Before reading this I think you should be warned: I will be talking about things like depression, suicide, death, philosophy, and such. This is not a fun jaunt into a fictional realm, this is the rantings of my mind.
Consider this the sign that says TRIGGER WARNING
Someone said that if a man’s favorite book is the same at thirty as when he is thirteen – he has not read enough or grown enough. I don’t know. Google it if you need to – I tried and I ended up on the other end of the internet listening to music based on the mating rituals of cuttlefish. True story. My point is, my favorite book is not the same now – but I do still love To Kill A Mockingbird.
But, some things don’t change. I’m almost thirty-four but I still have some bad thoughts. Maybe from what Vonnegut called “bad chemicals.” Maybe from nature, maybe from nurture – I don’t know. All I know is that I still have these thoughts. I have read so many books, articles, blogs, and so on all telling me that I can control those thoughts. And, to a certain extent, I have been able to. The thing is, everything has to be going pretty well for me to be able to do that. I know, some of you are saying that I just need to continue practicing. Well, easier said than done. I’m sure some people have the wherewithal to stop their minds from spiraling out and thinking terrible thoughts long enough to do whatever necessary to be bubbly and happy-go-lucky. I am not one of those people. Not at this point in my life.
I will take a moment to admit that I don’t have as many of those bad thoughts. They used to cloud my thoughts all the time; I used to look at every part of my life as a damning and a curse I somehow deserved and brought on myself. I’m still haunted by thoughts and beliefs that I have done nothing right, that I am the manifestation of bad karma from another life and I have only to take on the plights that my soul has brought on – to be frank, I even think about suicide from time to time (think about is different than considering). But, this only happens from time to time now. Before, it was terrible. Before, that was my life: living in a severe belief. Nowadays I have time – sometimes lengthy times – that I am happy. Times that I believe the best in myself and my life.
Sometimes I think that I deserve the best life I can get. I believe that I deserve happiness and love and joy and safety and health. I believe I can be a good man, a good person, and that I can make the lives of the people around me better. I believe I am a good musician (in my own way) and that my songs and instrumentals are beautiful. I believe I am a good writer. I believe that I will make and lead a great, amazing, wonderful life.
Sometimes I don’t.
Sometimes I sit in my mind and I have these dreadful thoughts. They course through me like they were my very energy. They weigh me down with their gravity and they don’t allow some of the things I love to. I watch comedy shows, but I can’t laugh. I play guitar, but it makes me sad, or I feel like an untalented hack. I feel all of my nerves exploding when they should be resting – all of my neurons firing in odd ways. That’s my anxiety. I worry about everything that I’ve done in my life. I feel the pain of every sin I have committed and every hurt I have endured. Worse than that I feel that in some way I deserve it. I have the thoughts and beliefs that I deserve every bad and horrible thing that has, is, and will happen to me ever. I believe that I am here with a condemned life – and anyone who gets too close to me will be contaminated. It seems that anyone who is in my life and close to me gets dragged through this with me, however when they part ways with me their life starts to give them some cherished wonder and awe.
There is a part of me that believes that that is just my filter, my Storyteller, showing me these things. In fact, I know it is! But, that doesn’t make it any easier for me to be me right now. Just because I know something doesn’t mean that I know it – I don’t know if my subconscious or my lizard brain get it. As ashamed as I am to admit this, I often wonder if I am in Hell – or if I’m going to Hell. I sometimes think Shakespeare was right, all the devils are here. Kilgore Trout was the first of Kurt’s characters that had the idea that he might be (insert suspenseful music) a character of someone else’s creation. I understand that feeling. Trout also said to his parakeet, Bill,
“Honest to God, Bill, the way things are going, all I can think is that I’m a character in a book by somebody who wants to write about somebody who suffers all the time.”
I can honestly agree with that, too. Except I say it to my dogs or my cats or my guitars. I’ve never really expressed this with humans. I did once, but we were all incredibly inebriated so I don’t think any of them cared or remembered. And I know, there are tons of folks out there who look at my life and think that I’m lucky, blessed. That there are so many who have it much worse than I do – I’m not saying I have the worst life in the world. I am just being honest, I suffer down to my bones. Down to my soul. And no matter how well-off or wonderful your world is, suffering is suffering.
There are times where it feels so absurd, all this stupid suffering and stress and nonsensical bullshit that is my life that I want to throw my hands up and shout, “I QUIT!” Before walking off into the sunset. The only problem is that after I walk off into the sunset – I’m still with me. I still have to deal with my Self. Dammit.
I should clarify something… When I say I think about suicide, I do not mean that I sit in a dark bathroom, staring at my wrists and praying for a reason to keep going while I listen to The Queen of the Damned soundtrack (not a bad soundtrack, mind you). I mean that I wonder if people would be better off without me. I wonder if my Lady would be better off without me being around. Sometimes, especially while going through this EMDR crap, I feel like a total drag. I don’t want to be touched sometimes, I’m having anxiety and flashbacks, all that fun stuff. To top it off, I haven’t always been the wonderful, loving, healing boyfriend that I am now. I used to be a terrible boyfriend – a terrible human being. I have done some bad things in my life, and some good things. But, I don’t think that the good outweighs anything. So, I think about how everyone’s lives would be without me in them. Not just now, but ever. Would this person have these thoughts if I hadn’t been there to traumatize them into their beliefs? Would my friends have healthy friendships? Would my ex-partners be happily married? Would my parents be happier, healthier? The only certainty I have is this; if I didn’t exist to begin with then I wouldn’t be able to suffer the lunacy of my own mind. Of course, then this leads me down the thought-path of “well, I’m such a mess and a fuck-up, I keep hurting others and I’m going nowhere fast, I’m just so tired, I’m so depressed, I’m so hurt…” Suicide? I know, to some it sounds like a far leap from one to the other. But, it isn’t. Not really. When I get to a point where I am so tired, so physically/mentally/emotionally exhausted that even the thought of breathing sounds overwhelming to me – I can see it. When every crime against humanity and nature and innocence I have committed – large and small – are the only things on the forefront of my mind; when all that my filter lets through is loss, pain, and harsh criticisms from the streams of life; when the only beauty or peace I can even conceive of is the silence of mortality – I can see it.
As I’ve said, I can still know that there is beauty in the world, reasons to keep going, and what have you. But just because I know them – logically – doesn’t mean that my brain gets it. I need to find a way for it to sink in past the mood swings or depression and down to the old lizard part of my brain.
It fucks with you, the bad chemicals. They tell me that I’m a waste, unlovable, that all I deserve is shit, and so on. I could be getting everything I want – every amp and pedal, every showing of love and support from my Lady and my family, thousands of people buying and loving my music, and the bad part of my brain will still tell me the same things. Even worse is that I will still believe it! The mind is a wonderfully mysterious thing, so precious and fucked up at the same time.
Time is finicky, too. Sometimes it is just minutes that I have to deal with the thoughts –moments of discomfort and contorted beliefs. Then there are times (like now, I will admit) where it feels like it has been years, and no end is in sight. All I feel are the weights of every sin I have committed ~ and every angry or harsh word or action against me.
Slight tangent: I have talked with people and even blogged about the fact that trauma is trauma is trauma. We can’t decide what our traumas are, but there they are. That mean kid who laughed at me in middle school? Yeah, I still hear your laugh when I do anything remotely embarrassing. That thing my mother said out of anger that time that I caused her to lose her temper? I hear it when I feel like hating myself. When I see happy families or I hear people talking about their upbringings I can still hear the old man saying, “You know what a mamzer is? It’s a bastard. Like you, you’re a mamzer.” Even her, I can see her sitting across from me, pounding the floor with her fist and telling me not to flinch. Telling me to get out of her house. I could fill an entire book with the things that keep me from sleeping well. I’m not trying to use these as pity excuses, I am just giving a small example of the broad spectrum of things that go through my mind – especially when it’s bad chemical time.
There are times, at least three hundred of them each day, that I worry that I am hurting someone else with bad chemicals like me. That I am giving someone’s mind that ammunition to hurt them and make them want to end everything. That I am the voice and face that makes someone wish they had never existed to begin with.
As marvelous and incredible as life is, it’s also a shitty and devastating thing.
I wrote that all some months ago.
I left out a few things – this is the main one. Sometimes I feel nothing. I will feel the pain in my hands after a day at work, or I will feel hungry for food – even though I don’t enjoy the meal the way I usually do (which is really saying something, I am a major foodie after all).
A month or so ago one of my guitar pedals broke. One that I rely on a lot. I finally bought a new & better version to replace it. When it arrived I should have been thrilled. I got it home, read the manual, set it up, tuned my guitar, plugged in and played for almost two hours. In that time I felt nothing aside from a slight frustration of having to learn this new piece of equipment. There was no excitement. No inspiration. No wonder or joy. There was just a lacking. An emptiness that sucked up anything that might have dared to show its face.
I have a long tangent (bear with me) that I came up with one night after watching Heat with Pacino & DeNiro – if you haven’t seen it, do. There’s a scene in a diner where Pacino threatens DeNiro and breaks down things in a brilliant manner. DeNiro starts his response with, “There’s a flip side to that coin.” And with that came a spark that was part inspiration & part who-knows-what?!
So, the sum of it (maybe someday I will take the time to type up the entire tangent in all of its madness…) is this: There are people who have wonderful lives, beautiful souls, and will overcome every obstacle no matter how great or ruthless. Good for them. But, The Universe/God/Fate/Unknown/even math likes balance. So, there has to be some balance there. Not just the Disney version of balance – overcome your fear of ugly monsters or sleeping women just to find out that you loved the beautiful physical person that they were all along &/Or kill a parent or two. I mean balance like balance. For every person who has that soul, that spark, that gift – there has to be someone who doesn’t. There has to be a broken soul, a shattered life, a life that is keeping things in balance. There has to be a flip side to the coin.
I know, it doesn’t sound like a great thought. It isn’t the most magnificent idea or philosophy, although I think Camus would have liked it.
I think that sometimes when someone (me) is suffering in some way they (I) need to find the reason for it. If we (I) can’t find a reason, we (I) need to come up with one. I need a reason why I feel so cursed. I need a reason why I don’t feel anything at all, and when I do I feel the worst things any person can.
And then there are other times. Times when I am exactly as happy as I pretend to be.
I don’t know how to end this thing. I will tell you this: if you think you might be so sad, so unfeeling, or so far on that flip side of the coin that you will do something to yourself or anyone else, please talk to someone. You don’t have to tell them everything, you can even call a goofball friend and ask them to hang out and make you laugh. Go for a walk in nature and find something to be in awe of. Make a list of things that you do even remotely well (for me: playing guitar, impressions, book recommendations, annoying co-workers) and do one or two of them with someone else. Yes, you can call a hotline if you need. Yes, you can talk to a therapist, a priest, a mentor, a family member, anyone. Even as I bask in the vast nothingness that I feel I remember these things and I know I won’t hurt myself.
Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, Macbeth
When you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
is not easily done.
SEUSS, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!