Confessions

Fall Has Fallen And So Have I.

Holy man. Been a rough ride, hasn’t it? This blog has shifted and changed so much from what I had first anticipated. What began as a place to tell stories about my life working in coffee shops turned into a chronicle of my ups and downs and major life changes.

I’m still barely hanging on right now. I fill my days with whatever distractions I can so I don’t have to face the reality that I’m down. Way down. And I know I need help (which yes, I also know I’ve said before). There’s been a major change at work, though, so that help is closer than ever before.

Before, my employer only offered $500/year for mental health services. I didn’t see the point in seeking help because there’s no way in hell $500 would be enough and I certainly can’t afford a therapist on my own. Beginning Oct. 1, that coverage is increasing to $5000/year. You read that right. $5000. They have quite literally saved my life, because if I have to continue the way I have been, I don’t know that I would make it to my 29th birthday. Janelle died over a year ago but the ripple effect of her choice to end her life is still affecting me in a big way.

I still withdraw from people when I’m like this. I can’t bear to see pity in people’s eyes when they look at me. I can’t stand knowing I’m no fun to be around because all I can do is sit there staring into space. Most of us put on a show when we’re at work or out in public because we have to, but when I’m at home it’s a totally different story.

I had my first major panic attack a couple weeks ago. I was at work, everything was fine, and suddenly my hands started shaking hard. I felt like there were millions of bubbles inside my body and if I stopped moving they would all pop and kill me. I have plenty of tiny panic attacks at work and usually I just keep my head down and clean like a maniac until that bubble feeling passes. This time was VERY different.

I went to the back to pull some pastries from the freezer and started sobbing. I mean full-on sobbing to the point I couldn’t catch my breath. A coworker sat with me and tried to calm me down but I couldn’t get my breathing back to normal and I couldn’t stop the tears. I ended up being sent home, where I continued to be anxious for the next couple hours until I finally fell asleep. And since that day, I haven’t felt quite right. I’m angry. The slightest thing irritates me. That’s not the person I normally am, so this is weird.

I also found out some news that really upset me recently. There’s no reason it should’ve upset me, but it did. And I fixated on it. For some reason I felt like I was being cut out and fucked over but I knew if I said anything while I was feeling like that it would’ve come out completely wrong. So I’m still sitting here consumed by those emotions, because I don’t know how to articulate them without sounding like an asshole. I feel like the largest portions of my days are spent trying desperately to regulate my spiraling emotions but it’s a battle I’m beginning to lose.

September is almost over though. And then I can finally reach out and get some help. I can’t keep doing this. I’m so tired from the last couple of years. I should’ve known last October that it was getting worse because when I was hit by that car, I didn’t give a shit. I was honestly a little disappointed that I wasn’t hit harder. Because I want to be dead, but I’m too afraid to do it myself. It’s the same reason I still smoke and drink way too much caffeine. I’m a coward. It’s not bravery in the face of depression, it’s me being too chickenshit to do what Janelle did. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I know I want to live. I just need help finding my way back to that path. I can’t wait to look back on this one day and barely be able to remember what it was like to feel so terrible. I want this to be a distant memory.

I was diagnosed when I was around 15-16. I stopped taking my meds shortly after I started them. I’m now nearly 29, which means I’ve been walking around in constant emotional pain for almost thirteen years, and I’m fucking tired of it. I have two solutions: death or therapy. Since the first option seems awfully permanent, I think I should go with the second option first.

So that’s my explanation as to why I abandoned this blog in July 2015. I just couldn’t do it anymore. The noise in my head got to be too much.

I’m back now. I don’t know what the future has in store for me, but I’m going to do my best to be around to see it.

Confessions, Life

Prime Real Estate.

My mind, in those days, was a slum. The buildings there were crumbling, decrepit, forgotten homes to rats and cockroaches. Broken windows housed broken thoughts as punshiment for crimes I did not commit. The streets were piled high with emotional garbage and baggage, a pothole became an impassable crevasse as my mentality turned toxic and dark.

I was worthless. As depression, my friend and constant lover, moved itself into every rotten high-rise apartment and drove me closer to the ground, I conjured my own demons and invited them to take up space, move in and get comfortable. No one could hurt me as much as I hurt myself, no one could destroy what I had built as completely as I could. In a thick red book, I recorded every imagined transgression I committed. I starved myself because to nourish my body was to acknowledge the good still left inside. I would not give my body what it needed to keep going when the only thing I wanted was to stop breathing, stop living, stop taking up space.

My mental forest was hastily paved over so nothing could grow there. Hot asphalt burned every living thing and the fertile grass could no longer reach the sun and so expired and languished underneath the pavement. A voice once used for singing and laughing was reserved only for screams. A heart once used for kindness and love grew hard and small until it became nothing more than a useless tumor inside my chest. My hands, once used to stroke and comfort and form chords along the neck of my beloved guitar wielded razors and thumbtacks and steak knives and scissors and learned to use them against the bad blood inside my disgusting veins. Eyes that once sought beauty in nature looked no further than my naked form in the mirror, judging and hating and welling up with tears.

In those days, I was never good enough.

But sometimes, if the conditions are just right, a flower will grow on the sidewalk. Resistant to the barrier between earth and light, it will fight its way through the tiniest cracks in its quest to bloom. In a place where nothing should grow, where every precaution has been laid down and every chance destroyed, you will suddenly find a bright blossom raising a floral middle finger to your challenges. In that place, in the rubble of my mental city, I began to bloom again.

My bitter eyes fixated on that small glimmer of hope and I began to water it. As I tore away the cement with my vicious fingers, I was distracted from self-harm. I was busy, I had a spark of life to save. To my surprise, under all the roads and sidewalks I had built to smother myself, the forest of creativity within remained green and fertile.

I evicted depression from its towers, forced the demons to leave. I tore down every monument to self-hatred I had built within my mind and discovered the beautiful world inside. No matter how hard I had tried to ruin everything, burn it down and leave nothing but ash, it had lived on in secret, in spite of my attacks and made stronger because of them.

My mind, these days, is prime real estate. Forest and city entwined, built with monuments to inner strength and self-love. Golden towers house my happiest memories and the only resident is positivity. Instead of rats and cockroaches, there are butterflies. Each pane of glass painstakingly restored and clean streets I can wander. And the forest, where my well of creativity makes its home, is green and alive and wonderful.

No one can destroy what I’ve built.
Not even me.

Confessions, Life

Lifeline.

My depression is reminiscent of the ocean. From the relative safety of the beach, I look out over the vastness of the water and think I see someone. The foamy whiteness of breaking waves confirms my suspicions and although I am afraid of drowning, I put my feet into the frigid water and step forward. Soon, my ankles are submerged, then my knees, then my thighs and the place between them. The closer I get to whoever is out there, the farther the tide pulls them away.

It’s not until I’m up to my neck that I realize how far out I am. The shore, once close enough for me to see every rock with the naked eye in spite of my impaired vision, is now miles away. Aware of my situation and the depth of the danger here, I begin to fight my way back.

The water is unkind to me. Each foot I push forward gains no ground and I feel myself slipping away from comfortable earth. The current reaches icy fingers toward me and grips my ankle, tugging me away from safe ground. Panic surges up from somewhere near my navel and I begin to fight the waves, violently throwing my arms up into the air in an attempt to signal rescue. As the water breaks around me, foaming and splashing as I begin to thrash, realization of the trick that has been played dawns on me.

Sure enough, there is a figure on the beach, straining to see me. My instincts tell me to call for help, to keep treading water and fight to get enough air, but I already know the truth.

I am on the beach. I am in the water. Each time I venture into the freezing ocean, I am attempting to save myself from drowning in the waves of my own depression. But it’s all in vain — I repeat the same mistakes, follow the same twisted, slippery paths and perpetually end up on this beach, in this water, watching myself drown. Summoning the bravery to breach the waves and be the hero, but always ending up on the other side of this illusion, swallowing brine and choking for air.

There is no real choice here, no way out of the vicious circle in which I’ve managed to trap myself. If I give up, be still, and sink under the waves, then I will be lost to the darkness forever. If I stay on the beach, I will remain frozen in place and empty, wracked with guilt for doing nothing to save the version of me clinging to life in the sea.

So each morning when I wake up, I remind myself I’m still fighting. I congratulate myself on simple things like showering and washing my dishes. On days when I can’t muster the strength to get off the couch for more than five minutes, or the thought of venturing outside and being around people fills me with anxiety, I forgive myself and resolve to do better the next day, and the cycle repeats itself.

But the current is strong and I’m getting too tired to keep my head up.

My only hope is that another version of myself will soon come along in a boat and throw me a lifeline.