Category Archives: Prose

Angels & Devils

“All these voices in my head get loud,
I wish that I could shut them out
I’m sorry that I let you down…”
~NF – ‘Let You Down’

Gnawing on a corner of my brain is a tiny, red devil. He marked the walls in black crayon. Sketchy wormholes and depictions of chaos are his pieces of art that I’d love to rip down. But I am stuck. Unable to evict this monster from my broken mind. The days begin to pass in a blur of red. I’m caught between guilt and an unapologetic attitude, because half of me knows that the smoke coming out of my ears is a bit dramatic. But the other half of my brain – the one being destroyed by the little devil – is yelling to me that this anger is completely rational.
I am ruthless. I am a mess.
I am on the floor. I am crying.

These are the moments right after my brain has flipped one of ten switches. It’s like riding a freight train and coming to an immediate stop. All the emotions buried behind the anger come rushing out like the Hoover Damn has cracked.
I am angry. I am sad.
I am calm. I am a mess.
Solutions are calling me, whispering about quick fixes that are habitual, and I have to remind myself that these roads lead to dead ends.

Trying to explain these frequent changes is like trying to make an obvious fib, the truth. When people listen to these problems, I catch a look in their eyes. The look that says: “Everything would be so much easier if you weren’t so moody.” And the red devil takes a break from killing my brain to jump up and down in agreement. I am shaking my head in frustration because it’s true. It’s true, it’s true, it’s true. The devil beats this thinking into the angel that has been sitting in the corner with her knees tucked tightly between her arms. Eventually, the angel calls defeat and the devil goes back to gnawing on my brain.
I am the devil. I am the angel.
I am these two at once.
What am I to do?

This Is Where It Starts

The first time I tried to explain my depression to family, I was sitting on my bed, hot tears streaming down my face. I wasn’t sad – I was angry.

“I’ve been depressed before…”

But this was different than your depression. Where you overcame your constant sorrow, mine was debilitating and daily functions became a problem. It was like trying to outrun a boulder as it tumbled down a hill. You decided that depression was something everyone dealt with in life, so when I told you about mine, you gave a small shrug and said, “You’ll get over it”.

Some days my blood felt electrified and sleep was no longer necessary. I self medicated with drugs and alcohol because the people I met in life had convinced me that therapy and medication were just some money-hungry concept that left you feeling more empty than when you first started.

Thus, the idea of having a mental illness started poking into my thoughts and reminding me that – if it were true – I must be crazy. I was afraid to admit anything was wrong from that day on. Depression was just a part of life, so who was I to complain?

So I stumbled around in my teenage years and young adulthood, trying to figure out if the whiskey bottle or the drugs would win. Because there is no cure if you stop searching for a solution. I found myself struggling with habits that quickly formed overnight and I never did trust myself with other forms of coping mechanisms. Until I found art.

Now all these irrational thoughts pour out onto the paper and somehow make sense. If I were stripped of my ability to write feelings on paper, I’m positive life would be dull; almost meaningless. It’s a new way of coping I’ve been mastering over the years; a passion that cannot rival any other I have. If you told me I could no longer write, I’d rather be dead.

The Truth About Getting Better

No one ever tells you what really happens after your diagnosis is corrected, and your meds are finally straight. Because you have a smile on your face and you feel invincible; as if nothing wrong ever happened in your life. It was all in your head….

So why do you need these mood stabilizers to keep you leveled? There’s a voice whispering in your ears, claiming that you are no longer dependent on a chemical. Friends and harmless ads are there to remind you, every time they say, “Hopefully you can get off your meds soon.” As a result….

I’ve been off my meds for almost a week. I was fine. At least, that’s what I thought. See, the thing I hate about being Bipolar…is being Bipolar. You try and rationalize all your emotions – I must be angry because of this, I must be sad because I thought about this – but when you ask me what’s wrong, I draw a blank. Because I feel nothing and everything at the same time. In the heat of the moment, it all seems logical. I can take all the candles off the shelf at work and smash them on the floor – and it is okay, because afterwards, I know I’ll feel better. But who does that? The more I think about it, the more anxious I become, and the more anxious I become, the worse my mood swings get and the more frequently they change.

In a matter of 8 hours, I went through five noticeable mood swings. That doesn’t seem like much, but it is destructive in my world. I woke up at 9AM just like anyone else who couldn’t lay down to rest until 3:30AM; I was tired, but forced myself up. I went about my usual routine of getting ready for work with energy I didn’t know I had. The breeze on my skin as I walked to the store was refreshing, and I thought about laying down in the grass until the afternoon sun started burning my skin. By the time I arrived at work, I was irritable. There were too many people around me; too many conversations. Nobody seemed to move quick enough. I wanted to tell everyone to shut up and get the fuck out of the store. But instead, I smiled and told everyone who asked, that I was okay. My anger only intensified as the day went on. By eight o’clock I felt Depression creeping on after a bout of freedom from my emotional Hell. I had no reason to be depressed, I just was. Invasive thoughts of bad memories worked their way around my brain. I felt myself slipping further and further into this black abyss. But I didn’t want to go there, so I reached out to friends, and I stopped falling.

I was back to feeling content. Level. And I realized that I should stay on my meds, even after I feel okay. The thing about having your mental illness under control, is that you begin to think clearly; suddenly you want something that you cannot have. Many people experience depression or mild mood swings, and they can handle life after therapy or simply on their own. Then, there are people like me: Bipolar. People hope that one day you won’t need medication to feel better, that – if you really try and fix your problem – it will eventually go away. Honestly, I’m not going to lie, that’s part of the reason I quit taking my medication. Who wants to have their loved ones – who are supportive – tell you about how they expect you to be off your meds for good one day. This isn’t a cold. You don’t take antibiotics until you feel better. You take this medicine because instead of your brain having 100% Serotonin, your brain is only functioning at 65% on a good day.

The truth about getting better… is that it takes a lot of work and – sometimes – medication.

https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/
https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/therapy/how-do-i-find-a-therapist-near-me/

Bruises

I have rocks in my shoes and water steadily rises closer to my airways. My hands struggle against rope, and all you notice is my distress as I sink further into the lake. You’re wondering why I don’t kick my way to the surface as I choke on liquid, because as you know, only I can really save myself. At least, that’s what they tell me.

So I’m utterly confused when I’m on the cold concrete, my knees pulled to my chest; because Depression is the Devil dressed like an angel, who speaks in irritability. Manic Pixie Dream Girl doesn’t visit as often, but this path is no less destructive. My thoughts are racing at 1AM without signs of stopping. As I write these calming words, I can’t help but feel the need to scream that this is not a romantic version of life. These pills are meant to be a relief, but these mood swings are back and I feel broken. I wanted a word to describe how I felt, but I am no closer to knowing my solution than I was two months ago.

I am left in the lake with bystanders shouting escape plans. Their voices mesh into one like an overwhelming symphony.

I wonder who I am.
Why do I react the way I do?
Why do I take risks like some kind of challenge?
Why do I allow depression to haunt me like a nightmare?
Why does this label not satisfy my tortured mind?

My feet are hitting the slimy bottom of the lake. I’m surrounded by darkness and a deafening silence. Bubbles form around my mouth and nose; I’m wondering how to survive. Because medication and therapy were dressed like the three-piece you imagined becoming in your new sanity. Only, life is not the fairytale you imagined. So you live in this limbo between alright and terrified.

https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/depression/10-depression-quotes-that-may-change-your-life/
https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/depression/how-to-deal-with-depression-tips-techniques-treatment/

Rehab

Let me go back to the beginning…

I’m a child of seven, woken from slumber at the stroke of midnight. Doors began slamming like the roof was on fire and people were rushing to leave. I threw my blanket to the edges in a hurry. As if pushing my ear against the poster-filled wall would save me some of the heartache from the violence I’d hear in the moments to come. This lullaby sang for years and it never got easier, the more I heard it.

I grew up watching the lives of family pass by. I sat in the corner, by myself, watching in blank expression. The people that climbed the stairs constantly changed, and I couldn’t recognize the faces, though I saw them frequently. I’d go back to the computer, writing pages upon pages of stories because I needed a way to cope. See, this family was functioning perfectly fine, but those moments we slipped up, stayed with me as I grew older. Night quickly became associated with a P.O. shoving past me to reach her target and I couldn’t comprehend the events that unfolded. I no longer recognized the stumbling drunks that passed out all day and disappeared often. I was my own best friend because I never knew who to turn to as a child.

So as an adult, I’m trying to figure out how to explain that I need a friend, or better yet, a brother. I know that if you looked me in the eyes, you wouldn’t know who was staring back. And I’m bleeding on these pages, trying to come to terms that what I want is not what I have. Life just gets in the way sometimes, and that, I understand. Maybe I’m just frozen, ruminating about our lives that I recall in memories. But I don’t want these month-long silences to go any further and I’m not sure where to start; it’s like letting go of a grudge you’ve held all your life. Where do we begin?

Monsters & Men

See, there’s no clear way to start this. Because it’s all in my head, but what’s in my head feels too real…too real…

I’m walking under branches that hang over trails like an umbrella;
a feeling of safety, yet…
It’s the empty parking lot and vacant, somber sky that make my skin crawl
My eyes are open and I’m searching,
for anything that could pop out and scare me,
Because this is my life, in my head..


 

I pull on the hood of a black sweater and toss it over my head. A gold Marlboro is hanging from my lips as I close my eyes. I lose myself in a song that’s been repeating all day because it feels like home.

I’ve jumped habits over the years, beginning with alcohol and ending with this simple cigarette. People always told me I didn’t look like a smoker – and in truth, I’m not – but I’d just smile slightly and go about my day as a non-smoker, with a pack shoved in my jacket for later.

Everyone says when you drop an addiction, you gain a new one. I started as an alcoholic and slowly moved to hydros, eventually on to harder things. I never really explained to anyone why I started smoking again.

It came down to a decision as I sat alone, craving that high. Do I spend money on something that will drag me back into a black pit, or do I return to a habit I know I’ll eventually quit? It’s a crutch. Something to keep me from running back to what I realize is a natural disaster waiting to happen. It’s not easy to give up the things you crave, but I see how it affected me in the past – how messed up I was – so I find myself writing to you instead.

And as you sit here and read these words, I’ll repeat what you’ve already heard:

You’re not alone. At least, not as alone as you think you are. Talking about your problems can seem like too much a weight to put on someone else’s back, but I assure you, they just want to help. Maybe it’ll take time to become a solution, but we as humans are not meant to survive on our own. Help is not a sign of weakness, but rather, a window into our humanity and kindness.

Every week I collect myself and file into a room along with other addicts. We sit in chairs lined up against the walls, and speak of our struggles. We all come from different walks of life – a crack addict, a drunk, a paranoid schizophrenic, a pill-popper, an unmedicated Bipolar – but we all crave the same thing. Help. And the people in this room are our solution. What’s wrong with that?

If I ever gave you advice, it is this:
Don’t be worried that you’ll look weak. You’ve survived this long on your own. It’s okay to ask for help now.

 

 

 

Dead End

Some days I’d feel insane.

And I know that’s a vague concept to explain, because at some point we’ve all felt that way. The only difference is where it led us.

While you took a nap and binge watched Netflix, I felt my mind shatter into a million pieces. I felt like I could fly, but the logical part of my brain told me that was false – and I got angry. Because I wanted to be as free as the birds I watched in the morning sunrise. On the days that you felt the blues, I was the blues. My body crumbled as I placed my toes to the ground. A functioning human being is what I pretended to be during these weeks.

So I made questionable choices to make myself feel some version of alive. And these have made me a liar in my honest nature. I wanted to escape these mountains that I was forced to climb every day just to act normal. Drugs kissed my mental wounds and told me that I could relax for a minute, so I fell asleep peacefully and thought about never coming back.

Life couldn’t continue on this endless trail; I found myself stumbling over broken branches and loosing my footing every two steps. So I became determined to find a solution that would lead me to a better place. Snow caps on mountains were a beautiful sight at a distance, but they were hell to get to in one piece.

It’s been two months now, and I’m stuck in the limbo between being mentally unstable or a new version of pill-popper. Every outlet had been exhausted and this was my last resort. Yet, as I popped a pill every morning and every night, I still heard harmless whispers saying, “Be careful, I’ve had friends kill themselves on that shit.” Though the warning was in concern, it was also a message of, “You’re a fool for thinking this medication will make you any resemblance of normal.” 

While I see a stability that I’ve never experienced before, you look at me as though I’ve changed. My head sits high because I’m no longer afraid. My anxiety has subsided and I no longer find it terrifying to talk to another person. I am my version of ‘better’, but you still think of it as a mistake because I am not who I was. You fear I’ll take my own life because of this medication, but the reality is that without this medication…I’ve already tried. I cannot go any lower than I was, and I’m intelligent enough to know the warning signs. The only difference is now my mind is steady enough to recognize I never want to go back to that dead end, repetitive behavior. The only thing missing is your support, instead of your fear that being a pill-popper will kill me in the end, rather than the disease of Bipolar Disorder.