Through the Wood

I feel liberated!

Something happened today.  There was no click, or anything that proceeded it.  It came as a light trickle from an empty well.

I felt inspired. I started generating original thoughts again. The dense fog dispersed, and I could see once more. I awaken from an inky, dreamless slumber that lasted millenniums.  The breaths I took were like the first out of a dim room with recycled air.   The clouds parted, and the sun warmed my face, rekindling the fading fire inside.

I am still within the forest. But, the sun has penetrated. The path seems more defined. I may be on my way back to civilization.

I feel the synapses in my mind sparking. My body is energized. I am not yet with brilliance. It still filters in, trickling slowly through my veins, pumping eagerly through now beating heart. My shackles anchoring my soul loosen. The chain lengthens, and there is hope.

The bright, white, shining hope embraces me, and I nestle into it.  It has

There is a light in everyone's life that beckons.

been nearly two months since I was enveloped by shadows cast around my world.  I was sinking, anchors tethered tightly, nearly choking the very life around me.  I wasn’t living.  I was merely surviving from day to day.  Moment to moment. Nothing else could possibly exist in this world, for it was too overwhelming to even consider that the next second could contain such misery.

I crawled, belly on the ground.  I could not stand; the weight was too incredible to bear.  It prevented me from resuming life as myself.  It began to nibble away every morsel of my existence.  I took refuge in the shadows, receding into myself, folding once, twice, thrice over.  Until I was nearly a speck.

It, the shadows, the creeping, seeping darkness, took possession over me.  This horrible, unseen monster made the attempt to claim me.  Whispers.  Sever from this.  Sever from the world.  Retreat into me, and you shall not have to bear these incredible burdens.

I stood, breathless.  Tortured and tormented.  The air was in my lungs, but would not vibrate through my throat to create words.  I dared not refuse, but I hesitated to accept.  I refused to leave all of this, the wonderful people, community, and life I had built for myself.

Finally, I stood defiantly.  You are the burden that tears at my existence!  You are the shadow that blinds me!  And I refuse you, as I cast you away!

No longer do I feel oppressed, hopeless, and helpless.

It’s not as if my life has mended. The circumstances are much the same.  My grandmother is coming home, despite the fact that she is practically an invalid. My mother has been on a long bender.

I have $5 dollars to my name, and have been subsisting off of cup o noodles, doctored with some spices, accompanied by the last vegetable in my refrigerator. One more day. Just one more.

But, no matter. I am better than surviving, actually thriving in the puckered, sour face of stress and anxiety.  I am conquering, planting flags in remembrance of my victories, reclaiming my mind, life, and body. It is truly an incredible rush.

Invigorating, in certain moments. It provides the momentum to traverse these woods, and climb that mountain to take my place at the top.  Though the mountain is large, it is solid.  I walk once again upon solid ground, even if I am slipping on rocks that give.  I cling to the earth, determined to pull myself back to a vertical position.

I feel nearly free. The shadow has diminished, and I stand without it’s ominous presence. I am far from where I started, from in the beginning, still further even in these two lost months.  I have not backdrifted as much as I have deviated course.

Yet, a new path lies ahead.  It is forward, north and true.  Perhaps one day, it will cross my original path.  But, which will I choose to remain on?

A Better Version of Me

My eyes weren’t even open yet. The pain was exquisite. My belly ached with hunger.

Good. That means it’s getting smaller.

My muscles were raw and sore.

Good. They’re getting stronger.

I opened my eyes and peeked at the clock on my Blackberry. 8:45AM. Seven hours. Plenty. It’s doing better than the nine or more. Sleeping, the perfect escape from consciousness. Nobody can get to me in my sleep.

But, I’m sick of it. I’m sick of that life. I’m tired of being stuck in my head with all of this mess. And I’m disgusted with myself and my body.

I am disgusting.

I always have been. At one point, I thought I had excepted and celebrated what I look like. Until, I hit 140lbs.

Most of my jeans were almost too small. A few pairs wouldn’t actually close. I looked in the mirrors at the pounds of flesh I attempted to cram into clothes that were just plain too small.

Sausages have neater packaging than me.

I jiggle and wiggle like jello from every flap and fold. I can feel every inch of my flesh move when I move, and continue moving when I stop. It’s revolting. The idea that I will become obese to the point of immobility, if I don’t get a handle on this, was too much for me.

I choke on the bile that rises in my throat every time I envision my rolls growing into flaps.

I have never wanted to be “skinny”. All that I have ever wanted was to be within the healthy BMI range. I’ve never made it under 25. I have tried, and tried.

Every single diet you can imagine. Crash diets, healthy diets, calorie diets, and portioning diets. No meat, no carbs, not fat, etc. And none of those alone or in any combination was enough.

There is one thing I haven’t tried. Food diary plus exercise diary. Mood charting. A chart for everything in my life imaginable. Because unless I cut it open and dissect it, I may never be able to understand it. I may never understand me.

And I will never have control.

Running. There’s nothing that feels better than that searing fire in my lungs. I am jogging for the first mile, and walking the second. By the last half a mile, I am crawling. Sweat pours down my face, and I am gasping for that one breath that will stop this feeling of dying.

Dying. For one moment, I have a reason to suspect that there’s an external cause for that gnawing sensation I feel at the edges of my soul.

Endorphins. If I can’t cut, and I’m too sad to laugh, then what is a person to do? Run. Period. The ache of the muscles the next day, it’s exquisite. The satisfaction that I am doing well for my body and it hurts is enough for me.

The satisfaction that I completed 5.5 miles in one day. Anticipation of pushing that further. Lulled by the extraordinary exhaustion. Peace and clarity of the mind. And the excitement that I shed 2lbs in a week.

The best part? I am doing this by adopting healthier habits. Smaller portions. Less soda. A person cannot run and smoke at the same time. I have two different trackers for my mood. Sleep. Medication. I can’t control everything. But, that doesn’t mean I can’t monitor it.

I am determined to be a better version of me.

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.

Why Self-injuious Behavior?

A response to carlanee’s post about self-destructive behavior. It expands upon the basic concepts noted in the reply.


Most of the time, in the clinical world, it’s referred to as “self-injurious behavior”. That includes all kinds of harmful behaviors directed toward oneself across all diagnoses.

It’s fact that SIB (self-injurious behavior) is often a behavioral expression for emotions that have no other outlet. Many children with autism spectrum disorder engage in SIB. Most often, it is because they are developmentally delayed in the social and language domains. However, many times it does have the function of attention seeking behavior – but not in the way that some perceive it. It does not carry sole intentions of “acting out” in the role of negative reinforcement. It is a way of communicating, “I’m hurting. Please attend to the situation.”

But, SIB has many different functions in other diagnoses. SIB is absolutely complex in development, function, and reinforcement. Some people engage in the behavior as an outward expression of inward suffering, others do it for the adrenaline that it releases. But, most people who engage in SIB are never aware of the root cause that sparks the behavior, nor are they aware of the function.


Reader beware: The following section may be disturbing and trigger inducing. Discretion is advised.

I have been engaging in SIB since the onset of symptoms in my early teens. Nowadays, SIB is a widely covered social issue through media outlets. So, it is pretty easy for children and teens to get some ideas and tips. However, when I was young, SIB was very hush-hush. I did not get the idea from anywhere in particular. It just occurred to me.

It became a regular and highly ritualized behavior. Dark room, so it would look like I was sleeping. Music in the background, nothing in particular. Just some background noise not to raise suspicions. My knife and me. Because, it was easier to get a hold of a kitchen knife than it was to obtain a razor. Besides, that didn’t occur to me until later on.

I will refrain from detailing it any further. The development is obvious, and needs little explanation. However, I will explain the function and reinforcement. I have had well over a decade to study it and witness it in for myself, through myself.

SIB has multiple functions for me. First, for me alone, it is a physical manifestation of the pain I experience. Sometimes, there are no words to pair with it. There are no words in the world to make the feeling go away, and the behavior has become an impulse, rather than a carefully planned, ritualistic behavior.

Second, it is a form of self-punishment. This is the behavioral response to emotional neglect and abuse as a child. I had no confidants. There were no adults that existed in my life that I could relate this awful depression to. And when I attempted to do so with my own parents, it was dismissed. PMS, a phase, attention seeking behavior, imaginary, excuses. I’ve heard all of the rationalizations there are for depressive symptoms.

As a form of self-punishment, much like those of the clergy in the old church, it represented all of the punishment I deserved for being a bad person. A failure. For being insignificant and terrible enough to be unworthy of love. All that a despicable person like myself deserves is wounds. Terrible wounds that will bleed, and scab, and scar so that I might be reminded every time I look upon them.

SIB also serves as a mechanism for control. I have always noticed a pattern about the stimuli that prompts this behavioral reaction. I get to a point where I am overwhelmed, and my life is spinning out of control. I feel helpless and hopeless. The only thing I have control over is my own body, even when I cannot temper my emotions. This mechanism is dangerous, because it is the gateway to an abundance of other methods of SIB.

It is also a small part of the lingering, highly romanticized desire for death. Suicide is something else entirely, so I will leave that at that for the moment. In a way, it is like blood letting of the barbaric medicine practiced in medieval times. When a person was afflicted, blood letting was a common practice. It was though to purge toxins and evil from the body and mind.

And lastly, and most importantly is the addictive component. The act of SIB releases endorphins in the body. It allows the mind to focus on the most immediate pain it perceives, distracting from emotional suffering. Instead of being trapped with those emotions, the mind can be set free from that cage. It focuses on the real pain and the real injury. These endorphins, once the climax of the pain has been reached, take over. For a moment, a brief moment in time, the mind is empty. Everything is numb, with the exception of the radiating pain from the wound. It is similar to taking a drug to escape.

SIB is really a dangerous behavior for all of those reasons, and many more in the realm of somatic damage. I have incredible amounts of scar tissue, some still visible more than ten years later. Other bloggers have related worse to me. Nerve damage, lasting pain, etc. For those that engage in other types of SIB, the risk becomes even greater. Especially with ED and promiscuous behaviors. I am typically a very faithful person, remaining monogamous. (I am completely monogamous in my marriage. Don’t get the wrong idea. That was then, and this is now.) And I still ended up with HPV, causing me to have cervical cancer and two surgeries. The more partners, the higher the risk.

In summation, SIB has an seriously addictive component, and is not a substance, so it makes it harder to control. With a substance, a person can refrain from the substance itself. SIB is a little different because devices of self-harm exist everywhere, and can be carried out in a variety of ways. SIB can be most effectively treated with ABA techniques, mostly behavioral replacement with positive reinforcement. It is a long and difficult process, but it can be accomplished.

The Rage

Even with the ever shifting moods of bipolar disorder, there remains two constants. Irritability and reactivity.

Countless times, I have relayed that to others. The potential for emotional reactions is a constant. These are the two trumpeters that herald an oncoming episode. Consider it a precursor to the earliest of symptoms on either side of the mood spectrum.

The Rage, as Clown on Fire termed it in his post On Mental Health: Rage, can be seen across the board as a nearly translucent thread that tethers the symptoms of this disorder together.  From mania to depression, these two symptoms are ever present.  They are the flint and tinder that spark the fire to fuel these episodes.

I am no saint.

The last few posts have been a testament of my failings to maintain my own grace and good intentions.  It is a demonstration of how one simple provocation can cascade into a series of outrageous and vindictive actions.  I can justify it all I want.  “… had it coming.”  “… should have known better.”  But, the simple fact is that the provocation may have had good intentions with terrible wording, and I was in no place to be receptive to it.

Who becomes the victim to The Rage?  Is it shared amongst those who were foolhardy enough to stand in my warpath?  Or is it, in actuality, me who suffers?  There is no consensus.  Any opinions would be just that, opinions.  The Rage is entirely subjective between victimizer and victimee, and even those who stand by the wayside to witness it.  To determine who takes what role is like splitting hairs.  It is my stance that we are one in the same when it comes to vindication and the crusade for justice.

With exception of course.

The Rage is something for me that is not confined to hypomania, as expected.  Anger is an emotion that can perpetuate itself, once set into motion.

In hypomania, it is obvious how anger comes to surface.  Dysphoric hypomania is notorious for unearthing the deadliest of firestorms.  I find myself going on a warpath, slaying everyone who I determine has wronged me.  I feel justified, without rationalization, and perhaps even complete conscious awareness, to execute the worst of all of my behaviors.  In hypomania, if you’re not with me, you are against me.  Sometimes, it turns to paranoia, where I am in the mindset that people are against me.  But mostly, it is a matter of drawing lines.

The Rage exists in depression.  It is something that stems from the original, seemingly benign irritability.  However, it has a different function.  Many people have cited that the opposite of love is hate.  That is certainly not true.  The opposite of any emotion is apathy.  But, in this sense, anger is a life preserver that keeps me from slipping under the surface.

Have you ever found yourself suddenly driven by vengeance, resentment, or bitterness?

The Rage stands as a driving force when the world around me is grinding to a near halt.  It becomes the glass cannon.  As long as it can keep the muzzle aimed away from myself, I can keep from sinking. However, it is glass, and it cannot remain as it is forever.

Once the cannon turns on me, as it eventually does, there is no way to escape the constant barrage of blows it can dole out at me.  I made the cannon.  This glass cannon knows all of my secrets, and is well equipped to take me down and out, for good.  I become hoisted by my own petard, a victim of myself and the very mechanisms I’ve created to ensure my own safety.

When everything lay in ruins, when the episode has subsided and the smoke has cleared, I am the only one remaining to survey the damages. I have no blame, no rationalizations.  It was me, and my gun.

Believe me, I am far from trigger happy.  Luckily, I fear the consequences of my actions more than am I compelled to carry out certain atrocities and revenge.  And I am not typically compelled to carry out dire actions.

But, there are moments where I am beyond my own control.  I often crusade in the name of justice, and often compelled to make an example out of someone.  The same as public executions.  Just like in the days of old when a faction would put the severed heads of enemies on spikes outside of a fortress.  It stands as a warning.  Do not cross this line.  Or else.

That is when the worst of these impulses are carried out.

Otherwise, it is reactionary anger.  I am curt.  I am passive-aggressive.  If someone is too close, I will self-sabotage by driving them out.  For their protection, or my own?  Maybe both.

But at the end of the day, when I look in that bathroom mirror, there is no one to answer to but myself.

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 . . .

The Cypress Tree

On an island called Chios lived the Greek God Apollo, his beloved Cyparissus, and a stag, adored by all of the inhabitants. Especially by Cyparissus. Cyparissus would care for the stag, adorn his horns with garlands, and they’d ride and gallop across the island in merriment.

One hot day, Cyparissus was hunting in the woods. From afar, Cyparissus saw an animal. Cyparissus took aim with bow and arrow and fired a fatal shot. When Cyparissus approached, the animal was recognized as the beloved stag.

In agonizing mourning, Cyparissus prayed to Apollo that he be permitted to be grief-stricken for eternity. Reluctantly, Apollo agreed, and turned his friend into the cyprus tree, to preside over the mourning of others.

I approach the cyprus in the distance. I can see it, wide branches over the swelling tides. It stands alone, and survey the landscape. I am alone in this endless field, approaching the cliffside. The others may not join me immediately. Because, they won’t let themselves see it in the distance.

What does it all mean?

My grandmother had a stroke on Christmas. She has not been well enough to care for herself for quite awhile. The details have become clearer as the cypress tree was coming into focus. She has not been well for much longer than many of us realized. It was a very closely guarded secret.

It was not for the protection of others, but the denial of one. Her caretaker. When the day comes, and she is gone, her caretaker will have no one left. In a way, she was protecting herself from psychic harm.

My grandmother went back into the hospital on Saturday, the 18th. The doctors determined she has pneumonia and congestive heart failure. On Sunday, the 19th, she had a seizure. Currently, she is in the Neuro Intensive Care Unit. She’s conscious and stable. But, her doctor, who has been treating her for years, had deemed the situation to be grim.

They say she’s turned around today. But, I am not hopeful. Her brain is still hemorrhaging, slowly, but continuously. She has developed aphasia now, although she is aware of her surroundings. But, she is mostly immobile. Congestive heart failure doesn’t just go away. Her body is ailing and her brain is failing. She is shutting down, bit by bit.

And, I walk slowing, a lone soul in my procession toward the cypress tree. Each step feels like the terrain grows larger. I am alone in my acceptance that her days are sadly numbered. I am terribly alone in my grievance, crossing those days off of my calendar. And I am seemingly completely alone in the anxiety of the wait.

I know why. No one is ever ready to lose their mother.

But, I ask, what quality of life does she have? Immobilized, unable to care for her basic needs, and losing more of her brain function with each episode. How happy can she be in that state? Is it fair that many cling to her life so much that they fail to see any of this?

I see it. I mourn her life in such a state. I am troubled by her slow disintegration. And, I clutch Tallulah (my Blackberry), in grave anxiety, awaiting that call. I have gone as far as allowing my phone to remain on ring while I am at work. As far as I am concerned, I am on death watch.

I worry. My grandmother is the last bit of glue that binds this family together. Her children refrain from bickering, for her sake. Her grandchildren are only vaguely aware of each other. And most of the rest are scattering to the four corners.

I worry. About my family – about my mother. She is the glue that binds her family and the very mechanism that keeps it functioning. The woman is much more fragile than can be perceived by her stoic exterior alone. If she falls apart, her family will fall. They depend on her.

And I know. It will fall on me. I will have to find the strength to care for five people, when I am hardly capable for caring for myself.

Can I?