The other day, I came across this article - and soon found myself in awe of the information the piece provided. It’s an image-heavy article, which means this post will also be image-heavy. I’m not copy-pasting the text, so I strongly suggest clicking this telling image to be taken to the full write-up, especially if you’ve had a breakdown, know someone who has had a breakdown, or you ever fell victim to one of my unexpected, late-night, inexplicable and incoherent ramblings via email, blog commentary, or any other method by which you and I maintain contact.
With each image that applies or have applied to my experience, I will share how it felt for me, if I suffered from the description in the picture. The first one here will show what will be behind the cut, should you decide to read further.
For me, this was not a sudden mindset, but a gradual one. In crises, I was always the one that held things together. I could switch off parts of my brain, and do what I needed to do at that moment in time. At the age of 12, I was the one who gave directions to the paramedics, when my great-grandmother had her massive stroke. Granny was a non-functioning, human-shaped manifestation of panic, and Aunt Tudi was frantically trying to get things ready for when the ambulance arrived to the point where, honestly, she was being a detriment to any progress we might could have had. It was only two days later that the upheaval found me, at which time I became non-functional for a period of time, just a few days. In times of turmoil, I realised I could take care of whatever situation I found myself, then release it all later in private. The only times I ever lost that ability was the night before Granny died in 1993. The doctors told us there was no hope, and she could die at any moment. Since Granny also helped to raise me, having lived with me all my life, I fell to pieces. But the next morning, when she died, I was cool as a cucumber. This was Aunt Tudi's mother, to whom she had been excessively close. This blow to her emotional well-being is something she never quite got over. I was the one who had to make Granny's arrangements, and I did so in a disconnected manner, devoid of bothersome emotions. Things needed to be done, and there was no one but me stepping up. I remember a cousin remarking that I had to be some sort of Vulcan, or just callous as hell.
Aunt Tudi and I had more than one argument about my emotionlessness and her clinginess. She couldn't see how the "sticks and stones" mantra had jumped the shark and allowed me to apply it to all things in my life. She suggested I might be sociopathic. Aunt Tudi had always been depressed, but it deepened after Granny's death. She became needy, incapable of even writing out checks correctly. She seemed to have reverted to the frightened child she used to be, and she was living with someone who wasn't fond of children, never wanted children, and was in the prime of her life, trying to play social catch-up after playing the pariah role through those all-important childhood and puberty-soaked teenage days.
More than once over the years, I'd end our argument with one frustrated question, that always threw Aunt Tudi under the figurative bus. It was cruel, but it would usually allow me a couple of days peace, because Aunt Tudi wouldn't speak to me. I would ask: "You've been this way ever since Granny died - why can't you just get over it already?"
Upon her death, I finally understood that you never get over it, especially if you have horrible coping skills, or none at all. Not a day has gone by that I don't want to turn into a pillbug or emotional armadillo. I feel like I've experienced lost time since she died. For two years after her death, I couldn't remember the date it happened. I don't even remember going to the funeral home to sign my name to paperwork I was incapable of reading or understanding. When the family took Aunt Tudi's cremains to Craggy Dome, the only thing I remember about that is that my cousin Michael scattered the ashes. And I marked the stone with a Pentagram next to Granny's cross.
In 2011, I felt like my world was crumbling. There wasn't much to crumble from the onset, so the life I had always known just vapourized, and I had no anchor. Had I that anchor, I most likely would have tied my ankles to it and taken a swim in the nearby river. Being depressed is never fun, but depression so strong, so relentless, and so debilitating is something to which its victims respond the only way in which your spirit will allow: you cease to function on every level. You become a burden on those who love you, and you're insufferable to everyone else. You lose friends, you lose family, you lose your mind. Why try to hold anything together, when there's nothing with which to work? Daft thinking.
Despite Dr. Harrington's help, which has been one of the very few reasons you're reading this instead of my obituary, I'm still very much inclined to curl up in a ball and perish. I'd prefer to do this in the house, because I probably would not be found until two or three thousand years later. The news report would read something like this:
A 2000 year old mummy was found remarkably well-preserved in what was once thought to be a residential area; however, given the amount of non-biodegradable materials and fossils of what appears to be nothing but garbage, archaeologists propose the person was a sacrifice left at a small landfill, killed by the people of this area, who were suffering one of the most brutal droughts in American history. Some sociologists suggest the person was probably an outcast in her community, so her body was treated in the manner befitting an undesirable.
A bleak subject, I know, but it's still amusing. At least to me.
This happened to me almost every night after Aunt Tudi's death. The night was worst, because that would be the time Aunt Tudi would call out for me to come help her to the bathroom or to work out a leg cramp. For years, my sleep patterns were beyond fucked up, and I resented the hell out of being the only one to help Aunt Tudi. There was a reason I never wanted kids. It's the gene both the Mother Unit and Maternal Grandmother Unit both carried.
But here I was, trying to work, sometimes two jobs, to properly provide for Aunt Tudi and the animals, and I was barely getting enough sleep to not come across as a blathering idiot at work...most of the time. I behaved badly at times, not hiding my impatience and resentment from Aunt Tudi, which made her feel guilty, useless, and in the way.
So, the first night I spent alone in the house after Aunt Tudi's death, I kept hearing her voice right about the time I would drift into sleep. I'd start, wide awake, my heart in my throat, and my heart barely beating from the weight of a combination of regret, guilt, panic, and sorrow. As the months went on with this happening every night, I decided the house was haunted, just not in the way paranormalists would have us believe.
No, the house was haunted by me and all my emotional baggage, I was haunted by fresh memories of Aunt Tudi dying and older memories now given sharp clarity and a deeper regret. I was finally getting what I deserved for not being better to the woman who took me to raise, when I was far from her responsibility.
I would hear her voice, clear as day and, if I was close to sleep, sometimes I would answer back in reflex, and that would pull me out of the sleep and toss me into turmoil. I felt like I was being crushed. I felt like I was dying, but that was my only comfort. If you're dead, the nightmares will end. You'll no longer be haunted. That was my reasoning then. To be honest, it's still a large part of what I know is flawed logic.
I had nowhere to go. It would be 3AM, and more than once, I started to walk down to Rogers Bridge, about 1.5 miles from my home. The only thing that stopped me each time was I'd be abandoning Smidgen, Seedling, Chester, Toby, and Steve. In South Carolina, they would have been sent to the pound where they'd be abused until they were killed, or they would be adopted by someone who might let their kids abuse them, or who thought there's nothing wrong with putting a dog in a cage or a short leash, and getting attention once a day when they got fed.
I felt trapped. One particular night, though, I was so haunted by Aunt Tudi's memory, I ceased to care, and I OD'd on everything available to me. I washed it all down with vodka. I don't remember what I did to compel Kelly, who is in Georgia, to call 911. All I know is a few days later, I woke up in a hospital room with a person sitting there reading. I asked her what was going on, and she told me I was on suicide watch.
My sense of failure was palpable, so that trapped feeling only magnified. The only good thing about this period of time was that I got to meet Kelly and b_bopper55, both of whom drove hundreds of miles from West Virginia and Georgia to see me, make sure I was okay, or as okay as I could be, given the circumstances. Their presence and love helped to, up to a certain point, relieve the entrapment and chaotic vibes. They saved my life, and helped to restore a minute faith in my fellow humans. There's no way I can ever live up to their beauty, kindness, and renown.
In my case, especially when all this happened in 2011, I was awake for days at a time. The sleep I did get was sourced from one of two things - body shutdown or sleeping pills. My brain was always foggy when it came to things I needed to do, like buy food, pay bills, return friends' calls, finish The Augury of Gideon, make and actually show up for appointments.
The only difference was that I did not cry. I was, and often still am, a total zombie. To be more accurate, I felt and often feel like the walking dead. I am an animate being because I haven't made the best choices in how to make my exit, but there really is no denying that I am already dead.
For years, I had dealt with "Fibro Fog" (people with Fibromyalgia will grok this), but this new state of unbeing was ten times worse than any Fog I had endured. It was methodical, immobile, and persistent. Nothing productive could be done in this state. I neglected my friends, my cat and dog companions, what little bit of family I had left and who still wanted to have anything to do with me. I neglected my writing. My living conditions and personal appearance was all the indication anyone needed to know that all was not well. The only time I got to escape this hell was when I actually got to sleep. When you're asleep, you don't know the horror around you or within you. All I wanted to do was go to sleep and never wake up. I have to admit to anyone reading this, that I still feel that way. The best time of the day is when I feel myself drifting into sleep. The worst is when my eyes open, in spite of my efforts to stop them.
This one is probably the most accurate description of what has been thundering through my consciousness for the past four years, with one exception: I started not wanting to leave the house after I got to San Diego. At first, it was lack of confidence from suddenly finding myself in an alien city, much larger than anything I had ever experienced before, combined with my inability to drive - thank you, seizures (not really) - which made it doubly impossible for me to gauge my location. If I'm not driving, I can't seem to make heads or tails out of where I am, where I'm going, and where I need to be. With time, though, my not wanting to leave the house turned into not wanting to leave this room. I only venture out when I have to go to the bathroom, or I need to get some food. Other than that, I'm a full-blown recluse. I had already felt like my world had ended, and neither screaming nor crying would ever change that, so I work hard to never cry, especially in front of anyone else. And, because of that, the time I spend with Dr. Harrington can sometimes be untenable. He wants to poke at my mental sore spots and get me to give in to what I'm feeling. I want to vent and try to keep my anger at everything firmly in front of me, like the shield it has always been. But I sometimes lose control and end up crying, and then I can't stop, and that really does piss me off, at both him and myself. As for screaming, that is something I've never done, and I haven't started, because I doubt it would do anything except piss off the Mother Unit, Matt, and any neighbours who might hear me. There's little doubt in my mind that I am lost, and there is no GPS on Earth that can help me find my way back, because my desired location isn't a place, but a time.
I'm including this one because of the mention of reality. My world has already crashed, and I prefer to be either numb or angry, because that's the only thing that has ever really protected me, for my entire life.
Reality, however, has become a bit of an obsession of mine over the past couple of years. The more I read about cosmology, String Theory, theoretical physics, and artificial intelligence, the more I am convinced that "the owls are not what they seem." Being a writer and a student of Magick for most of my life, I often wondered if perhaps we are all characters in someone else's book and that all of us are at the mercy of the author's whimsy on any particular day. Combine that with the concept that spells work when the Magickian maintains well-defined intent and the surety that the desired result has already been reached, and you are on the road to becoming both creation and creator. The huge question from that point is, at any given moment, which are you? Since Synchronicity has always played a huge part in my life, especially the creative portion, I never really know, and I'm not sure I want to know. Those times when I feel out of control, I've come to calling them Sims Moments. That CGI diamond is floating over my head and there's nothing I can do to stop it. This is why I have never, nor will I ever, play Sims. I ache for them. I wonder if they even realise the world they're living in is merely a game in this world, and that the deity they may worship is the very one causing them all the grief they experience in their lives. And for what? LOLZ. That's it. You're being abused by a "higher power" that is doing it just for shits and giggles.
Accepting the reality of which I am currently aware isn't very conducive to my faith in a divine being. And, if I'm wrong about there being no divinity, that means the "higher power" that runs my world in their Sims game is driven by malice. And I'm not saying that because of the shitty four years I've had the honour of experiencing. I say that because I see Earth and everything living in and on her, on a course to ruination. More so than that, though, I see (and feel to the point of madness) the senseless cruelty and suffering, of which we are all capable, being visited upon our fellow non-human Earthlings. Why would I want to honour something like that? Why would I want to aspire to that? Why would anyone? I refuse to accept it, and I would hope that there are realities out there that are not an exercise in despotism. Believing my perceived reality isn't real does nothing but give me a modicum of comfort.
I'm fairly certain this speaks for itself. This is why I never say "It can't get any worse" or "Things can only get better." As long as I feel that ache, it's a reminder of how unrealistic and misleading such platitudes can be. Things are the way they are, nothing more, nothing less. All I know is that, as long as Smidgen is with me, I will remain stuck with this breathing nonsense, and hoping that none of this is real and could just blink out of existence at any moment.
The sooner, the fucking better.