If I Only Had a (Proper) Brain

This, hopefully, will be the last post I write about anxiety and depression for a little bit. I would like to get back to writing about writing, about stories I like, and ideas I have to make things better. I’ve just been having trouble with my words lately, and I think it’s because my mind has been so frantic and crazy.

It’s always sort of a mixed bag when I reach a point where I break down entirely. What’s amazing – and not in a good way – to me is that there seldom seems to be a specific source for it. I have excuses: I miss my family, I feel abandoned, I don’t feel good enough for people, either friends or otherwise, I feel like a piece of trash.

But a lot of those things aren’t my fault. I was adopted and loved, it wasn’t my choice for my parents to leave or for past girlfriends to cheat. I do my best to build up and support the people I come across. I know I have positive qualities like creativity and empathy and an ambitious sex drive.

I suppose that last one depends on your point of view.

Still, unpredictable and unreliable dick game and slam poetry skills aside, those kinds of thoughts are the thoughts of a rational, logical mind. I’m not a religious man by any means, but I used to recite the Serenity Prayer to try and get through difficult times all the same.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the strength to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

If that’s a little too religiousy for you, it basically breaks down to this: you can only control what you say, what you do, and even if you can’t necessarily control your emotions, you can control how you react to them. The world around you and the people in your life and outside of it do their own thing. That’s a good lesson, an important one, and yet still one that is hard to accept and live by.

See, deep down I know my life isn’t that shitty. I make decent money. I have a talent. I’m not sexy by any means, but women seem to like me well enough. I have a roof over my head and a bed to sleep on. I have incredible friends and all four limbs and decent wit.

Yet mood swings, including deep, nearly crippling depression will hit me hard. Hard, and out of nowhere, and the resulting surge of emotions drive every rational thought into the gutter and through the grate for Pennywise. Suddenly, I hate myself for no reason. I’m grieving for memories from long ago. I’m lamenting the relationships I never had with family members. I’m upset about things I’m not really upset about. It is an intense whirlwind of emotion and desperation not for anything specifically, but just to feel something positive. My fear of failure and my loneliness amplifies to uncontrollable levels and I flail about trying to find someone to tell me it’s going to be okay. Friends become targets of this turbulent storm and begin to think it’s about them, that it’s about irrational love or irrational hate, and frankly, the more I try to explain what’s going on, the less people believe me.

This has happened several times before. It’s ruined relationships. It has ruined friendships. It has contributed to the loss of at least one job. I get to the point where I don’t even want to get out of bed, just because I lose track of who I am. Or was, I guess.

Though I’ve struggled with depression my whole life, this cyclical self-destructive implosion has really only been coming around maybe the last seven years. A woman has been involved a couple times, sure: the older girl who left me right after my birthday, the girlfriend who told me she didn’t believe in my writing. But there have been so many other instances: financial stress, work stress, deaths of friends and family, loss of personal pride. All those things build up and explode inside me and outwards because I can never quite figure out where to get started in coming to terms with it.

This latest instance wasn’t about a woman, though one became involved. It wasn’t about being in love. In an absolutely horrendous case of timing, I began to spiral out of control sometime between my return from my grandparents’ family home in Montana and the anniversary of my grandmother’s passing away, and she took the brunt or it, unfairly. Despite my best efforts to distance myself from her and others, to try and get my mind back on a positive track, I’ve absolutely annihilated that friendship. I put in my worst results ever at work and got reamed for it, and I stopped being able to look my reflection in the eyes.

And I’m tired of that. I’m tired of pushing people away and wanting to fuck or fight just to get some feeling that isn’t emotional hurt or personal resentment. I’m tired of not being the guy I was. That guy was awesome.

I woke up one day and came to a really unsettling conclusion about myself, something I didn’t want to face because I have a hard time making friends and being in relationships as it is (and I’m by no means saying I’m ready for or should be in a relationship), something I didn’t want to say to myself, because I don’t know how to say it to someone else:

I’m mentally ill.

Actually, I was still in the middle of a bender, so I think my actual words to myself were, “I’m goddamn fucking crazy, fucking crazy, and I can’t even make my WORDS WORK ANYMORE. Shitwriterhackfuckingnutjob.”

Something close to that, I didn’t write it down at the time.

For the first time ever, I’m pursuing therapy seriously. The two sessions so far have been good to me, and I like my doctor. “Crazy,” he tells me, “isn’t really a word we like to use,” which is nice and probably accurate, but who’s the word guy here?

Hypomanic bipolarism and depression, exacerbated by extreme anxiety which often will lead to minor panic attacks. I sob-laughed at that. Seemed appropriate. He offered to recommend me towards some doctors for a medical prescription. I can’t afford it without insurance, and I’ve got a while to go before I can enroll in that, so I got some black-market (read: a friend of mine) xanax to help tide me over. I don’t take them every day, or even a full pill. I never take them before going in to the therapist.

When I do take them, on days I wake up and I feel like my sternum is trying to turn itself inside me like a steering wheel, it curbs the attack. For the first time, I feel like I can function normally.

The treatment is coming too little, too late to save some relationships with people close to me, I fear. I’ve been too erratic, too intense, and left so poorly an impression that it’s tainted whatever positivity had come before. However, I’m hoping it isn’t too late for me to learn about myself, improve my control, manage my life and generally be a better person.

It’s hard. I’ve never been one to trust easily, and it always seems like those I finally do are the ones who leave the quickest, because they’re the ones who I burst out at the most regularly and overwhelmingly,  so even as I find time to talk to a professional and find proper medication, some days are just a struggle to get through. I wish I had someone to be a partner with me and help me, sometimes.

Though I’ve lost some people this time, again, important people to me and people I care very much about, I’ve also found a support from a number of surprising sources. I freely admit I have been in shambles this last month. I sleep terribly, I weep sometimes at night, when it’s quiet in my home and I can’t keep my mind from racing.

Yet, I’ve received phone calls at 4 in the morning, text messages during the day, and woken up to messages on Facebook checking up on me, talking me down from dark places,  building me up into stronger places. These are not always close friends. Some are friends I haven’t spoken to in quite some time. Others are people I barely know or have almost never spoken to. I can’t put into words how important and helpful that has been for me, and how appreciative I am.

If there is a silver lining to this, I guess this is it: this morning I received a message of appreciation in return. A very talented woman that I don’t know well reached out to me to let me know she enjoys following me on various social media formats,  not just for humor (which, my words, is obviously often used as a coping mechanism), but the deeper ones, such as the ones relating to depression and heartache, which tend to hit home for her. She ended her message with an offer to always be an ear and a shoulder.

I have always let my intentions be known from day one. It’s difficult for me to trust, but I’m an open book, at least here, at least in my writing. It’s rare I find someone I can express myself in person to face to face, but I have and will always be honest, regardless of how I’m relating my life. My feelings on something or with someone are no mystery, and almost never is. I don’t like to mislead anyone. I will never lie, nor will I exaggerate an event in my life, the lives of my friends or my family.

I am an intense person. I am emotional. I am, for fuck’s sake…mentally ill. I am not always proud of the things I do or say.

But I will be true to myself. I will be true to you, my friends, my family, and my readers. My cards are on the table, fully. I apologize to those I’ve hurt or pushed away or stressed out during this period or any previous period where I’ve been down like this. I am so grateful to those of you who have shared your strength and support to help me get through it.

Lastly, if any of you, friends, family, strangers, readers, ever need someone to talk to, you can always reach out to me as well. My e-mail is kjeredmayer@gmail.com.

This Is a Title, I Guess

I am not known for patience or restraint.

I get frustrated angrily, when people don’t think on the same track as I do, or feel as passionately as I do about a subject, when people don’t listen to what I’m saying or when I work hard on something and it doesn’t work or isn’t successful  (looking at you, Convergence trilogy… in five parts).

And when I feel or do something, I tend to go all-out, even if it’s starting sentences with a conjunction. When I write, I’m on fire with it. When I drink, I go hard. Any drink. If I have a liquid in hand, I’m downing it without realizing it. There are several restaurants around town that know me as “the water guy” and it’s a somewhat known fact amongst my friends that when I go out to eat, the food could be middling, the service could be bad, but my tip is based on how regularly my water glass is refilled.

When I’m in a friendship, it’s important to me that they know I am absolutely loyal and that I will do what I can to help or to support them or build them up. When I’m in a romantic relationship, I make sure that person knows how beautiful they are, how much they inspire me and how much I support their endeavors.

And when I fuck things up… in any capacity, really, I have to fix it. I can’t let things just be broken. I can’t give it time to  heal, it has to heal right away, and my God, I’ve got to be the one to do it. I have to set things right.

It has never occurred to me that time and space can help heal things in their own right. I have always wanted to slip in with gifts and apologies and affection and promises. Believe me, too, guilt over whatever it is I said or did plagues me every second of the day. It fits in nicely with this anxiety disorder I’ve been diagnosed with. I begin to overthink everything. “Oh, she hasn’t texted me. Oh, she seems distracted. Oh, she seems more distant. Oh, she’s talking to other people, she must have given up on me, I should give up in general”, and it’s fucking weird and overwhelming, and it’s always been that way for me. It’s an ourobouros of self-confidence, intensity, and self-destruction.

The last week has been sort of a different thing for me. I’ve been pulling back a lot, in a lot of ways, and trying to focus more on myself and the things I’m feeling about work, family and personal relationships with people. I’ve tried to leave bruised relationships alone entirely, because as desperately as I want to fix them, I don’t know how, or if they want to fix it. I do know that everything I’ve tried before has seemingly made things worse. I’ve even cut back on my writing about things. More on that in a second.

The distance I have been giving situations and people is hard for me, especially in cases where we used to speak every day. It’s difficult to go from that to feeling like even talking to them is grossing them out or offending them. It’s difficult not to text them and hope that things go back to how great they were.

The biggest rub is that I no longer know how to conduct myself in my writing. It’s sort of a Catch-22: I have prided myself on being open and honest about myself and my life, my issues, my successes, my goals and my failures. I have prided myself on being a voice for people who don’t want to talk about their similar experiences and on being a support for people who needed to know someone else was out there going through the same stuff.

It’s that same openness and honesty and lack of restraint that has led to some of my best writing and has driven away people because of my intensity. For the last few weeks, that thought has marinated in my mind and I’ve found it difficult to piece sentences together. For a blog post, for a status update, for a text message. I haven’t done fuck-all for the book I’m supposed to be writing.

I thought my words were broken.

That can’t be right. Maybe I’m broken.

I’m not broken, I’ve just got restraint issues. I have anxiety. I overthink so I overact, and it comes out in everything that I do. It isn’t the words, it’s the level of emotion behind the words. I’m loading a crossbow with a grenade, and then calling in an air strike before the smoke clears, because I have to be sure. And then I hate myself for no reason, because I’m positive I’ve missed the target by a mile.

I’m in a weird position that I never thought I would be in. I’m scared to write to the people I know. I’m worried when I write something positive that people will think I’m either overcompensating or that it’s only a matter of time until I hit a downward slope again. I’m worried that if I post something negative about how I’m feeling or what I’m going through, that it will be too intense for some and drive them away, because this has already happened. I can’t post art because I’m not feeling particularly artistic, except in bouts of frustration in which I try to vomit something beautiful out just to make myself feel better, to mixed results.

I’m left posting funny pictures I find online and watching a Hell’s Kitchen marathon to distract myself, and to keep my phone busy so I’m not tempted to text anyone I shouldn’t.

You know, it’s funny. The last half a week or so is the least anxious I’ve felt in a long time. The medication helps, even if it’s half a pill every three days or so. The anxiety is slipping away, but nothing is really better. The words won’t come, and three weeks of out of character action has completely fucked everything else up for me. Now when I’m lonely, I can’t even ask to go out for beers. I can’t even put that shit on Facebook. Hell, I don’t even want to drink about it, anymore.

I know what not to do, I suppose. I still don’t know what I should be doing.

Oh, right. Hell’s Kitchen. Gordon Ramsay is my spirit animal.

Wanderlust

“Why do you insist on ruining your own life?”

I had a friend ask me that at a bar one weekend when I went to say goodbye to her cousin, who was visiting. It struck me as…a fair question, if strangely timed. I certainly have been self-destructive at times in my life, including relatively recently. The last few months, though, I feel like I’ve been in a pretty solid place in most regards. I’m more self-aware, more productive, more patient in so much as it regards to my relationships with people.

She meant it present-tense, I think, though I didn’t ask. That’s not the kind of conversation I like to have when drinks are involved, and it’s definitely not the type of conversation I want to have in public. It has bothered me, though, and I’ve had time to think about it.

I don’t think Alaska is conducive to my health. Mentally or physically, I’ve become a shut-in who misses the places I’ve been and dreams of the places I haven’t. I want life, and adventure, and love, fleeting and otherwise. This state is harsh. It’s tight-knit and bitter and blunt. The unparalleled beauty of this state in any season belies a darkness that creeps into you if you’re not careful. It’s hard for a lot of people without emotional issues. It’s even worse with those constantly wrestling with their sense of self.

My mind is full of fantasies of crashing waves and sunsets, people-watching in a crowd of strangers, dive bars I’ve never heard of and hole in the wall cafés with local bands playing for tips. I dream of kisses that happen in the heat of the moment, amidst the heat of bodies crammed together in a club, for fleeting glances and those first, free conversations when something ridiculous has brought two people together to comment on it.

Alaska is a cage. It’s home to me, but I’ve got both eyes on the door. I just don’t know how to be self-sufficient enough to leave. I could probably find a willing roommate, and I know how to get around without a vehicle, but it’s the occupation bit that holds me back. I like my current job and it pays me well but to transfer, I would need to learn several new markets that we simply don’t sell in Alaska, and I don’t know how well I would perform in that capacity. At the same token, I don’t know what else I would do.

I find myself writing more in general and more or less excited for the future. I like myself more? Most days? But I wake up some days just feeling crushed and anxious and trapped. I would gnaw my fucking ankle off and go buy a new foot from IKEA if it meant I found a new, stable place to be. I don’t think I’m being particularly self-destructive at this point in time, but at the same time, I’m not doing myself any favors by simply accepting where I’m at, despite the familiar faces, despite that I know this (increasingly violent) city because it has been most of my life.

As I finish up this book and get it ready for sale, I find myself jittery and tense. There are nerves involved, of course, in waiting for the reactions to my finishing this trilogy, but there’s also this spectre hanging over my shoulder, constantly reminding me that I’m grinding this shit out in a place where my dream career has no real place to go.

So there’s that, I guess. I’ll keep you posted, and I’ll keep it honest.

Playing the Doldrums

I haven’t written anything in probably a week. I’ve been in sort of a slump. Could be the rainy, overcast weather springing from the still-settling corpse of summer. Could be the slow sales month. I went from two really solid months to being in the bottom two.

Hell, it could be nothing. I know how depression works. I just feel weary all the time, unmotivated, and irritable. I took a personal day Sunday of last week and to keep from getting a mark against my attendance, I worked one of my days off, leading to six days in a row. Normally, six days would be nothing. In the mood I’m in, it felt like a month had passed. Last night, I had a bitch of a time falling asleep.

It was just to the point I was dreaming, but was still conscious and uncomfortable in bed as to keep moving around. It was something more akin to hallucinating and I woke up with heavy mind and body. Cool dreams, though, from what I recall. I was going to call out today, then, and take the point, but the iPhone 6 launches in two days and my store is in a tizzy trying to prepare. I didn’t want to be that guy, perceived to be slacking on top of having a shit sales month.

I’ve been reacting to the mood the way I typically do: too much spending of money, too much drinking, sleeping around. None of it makes me feel any better, and I know that as I’m doing it (well, the sex is alright, actually), but it takes my mind away from things. I almost spend $40 on movies, caught myself, realised I didn’t actually need them. So I put them back and proceeded to spend $40 on liquor and another $7 on the cab ride home. Brilliant.

On a separate note, I signed up for Tinder over the weekend. I wasn’t at a point where I was full-on, Match.com ready to pursue online dating, but Tinder seemed like a relatively easy, zero-pressure option. Maybe I would have more luck that way. Anchorage is small and as expected, I’ve come across several people I know already, a few I’ve already been with physically, and a man. Which, hey, I applaud his determination, because I had certainly selected women only as my search parameters (I double-checked).

So I’ve got a few matches already (swipe left if you’re not interested, right if you are; if you swore right on each other, it opens an option to begin dialogue), a couple of which seemed fake the more I looked at them. One girl messaged me at 4 this morning to ask for companionship. I tried to get back to my shitty sleep instead, determined to discuss details in the morning. By the time I woke, she had unselected me as a match. Oh yeah, you can do that, too.

Well, that’s probably for the best. But now there are a couple matches sitting there on the app that seem legit, and I choked. I haven’t said shit. Am I shy? Is it because I’m depressed that I’m shy? Honestly, I think the problem is that it’s been so long since I’ve been in a serious, committed relationship that I don’t know what to do to start dating again. I don’t know what to say. I find myself utterly uninteresting, the most fascinating aspects of my life being familial experiences and relationship disasters that I don’t feel comfortable talking about.

I’m really good at making friends with women. I’m pretty decent at seducing women with no strings attached. But I am fucking terrible at opening up enough to try and start a relationship. I freeze, I choke up, I avert eye contact.

So that’s what’s new with me, anyway. Figured you guys could use an update and I suppose I could benefit from writing out some of these issues. This blog is my pro bono therapist. He doesn’t offer any sort of advice, but I guess you (don’t) get what you (don’t) pay for.

There are a couple of fiction things I want to start working on some, so I’ll try to update with those soon. Fly on, free birds.