawn. I haven’t the slightest clue of how I am supposed to function in a reality where I am not facing constant disappointment. I mean, it hurts to smile. Years of scowling at the world and its inhabitants have carved my face into a grotesque mockery of me, and now that I am feeling rather chuffed, my whole head has begun to ache, though the stabbing pains behind my eyes might be the key to my salvation.

I suppose that there are plenty of things for me to still get bummed out about, like the fact that, for the most part, the novel which I have begun exists only in my head, or that I still have bills and rent to pay, and pocket change just isn’t going to cut it. Ah, there it is: the sweet agony of self-doubt. Oh, how I’ve missed you these past several hours. It’s nice to see you once again. What say you and I find somewhere kind of chilly and overcast, and spend tonight cuddled up beneath that bridge I found when I was wandering?

See? It’s no use! I’m finding amusement in almost everything, including my misery. Is this what it means to finally grow up, because, if so, I want no part of it! I would much rather sit in shadows and write about how sad I am than risk a moment of pure joy. Okay, that’s not technically true, but it’s still hitting a little to close to home for me to feel entirely comfortable writing it. Perhaps it’s because the future is infinite, at least as far as it applies to my own life until the moment that I finally expire, and full of uncertainty and variables which I may not have taken into account. The past, on the other hand, has already happened, and it is infinitely more soothing to my savage brain. I can pick away at my mistakes at whichever pace I choose to set, and take the time to really examine all the ways in which I managed to screw up. Also, everything seemed better back then. Of course, that could be because there is no impending stress left in the past, whereas the present is chock full of it, and the future is nothing but decisions which I will probably fail to settle to my satisfaction.

Ughhh… this is beginning to unsettle me. I guess that it’s time to get thinking about shiny puppies and the whatnot.

Anyway, overall, I guess that I am doing better than I was the week before. Or the week before that. I suppose that I will have to discover how to survive the pitfalls of success, with all of the brand-name cigarettes and microbrews which it is purported to afford its victim. Now it looks like it is time to get back to work, so cross your fingers to grant me the courage to sit through an electronic editing session of Terracrats with my Kindle Fire. Just turn the sunshine down a little, will you?

State Of Batmart

For those of you who have been worrying about what appears to be my deteriorating state of mind, please put yourselves at ease. I’ve gone through all of this before, and will probably go through it all again, and it feels like maybe this ride is coming to an end for now. Like a tender ankle, I’m trying not to put my full weight upon my… well, that metaphor didn’t go as well as I might have liked. Let’s just say that I am tentatively optimistic that my psyche is on the mend, but I’m not going to commit to smiles and rainbows just yet. But I will say that when I woke up, I actually remained conscious for some time before going back to sleep, and when I got up for real, a couple of hours later, I wasn’t in excruciating pain, be it psychological or physical. I mean, my muscles were a bit sore, but nothing like the pain I’ve been feeling for the past several weeks. And I when I went back to sleep for my early morning nap, it was because I couldn’t sleep last night and was exhausted, as opposed to seeking solace in the nothingness of dreams. Again, it may not seem like a huge improvement, with the behavior remaining the same, but the motivations behind the actions are slightly more benevolent this time around.

It’s strange, but what I really think has been getting to me is the loneliness. Don’t get me wrong: I still even can’t stand the notion of other people, but I do miss seeing and speaking with my friends. Sometimes I forget just how much my friends mean to me. Most of the time, I prefer to be alone, thinking deep things and feeling the seductive torture of debilitating misery. Even now, when given the opportunity to spend time with people whom I have befriended in California, I usually find some reason or another not to go. To be fair, they don’t know me nearly as well as my friends who’ve known me since before I was Tex Batmart. Mostly, I just talk to Bad Leon Suave, though that seems moderately unfair to him. Then again, we have known each other for nearly thirty years, and I’ve done my share of therapy sessions with him, so I suppose that it all balances out. But even then, there is only so much that Mr. Suave can do. I don’t know what makes me think that I could survive living in a cave somewhere, no matter how attractive the idea has become.

But then I’ll post something on Facebook, something random and personal, and I see the names of friends from long ago joining together to let me know that I am still in their thoughts. I know that we have all gone our separate ways, and most of us have families and other grownup things to concern ourselves with, but there are times when I wish that I could get us all together so that we could engage uncomfortably in small talk for a while, and then find excuses to leave early. It’s probably not that bad, I realize. We’d probably talk about what’s new, retell some of the old tales of glory, and then proceed to get blind drunk, depending on how late we could afford to pay the babysitters. I suppose that I could just call some people up, but I just can’t get over how much of a failure I feel that I’ve become. I don’t mind letting Bad Leon in, but that’s only because we were in Cub Scouts together, and therefore the bar has been lowered for our standard interactions. And while I’d like to think that I would enjoy it if my friends were one day to call, I don’t know that I would even pick up the phone (I also wonder how long that phrase will survive in a world where a phone is answered by pushing a button, and has nothing to do with a handset and base).

I can see how it might appear that I am begging for my friends to call, or visit, or track me down and force a hug upon me. Please don’t. Well, I mean, if you really want to fly out here and embrace me, I guess that’s okay, but I can’t promise that I’ll answer the phone if you would rather call. Wow, that seems pretty messed up, even to me. The hermit proclaims his loneliness and sense of isolation, and then tells people that he’d probably rather be alone. It’s no wonder that I’m alone. That kind of nonsense is rather frustrating. And there’s the little matter of my wife and children. I don’t suppose that I am truly alone, but it still kind of feels that way sometimes. My wife has an entire life of her own, and her own problems to worry about, and my son is almost eight, and for all intents and purposes, completely devoid of functional empathy (idea for band name: Functional Empathy and the Infinite Bummers).

Okay, it appears that I was right: It looks like I’m not completely out of the woods quite yet. At least I can find the humor in my situation. I have the family which I wanted, am doing what I’ve always wanted to (though at a wage which is, generously, unsustainable), and what am I going on about? Feeling lonely. Oh well, I suppose that for my next trick I will look around at all the crap I have and decide that I am bored. Or look through the dresser and decide that I don’t really want to put on pants. Wait… strike that last example.

I guess what I’ve been rambling on toward, and yet manage to fail to reach, is this feeling of gratitude within me which I feel for those who I have been lucky enough to call my friends. Thank you for being there when I have needed you, whether I knew it or not. You have helped to ease my suffering, and for that, I am eternally grateful (well, grateful at least as long as I remain alive). Thank you.

The End Of All Things

Time is marching ever on, and I am left here to wonder if this is all there is. My son is set to finish with the Second Grade in just about one month, and my granddaughter should be born within the week. I have no choice but to end my sabbatical sometime in the very near future, if just to pay the bills, and the adult kids may or may not be moving out. It’s strange: for a man who is terrified of change down to his very core, I seem to be taking all of this with a surprisingly calm demeanor, as if I am squarely centered in the eye of all this chaos, able to witness it unfold with reckless beauty and untold power, yet protected from it due to my sheer, dumb luck of having nestled myself safely ‘gainst its breast. At the end of it all, I will climb out of the wreckage of my life, brush off the dust, and shield my eyes from the summer sun as I move ever onward.

But for everything that’s set to change, it’s also strange how everything seems to be staying in place. I can feel the weight of waiting weighing down upon me, and I just want to know how I’m going to manage to pull off another miracle. I had a small glimmer of hope the other day when my sister-in-law, Valentina, became the first person to support The Cause through the “Donate” button on my page. It’s not enough to keep the dream going at full speed, but it might be enough to keep the dream alive. When I finish this post, I’ll be going through Terracrats with a fine-tooth comb, looking it over a final time before I get it ready for sale on Amazon. And I also need to finish up the first Quarterly Edition of The Vaults of Uncle Walt (which, as I recall, stalled out somewhere toward the month of February). I know that there will be a waiting period before I’ll see any money from either of those, but at least I will be able to say that I’ve made some money doing something which I love.

I will also be starting work on The Novel, which I had been able to put off for the past couple of years, but which seems ready to begin the process of actually existing outside of my mind. Of course, this is still entirely academic. I need to figure out how to pump some cash into my life while I’m waiting for my words to starting pulling their own weight. But I am going to be the Little Writer That Could. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. And so on. Every single time in my life when I have had the opportunity to try and make this happen, I have always found a reason to shy away, whether it was a nervous breakdown, or that I was living in the woods behind the local Safeway, or that I simply had to have something to eat that week. I know that I’ve gone about this all wrong, and that I should have been more cautious in my life decisions. Except that when I’m cautious, I never take any chances, which means that I keep shoving the words within me down a little deeper, doing my best to suffocate my hopes and dreams before they break my heart. Almost thirty years I’ve had to get this done, and for all of that time, all of those dreams, I haven’t made it happen. That has got to change.

My greatest obstacle, of course, in none other than myself. Better than any imaginable archenemy, I know exactly how to foil my best laid plans so that they yield only ruination. It’s funny: I was talking to Wildflower as we were walking home (the Minkey and I met her at work and then walked back with her), and she was telling me that sometimes it is hard for her to see that anything is actually wrong inside me. That is, for me, the worst part of mental illness. From the outside, it just looks like someone is lazy, and all they need to get going is a swift kick to the posterior. I mean, if I can still crack a joke or two, and actually get out of bed, then why can’t I bear to face a stranger for a shitty cashier job? Well, let me let you in on a little secret, one which makes me grateful that I am not seeking to impress any members of the opposite sex:

I’m not taking care of myself. Ooh, big surprise, I know. But I’m talking about the basic things: showers, brushing teeth, changing my pair of jeans. Now, it’s not as gross as it might appear, as I do change my underwear, socks, and t-shirts daily. But the background level of apathy is so high, that I just don’t give enough of a crap about myself to actually make any of the most basic bits of care seem worth the time and effort. This isn’t because I am lazy, or that I cannot get out of bed (although that has happened once or twice), it’s just that I do not see the point. It’s difficult to see the sickness which hides behind a carefully constructed façade of jokes and misdirection. I do my best to make people laugh so that they won’t think to judge me for my failings. And I’ve learned to make myself laugh because I know that it’s better than collapsing into a pile of booger-streaming tears. Well, that, and I know that if it’s especially painful, it will make the most amusing anecdote in four or five years, so why not tell it now, and find the humor in it?

I just have to keep reminding myself that I can do this. I just wish that I believed me…

Don’t forget to come back this evening for my long-awaited review of Girlfiend’s E.P., Comrade Isodora Duncan. It will be up at 6 o’clock Pacific.

Stiff Upper Lip

I don’t want to give you the wrong idea, and make you think that I am feeling better, but I’m no longer looking at oncoming traffic with a sense of longing in my eyes. Of course, to look at traffic, one would actually have to go outside, so I don’t know how positive a development it really is. I seem to have found a handful of minutes when the crushing weight of sadness seems to have taken the time to smoke a cigarette outside my door. I would have thought that after decades of dealing with this, it would have gotten at least a little easier, but the only thing that I seem to have learned how to do is see when the melancholia is coming, so that I can wait for it with a growing sense of dread. There’s nothing quite like staring down the barrel of your imminent self-destruction while strapped into an office chair which has been kicked down a hallway directly toward your doom. At least I know what’s going on now. When I was a kid, it felt like the world suddenly became a dark and distant place, and I couldn’t even think about what might have been causing it.

It’s difficult to know what’s been a normal reaction to the impossibility of the situation in which I have placed myself, and what is just the expected dysfunction of my self-perception. I’d like to believe that it was all in my head, and that things weren’t so bad as they appeared to be, but there’s also a decent chance that I may have backed myself into a corner, and this current break with reality is simply my brain’s way of coping with the spectacular mess that I have made of things. It’s been a hell of a ride, though. Aside from those times when I feel like I am drowning in a world without a single drop of water, I have no regrets about the choices I have made. It merely appears that I have run out of time, because I do not know how to do things any faster. But I’ve managed to realize (at least, partially) a dream that I have had for nearly thirty years. And if someone can look through these ramblings tinged with madness, and find some measure of comfort in them, feel that they are not alone in what they feel. Maybe someone will see these words, and come to understand what’s going on with someone whom they love.

Seven Hours Later…

It’s perhaps a measure of arrogance to think that I could change or help the world. I mean, I can’t even figure out how to be a good dad; how am I supposed to help people I care even less about? Maybe it’s easier to care about someone in the abstract, kind of like reverse racism. If you never get to know someone, become intimately familiar with all their flaws, maybe it’s easier to believe the best about them. I suppose, then, that I’ve blown all chance of that with all of you over these past five months. But at least maybe someday my son can look back at these words, either because I have, against all odds, become successful, or perhaps because I have long since passed away and he is looking for answers as to why. I guess that means that I should get back to work on the quarterly versions of this blog, as I don’t know for how long after I expire that I will be able to maintain this site. Unless Fed or Bad Leon Suave decide to keep it up and running, as some sort of digital memorial to me.

Okay, enough of the morbid thoughts and dreams. I took a break of several hours precisely because I wanted to avoid another 1,000 words of sheer mopery.  I’ve been trying to think of funny ways to describe all of this nonsense, but the best I seem to be able to manage is a bitter chuckle here and there, mostly at my own expense, and for my own… well, for lack of a better word. amusement. I really am kind of done with wanting to ever feel like this again. I used to almost relish when the darkness came. Of course, that was in my teens and early twenties, when being dark and brooding was a surefire way to attract the ladies. Except that it never really did. But it became so comfortable, the twisting agony of anguish. Now I’m just irritated because I have better things to do. I want to be writing, both on the novel and here on the blog, and for the blog, I don’t want to simply be rehashing the same old miseries time and time again. I would much prefer to go on rants once more about iniquities and things that piss me off.

I know that all of this will pass. It has every other time, so I don’t know why this should be any exception. If it weren’t for that damnable clock which keeps on ticking in the background, I think that it might not even seem so bad. I suppose the one upside to all of this is that it feels like for the first time in our nine years together, my wife finally seems to be taking all of this seriously. I don’t mean to sound critical; if you haven’t really gone through something like this, it’s pretty hard to wrap your head around. Before, she just wanted me to “get over it,” and that was that. This time, however, I feel like she can really see that something’s wrong, and, though there’s not much that she can do, she truly wants to help. Of course, it could just be that she wants to help make me well again so that she can lay the smack down on a moving target (otherwise it’s probably just not as fun). Like when you send a Death Row inmate to the infirmary just days before you’re scheduled to execute him.

No, but my wife has actually been amazing this past week, and I honestly don’t know what I would have done all of these past years without her. I guess now that it’s just a matter of trying on a stiff upper lip, and attempting to face the world again. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Depression: Apathy and Appetizers

Welcome to the world of muddled thoughts, where everything is just a little darker than it was just moments before. I seem to have built up enough self-recrimination to nudge myself into action, so I’m going to try to describe the hellish landscape within my mind. If it was up to me, I think that I might prefer to write about things which made me happy, or things which are important, but the only thing that I can see right now is the magnitude of this depressive wave, and how it feels like I am being carried out to see. There must be a small break in the action, however, as I managed to stick with just one metaphor for an entire sentence. And I’m sorry if this seems a little disjointed- I feel like I screaming out tiny whispers through the cracks in my prison wall between the routine patrols of the prison guards who would seek to keep me quiet. And here you thought I would be writing something funny. I know that this isn’t really a good example of what I think that my writing should be, but I also feel that it’s important to remind myself of how it feels when I cannot bear to feel things anymore.

It always seems that for every victory I achieve, I am dealt a crushing defeat. I managed to write more last week than I thought I would be able, and this week I cannot even bear to face my daily blog. Hell, I was reduced to putting down my hat and begging for handouts because the outside world just terrifies me right now. Not that it matters: no one has called back about the résumés I’ve left. The time has most likely come that I should go and see someone about this swirling jumble of nonsense in the ethers of my brain. It’s one thing to carry on a one-sided therapy session with the internet, but without someone asking me how all this nonsense makes me feel, it’s hard to make any forward progress. And I’ve managed to isolate myself from human contact outside my home, though my wife has been amazingly supportive of me during these past few days, and I don’t know what to make of that. I guess I just need some telephonic hugs from people who matter to me (not that I think that I would actually answer the phone if they were to call).

I am afraid to talk to them because I don’t want them to know just how much this is affecting me. I mean, they read the blog, but it’s different when I cannot pause and just collect my thoughts to make myself appear to be a little bit more normal (I’m coming off as normal, right?). The truth is that I want to just slap myself and yell at myself to just pull myself together, and get over it, which, if you have been paying attention, is about the worst thing that you can do to someone who suffers from depression. I guess I’ve just been living with this for so long that even have run out of patience. I cannot even begin to imagine what all of you in the mists of the interwebz are thinking. Hey, wasn’t he funnier before? Didn’t he at least think that he was funnier before? Is he going to write about anything else, ’cause I’m kind of tired of reading about Captain Mopey and Bummers. I mean, I get it: he’s depressed. But does he have to whinge on about it so much? Is he just making this all up so that he doesn’t have to try and find a job?

Okay, that last one was me. Sometimes I worry that all of this is just something in my head. And then I laugh a bitter little laugh, because obviously it is. It’s like when my doctor postulated that my pain might be in my head (well, until the physical therapist discovered that I apparently did not possess the capability to relax, and realized that a majority of my discomfort was brought about by tension in my muscles). I wanted to mention that all pain is in people’s heads. It’s all just electrochemical signals flowing back and forth between the body and the brain, and that the reason that chili peppers are painful is that our brains are stupid at so very many things. I kept that to myself though, because getting philosophical with medical professionals only seems to relieve my psychic pain, while my legs and back remain untreated. I just wish that I wasn’t so functional. I mean, here I am, crippled by… all of this… and I’m focused on the times when I have actually been able to hold down a steady job, sometimes for years at time. Of course, of you were to go through my files, you’d probably find mentions of some spectacularly poor decisions and reprimands for… things which seemed the only course of action at the time.

I am a quick learner. I am willing to literally and figuratively kill myself for the benefit of my employer (the literal part refers to a cumulative effect of all of the little ways in which I neglect my well-being). I have shown time and again that I will put my job first, and let my family have what few scraps remain. Isn’t that why I quit in the first place? Didn’t I want to show my son that there was a better way? Good job, Dad! Way to show him all of the benefits of financial ruin, destitution, and applied homelessness. I know that this will pass, one way or another. I know that I’m just lost here in an echo chamber of mortal misery. I have to believe that things will be better. They have been before, and who am I to argue statistics? I just wish that there was some sort of button which I could press to simply make all of this… nonsense… go away. Never mind that I’ve tried that before, and I wound up more miserable than when I was my normal, charming self.

I’m going to try to get some work done on my review of Girlfiend’s EP, Comrade Isodora DuncanAs always, thanks for listening.

Mental Health: Nervous Breakdancing

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for bearing with me.