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.

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.

Correction, Not Compromise

“Be true to yourself. But that’s something everyone says and no one means. No one wants you to be yourself. They want you to be the version of yourself that they like.”

That’s an excerpt from The Young Elites, written by Marie Yu. It’s an interesting quote and a bleak one. I find it’s not always true, that most people are fortunate to find at least one person who will accept them during the good days and the bad. Conversely, you’ll find out who cares or even pays attention in situations that would often benefit from ignorance in that regard. You know, if you find yourself in the hospital. If you find yourself dealing with bleak feelings or bouts of irritability. If you lose someone and you’re mired in grief. Those are the times you most need people to be there for you, and those are the times you’ll find out who appreciates you for you and not just what’s convenient to them or what handful of aspects appeal to them.

I have several friends who have seen me hit rock bottom and stayed with me as I struggled to step back up. They’ve offered assistance and a shoulder to lean on, a couch to crash on, or money to borrow until I could get back on my feet. I am fortunate for them.

The thing is, even having people appreciate me for who I am, it’s often difficult to appreciate myself. Where friends, true friends, have been forgiving of my missteps and mistakes, I’ve often found myself having a difficult time forgiving myself. I don’t often feel worthy of their kind words or their assistance or their time. I struggle with being me because I don’t think I’m very good at it.

Additionally, I put myself out in the open a lot. I published and put out novels. I regularly post poetry and writing tips and opinion pieces. I write about my family, friends, and especially about myself, and I’m generally pretty open about it. On paper, anyway. I express my emotions as fully and deeply as I can, because I feel to do otherwise would be disingenuous.

Exposing those aspects of my life and my psyche is somewhat taxing, though. It puts a spotlight on me and allows others access to my life, and there is an inherent pressure in it. For everyone that messages me thanking me for talking about something they couldn’t or didn’t want to, I can feel others pulling away from me in disapproval or annoyance or disgust. It’s tempting to rein it in. It’s tempting to fudge the truth or to shy away from the embarrassing or negative aspects of my life, especially when I consider that by being so open, I could very well push away people who would otherwise be interested in me as a friend or something more.

The last week and a half, I’ve been tapering off from liquor and so have been sober (in so much as not reaching a state of even tipsyness), going through the day, going to bed and waking up with a clear mind for the longest period of time in… Christ, I don’t know how long. That clarity, though, has helped remind me, though, that I value honesty above all else.

I was raised to be honest, I was raised to try and help others where I can, and those lessons are ones I’ve spent my whole life trying to live up to. I haven’t always been successful at that. I’m far from a saint. All the same, I’ve done my best to do right by people and to be there when they needed someone.

I used to write long Facebook posts about thoughts and feelings I had. When I started this blog, I found my words could reach so many more people. It gave me an opportunity to talk about things that others found uncomfortable, to confess things about my life, to relate experiences that came from a difficult family or personal lifestyle. Not all of my posts are agreeable or wide-read, but they’re honest. They’re as true to me and my life as they could possibly be.

If even one person messages me or comments to tell me my words meant something to them or to thank me for talking about an experience, if one person feels better about the things they’ve gone through because they know someone else has gone through it, too, then it’s worth it not to compromise who I am.

I forgot that, for a while. I forgot I wasn’t just writing for me. I forgot I was writing in hopes I could reach others and help others and let people know it was going to be okay.

Shit, I forgot it was going to be okay. Probably. Maybe. Probably.

I wrote somewhere a while back that I’m starting to come to terms with the idea that it’s more important for me to sure others felt safe and secure than it was for me to be happy. Not that I was incapable of being happy, not that by not being happy I was necessarily sad. I meant that maybe I’m meant to be here more for others.

If that’s the case, I’m happy to put my demons on display. Maybe not immediately, but always completely. Honestly. Being true to yourself means not conforming to expectations, I suppose, but it doesn’t mean being content with damaging behavior. You can improve yourself without compromising who you are at heart or being someone else’s ideal, and I plan on doing that, and I plan on telling the truth about it.

I’ll tell you it’s fucking hard, that I’m struggling. That I want to tear my hair out and give up some days, that I wish I felt comfortable enough with others to not do this 95% by myself. I’ll tell you that sometimes I want to cry myself to sleep and I don’t because I don’t want to have to sleep on a damp pillowcase. I’ll tell you sobriety is bringing me nightmares and heartache and that I don’t know what to do with myself or who to talk to, and that I’m astonished at how much of my life I’ve wasted with grief and anger.

I’ll tell you I don’t know what to do, what I’m doing, what I’m going to do next.

When I started this blog, I made a promise to never lie to you. Not about myself, not about my life, not about anyone else. I won’t. Ever. I’ll keep writing about difficult things, my fuck-ups. I’ll keep sharing short stories and poetry, and stories of the people I love and the world’s beauty. Hopefully you learn something from my mistakes. Hopefully you’ll know it’s okay to make some of your own. Hopefully you won’t feel alone.

Most importantly, know that whatever I write about, whatever I’m going through, you’ve got someone here in your corner if you need it. Most importantly, know that you’re going to be okay.

I’m a Man Who Was Raped

Rape is a strong word and a horrific action. I don’t use it lightly and I certainly don’t want to take away from experiences that were more tramautic or violent than mine. That isn’t fair. It would be equally unfair to present what happened to me as anything less than a violation of my body and my comfort. I shouldn’t have to treat what happened to me as a “lesser” rape.

This post already fucking sucks to write.

Some background on me: I’m pretty promiscuous. I am a loyal man when it comes to relationships. When I commit to a woman, I see in her something that makes me want to be better and I am all about that. I don’t and won’t stray. As a single man, however, I love women. I love all shapes, sizes, shades of women. Long hair, short hair, blonde, brunette, whatever.  I don’t necessarily have a type, I just like… aspects. I’m a sexual guy. I don’t apologize for it and I wouldn’t expect anyone else to either, as long as it’s safe and consensual.

When I had sex with this woman the first time, it was consensual. I was in a bad place in my life and I was really drunk, but I absolutely invited it and the sex was…eh, alright. She was far, far from anything I would normally go for and I wasn’t exactly on my A game but it was what it was and I resolved that that was it. The only time. We had talked before about the lack of strings and the “it’s just for fun, that’s it, good game” approach.

A week or two later at the bar, two days before my birthday, she was distraught over details I don’t want to say because some of my readers know her. I tried to comfort her. She tried to feel up on my crotch. I did my best to pull away without making it obvious and insisted on being a support. I also got completely fucking hammered because it was just one of those bar crazy nights.

Bar break hits and everyone finds themselves outside arranging rides. I had talked with this woman and her friends a bit and resolved to grab a cab. She insisted on driving me home. I declined. She reminded me that I could save money by not taking a cab. Hey, fuck it, I’m a cheapskate and I was blacking in and out.

Note: DO NOT DRINK IRRESPONSIBLY. DO NOT DRINK UNTIL YOU BLACK OUT. I have had drinks for many years and made far more mistakes than good memories.

She took her friend to Taco Bell and dropped her friend off while I was passing in and out of consciousness in the back seat of the truck. She forced me to get in the front seat before we continued on and drove me home. We got to my place and she turned off the keys.

“Uh…were you planning on coming inside?”
“Uh, yeah.”
“I’ve got to be up in four hours. I’m really drunk. I’m not in the mood, I dont think I could even perform. I should just-”
“It’ll only take a minute.”

She hopped out of the truck and walked up to the porch and I reluctantly let her inside. On the porch and in my room, I repeated that I wasn’t in the mood, that I was exhausted, that maybe another time. In my room, she pulled my pants down, pushed me onto the bed and began by taking me into her mouth.

At that point, I got it all done as fast as I could to get it over with and I rushed her out of my house. I went to sleep on the verge of tears.

Could I have physically stopped her? Yeah. Could I have been louder and caused a scene? Yes. But I was barely conscious drunk. I was afraid of being the belligerent one. My dad had been sent to prison for six months on a false count of rape before my stepmother admitted she was just pissed at him for something completely unrelated and filed a false claim. I was terrified that in my state of impairment I would hurt her.

The next morning, I texted her to tell her that nothing about the situation made me feel good. I felt pressured and taken advantage of and we should call things quits. And she felt terrible, apparently, and apologized profusely and took to Facebook to vaguely rant about how much of a piece of shit she was.

I felt awful about it. I’ve had many one night stands and some of them ended with me greeting the morning and thinking “probably shouldn’t have done that” or “not proud of that one”, but I own those. I had those experiences with purpose. Never had I ever felt so hurt and disgusted with myself as I did with this one.

I got drunk one night and texted my roommate to see if she was awake. She came downstairs to find me sitting on the floor with a bottle of rum in my hand and held me while I cried because I felt like a piece of shit. I told a guy friend about it, expecting him to make fun of me. He said, essentially, “If it was you taking a girl that drunk who wasn’t down for sex and manipulated them  into it, you would be in jail.”

I didn’t press charges. I don’t think it was intentional or meant maliciously. That doesn’t mean it was right. The lady has a kid, though, and I didn’t want to drag that kid through such a horrible experience when I’m a man and I should be able to write it off.

Because I’m a man.

Right?

Do you know how shitty it is to have to try and defend myself about this? To other men? To women? I told a female friend about this and her response, no shit, was “You have to stop putting yourself in these positions.” Can you fucking imagine telling a woman victim that? I would never.

I was so hesitant to tell anyone because I felt it made me look weak. I was trying to court a girl who knew the woman in question and I didn’t say shit because I didn’t want to ruin my chances. I didn’t want to… I don’t know.

I’m very pro-sexuality, pro-promiscuity, anti-slut shaming. I think sex is beautiful and fun when you’re being smart, safe and communicative. But that doesn’t mean you want to sleep with everybody and it doesn’t mean you’re always in the mood. You don’t expect that shit to happen to you.

I was beyond intoxicated. I said I wasn’t interested multiple times. I was coerced and pressured under the influence to let her into my house. Deep under the influence, I scared myself out of being more loudly vocal or violently physical in restraining her. She touched me, she had sex with me and she left. I felt sick. I still do. And I understand why more men don’t report it: image.  Reputation. Disbelief.

But I can’t anymore. I was raped. It wasn’t violent. I wasn’t in fear for my life. I wasn’t physically restrained or beaten or threatened, but I was definitely not in a capacity to properly help myself and I was taken advantage of.

I feel like shit about it, like I deserved it somehow for being a poor boyfriend in the past, or a shitty person in general. I don’t know. But I needed to get it out.

Male or female victims, know this: it is not your fault. It was never and will be never your fault or anything you did. You are beautiful and strong and braver than anyone who would transgress against you. There will always be someone there for you. I wish to God you never had to go through such vulnerability and violation.

You are loved.