In Blackest Night – Forgeticus

As you get older three things happen. The first is your memory goes, and I can’t remember the other two.

–Norman Wisdom

It’s no secret my memory is a terrible wasteland that sits somewhere inside my mind.  Whether it be ethereal or physical, the once honed tool now sits atop a mantle blunt and decaying.  Remembering something is like a war between brain cells – the one side fighting to regain that memory, that errand or life event that needs to be brought to the forefront and then the other side, hammer and tongs at burying and ultimately disposing of the memory ne’er to be recovered.

It feels like a losing battle; the frustration at myself over the increased rate of forgetfulness is a daily reminder of that.  Age is the obvious culprit, although my memory lost its shine in my late teens.  I used to pride myself on how sharp my mind was.  Technology, among the usual suspects, is standing there proudly in the line-up.  My mind doesn’t get used as much as it once did.  Mental thought process are so dusty and rusty that mental arithmetic and other forms of problem solving introduced and enforced in school are but a faint memory soon to be forgotten.

Repetitive tasks I once did can now be down via the plethora of apps and devices removing the need for the super highways of my brain.  While I can do a lot more thanks to technology I find myself doing a lot less.  Part of it is the lack of motivation and part of it is because, when I’m spoilt for choice, I retreat and shy away because of the anxiety I feel at having such a range of choices.  I get angry at how unproductive I’m being but I can’t set my mind to something tangible that will remove that feeling.

A common question is how can I forget my medication?  If I’m really struggling with depression, how can I forget to take it or put in a repeat prescription?  The honest answer is I don’t know.  Forgetfulness doesn’t work in a rational way that you can reverse engineer.  I can try and rationalise by saying that I take my medication at night, as instructed, and usually don’t put a light on to do so.  I keep the blister strips down by my side of the bed and reach down and pop one out when it’s time.  I try to take them at the same time each night but sometimes a hurdle gets in my way.  The main hurdle is tiredness.

So I usually take my Mirtazapine at about midnight.  Sometimes I fall asleep and so miss my dose.  I have, on occasion, taken it in the morning as soon as I wake up.  If I remember that I have forgotten.  I ran out on Saturday of last week.  I meant to put my repeat prescription in sooner but by the time I realised I was on my last three tablets, I put the repeat in on Thursday.  It wouldn’t be ready to collect until the following Monday.  I had three tablets but four nights to cover.  So I deliberately missed a dose on Thursday night; after all, one dose won’t hurt.

Things were a bit hectic on Monday so I ended up forgetting to go and collect it.  Tuesday was much the same – I had a few appointments and after my shitty start it never even entered my mind.  Thankfully, I set aside time to go on Wednesday but, as I had to go to a different surgery to collect it, I wasn’t near the pharmacy I usually go to.  I’ll get it later.  Only, when later came, I forgot.  So here I am on Thursday, three nights worth of Mirtazapine down and I’m starting to feel incredibly low.  I have felt a lot more tired than usual these past few days and ended up falling asleep – something I had pretty much put to bed.  So to speak.  Even as I’m typing this I’m fighting to keep my eyes open.

Words can’t truly describe the way it feels when trying to wrack your brain t remember something.  The missing memory is like an item on display that vanishes but you can’t quite remember what item it was as there were too many–you just know something is missing as you can see/sense the gap.  The ethereal cogs grinding and churning inside your skull to be met with further clunking and clanking with no end product.  It’s a horrible feeling and it physically hurts.  I can feel my head aching when trying to think so hard.

Comfortable

This post has been a long time in the making.  Only now am I coming to write it because I was scared to tear the wound open and delve back into the raw emotion of the time.  I couldn’t think of a good title for this one but ‘comfortable’ is a word I tend to avoid using these days.  Its definition changed by the fact that it is synonymous with death.  See, in relation to terminally ill patients, it basically means doped to the gills so you feel fuck all and pass away fairly peacefully.  While I suppose it meets the definition of what the word means in essence, it’s a horrifying concept to tie such a calm and serene situation to that of a pain free death.

I read my buddy Scott’s blog post and it inspired me to finally come to terms with writing about this.  I have spoken about it and mentioned it in previous blog posts but I’ve never really delved deep.  Maybe this will be a cathartic experience–reliving the horror to set myself free.  Or maybe that’s me romanticising.

After driving almost six hours from Wales to Scotland, I dropped my fiancee (now wife) and the kids off at my Mum’s house.  I helped them settle and then sped off to the hospital to meet my sister.  It was around 2am and I was absolutely shattered.  I hadn’t seen my sister for a few months so we had a catch up in one of the family rooms.  We were shushed by a nurse for talking to loud.  We were both rather pissed off.  After the nurse had soured the atmosphere, we went into the room my Mum was in.

The smell hit me like a shovel across the face.  A mixture of chemicals–anti-bacterial stuff from the floors being mopped and so on, I imagined–and piss and shit.  The piss and shit weren’t as obvious to me initially; the veil of chemicals hid them well.  It’s a smell I attribute to death.  Well, the process of dying.

Seeing my mum hooked up to a syringe driver and buried within pure white sheets.  She was never known to have carried any lumber before but she was more than half the size she was when I saw her a few mere months previous when we came up for mine and her birthdays.  I used to re-watch Se7en but haven’t watched it again since seeing her that night–the junkie in the room full of air fresheners is the closest comparison I can draw to how she looked.  Her skin looked clammy and her eyes were shut.

Every so often she would wince as if a stabbing pain was tormenting her and there were  couple of occasions where my sister would call the nurse.  This was the first time I’d heard the word ‘comfortable’ used in a different context.  I didn’t like it one bit.  It felt like it was just an idea from some guy in PR who decided that medical staff needed to use more positive sounding terms for terrible messages.  Like a glass half full, can do attitude will make all the difference.  Every time I heard the word thereafter my mind would voice-over the real message – we’re going to drug her even more so she can’t feel shit.

You might think I should have no beef with that.  After all, they’re easing her pain and would I want her to suffer?  No I wouldn’t.  However, the word just doesn’t seem like a natural fit for the context.  To me, ‘comfortable’ is lying in bed or on a nice sofa chilling out.  Not hooked up to a variety of drips, catheters and whatever else.

I stayed up all night that night, insisting my sister get some sleep as she had stayed with my Mum every night since her admission.  Her face showed how worn out she was and I could feel her pain.  Being almost 400 miles away from everything doesn’t make it easier.  The guilt and feeling of uselessness is exhausting also.  In the morning I left to go back to my Mum’s to see the girls.  What we did in the day is a blur.  All I remember was leaving to go back to the hospital.

My brother was with my Mum and was leaving around 18:30.  I was running late and sped the whole way.  I had ‘Oats in the Water’ on repeat and I belted out the words through tears that made it look like my windshield was being lashed with rain.  There were a number of points where I’d look at a bridge or a wall or something I could just smash the car into.  I refer to that as my ‘Dark Knight Returns intro’.  This would be a good death.  Aside from wishing I had the guts to hurtle into something at full pelt and kill myself, I kept thinking how my Mum would be on her own and if she passes away with no one there I will never forgive myself.

I swung into the car park and almost forgot to lock the car in my whirlwind approach to the building.  I rushed in and felt a sense of relief wash over me as she was still with us.  I normally can’t stand to be in a hospital for hours on end.  Usually I’m waiting.  But this felt different.  Although she was asleep and unable to speak anyway, I was spending time with my Mum.  Just the two of us.  Something we hadn’t done since I moved down to Wales.  Star Wars was on ITV and I had my tab to read my book and comics.

I had my phone set up as a WiFi hotspot as I couldn’t bring myself to ask the staff for the WiFi password.  I felt like a good son that night.  I’d insisted I’d stay the night on my own to let my sister have a break.  It’s the least I could do considering I’d have to go back to Wales the next day.  Most of that night is a blur.  I’d keep glancing over at my Mum to make sure her chest was rising and falling as it should be.  I’d hear long silences and then an eventual inhale/exhale which would have my heart in my throat each time.

I think it was around about 10pm when she started to struggle.  She was fighting to get out of bed, as she had the night before but with much more gusto.  She seemed to have gained some strength from somewhere despite having not been able to consume food for days.  Her eyes darted open and I could she she recognised me almost immediately.  She was trying to say something but I couldn’t make it out–the cancer had infected her tongue to the point it was as good as having a tennis ball in your mouth and trying to speak.  Knowing my Mum and reading her eyes, I didn’t need to hear her words, she was telling me I shouldn’t have come.  She was never one for a fuss.

She cried big, glacial tears while trying to talk to me.  I told her I had to come because I had to see her.  I told her I was sorry for how I had acted in my teens and treated her like shit.  I told her that I wished I could trade places with her.  I told her I loved her.

I had to call the nurses as she became too restless and she would end up falling to the floor if she kept on.  Two came in; one pressed some buttons on the driver and the other was comforting her.  My Mum was clearly wanting something but it was unclear what.  After a few attempts I figured out that she wanted a drink so the nurses grabbed some water but had to squeeze this little cotton square into her mouth after letting it soak up a small amount of water.  It killed me to see her like this.

When she became unsettled, I’d stroke her hair and rest one hand gently on hers.  I wanted to hold her hand but the slightest pressure caused her extreme pain.  Her hair felt like steel wool and her hand was clammy but cold.  It felt like she was withering away right before me and there was fuck all I could do to stop it or help her.

She had some fight in her that night and I couldn’t help but feel that me being there sparked it.  Maybe it’s wishful thinking or maybe it was typical Mum.  She hated a fuss being made over her and part of me thinks the fight stemmed from her very nature that I had made an effort and so should she.

A lot of the little details have fled my mind but I have many visioned burned into my minds eye.  I still wish, to this day, that I could have swapped places with her and not a day goes by where I din’t think of her.  The bulk of my thoughts are how much of a disappointment I must be after showing promise initially.  I think of all the mistakes I’ve made and how I’d always vowed to be nothing like my dad and to be a good man and at what points I took the wrong turn.  How I wish I could rewind the clock and take a different path.  The righteous path.

I then come to think about how my wish to cease existing is an affront to my Mum and her memory.  She gave me life and I just want to waste it/destroy it.  I remember our arguments and how I was, in essence, a mistake and that I never asked to be born and wish I hadn’t been.  And then I think of her and how she was always there for me.  And now, I have to brave it alone.

A better man would have taken this anger and emptiness and channelled it into something productive, courageous, bold…worthwhile.  Maybe there’s no hope for me or maybe it’s not time yet but I have not been driven by any of this trauma to go on to do great things.  Maybe I’m just coasting waiting to be made ‘comfortable’.

In Blackest Night – Impatiently Waiting

Tunes blasting in my right ear, the sound of my surroundings in my left.  Workmen milling about, hauling stuff in and out.  The room was full when I arrived and it starts filling up even more.  Stacks of boxes, computers, files, more boxes…my only company was my music.

I arrived at 11:40, five minutes early for my appointment.  My anxiety was already running high.  Gearing myself up to speak and open up to yet another person on this production line of support.  I knew of the building but had never been inside – I have walked past it countless times.  The shutters were down and immediately mine went up.  What do I do?  Where do I go?  I hate alien situations…especially ones that inevitably alienate me.

I walk around the side and spot someone–an employee, I hope seeing as she has a lanyard on.  I ask her where ‘Mind’ is and how to get in.  She advises me the offices are being moved around–outside, the furniture stands guard as if emphasising her point.  She walks me into what would be the reception area but is acting as a store room.  She clears a chair for me and advises me that the person I am there to see is with someone else and she shouldn’t be long.

11:55 and I’m still waiting.  The only person to acknowledge me is a workman who apologises for piling up yet more stuff in front of me.

12:04 and I’m still waiting.  Not long after, a gentleman with a briefcase and luggage on wheels steps in and opens the door to my right.  No one in there so he toddles on in search of somebody.

12:15 and the workman makes a joke about me being forgotten.  I laugh and say I hope not but his comment tied in with my feeling of solitude and reinforced a notion that I tried to dismiss.  After all, the place is in disarray–one would expect there to be an upheaval of schedules too.

12:20 and I try texting my wife to find ‘Emergency calls only’.  Thankfully my Google Play Music is still working.  To a degree.  Fittingly, the songs that don’t fail to play and skip to the next are the ones I tend to shove on when I’m in my dark place.  Coincidence or cosmic joke?  Probably a bit of both.

After having searched for a network manually in the hope I get a tidbit of signal in order for my text to go I end up leaving the building at 12:24.

To the workmen who popped in with boxes and whatnot and then popped back out, I must’ve looked like a regular person sat in a waiting room.  A scene we are all familiar with.  I’m certainly no stranger to it.  Although this was the first waiting room where I was the only thing on a seat with a pulse.  Well, I say pulse…it was more like vibrations from a jackhammer.  Every time I heard a door open I’d be on edge.  This is it.  Time to open up.  Again.

While I may have looked calm and collected, my mind was anything but.  How do I start?  What do I tell her?  Do I start at the beginning or give her something more recent?  What if she looks at me in a way I perceive to be judgemental and shut down?

It took a lot of effort to attend this appointment.  Today was already looking to be stressful – my Mind appointment and then a meeting in work.  I had hopes that my first appointment would appease my racing mind and put me in a better place for the latter.  Perhaps I invested too much stock in that notion because my anxiety is at the highest it’s been for a while and I just want to sleep.  In my sleep, I have no accountabilities.  Maybe I won’t wake up this time.  Please, I just want to sleep it off.

Right now my head is pounding.  A combination of the poor sleep last night along with the stress no doubt.  That pinched never thing is back again and has been for a few days.  It has been a huge factor in my sleep in all senses of it.  I don’t stay up late like I normally would because I just want to sleep in the hope that the pain has eased or even gone by the time I wake up.  I can’t get comfy when I’m lying in bed.  I usually go to sleep on my right side but my shoulder feels like it’s popping and the pain surges up my neck and down my side.  As a result of this bullshit, I tend to toss and turn and wake myself up in doing so thanks to the pain flares.

All I can hope is that the rest of the day goes better than the shitty start it has gotten off to.

In Blackest Night – The Hyperawareness Paradox

I’ve been thinking too much
I’ve been thinking too much
I’ve been thinking too much
I’ve been thinking too much
Help me
I’ve been thinking too much (I’ve been thinking too much)
I’ve been thinking too much (Help me)
I’ve been thinking too much (I’ve been thinking too much)
I’ve been thinking too much

–‘Ride’ by Twenty One Pilots

I’ve recently fallen in love with this song, along with ‘Stressed Out’.  I’d heard them before — ‘Heathens’ was what brought me into the flight-path of the band — but my recent state of mind has opened the doorway to the lyrics and my interpretation of them.  I’ve added the remixes at the end of this post.  If you’re not familiar with ‘Ride’ the above lines will seem rather lazy but I used them to demonstrate the primary workload of my brain.  Repetition plays heavy on my mind.

From replaying various events in my life over and over in the hope that I can change the past to going back and impart knowledge to my younger self to equip me better for what the future would bring him.  I analyse every interaction I have (or don’t as the case may be) to determine if people are being ‘off’ with me or judging me or countless other possibilities as to what’s going on in their head.  The paranoia of what people are (may) be saying about me.  When I’m walking to or around town and I hear laughter behind me my mind quickly jumps to wondering if I have something on my back or if my ass crack is on show or a variety of other things regardless of the logical part of my mind trying to explain to me that they’re not concerned about me in the slightest and are laughing and joking as I often did previously.

I see people I know who appear to be looking at me then look away.  I assume the worst.  I assume they took one look and didn’t want to acknowledge me despite the fact they have their own shit going on and quite possibly didn’t see me at all.  I walk around feeling like I have ACME Invisible Paint on me.

Enter stage right, HYPERAWARENESS PARADOX.  One of the pitfalls, that I have found anyway, is that the exact aforementioned ‘observations’ end up being behaviours that I act out.  Despite being hyperaware of my surroundings (some through choice – like taking the kids to school and making sure they’re safe), I often don’t see what’s right in front of me.  There are many an occasion where I go to look for something and can’t find it only to have it pointed out to me that it was right there in front of me (or close in proximity).  Having my head on a ‘swivel’ I look around a lot but fail to register what I actually saw.  Examples are where there are people I know that I fail to actually see despite looking that way or lose my bearings even though I should know exactly where I am.  It’s almost as if my brain is failing to process the visual data that it receives or there is a substantial delay in that information passing from the eyes to the data centre inside my skull.

It’s almost as if my brain functions backwards–the awareness works on an upper level where it can project thoughts, feelings, motives and whatever else upon those around me but when it comes to physically seeing things, it falls short.  I don’t think it’s something I will ever come to understand and that, in itself, is a concern.  Just like a virgin doesn’t think she’s pregnant, I am fully aware of my situation and the strains it takes on me both mentally and physically.  But getting to the crux of it and stopping it is a whole different matter.

The mental health counsellor I saw earlier in the year told me I “think too much”.  I knew that already but what I didn’t and still don’t know is how to stop it or, at least, reduce it.  Like when your friend tells you not to laugh at someone’s false teeth slipping and, if they hadn’t mentioned it, you would never have noticed it–once you’re aware of it you can’t stop thinking about it.  What a conundrum.  I think too much, but in order to figure out how to stop thinking too much I have to think about it.

What can ya do?

 

[su_youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMUt0lShZfs&list=PL71sGThC4AFA-S080n6k8s03gTVefeyaR”%5D

In Blackest Night – Hello Darkness My Old Friend

I’d like to tell you that all is well.  I’d like to tell you many things.  But in the styling of ‘Lemony Snicket’ , the true story is much darker.  Things were better.  Better, meaning an improvement on before.  Before, meaning prior to the last week or so.  My medication seemed to be akin to Goldilocks’ hopes–just right.  My mood had gone back to what I would deem normal.  I actually began to feel more human and more of a Dad.  Things that seemed alien and unachievable for me in the many weeks prior.

I’d started to started to eat healthier again and, despite some days where I just couldn’t prepare food and resorted to Just Eat, I either lost or maintained weight based upon the week before.  Another feel good factor.  Weight loss with little to no exercise boosted my confidence a bit.  Feeling like my clothes were no longer trying to squeeze me to death like a boa constrictor also helped.

It took a long time to get to that point, pocked with many challenges and obstacles but I got there.  And then a number of things changed that.  At this stage, there are some things I wish to keep private but these new challenges or bombshells practically undid ALL of that progress.  I can feel myself teetering on the edge and feeling physically sick and terrified of what may come.  The worst part of all of this?  The only people who will inevitably read this are the ones in similar positions to myself, not the people who SHOULD read this to get a handle on how it all works and to gain an understanding that reading a shared meme cannot convey.

So, here I am.  Still amidst the fog and debris of a crumbling mind wondering what happens next.  Wondering when I will feel at ease and safe again.  One of the biggest struggles I have had is to try and get people to listen.  To try and get them to understand.  And through all the arduous efforts to do so I feel it has had little to no effect.  I remain un-listened to.  Ignored.  No one understands, and I can’t get my head around how people can’t even grasp the basic aspect of the fact, that medication takes a long time.  Changing medication and allowing time as well as riding out the storm that ensues thanks to the weaning process as well as the side effects of the switch.  During those tumultuous times, the days and nights get darker (and full of terror) and one’s desire to go on wanes to the point it is almost fully eclipsed by the darkness.

To get people to understand that this mental illness malarkey doesn’t stick to a routine–you can’t set your watch by it.  To simply switch off is impossible.  I suppose the only analogy that folks can grasp these days is that my broken mind is like a software fault.  Erratic and unstable behaviour, fits and bursts of energy/enthusiasm and then the exact opposite, slowness to respond, crashes and all the other shit that comes with it.  I can’t say how I will feel tomorrow and I’m so used to this no longer function the way I once did.  Becaiuof uncertainty that I no longer hope things will be better tomorrow.  My response is just a calm, “We’ll see how I feel in the morning”.  I find holding hope only leads to disappointment so if I go in with no hopes I can’t be disappointed if the cynical element is sated.

I find inspiration from others is like a short-term fix – a minor high before the all-time low and the concept of ‘chasing the dragon’.   That ever elusive dragon.  The inspiration helps for a short while before the realisation that I am not living their life but existing in mine hits home and the darkness seeps back in through the front door in that neighbourhood my grandparents told me of where you could leave your windows and doors unlocked.  Free to come and go as it pleases with blatant disregard to the mess it leaves with the host.

I find myself a social pariah nowadays.  A handful of friends and a pocketful of nothing.  Out of sight and out of mind like an infant Michael Myers chained up to his highchair (if the later canon is to be believed).  With people I believed to be friends to turn away and forsake me because I have a defective mind.  Feeling more and more alienated thanks to my condition is such a great side effect of it.  They certainly don’t list this shit on the leaflet in with the meds!

While my logical mind tells me not to let the negativity of late to get the better of me, the ‘dark half’ (I call it that after the Stephen King novel of the same name) tries to take control via my emotions.  After all, it’s far easier and more memorable to succumb to the negative aspects as opposed to the positive.  It’s a surprise I get anything done with this internally incessant war going on within the confines of my skull.

In Blackest Night – Depression & The Omerta

Omerta

noun, Italian. 1. secrecy sworn to by oath; code of silence

 

My last post seems fairly ‘popular’.  By that I mean relatable and, to some, an inspiration.  One can only hope that this decade holds the end, like the eighties/early nineties did to the Mafia thanks to RICO, to the silence of the afflicted.  This unwritten and unspoken code of silence that society seems to force us to uphold must be broken.  I can only speak for myself when I say this but we are always told to talk about it.  To not let it build up and consume us.  But what’s the use of telling us to talk about it and then shun us when we try?  It’s like a miser saying we all need to give more to charity.  It doesn’t work.  This isn’t a one-way street.

So if I take to my blog or Twitter or Facebook to vent, let me have that moment.  Let me just say it.  Don’t stifle me.  Don’t judge me.  And, if you don’t like it, just leave me the fuck alone while I say what needs to be said before the darkness swallows me up once more.

I was having a ‘better’ week until yesterday.  I felt like I was coming to the end of my most recent and most brutal relapse.  Tuesday, like most days after a run of ‘good’ days, was like a sledgehammer to my cerebral cortex.  The feeling of being fucked over and that the world is against me hit home; clawing me back down to Earth with a ghastly gravitational grip.  It makes me wish I didn’t have ‘good’ days (I have started calling them ‘better’ days because it’s pretty fucking difficult having that shadow of an anvil follow your feet around and still call it a ‘good’ day).

So how do I channel this negativity into something that doesn’t chew me up and spit me out?  The shit doesn’t deserve to get to chalk that up on the scoreboard – I can’t let it beat nor define me.  But I still have to go through it.  I still have to face up to it and experience it.  Tell me the answer, I have no idea.

Until recently, I slept.  A lot.  I’ve mentioned it before and I’ve come up with possible reasons why.  Now, when I sleep it’s not through laziness, although others may perceive it that way.  I’m hoping I’m not the only one here but I feel like I need to sleep.  It’s a hard feeling to describe–I have a pulse that jackhammers in my neck and my head feels light.  My heart-rate is elevated and I feel exhausted.  Words can’t describe what it actually is; the word ‘tired’ doesn’t do it justice.  Even ‘exhausted’ doesn’t come close.  It feels like every fibre of my being needs to shutdown or at least have some semblance of respite.  I find it tough talking about this because it sounds like excuses. It sounds like I’m laying it on thick.  Perhaps not talking about it plays a huge part in it because of the energy it takes to keep it quiet.

I bought Carrie Fisher’s Audible audiobook “Wishful Drinking” a week or two ago and only got around to start listening to it today.  In it, she says something that made absolute sense to me.    I mentioned suicide in my last post and I know I’ve talked about it before across various platforms but something about it didn’t seem right.  It didn’t feel right.   She wrote/spoke about how it wasn’t so much thinking about dying but more thinking about not being alive.  To many, that may come across as the same thing re-worded but there’s more to it than that.

I feel we should talk about suicide more.  We should have open minds when it comes to the difficult subjects. I’ve though, for the past fifteen years (roughly) that thinking about death and not existing any more was ‘normal’.  Maybe that’s why depression didn’t seem like a concern because what I thought was ‘normal’ and what actually ‘is’ are very different things.  Bit to think about not being alive is something different entirely.  To picture a world and resulting impacts of you not existing is vastly different from wishing you were dead.  One is more speculative while the other is a tad too final.  Should we feel or be ashamed that we wonder what things would be like if we stopped existing or what things would be like if we had never been born?  How is it that different from wishing you hadn’t had that large Big Mac or that you hadn’t skipped the gym last night?  Or wondering what would have happened if you had actually answered the phone to an unknown number?

An example of this ties in with something that is coming up to an anniversary for me.  I blogged before about my ‘wish’ on Crowdwish and how I had almost missed the opportunity because I thought the e-mail was spam just like anything that says you’ve won something or you’re going to benefit from – how many actually are legit?  OK, so it wasn’t life changing like a lottery win but it was a great experience nonetheless and certainly a good memory to have.  It’s not every day you get a signed script of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ with Tom Hardy’s scribble on it.

There s nothing wrong with pondering how different things could be (positive or negative).  To me, that’s part of the human condition.  It’s not like ‘The Butterfly Effect’ where you actually get to live those altered timelines.  Nor do you have to concern yourself with the fate of Iris West because of the choice of underwear you made last Tuesday.

I hate the way society has conditioned us to think and feel.  To break free from that constraint is like a glitch in the ‘Matrix’.  Just because I want to talk about mental health and my experiences doesn’t make me Neo looking to break the system.  It’s more like tweaking the code to make the system work more efficiently.

By upholding this phantom code of silence we are doing a massive disservice to ourselves.  We’re selling the reality short and, in doing so, allow others to play us and try to take advantage because their system doesn’t allow for our way of being.  Their way of rationalising everything doesn’t apply here because it is impossible to justify, quantify or even objectify mental illness.  Without going all ‘Anonymous’ and instigate a mutiny, all that I can say is we have to open up about this because if no one knows, no one will help.  No one will care – whether it be genuine or because it is their duty to care.  Nothing will change.  Social ignorance will continue and we find ourselves stuck in an endless loop.  Change never happened by staying quiet.  Nothing ever changed by doing nothing.

Say something.  Anything.  Don’t let the apathy of society silence us – it’s only ourselves who suffer.

In Blackest Night – Much Ado About The Taboo

We’re in an era where everything is shared.  From shameful, narcissistic selfies to food pics.  From the banal to the inspirational, it’s all there.  So you’d think that, given the tools of social media, that subjects that are significant such as depression, bi-polar disorder, autism, ADHD and suicide to name but a few.  I’m sorry, did my need to vent and put in words how my life feels like I have no option but to take my own life take you away from creeping on Facebook?  Did my moment of ‘weakness’ [READ: reality] interrupt your joy of posting yet another fucking picture of your food?

Why is it that these subjects are still deemed taboo?  Why should I or others feel bad [READ: worse than we already do] because we have to consider your feelings when we are getting something off our chests?  That stupid fucking duck face you have in each and every selfie offends my senses but I don’t make you a social pariah because of it.  So why should I be made to feel that I am an inconvenience for simply being open and honest with Facebook when it asks me “What’s on your mind”?

Yes, these subjects can bring up discomfort.  Society may not like what we have to say nor may it offer the suitable responses.  Sometimes a response isn’t needed.  Sometimes it just needs to be out there.  Once said, a huge relief may follow.  So why follow up with “status sniping” or stupid, unhelpful comments?  Sometimes the best response to the hurt is silence.

It’s heavily broadcast (but maybe not enough for people to take it seriously) that suicide–particularly in young males–is on the rise.  Is society’s response to shame these people factoring into the statistics?  More than likely.  For me, and I’m sure many others, it helps to just write it down because talking to someone can feel overwhelming.  By approaching and talking to someone, I always feel I’m putting them in the awkward position of having to listen to my shit and respond.  By writing it down/blogging/posting a status, it injects an element of choice into the equation.  You can choose to read it in its entirety.  You can choose to offer up a response.  But you can also choose to carry on scrolling by or surfing elsewhere.

What’s interesting is that those that choose to respond are generally the troll types.  The ones that will chime in with an unhelpful remark or hurtful comment who have no vested interest in the subject at hand and, in doing so, it alienates others who can relate but are to afraid or ashamed to share their stories or experiences because of the shocking manner in which the human condition plays out.

I’m not ashamed to admit I suffer from depression.  When it comes to this type of thing, no one has it worse than the other.  It’s not a competition.  We all cope and live through things differently and we all have intricate tapestries woven over our lifetimes.  I’ve only recently opened my mind up to the fact that I am mentally ill–not because I was ashamed or feared the stigma, but because of ignorance.  Naiveté.  I refused to see the signs because I felt that, if I am ill, I am weak.  That’s a common perception–if you’re not well, you’re below standard.  You’re not 100%.  So anything less is failure.

When I opened my mind up I also had a ‘moment of clarity’ or an epiphany, if you will.  I realised how judgemental we all are, including me.  I realised how I have judged people over invisible illnesses and belittled certain conditions.  It’s a privilege that only the ‘healthy’ know and one that they need to be rid of.  Yes, it’s easy to relate or understand these things when you experience it first hand and yes, it does offer a perspective that others don’t have because they don’t or haven’t experienced it.  But the divide is so staggering.  The lack of compassion and understanding, even the tiniest bit, is astounding.  I’ve been thinking (and thinking and thinking and then more thinking) about how I can take my experience and channel it into something worthwhile.  Something that can grow and blossom to aid others.

I’m no expert in the mental health field but I’m an advocate and want to develop a voice to pave the way for folks to be able to talk about it without feeling guilty or feeling like an inconvenience.  If we can’t do it in this day and age, when the hell can we?

In Blackest Night – Weight A Minute

It took some doing but I finally put a new set of batteries in the scales the other day and accepted the fact I needed to check on my suspicions.  I’m the heaviest I have ever been in my life – my mood/frame of mind/meds have piled the pounds on and I need to turn that on its head.  I can’t go on struggling to put my shoes on and tie the laces.  I can’t go on struggling to fit into clothes I once loved and now I cannot stand to look at.

My diet consisted of eating whatever was quickest/easiest.  I would go long periods without eating and then stuff my face.  My diet became a blast from the past – this way of life was mine a few years ago before I had a health kick and lost quite a bit and looked half-decent.  The mental side of things is clearly fuelled by the physical and vice versa.

Today, I partook in a spot of cooking.  I made a batch of courgette soup and had a huge bowl of stir-fry (syn free, I might add).  I feel pretty good, in the grand scheme of things.  Aside from feeling hungry and craving sugary goodness anyway.  I’ve not been on Slimming World before – last time around I just calorie counted using My Fitness Pal.  We’ll see how this goes.

I don’t plan on turning this into an onslaught of food pics so don’t worry.  Speaking of pictures, my Instagram account has been hacked and I’m having a struggle to regain access as my Facebook account is linked to my personal Instagram and not the Nerdgazzum one.

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Stir-fry!!

In Blackest Night – I Wrote A Blog Post; I Lost It, So Here’s Another

I generally keep my WordPress open in Chrome.  I usually refresh the page before starting to blog but yesterday I must’ve forgotten.  I spent over an hour squeezing the words out, checking what I wrote made sense and then squeezing some more out.  It was like a really bad shit you have to work out using maths (in fractions).

I wrote of how I’ve been back in Wales for a few days since a short break in Scotland.  I wrote about how I didn’t feel like I was back home.  I wrote about this weird feeling that I haven’t experienced before and how horrid it was.  I wanted to document another stage in my ‘journey’.  But I couldn’t even get that right.

Today, my head feels less ‘sloshy’ than I wrote about yesterday.  My head felt like it had liquid sloshing around inside and that my mind felt detached from my being..  It was as if I was seeing through my own eyes whilst simultaneously watching myself from afar.  Perhaps that explains the bizarre feeling.

I also wrote about my recent GP appointment and how, only now, are they looking at the root issue and taking steps to diagnose my condition.  While I display symptoms of depression, there may be more to my mental (ill) health.  I’ve refrained from looking into other mental disorders to avoid extra concern which would worsen my symptoms as well as prevent any psychosomatic input.

The suicidal thoughts have been more prevalent this past week or so.  No actions taken but analysing and weighing up success/failure rate.  I’d do it if I had a scenario that had a 95% chance of success.  I’m not going to fall foul of the chance I survive or end up fucking crippled or some shit.  It has to be death or nothing.  But, until I can find a sure-fire way, I suppose I’ll just keep plodding on.

I’ve been trying to think how I move forward–for every good day (although they are very rare) the bad days that follow are exponentially worse.  My wordsmithery has faltered and my written work has hit a brick wall.  I’ve been told I think too much and my reaction to that was “How the fuck do I think less?”  I feel similar to a shark in that, if I stop thinking, I will die.  Metaphorically speaking.

Yes, I tend to over analyse things.  Yes, I have a habit of reading into things.  No, I don’t have an off switch or a lever I can pull to reduce the activity in my brain.  Despite the traffic levels in my skull, I have very little to show for it.  It reminds me of this line from “New Low” by Middle Class Rut (the video is below):

So many directions I don’t
Know which way to go
I’m so busy doing nothing
I got nothing to show

 

I don’t know why, but my days just aren’t productive.  My mind and body feel so overwhelmed that, instead of making the most of my time, I just ‘stand still’ like a rabbit caught in headlights.  I just coast on by.  Which reminds me of another song, “Telescope” by Cage The Elephant (the video is also below).

In a far and distant galaxy
Inside my telescope I see
A pair of eyes look back at me
He walks and talks and looks like me
Sits around inside his house
From room to room he moves about
Fills his life with pointless things
and wonders how it all turns out.

In Blackest Night – I Walk The Lonely Road

As I’m writing this opening, I’m sitting in a soft play venue–the kids are running around and having fun, expending whatever energy they have.  I dug out my laptop and My-Fi device as I couldn’t find the Wi-fi password and my social anxiety prevents me from mustering the courage to get up and ask.  I feel pin prickles all over my upper arms and shoulders at what people may be thinking–a grown man on his laptop in a child-centric place.  But I must write and write I shall.

I’ve frequently averted my gaze to the slides and climbing meshes etc. scanning the room to figure out where my kids are and make sure they’re OK.  There are so many kids it’s hard to make out but I never seem to fail to locate Talia (my middle child).  She’s here with her two sisters and two cousins (I’m here with my wife, brother and sister-in-law.  The lonely figure wanders from slide to slide, step to step…and I can’t help but feel pure recognition.  Recognition that not only is “That’s my daughter”, but that was and still is me.

As a child, if I had no friends to play with or they had gone in but I was still allowed out, I would run around and keep myself entertained.  From wandering around a dark and ancient graveyard to tearing around the woods on my bike or on foot (often pretending the Predator was up on high…watching me…hunting me).  I look at Talia and I see me.

I have always been the odd one out, to a degree.  I’d fit in where I could/wanted to/be let to.  If I had no one to play with I would amuse myself, letting my imagination run wild.  A luxury that kids today don’t seem to have.  Or at least a much dampened sense of that liberty I once took for granted.  Perhaps that’s why she infuriates me so much; I can see a younger, much more female me and don’t want her travelling the same path.  Perhaps I’m romanticising such a nonsensical notion.

I feel sadness wash over me as she dawdles from one spot to another with no one in tow.  But why?  She’s enjoying herself and doesn’t seem to have a care in the world as she breezes through the various activities and amenities.  She occasionally pops back to ask if she can have a ‘slushy’ or some other confection.  I ask her if she is having fun and she tells me “No”.  I ask if she has made any friends and she tells me “Nobody wants to play with me”.  I tell her that she looks like she’s having fun, especially coming down the slides and then her face lights up.  She grins as she points to the biggest slide right at the back and tells me she wants me to watch her come down it.  As she leaves, my eyes feel like they’re about to leak.  She has her big sister and her cousin all playing on the same things but they seem to go off on their own, leaving Talia behind.

Perhaps the sadness is the fact that my feeling of being completely alone despite being surrounded by people is perfectly captured visually by seeing her.  As I write this, the feeling of isolation intensifies as if I hit the nail on the head.  The neurological equivalent of hitting one’s ‘funny bone’, I guess.

Since childhood, I have randomly looked at people and felt a pang of sadness.  My earliest memory of this happening was when I was on holiday with my Mum and her partner.  We were staying in my Uncle’s caravan and we had gone to the hydroelectric dam in Pitlochry.  There was a small cafe with seating outside and, as we walked past, I remember seeing an old man eating a sandwich with (who I presume was) his wife.  They seemed like a normal, elderly married couple but I can still picture him with mayo or salad cream on his cheek.  It sounds stupid to say aloud or write it down but it has stuck with me to this day.  For reasons unknown, even when the people have no visible problems etc.  I feel sad for them.  Perhaps it’s some weird ability to tune into their auras or perhaps my empathy chip is faulty.

Watching Talia wander round on her own brings all those memories and feelings back and I can’t shake them.  As much as I say she does my head in and how naughty she is compared to her elder sister, there is a part of me that feels extremely saddened and there’s no amount of thinking that will get rid of it.  Even as I type this now, back at the bungalow at 23:20, the sadness feels like it’s going to consume me as she lies next to me on the sofa with her feet tucked under kine to keep them warm and we watch Family Guy together.

Perhaps the lonely road I continue to walk has room for two.

 

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