I’m Killing Me

I joke about suicide. I do. “God, I’d rather kill myself than listen to this song.” “God, waiting in line makes me want to drink bleach.”

My godbrother shot himself in the head in his parking lot because his girlfriend broke up with him, ten minutes before his parents came home.

I joke about things being the end of the world. I joke about slitting my wrists before listening to another drug-addled stranger listing all the reasons everyone but themselves ruined their life.

Two of my friends hung themselves. One with barbed wire. That guy asked a girl he loved to find him. I spoke at his funeral.

I joke about suicide constantly. I think about suicide constantly. I don’t think people understand it.

It’s been a long time since I’ve wanted to kill myself. I’m not going to shy away from the fact that that was a thing. “What do I contribute to life?” “I’ve been single this long, who will love me?” “I’m adopted. I can’t even have a real family.”

That’s the tip of a bad day. Without getting into details, pushing 3o where I am is not great. Easy. Not great.

I used to have a mantra. I told a girlfriend not long ago, first person I ever told, that I was planning on checking out just after my 30th birthday. “You made it. 3 decades. You’re good to go, my son.” I said that and I told her I was worried I was going to party too hard or get cross-checked by a minivan before 3o and it wouldn’t mean shit. I thought 30 was the milestone I should reach before checking the fuck out.

I joke about suicide.

I joke about suicide despite friends and loved ones committing it. I do. It’s fucking horrific. It’s tragic. It’s ugly. It’s desperate. A suicide hurts everyone it’s involved with.

I will never call a suicide selfish. Go fuck yourself. Nobody kills themsef for attention they won’t ever be able to appreciate. It’s to alleviate depression. Isolation. A sense of shame. An internal pain that lingers and haunts and hurts and taunts on its own, even before outside stimulus amplifies it. I understand suicide as much as I hate that anyone reaches the conclusion that suicide is the answer.

You aren’t a thief. But you look at something in the store and you think about how you might steal it or the thrill of one misadventure or what it would save you. You aren’t violent. But you think about the reaction or hopefully the silence you might get if you were to slap the mouth of a braggart.

I am not suicidal. I have been. I’ve tried. I tried leaving this life. I’ve been close to leaving this life since  (blood poisoning). I’m not convinced that decades down the line, my leaving this world won’t be intentional. But for now, I’m not suicidal. I’ve found things to live for.

It’s never something that’s left my mind. It’s an act of pain. It’s an act of release. In some cases, through final notes and letters, it’s an act of art. There is something to be said of knowing the deliberate thoughts of someone who has finished with their experience.

I joke about suicide. I joke about death. I have cried every time someone I knew took their life. I cried when Robin Williams had enough of what was already afflicting him and didn’t want to to add more to the list. I joke about it because I’ve wanted to do it. I joke about it because I don’t know if I want thirty more years of aimlessness. 

I joke about it in concept. But I respect it. I understand it. At the worst times in my life, I wanted it. I joke about it without specifics because it’s heartbreaking and tragic and because I’ve been there, and I don’t know any other way of dealing with it.

You need to be able to laugh about anything. Especially things close to your heart. Especially things that fucking hurt. If you can’t find something to laugh about in a ruinous situation, it will ruin you.

I will never,  EVER, joke about a suicide victim. But I will joke about suicide. I’ll take the piss out of it. I’ll lighten it. I’ll disregard it. Because I’ve been there. Because it haunts me. Because it likes to step on my shit. And sometimes laughter and lightheartedness and detachment are what’s called for.

That’s how I deal with it. It isn’t always great.

I hope you’re okay. If you aren’t, feel free to reach out. Or please, PLEASE Call 1-800-273-8255. They’re available 24/7.

Life, even in its ugliness, is worth enjoying. It’s worth making fun of and spitting in the face of.

You’ve got this.

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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.

Remembrance

I did not want to write about 9/11. I haven’t really talked about it, I never planned on talking or writing about it, and I don’t plan on touching on the subject again. I did not know anybody in the towers or the Pentagon or on any of the planes. I don’t have a personal connection to any part of the tragedy, no matter how peripheral.

That doesn’t mean I don’t understand the magnitude of what happened. It doesn’t mean I’m devoid of empathy or that I don’t weigh the tragedy heavily. Such an unwarranted, astonishing loss of life from pointless malice is enough to render anyone speechless. I felt that any commentary or observations I had, from the opposite end of the continent and with no personal ties, would ring lesser. Borderline narcissistic.

I remember where I was. Sleeping. I was in bed, in 8th grade at my middle school. My grandfather woke me an hour or two before I was scheduled to wake up and I recall being bitter at the loss of sleep.

“What?” I asked.
“Come downstairs.”
“What’s going on?”
“Come downstairs,” my grandfather said.

By then the first plane had hit the tower and we were watching the news as it unfolded. I only vaguely realised then that I was watching one of the most pivotal acts of the century and one of the greatest acts of terrorism ever successfully executed on a country. I think often about my grandparents and the milestones, the life-changing events they witnessed, lived through and took part in. Slowly, it sunk in that what I was witnessing was a horrendous act of cruelty and wanton destruction, one that would plunge my country and several others into over a decade of a loosely defined war.

My middle school, God bless it, tried to stay with the curriculum for a day but ultimately, the teachers succumbed to the overwhelming necessity for honesty. The lessons stopped. The TVs, typically reserved for the middle school news reports, was turned to the national news. 12-15 years of age, we were witness to both plane collisions and the collapse of both towers. We saw the loss of thousands of lives and we knew, in our youthful naivete, that things had changed forever.

I grew up in a world where you could walk your loved ones to the skybridge connecting the airport to the plane. Loved ones kissed each other at the gate. Airport people-watching was a prevalent, beautiful thing. Now there are extensive security scanners, x-rays, “random” frisks… you have to take your shoes off for God’s sakes. You say goodbye to your family members hours before they leave because they have to check in hours early to avoid the lines but they can’t kill the time with you because you cannot pass.

We live in a country where our police are abusing and murdering innocent people because of race and class and while we got the general people responsible for the terror attack, we don’t really know what we’re doing now in the Middle East.

We waged our war under the pretenses of…justice? But it was revenge. We got it. We got it against the mastermind of the terror plot against us and most of the generals in charge. We apprehended and subsequently (on a global scheme) had executed a psychotic and sadistic dictator that we sort of helped into rule.  But fixing a government? Telling a people how to function? Now there’s ISIS running around committing atrocities and we’re trying to figure that out…

It’s easy to lose track of where it started. The one clear-cut thing: the 9/11 attacks.

For all its faults, for its wide range of leadership strengths and cons, we (America) didn’t deserve an unprovoked attack that cost thousands of innocent lives. No country deserves that.

The thing that brought me to write this is because I wanted to remember, in this bleak moment of humanity, the one gem it did show us: countries the world over, even countries we weren’t friendly with, showed us love and support for the loss we suffered during the attacks by a specific group of zealots. Our own news is full of stories of rapes and murders and brutal assaults, but in the wake of 9/11, everyone banded together. We weren’t black or white, we weren’t men or women…shit, at that point, it didn’t even matter if we were Statesian  or international: everyone was digging through rubble, risking their own health, breathing in toxic dust and gases, just trying to save lives.

We banded together as a species. As humans. To try and help others, to heal others, to save others, to be there for others.

There was a group we banded against, a group of people dedicated to striking fear into the hearts of others. As time passed, the group became blurred, as did people’s opinions on their race and religion, and ignorance spread that blurriness into terrible generalizations. But at the beginning there was a group. And for a time, the world agreed as a whole, a collective of homosapiens that that group was the cancer to be excised.

…It has been a 13 year war with shifting directions and a new crop of enemies everywhere. Where did we go wrong? Terrorists became everyone with dark skin, everybody who worships a different God or the same God with a different name? Despite a century without slavery and decades with other races providing art, laws and speeches that have irrevocably changed our country for the better, racism is still experiencing an unprecedented resurgence. The United States of America has no official language and was constitutionally based on the idea of peoples from all countries, races and religions forming a melting pot of freedom and yet we force white-ism and English upon everyone.

Native Americans and Native American language and culture have a far stronger claim to indignation than some backwoods hick from Arkansas that manages to string six third-grade English words together into a sentence of displaced frustration.

This is a time where we need to remember that there are good people in this world and bad people. That good is not predicated on race or religion but on the idea that they will help their fellow person, at risk to themselves, because acting violently and hurtfully towards each other is a poison. Bigotry, fear and superstition are our enemies.

Love one another and accept them, despite their differences. Do not expect the worst of people, for those perpetrators are the few and by judging all, you hurt the many.

We came together as a people. As a country. Hell, for the most part we came together as a world. Such a monumental loss of human life is unacceptable. We are human. We want to live and love and be loved and be remembered. That is our global truth.