Still Alive…

…just for the record. I’ve been gone from this site for quite a long while, and to be honest, I don’t know why. No excuse about being busy. There were some instances when I would have had the time to write.

To be honest, I’ve mostly been thinking. The end of the month I’ll go back to campus for another two semesters of classes, which I enjoy, but this was supposed to be a break and it has turned into me just feeling numb. 

I wish I could just focus on things that are going right in my life, but I can’t. I quit going to my psychiatrist several months ago, and I got the letter fairly recently warning me to schedule an appointment or be discharged. Followed by the letter officially stating that I have been discharged from psychiatric care at this place. I had just held that letter and stared at it, and thought about how I had been doing well for a while after leaving. Then I thought about how I refuse to go back to medication because I never want to deal with side effects again. 

I had thought studying psychology would be good for me. I thought maybe it would help me understand myself, and maybe people in general. 

I’m beginning to think nothing can help me. A lot has to do with my understanding of the world. The world is a terrible place because of humans and humans are terrible because of human nature. There is no refuge in religion because I see through most established religions. Why would I believe there is a god when all I see in news is foreign genocides and political assassinations and six years old rape victims? Or, if there is a god, why would I want to worship something that could end misery but allows genocides and assassinations and the rape of six-year-olds?

Then I wonder if I am facing the true shape of things or if I am disillusioned. To be honest, I want so badly to be wrong. But I can’t make myself believe that it’s true. 

The state of the world so deeply bothers me, and yet I feel there’s nothing I can do. No one can clean all the world’s filth, and if someone did, it would just re-accumulate–because that’s how people are. 

I’ve heard often the counter-argument, of course, that if you can make a difference to even one person, that’s a huge deal in that person’s life and that’s one less person suffering. I just can’t see it that way. No, I do not just turn my head, I do try to help. But in my head, it makes no difference. Yes, I helped the homeless woman on the corner. But who is there to help the man being dismembered or the child soldier or the bullied student or the woman being brutally raped in some guy’s basement?

There is no one to help them, and they will suffer. 

And there is no end and no cure because we would be our own shot at salvation but we are too busy being the devil to care. 

I just find it difficult to deal with and I tend to think maybe, maybe it is a trend going downward and maybe someday our world will become too heavy from the weight of its crimes and it will all fall down and collapse in on itself, and maybe that is the outcome humanity deserves. 

All of this is condensed in this frustrating nebula that lives in the back of my head and taints nearly everything I think and do with meaninglessness. 

I apologize for my first recent entry being so rant-like and dark, it’s just that this is what I’ve been thinking about.

I just don’t know.

Fear of the Dark

Gah.

Why does my brain insist on periodically going through the nights of consecutive, horrible nightmares?

This is why I don’t sleep well sometimes. It’s not the getting to sleep part, I can do that. It’s staying asleep.

I’m not talking about the occasional bad dream here, I mean the night-after-night wake-up-drenched-in-cold-sweat-and-possibly-screaming-aloud type thing for a week straight.

The kind of dreams that feel so vivid and real, and are still disturbing even to my waking, rational mind. Sometimes I swear my brain is punishing me for something.

I’ve never been much afraid of the dark of corners, of hallways, closets, rooms. But the dark behind my eyelids–that is another story.

An Update

To my readers: my sincere apologies, guys. Things got kind of crazy there for a while, but not because of mental issues.

University classwork tends to be something that can keep a person occupied, but I still had plenty of free time, until I went to the doctor for a pain in my back and he sent me to a surgeon, who decided he should operate the next week. So, I had surgery, and was out for a month.

And it sucked.

I was in too much pain to do anything but lay around, and even that hurt half the time. But then, as soon as the pain was manageable, I returned to school, and resolved to make up the work for all of my class but one (a lab; it was really necessary to have been there in person for that class) instead of taking the remainder of the semester off.

And that sucked, too. It was crazy.

BUT, with some dedication and the encouragement of my awesome friends, I actually did it–and made nearly all As for my final grades, which, yes, I am ridiculously proud of.

And now the semester is over! I will have a lot more time and will try to get back in the habit of checking in here and posting again.

So, yes, that was my update. That’s all for now!

Ramblings

So, I sat down at my laptop today to try to do some creative writing, since I was in a strange mood and also because I haven’t set any time aside for non-academic writing since the semester started. What followed was pretty unnerving, when I re-read it. Mostly, because I can’t tell if it makes any sense at all, or an uncanny amount of sense. It’s probably just the former, and I’m still thinking strangely. 

For the bored or curious, here’s my semi-psychotic rant:

Life, you know, is madness.

Well, I believe the term used is “absurdity.”

The term used by philosophers. They chose well.

Absurdity. Not many people get it, if one really can get it (and I believe I have.)

Evokes laughter, doesn’t it?

Laughter. Yes. I laugh a lot, don’t I?

At the absurdity. At everything. Well, it’s all one and the same, really. You see, I’ve realized that laughter isn’t madness. It’s the most natural response in the face of the cold, serpentine gaze of “reality.”

Why?

Well.

I’ll tell you. Ha.

The meaninglessness of everything gets to a person rather quickly, once you accept that as the truth. Life was a random accident, evolution, a curious coincidence. All we are, all we do—it’s all temporary in the face of the void beyond the existence we know. (Assuming, of course, I’m right. This is all assuming I’m right…)

Yes, we can search for meaning. We can create meaning. I’ve done plenty of searching myself. Lots and lots of searching. But when we die—what then?

I was afraid of sleep once, you know. Death, while awake, you can mostly see coming—sure, sure, there’s the occasional split-second freight train accident and such. But for the most part, you feel the pain and know it’s coming. But sleep, death’s bastard brother, is much more sneaky than life, when it comes to its dealings with death. One minute, you’re dreaming, the next moment, you’re not. So simple. So completely fucking terrifying.

Don’t worry. I can sleep now.

Most nights.

I once visited a cadaver lab, as a student. I was making jokes the whole time, which my fellow students either appreciated or tried to ignore (the ones that weren’t passing out from the mere sight of the gray-skinned, well-preserved, bony corpses, that is.)

The one I dissected was an old lady. Had been an old lady, in life. Now, it was a cadaver. Of course, hair, clothing, eyeballs… that was all gone.

When we got to the stomach, the girl to my right passed out. I helped catch her, keep her from heading face-first into the cadaver’s open body cavity, and the professors led her into the hallway.

Once they were gone, curiosity overcame me.

I had to see the face (so tastefully covered with a towel.)

So I pulled off the white, stained towel, to look the corpse in the eyes. Sockets.

Was it grinning? It seemed that way for just a moment.

I left that day thinking of laughter in the face of death.

That’s why I laugh. You see now.

If I weren’t laughing, I’d be crying.

Those empty eyesockets beheld a terrible truth. They saw non-existence itself.

Laughter, madness, sanity, solemnity…

(Perhaps I am the sane one.)

(I know why skulls grin.

Yes, perhaps it has to do with having no lips.

Perhaps.

But maybe, just maybe, it’s because they know the terrible, mind-crushing, amusing truth.)

Unfamiliar Territory

So things really haven’t changed much since my last post–which is great. Really. It is. But why do I feel so… I don’t know, weird?

I haven’t had any delusional incidents with knives, or any crickets conspiring against me, or imaginary voices keeping me awake at night (which managed to be as annoying as it was disturbing), or the urge for suicide. 

I’m setting aside time for my friends, I’m enjoying my classes, I’m finding the time for things I enjoy doing. 

So… why the hell do I feel like I don’t know what to do with myself?

Don’t get me wrong–I’m definitely not complaining. I wouldn’t want to backtrack for all the money in the world (and as a typically poor college student, I think that’s saying something). 

It’s more like… when you’ve been in a room with loud music playing and suddenly the music stops, but it still echoes in your mind and you still find yourself shouting to be heard, even though the room is quiet now. 

Unclear? Here’s a better example, then. 

It’s like when you’ve spent most of your life, if not the whole thing, living in literal darkness. Underground, maybe. Or in the shadows. It doesn’t matter. But then suddenly you discover the light–and your eyes have to take a while to adjust, but once they do, the daytime world is worth seeing. 

My mental eyes are adjusting, I think. 

I guess a person doesn’t go from severe, psychotic depression to “normality” overnight. There’s a transition involved. 

It’s a transition I’m willing to make. 

I may have wandered into unfamiliar territory here, but… I plan on staying. 

The Thing with Feathers

Happy belated New Year, everyone. I know I’ve been absent for quite a while; the end of my semester got really busy. It turned out well, though. I’m proud.

I’m proud of something else, too, and that would be my progress with my own mental health. I’ve been doing really well lately. And I’ve realized something, too. Discovered something, rather. Something I’ve never let myself become acquainted with before.

No, not alcohol.

Hope.

In an earlier post, I compared my mental illness to a corvid, always with scaly talons digging into their perch (my shoulder) and inky black eyes watching my every move. To continue the bird symbolism, my hope for my own future is a fledgeling right now.

I’m keeping it from leaping off because I’m afraid it might fall and die.

At least, however, I’m keeping it alive.

I’ve never allowed myself to have hope about the future, to have hope that things wouldn’t always be the way they were for me. But somehow, as things have gotten better, I’ve started looking up, so to speak.

And I’m doing well. I haven’t felt this good about my life in years. Things are going great for me–relationships with others, my classes, my lack of psychotic breaks lately–and I have no immediate reason to believe this will change. And even if they do, I’ve already come to the realization that misery really can be only temporary, and that is a realization that I hope will stick with me.

Who knows, maybe my new outlook on life will grow and take wing.

I know that my mental illness will always be my dark companion, but I can ignore it now and focus on my future.

New year.

New attitude.

Yeah, things are looking pretty good.

Ghosts

I think I’ve hinted at this before, but I am a terribly haunted person. I’m plagued by phantoms of my past. Memories like ghosts. I’m trying to move on, and I’ve made progress overall, I think, even though it seems like for every three steps I take in the right direction I fall back two more.

I’ve been having disturbing, compulsive thoughts lately, and I admit that I am writing this at this very moment in part to distract me. And where does my mind tend to wander when I let it? To my past.

I’m going to write about one of my worst memories here, one of the many events in my life that have made me who and what I am. A warning: this is a pretty dark memory, and if you don’t care to read something troubling at the moment or if you think it might trigger an episode within yourself, please, by all means, go read something else.

For anyone left, here we go.

Rewind time to several years ago–I was still in middle school, living with my mother and my brother and sisters. My biological father was still in the picture, and I had not even met my adopted father yet. My father had, at this point, nearly killed me and had sent me to the hospital a few times, but this memory is not about one of those times.

My parents fought often, as they always did, and usually, things ended violently, though it was never my mom doing any of the violence. Frequently, I would collect my frightened and/or crying siblings and take them upstairs to the spare room, shut the door, and pop in a Star Wars DVD and turn the volume on the sound system up. Eventually, they would become engrossed in the movie, and since this often happened late at night, they would fall asleep. And I would sit and worry, and sometimes, if they were all three asleep, I would sneak out of the room to listen at the top of the stairs, and worry some more (what I heard there was never reassuring.)

On one particular night, my parents were in their room fighting. Well, shouting loudly. The fighting hadn’t begun yet. It happened in a flash–my father traded berating my mom in favor of hitting her.

Then, he drew the gun from the closet. And aimed it at her.

I was terrified. In that moment, I was certain he would kill her. I was sure of it. And in my stress and terror, I really think I dissociated a little bit, because this next part felt more like I was watching myself do it.

I ran to the kitchen and got the biggest knife I could find (and my mother, being quite the culinary expert, had more than a collection of kitchen tools) and then dashed back to the room.

The son of a bitch, my father, had his back to me, and only my mother saw me approach. She wanted me to leave, I know it, but I couldn’t. I was going to kill him and end this once and for all, in my early-teenage mind.

Did I mention that my father was a muscular ex-Naval officer?

It should come as no surprise, therefore, that when I held the knife to his neck, he easily twisted it away from me, tossed it to the ground as easily as he had my self-confidence and trust in people.

But he had set down the gun to do it. For just a few seconds.

It was enough.

My mother had dashed forward and obtained the gun.

“Get out,” she commanded to him.

He stood there, I swear to god, with a grin on his face. My mom repeated her statement, and he shook his head and walked–out of the room, out of the hallway, out of the house. I ran to the door and locked it.

I was shaking, physically. My mom and my family were safe; I expected to feel relief.

Instead, I wanted to die. I was miserable and confused and my heart was racing. I went to the kitchen, grabbed a bottle of wine that belonged to my mother as well as a plastic glass, and sat down at the table, and succeeded in leaving my mind for a little while. I managed not to pass out at the table, and must have dragged myself to my room first, because the next morning, I woke up on floor.

It was the first and only time I had intentionally drunk to get, well, drunk. Afterward I vowed that I would not allow myself to self-medicate my misery with alcohol again, and though at times it’s come close, I’ve managed to hold by that promise to myself. Because ultimately I know that if I started, I would not be able to stop, and that is not how I want to end up.

So, there you have it. I’ve revealed one of the ghosts that stalk the corridors of my mind. And to be honest, I do feel a little better now. Reflecting on this incident from my past has reminded my that my situation is better now. My mom is now happily married to a genuinely great guy who is proud to be my father, I hear my siblings are doing well in school, and none of us have heard from my monster of a biological father.

I don’t feel entirely better, but at least reminding myself that that situation is far in the past helps with my mood a little.

Coming Out of the “Crazy” Closet

It’s tough to be mentally ill, especially with a psychotic disorder, especially around Halloween. It’s even tougher than it has to be because people equate “mentally ill” with “dangerous,” and this is not the case. I can’t help but spout the statistic here that most people who are mentally ill are non-violent, and most violent criminals are not mentally ill. But the media perpetuate this stereotype, as I discussed in an older post. This is especially true around this time of year. And let me be clear here: I love horror films. I’ve been enjoying watching as many as I have time to watch on TV the past few weeks. I love the old Psycho, Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Hellraiser, and all their cheesy sequels that are as much fun to laugh at as the originals were creepy. And the list goes on. But I, unlike so many others, am capable of realizing that the depiction of mental illness in these films is no more real than the zombies in The Walking Dead, or the superpowers in The Avengers.

A lot of people, unfortunately, aren’t.

This stems from the fact that many people don’t believe they are exposed to real people with mental illnesses outside of the movies (I say “believe” here because chances are they do indeed know someone with a mental illness and just don’t realize it.) The few studies that have been done on the impact of film on stigma of mental illness indicate it really does have a negative impact because of this (I’ve been doing a lot of research on this lately for a presentation I’m putting together for one of my classes.) The news media also don’t help; news channels are likely to showcase sensational stories about people with mental illnesses committing crimes.

All of these leads to the fact that most people with mental illnesses don’t go around talking about it, especially not those who are able to hide their mental illnesses from the general public. This is bad because it creates more stress on the mentally ill who hide their illness, and also because people who hide it tend to internalize the negative stereotypes of people with mental illnesses and of mental health practitioners (if anyone is portrayed almost as badly as the mentally ill, it’s mental health professionals, who are also likely to be insane killers in films) and not want to seek the care they need.

I admit here, even I’ve been very closed about my psychotic depression in the past, not on this blog, but in my real life. But I’m becoming more open. Many of my friends at the university are aware I have psychotic depression, and this gave me the opportunity to educate them about mental illnesses and show them with an example (myself) that people with mental illnesses are just people, not inhuman monsters. I’m becoming more open in general, too. No, I don’t go around telling everyone who will listen intimate details about my suicide attempts or psychotic breaks. Rather, when people ask why I’m a psychology major, or why I’m so determined to eventually get my Ph.D. in clinical psychology, I explain that I have some experience in the field, on the patient end.

If they regard me as crazy after that, they at least don’t show it. But I’ve realized it’s really hard to be a mental health advocate when you aren’t being honest about your own mental health. Serving as a human example also makes the arguments of mental health advocacy more powerful, I think. I’ve also decided to find what mental health advocacy groups the university has, and if there are none, possibly start one myself with a group of people.

So, that’s it. I’m becoming more open. I don’t expect to face no adversity at all for this, but rather, I’m willing to face whatever I face.

It can’t be worse than sitting in shamed silence when a clueless friend casually mentions “crazies in straightjackets.”

Here we go.

Life

So I’ve been really busy since classes started up again a few months ago, and that’s why I haven’t been posting. I apologize for that. But the good news is, now that I’m being kept busy, I have less time to dwell on things that make me miserable. Also, I think being at the university tends to give me a sense of purpose, reminds me of the career ahead of me. Anyway, the point is that I’ve actually been fairly happy lately.

I enjoy my classes because I’m a nerd who loves learning. Also, I’ve decided to take up learning German. It’s not exactly for a class–my college has made the idiotic decision to get rid of the German program to save money by denying the only German professor tenure and refusing to hire a new one when she leaves at the end of this semester. But here’s the thing: I am now determined to learn the language (and why not? It’s a wonderful language) and the German prof was impressed by that. So, she’s agreed to help me learn–even lent me some books and CDs. She’s not getting paid for it, and I’m not getting course credit for it. But it’s not about credit for me, it’s about learning the language. And I very much appreciate her efforts to help me learn, especially taking time out of her week–because she does still have classes until the semester is over–to see me in her office once a week to help me learn.

Anyway, that’s all I have for now.