Theories on the Development of Disorder

When something, an emotion, an urge, an impulse, is so severely suppressed that a person becomes oppressed, we can often observe extreme opposite reactions. This is consistent with the laws of physics and the universe, “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” Except, one thing. I believe when it comes to emotions and behaviors, the opposing reaction is more like equal plus. The plus being an x-value holding place for a value with the meaning “a little more.” Determining that exact value in numerical terms may be difficult, since there is no numerical value for emotions.

It basically conveys the message that the situation perpetuates itself. Any potential absence of behavior or action can still be perceived as a positive value. Inaction can still be considered an action in this case, because there isn’t really such a thing as a complete absence of behavior.

This is potentially a huge factor in mental illness. Obviously, we are aware of the psychological damage abuse and neglect in childhood can cause, even throughout adulthood. It is thought to manifest in anxiety disorders, particularly Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. However, that does not account for people who did not experience what is typically considered childhood trauma.

Even as adults, we are susceptible to psychological damage. This is a fact that is well established through research involving war veteran and victims of sexual assault. However, we only consider extreme forms of trauma as something qualifies as such. Such is also true of childhood trauma.

Other qualifying trauma often happens over a period of time, and goes consciously unrecognized. This does not mean that it is also subconsciously unrecognized as well. In fact, the subconscious is likely keenly aware, but unable to translate to the conscious mind.

Once the conscious mind becomes aware that there is something amiss, the traumatizing behavior seems commonplace. The person has likely become desensitized to what was once a subtle, but generally constant external stressor. By then, it becomes internalized and often mistaken as an internal stressor.

Those are the seeds for maladaptive behaviors in both children and adults. At this point, unhealthy coping mechanisms have already been adopted as part of a person’s behavioral repertoire. This is directly the result of an extreme reaction to the accumulation of what may be considered subtle long term stressor(s).

The maladaptive behaviors are recognized as such, and perpetuate trauma through mistreatment of oneself. It can be behaviorally observed by an unusual response to certain unpleasant stimuli. Unfortunately, the subject is often unaware that their responses are abnormal. By the time it is either pointed out or realized by oneself, the original cause is well buried under layers of self-abuse / neglect.

The result of this is much larger than anxiety disorders. It reaches out to grab behaviors typical of a variety of psychological disorders. Behavior repertoires are often observed in personality disorders and mood disorders. it would stand to reason this is true, due to the nature of long-term external stressors, particularly subtle abuse and neglect.

Notes, Vicodin, and Wounds

Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. I excused myself to “put Trent down for a nap”. And I curled up in the bathroom, blanket wrapped tightly around me. A safe cocoon. A straight jacket.

The intrusive thoughts came in the silence. At first, they were indistinguishable from the rest of the noise. Then, one came out very plainly, rolling as a hardly audiable murmur from my lips.

“Why?” the sobs welled in my throat as the tears poured down my face. I smalled the sobs for as long as I could.

“I am so alone,” I whispered. My face contorted. My jaw tightened as my top teeth extended out. An enormous sob was lodged in my throat. With all of the power of will that remained, I silenced it.

“He doesn’t love you. If he loved you, he would have tried.”

“Your marriage has failed.”

The voices barraged me relentlessly with intrusive thought that had no real evidence. But the absence, the distance, was enough for me to formulate theories.

I was no longer slow dancing in the burning room. I sat at the piano, alone, playing out the most sour of melodies. This had been evacuated a long time ago. I took in a lungful of dark, black smoke, and now I was choking on it.

“You should runaway. Leave your phone and just hide. It doesnt matter that it’s 30F and raining. Leave this place.”

“I won’t give up my son.”

“Break shit. Starting with dishes and glasses.”

“And then take more of a shit storm than I can handle.”

“Take handfuls of pills to make you numb.”

The crying ceased, and besides the stirring, turning wheel in my head, I was tapped out.

Desperate, as people get before they die in a tragedy, I slinked back up the stairs and into the room. The house was silent, heavy with slumber. I reached into the back of the drawer. I took a vicodin, the drug that almost killed me the last time. I didn’t care. Come what may.

Grey suicide.

After I let the drugs settle in, I started the note. i explained the fundamental problems. No affection, save for the verbal foreplay. Disinterest and dismissal. Isolation and alienation. A communication block. Walking on eggshells to keep him happy and sane. Oppressive states of living, impossible expectations. All of the things I could never say to his face.

And that was only an overview.

I decided to move forward with my impulse to leave. I planned on leaving my phone and hiding away at the trestle. Alone. A place of refuge where no one would think to look. Save for Chris, who would be unlikely to consider it.

I went into the bathroom donning only a bathrobe. It was warm. I discovered a boxcutter I had hidden nearly a year ago. the temptation was irresistible. It was the only way to make these thoughts go away. To make it all disappear and usher in the empty mind born only from numbess.

To my dismay, it was dull. I had to tear at the flesh on my still shishy hip. Five lines. One for each year we have been together. I could have kept going. I stared at the bleeding cuts, satisfied with the pain and the amount of blood I had drawn.

And I looked up into the mirror at the red nosed, disheveled girl with the wild look in her eyes. Something primal existed there. That girl wasn’t me. I was staring at a loathsome stranger.

I got up, ready to sear my skin with the hottest water I could withstand. I was ready to shave every inch of my body. I scrapped and scratched away the flesh staining me. I wanted to wash this day away.

It didn’t end there. I returned to the upstairs to find him awake. I questioned, “Have you read my note?”

“No, I’ll read it later.”

“You really should consider reading it now.”

Another excuse, “I have to make dinner,” while he continued to surf Facebook.

“It’s really important,” I pressed.

“Not right now,” he protested.

I was pushing now, “Then when?”

“I don’t know. Later,” he dismissed some more.

“A later that will never come.” I thought of all of the unread emails I had sent that went straight to archive. Not even remotely close to a priority.

“Because I don’t want to ruin my Sunday. The only time I have to relax before I have to go back to working 50 hours a week!”

In my mind, I said, “Which you *CHOOSE* to do.”

“Fine. If you do not care enough about our marriage enough to take time to read this, then I’m done. I can’t do this anymore. it can’t go on like this.”

“If you want me to read this so fucking badly, then I will.”

“No, just X it out. I’m done.” I meant it. I was finished with this marriage.

He did read it, mocking some parts of it, as I expected. I knew it wouldn’t be well received. If I spoke these words aloud, I’d suffer more dismissal and rationalizations. I’d suffer more pain through his outrage, pointing out my selfishness, neediness, clinginess, and what he considered to be my inability to see beyond myself.

We fought some more downstairs. Not tearing out throats this time. But in a heated argument. He quoted, “regarded coldy like a business associate”.

“Yes. Not even as basic as friendship. I am not a part of your personal life. I am never let in. In fact, I am pushed away, even physically.”

“I was sick, you know, after drinking more than half a bottle of tequila.”

“You’re always sick. Headache, stomach ache, body ache, anything that can hurt does.”

Sarcastically, he said, “What am I supposed to do. Go to the doctor and say, ‘My wife is pissed that I have pains’?”

“Yes, something. No more excuses. I will not except them.”

“How is it that one of us is perfectly happy? i am completely content.”

“Because the other person bends over backwards to make the other one is happy! I walk on eggshells to take your feelings into consideration and not upset you. It’s suffocating!”

He paused to think. Apparently, I had touched on something.

I know he’s going through something. But, this is no excuse. I don’t deserve this isolation. I do everything to satisfy. I don’t ask for anything out of the question.

I just want to be shown love. Satisfaction. I want him to want me. All of me. To recognize my efforts. To be delighted by my displays. To feel warm.

We reconciled. But, it’s Monday. Back to business as usual. No emails, texts. I didnt want to talk to him after work. I wanted him to suffer. To question if I was alright.

I’m not.

I thought it could be made up. I’m sure another disappointing date is upon us. He did take the time to set something up, likely out of guilt that he didn’t in advance. I wanted to spend some time on the sofa. And I was asked to sit on the floor in proximity to the sofa he laid on.

Daggers. I expected it. I wasn’t devestated. I was despondent. i warned him I was close to shutting down, just a day earlier. When I shut down, it’s over. i’ve given up. It would only be a matter of time before someone calls it quits.

Once a person is out, they are out. A wall will go up, impenetrable. And i will spend my time doing what I want, without any regard for his wants or needs. he violated mine. I may end up done with all of that.

Two more days. I’ll give him by the end of Thursday, the actual day of our wedding anniversary. After that, he’s on his own.

No more threats. Action.

I cannot suffer many more disappointments and rejections.

The Woman Who Played With Matches

Tuesday was a big day. The Blackberry – now dubbed BB4, because I’ve determined I’ve doomed any inanimate (and potentially animate) object I name, arrived. And I struggled at every step getting the damn information transferred.

A compulsion dragged me into two different pharmacies in town, in search of a replacement Sharpie pen. I obsessed about it. I couldn’t continue writing in my journal without it. The writing wouldn’t look right. I saw the hideous tag of $9 and change for two. And I decided that day that my sanity had a price.

I continued with my regression therapy experiment by listening to The Downward Spiral by Nine Inch Nails. The album as a whole. Still nothing but lyrics. I can’t ever remember where I put my phone and my cigarettes. But, I’ll never forget a single lyric from any of those 14 songs.

All day, obsessions. These obsessive, intrusive thoughts snagged and snapped at me.

You lose everything remotely important. Check your bag for your pens. Your cigarettes. Your phone. Check again and make sure you see it. Did you put it back in there? Check again.

The world whizzed by me. And the music blared:

“Need you.

Dream you.

Find you.

Taste you.

Fuck you.

Use you.

Scar you.

Break you.”

Eraser

C L I C K .

– – – – –
“Fine-ally!” I seriously thought my bladder was going to literally burst inside of me. I pulled myself to sitting on the beige bench seat, all the way in the back. My heavy sandal fell off of my foot and landed directly on my copy of The Downward Spiral. I plummeted at freefall speeds. And upon impact, BANG! I was fiercely sobbing, van door open to a busy, boiling hot highway.

I rustled myself out of that van, and into that rest stop. I lit up a cigarette in a stall (back when you could smoke almost everywhere), and continued to sob.

“What the hell are you causing so much fuss about?” I heard from the stall next to me, “Me and your dad will buy you a new one when we get there.”
– – – – –

My father wouldn’t let me have anything that held any value. I didn’t even carry a wallet until I was 18. I didn’t carry a purse until I was 21. Why have these things without valuables. He insisted that I’d lose it.

When I did lose something, I’d never hear the end of it. Things I’ve come to realize can be easily replaced. A pen. A hat. The trouble is that these things never were replaced. If I lost something, and I loved it, it was gone forever.

Gone forever.

“Everyone I know, goes away, in the end.” Trent purred.

I was eager to get the key into the lock. I couldn’t remember the last time I had to go so urgently. I threw my bags on the sofa as I rushed through. I shedded my coat onto a kitchen chair and turned the corner to the bathroom. I walked up to the toilet and –

The seat was up.

Why was the seat up? I was the last one in the house.

A cloud descended upon me. A dark, nasty, vile cloud filled my head with heavy, smokey noise. It seemed a man had been in my house. And seeing as how only two men have a key to this house, and know the odd work hours I keep, that narrowed it down.

I take my father at his word. The man doesn’t lie. He would just avoid the subject.

That knocks it down to one.

“Confront him.”

“Wait! Don’t! Confronting a potential liar gets you nothing but more lies. Provoke him into exposing himself.”

I fired off a text, “Someone is busted.”

Normally, there is a lag time between fifteen minutes to three hours between texts. “I’m just so busy with everything going on! I’ll go to text you back and something will come up.”

More excuses. I don’t expect to take precedence every day. Just one day would be enough.

Immediately, a call shot to my cell. I nonchalantly answered the phone. At first, he carefully poked around. “Who? What do you mean? What happened?”

We didn’t speak while he was coming home. Unusual. He was only quiet when he was either alienating someone or plotting. I had him cornered.

When he arrived home, he put on a great show. He anxiously scoured the house looking for clues. In paranoia, he wedged himself between the fridge and the wall to boost himself above the drop ceiling. It was quite the farce.

He made a mistake. My husband, a man who is not guilty of anything and deeply crippled by anxiety, would not have given up so easily.

He was chipper when asking, “Would you like to take a walk over to the store for freezer pizza?”

I was bitter and suspicious. He hadn’t regarded me in that way in nearly a month. Each revision of behaviors became more noticeable. He eagerly set up the stroller. He made a pass of the exterior of the house for good measure. Only a pass. It was anything but thorough.

“So who do you think it could have been?” he uneasily questioned me.

Fishing.

“Anyone.”

“Like who.”

“Everyone and anyone who could gain access to our house. Whether it be by force or key.”

Some more silence.

He rattled off a few very unlikely people. Forced. Any shift away from focusing on him. The insinuation was nowhere near vague. If there was something to hide, I’d find out. I made that unmistakably clear.

He trotted through the store. Suddenly, necessary items considered to be superfluous became important. I begged him for toothpaste when I had thrush. I knew it would clear faster. But, though we had just gotten paid, there was no money available.

He was overly enthusiastic about everything. At one point, he went to the Digiorno pizzas, and exclaimed what a great price they were. I had done so three months ago, and was shot down, claims they were still “too expensive'”, and returned to the same nasty, three, overcooked Tombstones.

Fake. Appeasing me. Buying my distractions.

I glared as he rushed through our taxes without complaint. We have never done our taxes so late. Never down to the wire like this.

Irresponsible. Careless. Uncharacteristic.

I fished through his cell phone for clues. He’s clever. He would have erased any tracks. He’s too paranoid to let anything revealing slip.

I have my reasons.

Pulling on the Reins

Firstly, I’d like to apologize to my readers.  I have not be a good blogger, and I have not been able to keep up with other blogs at the moment.  My emotional life has been chaotic, at best.

Lulu's Recent Moodscope

I’ve had a couple of 60’s and 70’s.  But, I’ve had many days that were in the blue.  I noticed what the defining factor of my highest days was.  Exercise.

Training is exhausting, but I absolutely love the run.  It does take a lot of my time and energy.  I’ve realized that I need to work on me for awhile.  Without this work, I will crumble beneath myself.  It is imperative that I start cementing my own foundation.  I find it crucial that I start defining myself in different ways, through expansion and reassigning attributes.  I find the need to grow beyond what I am at this moment.

I want to make this clear.  No, I am in no way leaving Pendulum, Canvas, or abandoning Blog for Mental Health 2012.

In fact, I am reprioritizing my blogging and my life in general.  Where these things make the top ten, in importance.  I’ve realized that mental health blogging, and mental health advocacy through blogging are extraordinarily important in my life.  I have not been giving them a great deal of priority as of late, and I find it incredibly unfair to others, including myself.

Shorting myself is something that I seem to be painfully talented at.  It is too easy for me to become complacent and put the needs of others before my own.  In my personal life, I need more freedoms.  I need more alone time.

I need to stop begging, borrowing, and stealing time.

I have to stop feeling like I owe things to people, and get trapped in a self-perpetuating cycle of obligation and manipulation.  As far as I’m concerned, I have paid my debts.  The rest is for me.

Selfish or not, that’s the way it is.

Again, I am too passive.  I am too complacent and find myself working too hard to keep the status-quot when I am completely dissatisfied with it.  My foot is down, planted on sturdy, firm ground.  I am taking a stand.

Instance:
We took a brisk, early morning walk to our local pharmacy.  It’s not too far, about a mile or so.

I had warned C.S. that it may take more than a few moments for them to fill my prescription.  Sometimes, I have to wonder who is the woman in this relationship.  He huffed and puffed, and we moved around the store.  I picked up some essentials, and have been craving new writing pens.

(I will have them.)  They just didn’t have the ones I liked.  But, a frivilous purchase, although I am a school teacher, was out of the question.

The pharmacist asked me what I’d like to do with my b/c script.  It’s not due to be filled until the 9th.  Except, for some reason, I’m early.  It would have had a co-pay that day, as opposed to not having a copay if I could wait it out two days.  I turned to ask C.S.’s opinion.  I do need the medication, but not that badly.  I can make up for missed pills.

He sat there, with our son and hassled me.  Get the pills.  Let’s go.  Beast is starting to get fussy..  I turned to him and said firmly, “I am making decisions about my health and our finances.  If you or T.D. is having a problem, then kindly take him outside and wait.”

The walk home was difficult.  Not in the sense that it physically bothered me.  I’m in fantastic shape, putting a many miles under my feet.  I went on this tirade.  “It is not your mind, and it is not your body.  It’s none of your business.”

To which he replied, “I’m paying for it.  It is my business.”

“It’s not.  You don’t live inside of me.  You don’t know what goes on in there.  You have no interest in it either.  Butt out.”

I despised that phrase, “I’m paying for it.  It is my business.”  On two fronts.  I pay my contribution toward the severe detriment we suffer due to my extensive medical needs.  I commute and hour each way to do so.  It is not as if I am laying around a sofa all day, spending all of our bank account.  Don’t portray me as so.

I had pointed out at one point that he was not my legal guardian, and no living will exists to proclaim him my proxy when and if I become incapacitated.  Damn fine move on my part.

He plays no role in my treatment.  I have signed releases that he has full access to my records.  He has never spoke to my doctor about any troublesome symptoms.  In fact, as much I hate to admit this, I would be likely to declare my indecisive mother a medical proxy.  She’s done so well with the rest of the family.

I am pulling in the reins.  This carriage will not continue until I say so.  It is my life too, and I feel like I’m being completely left out of it.  This is my stand.

But, verbally sparing and expressing emotion is a tricky engagement in my household.  So, pulling in the reins is more than taking full control over own life and those dealings.  It is pulling in the reigns of my marriage.  I am pulling back.  Plans change to suit him.  I am disappointed.  Therefore, I am pulling back.  I don’t depend on him for my happiness.

I want to, I want to be someone else or I’ll explode.

Radiohead - Talk Show Host, most commonly known from Romeo + Juliet

Anxiety Know No Logic

We have nothing to fear but fear itself.
Winston Churchill

That is an absolute, inescapable truth about chronic anxiety and anxiety disorders. While we attribute out fears, phobias, and anxiety to external factors, the fact of the matter remains. It is the fear that drives the anxiety.

Recently, I have experienced what is perhaps the longest bout of anxiety in my course of treatment. I did not realize it at first. Anxiety sees the first sparks from reasonable reaction to an external stressor.

I have an abundance of stress-inducing events and circumstances all seemingly happening at once. My grandmother’s health and mind are failing. To be frank, she is dying. I have accepted it. She is eighty-five, and has had diabetes longer than I have been alive. This is nature’s way.

I mourn her passing while she still lives. It pains me that I am alone in this, and makes me anxious just the same. What horrible person stands ready with the casket open and the hole dug?

 

Anxiety is an asexual creature in the sense that anxiety begets anxiety in itself. It feeds off of one singular thought. “What if?” It does not have to be phrased as such, but it remains constant. Anxiety breeds more anxiety in the circular logic that one anxiety attack heralds many more. Anticipatory anxiety.

I abhor change. Mostly, it is ripe with problems that multiply like mice in a cascading domino effect. Even when it is a step toward something better, that fact still remains. And in certain circumstances, it is enough to have the whole thing come crashing down. Mouse trap. Caged in one’s own folly.

If we step back, even for a moment, the entire incredible illogical reaction is laughable. Anxiety is curious in the way that it narrows one’s focus, and puts a set of blinders on it’s victims. There is no sight beyond that immediate threat, and other threats that surround it. Often, we are unable to take that step to see beyond.

Or any step, for that matter. Fight or flight? Neither. Freeze.

Some animals in the wild, when in fight or flight, often freeze. Deer in the headlights. It is an attempt to camouflage into the surroundings, as opposed to fighting a losing battle, or fleeing from a quicker predator. Anxiety often evokes the freeze mechanism. It is an enemy that we cannot see, therefore we cannot run, and we cannot fight.

Worse, is the belief that there is no place to hide.

Why so much fear in the fear itself? How could one possibly cower in the face of an invisible enemy?! It’s absurd!

Until one has been victim of that transparent, intangible foe.

Faded. Tired. Uninspired.

I’m in hiding.

I can’t put my finger on it. What the hell is going on with me? I feel like I’m doing laps around it. Hotter, colder, colder, hotter. No matter how hard I search, I cannot get a grasp on the object of my torment.

This has rendered me useless. Depression, as it deepens, always has a way of crippling me and all of my abilities. But, there’s more to it than just depression. There always is. I feel it, aching in my bones, coursing through my veins as molasses.

I suppose I have gone on about depression in posts prior. But, I’d like to take some time to describe the state, and then dissect the function, or lack thereof.

It’s like being fatigued, without being physically tired or exhausted. My mind is exhausted, easily overwhelmed by the overbearing world. Too bright, too loud, too – everything. It’s too much. That’s the spark for panic. I’ll come back to this.

I don’t feel like I’m here. It’s like walking in a dream state sometimes. Things are blurred around the edges, and no matter how hard I squint, it doesn’t get any clearer. Some things cannot register when I attempt to remember them. I saw it vividly, and I can almost get it. Almost.

Almost there, but not even close.

My mind cannot draw a straight line between two ideas. Everything doesn’t fragment, as much as the ties that bind loosen. Nothing sticks, I’m teflon. It all slides away into this black abyss I’m constantly staring into.

How far down do you think it is?

Even when I am able to hold something as my own, I choke on my words. I am drowning on dry land. I sputter, but it refuses to come out.

This dreadful shadow looms over me, blocking out any sunlight. No matter where I move in my attempts to come into the sun, I cannot outsmart it. I cannot evade it, and we remain bound.

Me and my shadow.

It stands, judging me. My judgment day, yesterday, today, tomorrow, and who can know how many days I will be followed by the watchful eyes? All I see are these dark, glaring eyes from far above, peering down at me. I swallow, but a lump has grown, making each gulp like choking down broken glass.

The Panic.

Vacuums the air right from my lung, harder than getting the wind knocked out of you. And I gasp for it, like I were attempting to breathe through a straw, filtered on the tip with cheese cloth. The air is thin and scarce. Drowning, on dry land.

My nerve endings are so frayed that they are deadened, save for a few sparks that set little fires about this paper house. Paper. It could come apart at any moment. A little wetness will dissolved the whole damn thing. A good gust will blow it over. And if anyone were to come after me, they could shred it, and simply grab me up by my collar to drag me away. I’m not even sure I have the fight in me to make one last stand.

Because gravity is holding harder than usual. Everything is heavier. I am being pulled closer, and closer to the earth. And when I fall, it will swallow me up, and I will be no longer.

I press on.

But, it watches me. It invokes a gripping fear that puts the vices on my heart. If I speak, it squeezes harder. It pushes me further. I witness the world move around me, and I beg so much to be apart of it. No matter where I am, or who I am, or what I am doing, I will always only get as close as brushing the fringes with my fingertips.

. . .

Singular thoughts, even just notions, are enough to whisper me into hiding. Four concrete walls. Buried fifteen feet into myself. Radio silence.

What is there to say anyway?

I’m faded through and through. My words, my ideas, flimsy and translucent. The focus blurs, and the letters just mesh into ink blobs.

And things start falling apart.

I Made a Promise

There is no escape.

There is no escape.

I made a promise. And I don’t make promises that I can’t keep.

(Stream of consciousness. It has to come out quickly.)

Knock on wood. I think I might be turning a corner!

A corner in the labyrinth of depression may lead one to –

* a straight and narrow path, brightening as one draws near to the exit.

* deeper into the dark, twisted heart of the very malevolent creature we whisper of.

And there are moments, moments such as these, where we are thrust into a corridor by an errant –

Force. Something completely unseen. Others go completely undisturbed, maybe slightly gusted, but completely unharmed. And they walk along.

The world is upside down and I am inside out. In this place, there are no rules. Gravity? Puh. Things are magnetised to another without reason. But, there is always causation. Life, living, any plane of existence is contingent upon cause and effect. The question why goes largely unfulfilled. Is there ever a complete answer?

I want to eradicate why from my vocabulary, and live as if it never existed. I want to be. But, that is deeply nested within the strong desire not to be. Again, nested, rooted deeply within one another, life-death, life-death, life-death.

I died so I could live, and I lived so I could die.

Dozens, upon dozens, upon dozens of times.

Why always the threes? Psychologically, three is the liars number.

It’s true. Interrogation of a liar will prove it. Lies. 3AM. Only 3 times. Even for someone to remember something, it will have to be repeated six times. Six divide two (because there are usually two people in that situation) is three. It happens in threes. Everything in the whole world happens in threes. Births. Deaths. Bad luck. Good luck. Two people plus an outside catalyst is three. We live in a sea of threes.

But, for me, it’s not a sea anymore. I stared blankly for awhile, overcome by it all, drowning in it. I watched it break apart, like fractured, old drywall. Piece by piece, with the reality of it still flickering within the shattering images, I watched it fall away.

My head hurts. I have this funny feeling in my head, and my words on this screen are as loud as a stadium speaker system in my head. The whole thing makes me tender and nauseous, completely fucking raw, blistered, and splintering.

I am loading up on benzos. I don’t want to do anything regrettable. I am twitching, and the air is being vacuumed out of my lungs. I am in a silent room, save for the overburdened furnace. I need to know if this is real.

My head is blank. The stadium is completely empty, while I blair into it. On my soapbox, spinning whimsical tales that the Grimm Brothers would envy. My life, all of this, the various realities I live in are stranger than any fiction. I don’t lie. That’s the strangest fact of them all. The threes are some sick obsession, some fact that keeps me grounded. Maybe I am a liar. Maybe I lie to myself.

I know the pieces fit, because I watched them fall away.

I need to cry, but the tears won’t come. I admonish my mother for being stoic, and yet, I will not release whatever this is. When did I stop being good at any of this? When did I stop being good at my life? My chest aches as it caves around my withering heart.

I want to blurt everything out, vulgarity intact. I need to smoke a cigarette before I come apart. Before this disintegration pulls the stitching right out. Because, you know that’s all that I am made of, right? Leftover parts, stitched and stuffed. Ragdoll to rule the ragdolls. I’m hardly fit to be the dog’s chew toy.

Now, I will write the words I fear will be true. But worse, I fear the reproach from others, and all of the criticisms that I cannot sustain.

I do not make this world a better place. It is futile for me to try, not because one person can’t make a difference. Because I am not the person who can lead the way.

I am of little worth outside of my tangible self. And not so much in the other respect. I earn money. I care for my son. I clean house. I cook. And all of those are just plain piss poor jobs.

I may never actually believe that I am worthy of love, admiration, affection, or any of the sort. That is why I don’t take compliments well. I cannot believe them, not for the sake of worrying about ulterior motives. It’s worse when they are truth, and I simply cannot absorb them.

I will never get out of this. I rarely use the word never, but it is appropriate here. I may cycle up, but only to tumble back down. I will spend my whole life doing this. I will fail at everything because of this. Or, I will shuffle through everything, doing a half-assed job, because I don’t have it in me. I am kidding myself when I think that there is something besides this.

And if I could wish myself out of existence now, I would use the first two wishes to bless my dearest of friends. All of you. Each encouraging message, lovely compliment, endearing sentiment, and empathetic passage. They have been my world in the last nine months.

There is no way out. And I want to feel. I want to feel the pain I cannot express. I want the punishment of what I have done and have failed to do. I want the streaming tears and the rooftop screams.

I want out of my fucking tortured brain!

Instead, I will eat milligram after milligram of benzos until I am either numb enough to just be, or unconscious. It’s not really my choice.

But was any of this ever my choice?

Quiet Desperation

Warning: This post covers sensitive subjects and strong themes that may contain triggers. Reader discretion is advised.

This is the cage I built for myself.

Feral beasts are dangerous business. Clever, tricky, and adapted to escape at all costs.

Be still. It may not see you.

Still, silent in the brush. It obscured any vision. Each breath more shallow, as I dared not inhale, lest the beast’s minions catch the sound. One fatal mistake. One stirring.

Run like hell!

A jump and a sprint, I was dashing off into the great beyond. Dozens of faces, so many places, a blur, while I disguised myself among them. I’m okay. I’m fine. Each tortured response beckoned the minions closer. How can they possibly hear me when I can hardly hear myself?

And I fell silent. I no longer possessed meaningful words, delicate prose, or any of the everything and anything I’ve been revered as.  They were carried away, the winds encircling my disheveled being robbing me of them, and corroding the sharp edges.  Running.  Focus on running.

Crowded towns grew thinner, and passing remarks couldn’t have been louder than a faint whisper.  Sparse landscape, withering, yellow, knee high grass.  Plain sight.

Blistered feet and lungs ablaze, each passing breath more laborious than the last.  I pressed on.  The grass gave way to shifting sands, a sea of desert.  I slipped and skidded, dune to dune, determined.

If I can remain on my feet long enough, I will outpace this.

Every ounce of focus dripped into the concentration it took to remain on my feet, to drag the air into my lungs, to keep myself steady.  The sea of sand was merely a mirage as I kept my sight ahead.  Rock.  Steady, solid, crags awaiting my arrival.  This is where my feet took me.  My safety, solitude amongst these rocks.  I scaled them with delight, my anxiety eased, all of the heavy burdens lifting.  The top was in sight.  I pulled myself to standing.

To precariously perch on a cliffside.  Frozen, despairing, I peered over the edge, just long enough to peek at the crashing, foaming water beneath me.  Was it took late to retrace my path?  One backward glance.  All I saw were shadows rushing me.  With one incredible thrust, I was thrown from that ledge into free fall.

The wind screamed in my ears, filling my head with all of the sound in the world.  One voice stood out in high contrast, seemingly pressed against my eardrum.

The Voice murmured, “Helpless.  On your way down.  You destroy everything you touch.”

Tumbling mid-air, disoriented without a sense of up or down.  I dropped in free fall.  Slam!  – The water became a wall against my back and knocked wind clear from my very soul.  My body had become leaden and weak from the desperate flight.  The sea was the color of ink, waves licking and thrashing my now ragdoll body.

And the sinking.  No flailing and gasping.  No fight.  Just sinking.

——

I waited, ear poised in wait of the closing door. Patient, still anticipation. Another few minutes past, I went to the window. The car was gone. In a moment, I’d be free.

I would be released from the constant, throbbing ache. The very same sore that punctures like soul like cigarette burns through paper. Liberation would come from the nervous pacing, anticipatory anxiety of living within the ever-looming, glaring shadow of bipolar depression. Released from the twisting tendrils born from a withering mind. From my silent desperation.

Solace in a blade.

Necessary evils.

Necessary evils.

Is your love strong enough?

It rang out clear as a bell and filled my otherwise unoccupied room. Everything I loved and hated, all together, all at once, surrounded me. Everything I adored and despised, one in the same within me.

Like a rock in the sea.

The blade edge pierced the flesh of my ankle. The flash of pain merely dimmed the torrent inside of me. A momentary distraction. I’d retrace that line, pressing harder, digging deeper.

And I will answer to no one.

Am I asking too much?

Yes. Always.

First blood. It rushed to the surface, red as fire, trickling from my veins. It was a delightfully horrific sight. A witness to all of the agony released. Blood letting.

Is your love strong enough?

Once. Twice. Again. More. More. Another! I want to drive it all out!

Five distinct slices in all. I heaved an enormous sigh, and lit a cigarette. I sank like a stone. The chase was over; the thrashing and flailing finished. I surrendered myself to the undertow, and watched almost indifferently as the surface faded to black.

Maybe I’d just disappear
If I can’t keep my head above the tide

Please, anyone?
I don’t think I can
Save myself . . .

Fighting Back : A Bus Story

This bus. This is the same bus I take to and from work all of the time. Same routes, same drivers, and generally the same people.

Not a whole lot changes in my life. Steady job, happily married, a resident of my neighborhood for more than two cumulative decades. It is not monotonous in the slightest. It is stable.

Because, regardless of the things that remain concrete, I am always evolving, always flowing, and fluctuating. I am up; I am down. I do not have the luxury of having a constant mental state, where everything is perceived exactly as is was yesterday, and the day before that. Also, I do not have consistency within myself and my emotions to risk tipping the scales.  The cost is too great. 

I am more than content to go on living my life in the same way, unlike many others.  Why?  Because I have endured so much and worked so hard to get to this point.  Right here, where I undoubtedly believe that there are concrete things to grab onto when I’m sliding, and I have at least a modicum of clarity about myself, my present, and my future.

It’s this clarity that keeps me intact.

The predictability that I am going to wake up next to my husband, poke around on WordPress, play with my son, feed us, walk down the street, and hop on the same bus, at the same time, with the same driver to go to the same place I went the day before.

I do that backward in the evening.

I wrote this to a friend, soon after I wrote Pause. Skip. Fast-Forward.

“My mind feels like it fell from a skyscraper and shattered on the ground, 100 stories below. That’s the kind of wreckage we’re talking about. Not only did I leave an impact crater, I’m practically dust at the bottom of it. I can’t think, and I’m overwhelmed by this horrid, damaged feeling.

. . . I was handling it pretty well from moment to moment because they were pretty pronounced from one another, and rather short. Now, I’m pretty sure something tipped me off of my precarious ledge. It doesn’t matter what the causation was, because it’s not going to act as an antidote.

It was coming anyway. Three months in the making.

. . . I can’t trust anything I say, think, or do right now . . .

A few nights ago, I found myself standing at my same stop, waiting for my same bus, having a conversation with C.S. about our respective days.  They had been rough ones.  C.S. was dealing with a defaulted loan, and several accounts that were flaming turds at work.  I had bombed an observation at work, and was dealing with a potential denial from unemployment regarding my lack of work over the summer.  Everything was off kilter, and I had been for several weeks prior to these events.

My way home.

In the 99 Quirks of Lulu, in #2 and #5, I describe certain phobias I have.  So, when I board a bus, I naturally take the seat right in front of the backdoor.  On these buses, there is a plexiglass barrier between that seat and the door.  I am positioned properly, and it alleviates claustrophobia.  I can see everyone who can get to me.  I am close enough to the front of the bus, near the driver, without occupying a disabled seat, and I have an easily accessible exit.

Of course, I always survey my surroundings, without making eye contact.  There were five other people on the bus with me.  A larger, middle-aged man in jeans, who sat two seats in front of me.  A 50-something year old woman, with short poofy hair, dyed auburn, with grey roots coming in, seated a seat behind and across the aisle.  A man occupying a disabled seat in the front, and a male and a female in the very back.

I chatted with C.S., upset by the events that were simultaneously occurring.  It is the same ritual that occurs every night, usually minus the serious conversation.  And everything was in it’s right place.

I take notice of when anyone moves around on the bus.  I have been accosted more than once while en route, so I am always cautious.  The man had been casting me glances, obviously unaware that I had noticed.  The woman got up, and leaned across the aisle to speak with the man.  I continued on with C.S., still perfectly aware of what was going on around me.

She leaned in toward me, close enough for my eyes to focus in on her greyish, crooked front teeth, and scolded loudly, growling, “You know, there are other people on this bus.”

Seeing red again, seeing red again…

Typically, I go unprovoked. I would ignore such a person and prattle louder, in the attempt to defy the other person. But, something triggered. I could feel it in the millisecond before my response. It was like the click of hammer when a gun is fired. And the projectile came out.

“Oh don’t worry, I’ll be off soon enough,” I replied bitingly, knowing my stop was just a few minutes away.

She snarled, sinking back into her seat, “You know, you don’t have to talk so loudly.”  Funny thing was, I was not talking loudly.  I was speaking in my normal voice, on a bus quiet enough to rival a library.

“Actually, this is me talking loudly.  Just so you can tell,”  I retorted, even louder this time.  I did not swear, threaten, or get up.

“As if it’s all that important.”  Clearly, she was regarding me as some teenage idiot prattling idly to her boyfriend on her cell phone, gossiping nonsensically about this and that.  Looks are deceiving.  She should have learned already in her long life to never take anything at face value.

And I raged, speaking to her as if I were scolding a student for extraordinary misconduct, “Yeah, actually it is important.  This is about my life.  Not your life.  And if you were actually listening as you clearly indicated you could have been by the volume of my voice, you would know what I was talking about.  But no, you don’t, because it’s all about you.”  She didn’t have anything else to say.  Her body language indicated she was terrified, as she became smaller, and smaller in the corner of her seat.

Meanwhile, C.S. was in my earpiece talking me off the ledge.  “Stop talking.  Ignore her.  Just stop talking to her,”  he repeated.

I got home, and we were fixing dinner.  He said to me, “I didn’t tell you to back off because I thought it was the right thing to do.  I was sitting there, listening to this, thinking to myself, ‘What would I do if someone fired their mouth off to me after a bad day?’  And I thought, ‘I’d probably punch her in the face.’  Or at least, I’d want to.  I wasn’t about to bail you out of jail tonight.”

The thing was, physical violence didn’t occur to me until I was already home, ranting about that scene with C.S.  I said to him, “Her posture indicated that she was actually afraid of me.  She should have been.  She clearly didn’t know who she was dealing with.

I continued, “I’m going to go ahead and assume that she is near retirement age, by the greys in her hair, and likely had to stay late at work, in a job she hates, because I’ve never seen her on that bus before.  She had a bad day, was irritated, and was looking for someone to take it out on.  So, she is irritated by what looks like easy prey.  I hope she learned her lesson.”

After a few days of mulling this over, I realized what the click was.  I perceived her as a bully.  She matched multiple descriptions of my personal definition of a bully.  Clearly, she didn’t live in my lower-class neighborhood, because she was not even close to gathering her belongings for departure.  In all likelihood, she was riding to the Park N Ride two townships over, so she could drive the hill to the well-to-do part of town.  Match number one, someone with higher socioeconomic standing.  Match number two, she was older than me.  She had a sense of entitlement, as if I had to do what she said, just because she felt a certain way.  Match number three, some kind of social standing, or concept of authority.

Three strikes, you’re out.  I fought back.  Like I’ve been wanting to do my whole life.  And guess what?  I won.

Unfortunately, it took being severely unhinged to do it.