Let Sleeping Demons Lie

It’s World Mental Health Day, and I thought I’d take a little bit of time to discuss mental health–largely because it is most definitely directly relevant to my life. Sometimes I joke about it, because the humor helps relieve the pressure. Other times, though, like right now, I want to be more serious about the subject of mental health. It’s a very serious thing, and one that needs more awareness.

It has been a while since I’ve mentioned this here (because, well, it shouldn’t be something worth mentioning): I’m bipolar. I don’t have it as bad as some people, and the medications keep my emotional state mostly under control, but it’s there all the same. I don’t get to take a vacation from it. I don’t get to say, “Y’know, I think I’m not going to be bipolar today.” It’s there. It’s a daily thing, regardless of whether or not it’s at the forefront of my mind.

The fates have been kind to me lately in that I have been able to almost forget that I’m bipolar–almost. My moods have been running fairly stable, and aside from the daily pill regimen to keep those moods in check I really don’t have any constant reminders these days of the horror that I used to endure. I can’t really describe it adequately in prose; poetry sometimes better conveys the roller coaster of bipolar life. I’m going to add a poem here that the narcissist in me is quite proud of: “Hostage in My Head,” a poem written during a more difficult mental state.

 

“Hostage in My Head” (from Kamikaze Butterflies by AJ Mullican)

Trapped alone

Awash in a sea of terror

No escape from my own deranged thoughts

Impossible futures scroll through my mind

Over and over on a continuous loop

My mental movie screen glows

As the macabre fantasy plays unbidden

Death and disaster overtake reality

Can’t focus on the here and now

When the “might be” looms on the horizon

Against my will my death plays out again

For the hundredth time this hour

I watch my lifeless form slide to the ground

Shot in the convenience store

Pulled from the mangled wreck

Coded mysteriously at work

At the sight of my imagined death

My heart rate soars and pounds

There’s nothing beautiful and delicate

About the kamikaze butterflies in my chest

Every single nerve

Teeters on the edge of a precipitous drop

With a nightmare at the bottom

Just one nudge

One little push

And everything will come crashing down

I tiptoe on the inside

Walking the fine line between sanity and oblivion

Pacing the padded room within my skull

Inside I scream for a reprieve, for escape

Even for sweet, sweet nothingness

But my calls go unheeded

The nightmare begins anew

I am my own personal terrorist

And I am the hostage

 

So yeah. Sometimes it’s like that. Sometimes it’s easy going. Sometimes it scares the fuck out of me. You can never tell what the next day–or minute, or second–will bring. And you know what else you sometimes can’t tell? If someone even has mental illness. That’s right, it’s sneaky shit. The stereotype is always the scruffy guy standing in the corner at the bus station, muttering to himself. That. Is. NOT. Typical of mental illness. Yes, it happens, but mental illness could be as innocuous as a slight slump to the shoulders, an unusual amount of energy, a sigh. There are infinite signs, and they can be infinitesimal.

To anyone reading this who suffers from mental illness, no matter what that illness is, I’m here. I may not be able to fully understand your personal illness, or even your own form of bipolar disorder, but I can talk. I can listen. To anyone reading this who is fortunate enough to be fairly mentally “sound,” if you know someone who is mentally ill, be that person who talks. Who listens. Sometimes just a little show of support and understanding is enough to keep the demons at bay.

For now the demons are quiet, and I think I’ll let them sleep a little longer.

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So much to do, so little time for nothing

Eight to twelve hours at work five days a week. Either game or events on Saturdays, then Sundays are either visiting with family/doing laundry/rapier practice or more event stuff. Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings after work are for exercising, and Friday is more rapier practice. I occasionally get scheduled for a half day here and there, but inevitably someone calls out and I end up working the whole day.

That bugs the ever-living snot out of me. I feel like people see that I’m scheduled off-unless-needed and decide to suddenly be “sick” when they really just want a free day.

Why don’t I get free days? I don’t blame my bosses; they have to staff the clinic as is necessary. I kind of blame my coworkers sometimes though. Okay, most of the time. I mean, do they realize the kind of life I lead? If it wasn’t for my early-morning insomnia I’d never get anything done outside of work. No writing. No sewing. No artwork. Nothing. Just because I’m not out partying every night or don’t have kids to take care of doesn’t mean I don’t have things to do.

I’m tempted to request off more often just to get a break here and there, despite the need for PTO when I actually need the off days. I just can’t seem to catch a break.

Maybe this afternoon I’ll get the half day I was hoping for.

Maybe. But I doubt it.

Wandering blind

Wandering blind

I’m not quite sure where I’m going

I barely know where I’ve been

I want to do more than I’m doing

But I don’t know how, why, or when

I’m not quite sure what I’m doing

I don’t know quite where to begin

To do things is not really helping

To do not seems more of a sin

I’m not quite much help as a listener

And speaking always comes out wrong

I don’t quite know what I can do

I don’t quite know how to be strong

Frayed

They creak and groan, they scratch and scrape

They make the hairs raise on my nape

They cut, they slice, they tear, they rend

What they begin brings me to end

They know my dreams, they know my fears

They whisper nightmares in my ears

Day in, day out, they scream inside

And from these things I cannot hide

I try to run, try to get free

From demons born inside of me

I bite, I chew, I scratch and scrape

I ponder both my life and fate

I cry, I sob, I’m beyond words

I live in prison, trapped by nerves

Independent Thought

It’s that time of year again: Independence Day. The fourth of July. My nation’s birthday, so to speak. So why am I not feeling particularly patriotic today?

Maybe it’s just the state of the nation as a whole. I try not to get into politics, but I’ll just come out and say it: I have no faith in our “fearless leader.” I seriously thought his campaign was a joke at first, and when it sunk in that he was, in fact, running for real, I felt a little queasy. I may have even thrown up in my mouth a little.

How can I feel patriotic about a country that can let this happen? Sure, we didn’t have the greatest choices in candidates, but there have to be some major flaws in the system if there were no good, true “leaders” to choose from. Instead, we ended up with two major choices: a shifty crook or a misogynistic egomaniac. The people chose the crook; the system chose the misogynist. Wonderful.

Thankfully, Denial is a wonderful state in this situation. Much better than any of the fifty other states. When it comes to our current government, I’ll be moving to Denial for the foreseeable future. Yep, this isn’t real. It’s all some sick prank. Any second, Ashton Kutcher is going to show up, reveal the hidden cameras, and say, “You’ve been Punk’d!”

Avoidance is my safety blanket right now. Block certain Twitter accounts and Facebook pages, change the channel if I happen to stumble upon the news, gloss over the newspaper…I don’t know if I can last the next three and a half years like this, but for now it’s an adequate band-aid. So long as we don’t end up in the middle of Shit Creek with no way to steer…

I hear the rapids are a bitch.

Hypersensitive

I’ve gotten to that bend in the roller coaster again. I’d been fairly flat and level lately, but I suspect that the tracks are on a downslope as I get more and more sensitive to little things that shouldn’t bug me.

My biggest frustration stems from new knowledge that’s coming in that is slowing me down when it comes to utilization of said knowledge. I know, in theory, how to do these new things, but in practice I’m failing–big time. My mind is trying to apply the things I’ve learned and in the process I’m tripping all over myself…sometimes literally. I know that it’s a learning curve and I just have to be patient and keep practicing, but try telling that to me. I’m sure as hell not listening to it.

I’m also getting more sensitive, or maybe more paranoid, about what people think of me. Every time I hear derisive laughter and I don’t know what the people are talking about, I assume it must be about me. They’re making fun of someone and I’m weird, so they must be making fun of me. It’s not anything or anyone specific and it’s not logical in any way, but the thoughts come just the same.

These insecurities are really hitting me harder than they should, so I know it’s just my mind getting out of control again. Knowing that and pushing the insecurities aside are two different animals though; I can tell myself all day long that I’m worrying over nothing–it won’t make a difference. I’ll still find myself on the verge of tears for no good reason.

It’ll pass eventually–it always does–but it’s frustrating as hell when this part of my brain cycle hits.

All things must come to an end

All things must come to an end

Nearly fifteen years ago I bought the first–and only–pet that was my very own. I fell in love with a kitten up for adoption from a shelter, and before I even signed the papers I had named her Annabelle.

I kinda didn’t tell my dad I was getting her until I got her home.

Annabelle was my only constant for the next nine years, even my sole companion during the month I spent living by myself in an extended-stay motel during my transition to Arizona. She was my baby.

When I moved in with my then-boyfriend, I had to leave her at my parents’ house due to roommate issues (the issue being that it was the roommate’s house and he didn’t want another cat living there). When we moved into our first apartment shortly before getting married, we couldn’t afford rent for two cats, so Annabelle stayed at Mom and Dad’s. When our cat Luna died, we weren’t ready for another cat yet–and by that time, Annabelle was getting on in years & had settled into life at my parents’ house…without me. She ran from me when I came over to visit more often than not, and the few times she did come out of hiding it was to beg for food or treats. I had become a stranger.

We got Rory about six months after Luna died, and since Annabelle was comfortable where she was, we decided against uprooting her and bringing her into a new environment with a new, rambunctious kitten.

A few months ago, Annabelle started losing some weight.

She started losing a lot of weight.

Now, with her only eating with the aid of an appetite stimulant and throwing up what little she does eat, I have a decision to make. She may not really be “my” cat anymore (at least not in her eyes), but she’s still, well, my cat.

My sister’s cat, Chelsea, had a long death. She was put to sleep eventually, but she got emaciated to the point of having to be force-fed and had necrotic sores on her. She looked like something out of Pet Sematary. Literally. It was scary. I don’t want that for Annabelle. I don’t want to “kill” her, but I don’t want her to suffer. She’s old. She’s lived a good life…and nearly half that life has been without me. So what am I to do?

I thought hard about it. I didn’t want to make the decision too hastily, but I also didn’t want to drag out her life if she was suffering in any way. The image of the last time I saw my sister’s cat was enough. I’m not going to let Annabelle turn into that.

So either today or Monday (depending on when the vet can get her in), I am prepared to make one of the toughest decisions of my life. I’m going to say good-bye to my baby and let her go peacefully. It’s the least I can do for the kitten that used to chase her tail on my neck, that hid under the blankets during the road trip to Arizona, that would sit on my lap & purr while I played World of Warcraft before work.

What was going to be a nice, relaxing weekend of cosplay work will now be a weekend of mourning and trying to focus on what now seems insignificant.

Here’s to you, Annabelle. You were and are an awesome cat.

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