Clarity.

This is a two part post: The next part is scheduled to be posted tomorrow.

I want to start off by saying that I voluntarily see my psych doc weekly because I need a lot of accountability regarding my medication. It is a personal choice and in no way does it reflect my dedication to my mental health. I also have a therapist that I see biweekly. I am in no way manic and this is not a manic episode and it is not religious mania. I have been on a spiritual exploration for a few years now.

I always said that I was an atheist, and then I realized what an atheist is and I am not that. Then I said I was agnostic. I told people that I am too selfish to sit and learn about a particular faith to claim one. People really respected that and I meant it, but I wasn’t agnostic. I believed in a God, I just didn’t know which one. I prayed to a God. My God. It didn’t matter. I knew that I had no true control in my life. I wasn’t an accident. The world is bigger than me.

Then I started finding myself longing to be like a lot of people who emulate Jesus. I wanted something to be passionate about and to continue learning about. I wanted a higher power that I could name and a way to get to know Him. I turned to the Bible. Turns out it is literally thousands of pages. Where would I start? Would I understand it? Will it capture my attention or overwhelm me and I quit?

I tried a few bible studies and I completed maybe 3 of them. I tried and quit several. I really wanted a starting point, a place to get a foundation for the rest of my learning. I joined a small group so I could dive into the Bible and its meaning with an intimate group. It was amazing, and then I felt called out about being the only single person in the room. I didn’t go back. Then I started googling “what the Bible had to say about….” and reading from there.

I was having a really tough time with my sister. We were going back and forth about everything it seemed. Who is cleaning more, who is chipping in more, you name it. It was causing a huge rift. we smoothed it over but I still feel this tension in the air. Like she is waiting for the shoe to drop. It is familiar because that is how I felt when I had to move back in with them. It is strange to be on the other side and needing to forgive. This is the first time it occurred to me to turn to the Bible first. So I googled, “the Bible and forgiveness” and “biblical stories about forgiveness”. It returned wonderful scripture. I then wrote some of it down. Once I reviewed what I had found, I picked out some of my favorites. I noticed a lot of them were from the book of Matthew. I found myself emerged in this story that finally told me the ins and outs of how Jesus came to be. It has all kinda tumbled from there. I think I pick up my bible at least every other day now. I still am not completely independent. I still reach for the internet for a starting point, but I still read from there. I just feel better. I feel like I am in love with learning and also seeking comfort and guidance. It really calms me. I started to wonder if maybe that calm can be obtained through meditation and manifestation. I believe in manifestation. Maybe it is the positivity that it exudes or the feeling of influence it provides. Either way it feels like I accomplished something.

So I started looking into meditation and homeopathic ways of treatments or guidance.

(continued in next post)

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

Sometimes, life gives you lemons. At other times, it throws them at you. Really, really hard. Especially if you’re not looking.

In one moment, you might think you’ve got everything under control:

  • Job = secure
  • Bills = paid
  • Clothes = washed
  • Social life = uhhh…work in progress
  • Prescription = filled

And in the next moment…pure chaos. Cheers, life.

Whether as the result of some external event (eg. an untimely incident or unexpected circumstance) or internal influence (eg. a chemical imbalance in the brain or a traumatic memory), chaos hides around every corner waiting for the chance to strike, threatening dysfunction and disorder.

I believe that in small doses, chaos can bring a healthy amount of excitement and unpredictability to our lives. A life without chaos is a life without challenge; there is a yin to every yang, as they say. But to someone suffering from a mental illness, chaos poses a substantial threat. If we’re already struggling to keep our heads above water in day to day life, chaos can easily overwhelm us.

Depression is a constant battle, and when we’re treading water it’s easy to spend too much time staring into the abyss below and wondering what would happen if we stopped paddling. We get so caught up in the chaos and fear that we lose sight of the bigger picture and start behaving irrationally. Life throws us lemons, so we pick those suckers up and squirt the juices into our eyeballs. Not exactly the best move.

Sometimes, we need to be better than our emotions. Every now and then, it’s important to look up from the abyss and make sure you’re still headed toward dry land.

Let me tell you about a time life threw me a nice, big, juicy lemon.

A few years ago, I was exploring my home state in Australia, driving through the ranges of north Queensland. On this day I’d driven to the peak of the Eungella ranges and spent the morning trekking through the rain forest, conquering the mountainous trails and generally being in awe of the breathtaking views of the valley below. My companion on this journey was a maroon-red ’02 Toyota Corolla hatchback, that I had affectionately named Colin. We had been through much together in our three-year long relationship, and yet nothing had prepared us for the tribulations we were about to face.

After hiking my last hike for the day, I returned to my four-wheeled friend to find that he was almost completely out of fuel. Shit. I wish I could say this wasn’t a common occurrence, but I haven’t met any genies lately.

I was about 70 kilometres from the nearest gas station, and even further from the nearest town. But I had complete faith in Colin, and he had faith in me. I’m sure that if I coasted my way back down the mountain, I’d conserve enough fuel to make it back to the bowser.

So, down the range I went, gliding gracefully along the winding road in my little red go-go machine. I felt every bump, crack and dip beneath the rubber as we rode the waves of asphalt to the foot of the mountain. Every tweak of the steering wheel, every touch of the accelerator and every pump of the brakes was made with intent. It felt good. I was in complete control.

Or so I thought.

In the distance, a sign was fast approaching. “Eungella Dam, turn left in 500m”.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret, dear reader. I freakin’ love dams. Some might call it “an unhealthy obsession”, but I would call it “don’t judge me, asshole.”

I grew up a stone’s throw away from a dam, and they’ve always fascinated me. They’re a true testament to the ingenuity of mankind; monolithic structures with the capability of harnessing one of nature’s most unstoppable forces – lots and lots of water. Eungella was so far away from home, and I didn’t know if I’d ever get the opportunity to see this dam again. How could I pass up the chance at one last incredible view?

I pulled my steering wheel to the left, and barrelled toward my new destination. Surely, this would only be a slight detour.

I started bashing through the bush, leaving a large cloud of dust in my wake. The dirt pricked my eyes but I kept them peeled, scanning every bend in the road for a turnoff or parking area. Minutes passed, and as I strayed further and further from the beaten track, I could feel every meter travelled accumulating in the pit of my stomach. Deep down, I knew that I’d made a terrible decision.

“Surely, the lookout is just around the corner. You’ve committed to this, it’s too late to turn back now.” I’d taken a calculated risk, but I was never good at math. The lemon was in my hand, and I was starting to squeeze.

Colin’s petrol gauge was well below empty. I’m convinced that he was completely out of fuel at this point and was running only on the fumes of my sheer stupidity. My red solider, loyal and true, was on his last legs.

I was so focused on seeing this damn dam, that I didn’t notice the next turn was quite a bit sharper than the rest. I brought my foot down on the brake like an anvil, and the car began to slide. Perhaps in an act of protest after being pushed to the brink of exhaustion, Colin threw his back wheels off the road the same way and infant throws his rattle across the room during a tantrum. I went careening into a two-meter deep ditch and came to a humiliating halt.

Great. Now I’m really stuffed. It was going to take some real gusto to get up this slope, most likely wasting the last of my precious petrol in the process.

Here’s the thing. Sometimes, emotions make us dumb. Really dumb.

I was so distracted by the fear of potentially being stranded in the middle of nowhere that I wasn’t thinking straight. Chaos had taken the wheel, and I was being pulled along by a four-cylinder engine of emotion straight into a ditch on the side of the road. I was acting completely irrationally. I’d lost control. I’d chosen to stare into the abyss below when I should be been searching for the safety of the shore.

But no more. It was time to look up.

Let’s turn this ship around.

I put the pedal to the metal, and in a Dukes of Hazzard inspired moment of pure triumph Colin and I aimed for the sky and fired. Without the weight of my emotions holding me down, for a moment, I knew what it was like to fly. I was finally acting level-headed, and the Corolla was back on level ground.

By some miracle, I managed to reach the petrol station. I was on cloud nine, and approached the lady at the register like I’d just won the lottery.

“That’ll be $45.67.”

“Here, just take my whole wallet.”

I think we’ve all been in a situation where we’ve decided to squeeze lemon juice into our eyes.

When this happens, often the biggest challenge is having the self-awareness to take a step back and access your current situation, put aside your predispositions and decide what is truly best for your wellbeing. You’ll use any excuse in the book to avoid the answers that are often right in front of your face. You’ll allow yourself to be distracted, and put your wants before your needs. This is destined to lead you down the path of chaos, and one day you might find yourself stuck in the middle of the bush in rural Australia.

You need to know that it’s never too late to grab the steering wheel and turn yourself around. There are many factors that influence our decisions in this modern world, but ultimately, it’s your responsibility to know what is best for you and make the right choices.

If you only follow your heart’s compass, it’ll lead you astray. But, if you play it smart, you’ll find that the little diversions take on a whole new lustre as you start to appreciate life’s various side paths and gravel roads. You’ll be free to pursue your passions comfortably, whether it be writing, mountain trekking, or visiting dams. Know that when your priorities are in order, you’ll have more mental fuel to go the distance in life and enjoy a richer human experience.

So remember to keep your chin up, and keep swimming.

The One Thing That Keeps Me Going

More and more people tell me to do what makes me happy. Writing makes me happy. Whether I’m writing a poem, a short story, a novel, or blog journal post; writing makes me happy. Lately it doesn’t feel like anything else makes me happy. Nothing really. Sometimes coworkers make work fun but it’s not something that makes me happy. I mean truly happy like this is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing with my life. Something I feel within my soul reminding me why I’m alive and why I was born. Writing is the only thing that has given me that feeling.

I look back on things I’ve done and things I thought I enjoyed. I feel everything led me to this point. Everything made me who I am; who I’m supposed to be. This realization comes with one fear. I believe I’m supposed to be alone on this journey. Every experience, every encounter, every person I’ve met; it feels like it all is telling me to let go of everything and pursue this adventure alone. I don’t want to be alone. I’ve always felt alone. Why would the Universe tell me my journey is a lonely one?

I’ve heard people say writing is a lonely craft. That’s not true for everyone. Most writers have an editor. Sometimes it’s a close friend. Sometimes it’s a professional who becomes a friend. Some writers have a core group of people they trust to read the early drafts of their work. I’ve tried and failed to find this. People express interest but not much else. When I approach them with my work, I think they’re surprised like they didn’t expect me to follow through. So, I write five different drafts until I feel satisfied and either self-publish or submit to online magazines. I get many rejection letters.

Everyone says that is the life of the writer. Even the great writers had many rejections. Add those rejections to the personal rejections in life. I mean finding the courage to talk to your crush and getting rejected. I mean trying to make new friends and then they disappear and ignore all your attempts at communication. I mean the rejection one feels everyday added to rejections that say your writing isn’t good enough. All those hours you spent improving your story didn’t improve it enough. Rejection on top of rejection on top of more rejections. Not including rejections from childhood that stay with you.

Many writers struggle but most have a support system to help them keep going. Family and friends who tell them not to give up and keep at it. Never give up; never surrender. I don’t have that support. I share my writing and most people ignore it. I share a cat video, and everyone loves it. How do I keep going? The only answer I can think of is writing makes me happy. Nothing else in the world brings me that kind of joy so the rejections don’t break my resolve. I know I’m depressed when I’m not writing.

Writing gets my emotions out. Writing releases my thoughts so they don’t bottle up. It’s therapeutic. But it’s not enough. I’m seeking help but I still need a support system. I need friends and family. I gave up on my family years ago. I keep trying to find new friends, but I don’t think they want to put them time in on me. Maybe I’m too much for them. Maybe they think I’m a basket case. Maybe they don’t care about my writing or if I’m alive or dead. I’d have given up by now if not for writing. Sadly, writing has yet to help me pay the bills. I guess I’ll keep writing until it does.

The Night Run

The Night Run

A short story based on actual events by Chelsea Walker

She sits down on the brown couch in the living room to tie her shoes and then she’ll be ready to go.

“Are you running, Mom?” Stella asks.

“Yep.”  Chelsea finishes her runner’s knot and stands to adjust the lighted vest she’s wearing tonight.  It is already dark out.  “Ryan, I’m ready to go!”

“Ok,” he replies emerging from the hallway with young August in his arms.  “Have fun.”  He kisses her and smiles his goodbye before turning back to the children.  “Chloe, get in the shower, please.”

Chelsea makes her way to the front door, taking a moment to look at her phone.  She starts her walk-to-run app and puts her headphones in.  “Begin with a 5 minute warm up walk.”  The woman’s voice instructs.

Chelsea opens the door and heads out into the cool air of this Arizona winter evening.  Taking a moment to enjoy the wide open space of the outdoors, she takes a cleansing breath.  It soon becomes a sigh of relief.  A few minutes alone.

She crosses the lawn and makes a left at the sidewalk, stopping briefly to start her music.  Heaven by One Republic begins.  She quickens her pace to a brisk walk and focuses on the sound in her headphones, reveling in this time to recharge.

Chelsea and Ryan and their 4 children live in the suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona.  Right now it’s winter, the best time to be in this part of the world.  People from all over north America travel here to get away from the snow that’s prevalent further north.  It’s the ideal winter residence.  The summer’s are tough, but winter in Arizona is a paradise.

Chelsea walks the tree lined streets, cool air filling her lungs as her heart rate starts to accelerate just slightly.  She’s almost to the main road.  Heaven ends.  She’s feeling like something different would suit her mood tonight.

Feeling like Owl City, she starts Embers and starts jogging as the voice in her headphones says “Start running.”

She relishes in the feel of her feet pounding the pavement and her lungs breathing in and out.  It’s felt so good to be running again, just like she always used to.  She hopes this time she can stick to it.

It’s been a long couple years.  Debilitating depression made life a living nightmare for so long, but things have gotten better.  She notes with gratitude that this run is a symbol of how far she has come.  The lyrics to her soundtrack match her mood and thoughts.

There were days, when each hour, was a war I fought to survive

There were nights, full of nightmares and I dreaded closing my eyes

Tears fill her eyes as the lyrics bring the pain of those dark times back to the forefront of her mind.  Cool air rushes against her, a balm on her warming skin.  She remembers the constant pain and distress, the hopelessness…

There were skies that burst open with a downpour to drown me alive

But the world took a spark like a match in the dark and the fire brought me to life

So I’m fanning the flames to climb so high ’cause there’s no other way we can stay alive

Chelsea’s pain turns to a fierce determination.  She focuses on how much better things are now, even though they are still difficult.  But I’ve come this far.  I can keep going.  She increases her pace, causing her lungs and legs to burn.  She ignores the discomfort and pushes through.

And you’ll find, there’ll be mornings when the ashes and embers are cold

But you’ll fight with a passion and you’ll never stop cause you know

Yeah you know it gets better and your story is yet to be told

Every push, every shove, every war, every love

Yeah the coals are beginning to glow

The lyrics are just what she needs right now, to give her courage to go back home.  Home to a family she loves more than anything, but feels more than inadequate to care for most days.  Tears forms in her eyes once more, but she wills them away, and instead focuses on the passing palo verde trees and lantana shrubs that dot the edges of the sidewalk.

She turns down her music for a moment and offers a prayer in her mind.  She prays in gratitude for how far she has come.  She expresses thanks that she can run tonight and thanks for her family.  She tearfully pours out her heart, sharing with her Father in Heaven how difficult this is and how much she needs His help.  Closing her prayer, she feels a sense of calm and peace, knowing that she is not alone in this struggle.

Chelsea reaches the intersection and turns back around the way she came.  “Slow and down and walk,” come the instructions from her running app.  She gratefully slows her pace, breathing heavily.

25 minutes passes quickly, but it’s just the recharge she needed tonight.  When she hears the final voice command to cool down with a 5 minute walk, her heart and mood feel lighter.  She feels refreshed emotionally and ready return to the responsibilities at home.

As Chelsea approaches the house, she can see all the lights on and hear the sounds of children talking loudly.  Ryan is still getting them all to bed, she notes.  She almost loses her courage, as the weight of her responsibilities settles back onto her shoulders.

Taking a deep breath, and sending another prayer heavenward, she crosses the front lawn and takes the sidewalk up to the door.  She opens it and is greeted by the happy voices of her children.

“Mommy!”

Chelsea smiles and hugs them in return.

Owl city lyrics provided by Google.com
Songwriters: Adam R. Young / Nate Campany / Emily Meredith Wright
Embers lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

The Story of a House

My life was a house, it wasn’t perfect, very good looking, big or even very stable, but you wanted it anyway. I opened my door to you and you became part of this house, you made it better, fixed the holes in the walls and put a new coat of paint on the outside, you made it special. Then came the day you were dragged out, it was never the same without you, the paint peeled off, the walls began to crack, I was waiting and waiting for the whole thing to come crashing down. Then came a knock on my door and it was you, you said you couldn’t come in and that you were just visiting, but I was just happy you were back, but I tried and tried to get you to come back in, and it only made you leave again. That was the day our little house burned to the ground. I sat there in the ashes wondering what I had done to cause this catastrophe, and no matter how much it burned I couldn’t leave the ashes. When the fires burned out and the smoke cleared nothing was left but my safe, in which were the pictures of us and our memories. I opened it to find a pile of ashes as if they never happened at all. I could never forget the happiest times of my life so I took the ashes with me. I was told that it would be better to leave, start again with a new house, so I began to walk away. But it was as if the weight of the entire house was on my shoulders and every step was harder and more painful than the last, I wanted to go back, but I was reminded that there was nothing to go back to. But I’ve grown tired and I’ve fallen, only steps away from the ashes of my old house, I don’t have the will to get up and continue, I see you in the distance and I hope that you can find a better place to call your home, one that makes you happy. I will never forget you

My life was a house, it burned to the ground, I have the ashes to prove it…right here in my pocket with the memories of us. I’ve been sitting where I fell, steps away from the ruins of the happiest place I’ve ever been, you made it that way. I always did everything I could to make that house better for you, but what the hell does that even matter anymore. I wouldn’t give up hope that you would come back, hammer in hand ready to start anew, but even hope fades when you cut the ties between you and I. So I sat there, alone with the ashes in my hands, the tears rolling down my face turning my memories into black mud slipping through my fingers, but lucky for me, friends that are more than friends, family really. Although they never lived in my house they are loyal guests who are welcomed with an open door. They helped me to my feet, pointed me in the right direction, helped me take those difficult steps, but I still dragged my feet, because I couldn’t give up on our house, on my dreams, on you. But now I’m not so certain, I’ve lost sight of what I really want, what is happiness anyways but lack of sadness. I’ve laid the foundations of a new house, this one won’t be nearly as grand as the first but, it’s impossible to recreate pure beauty. Now, this doesn’t mean I gave up on you, on us, it just means I need a change of scenery I guess, I never liked the look of charred trees and blackened ground. The one thing that will never change though is my memories of us, our perfection, your smile. I’m not yet ready to put my flyers out yet, because to move into my house you have to be special, and I don’t know how they would be able to compare to you, but I’m going to wait for the next best thing. I just hope that once again our paths will cross, sometime when we can survive the bumps and out the fires before they become an inferno. “Nothing very good, or very bad, last very long”

My life was a house, that burned to the ground, yeah it phased me but did it stop me, hell no. I had my friends that are more like family to help me along this twisted journey. So I had laid the foundation for a new house, a better house, one that would be appreciated, and guess what, a knock came at my door, I knew it wasn’t going to be you, but it turned out to be better, this wonderful girl, hammer in hand, ready to help me build my new house, to become a part of it ever so slowly. I would rather have an amazing house take a year to make, and be structurally sound and sturdy enough to last even the roughest shit storms. The alternative was going back to what I had before, but with someone new, but I believe in new beginnings, and this was the best beginning I’ve ever seen, and I really hope that once this house is finished that this new, amazing girl will still want to be a part of it 🙂 here’s to many more good times to come

My life was a house, and it burned to the ground. It took me a while to be convinced that there was no use just sitting in the ashes, trying to fix what was permanently broken.

So I moved on, with the help of my friends, who are more than friends, but you already knew that. I started to lay the foundation, I got the ground floor all laid out, but that’s when you came to my door, I hadn’t known you very long, or at all in fact…I was surprised that a person of your league would even know I exist, much less want to help. But I was just so happy that I wouldn’t have to build this house alone, so I let you in and put you to work right away…bad choice on my part. Our house, we put it up in a week, and I knew I could have done a better job, made it more stable, took my time…but I was just too distracted by how perfect things were going, I thought we were closer than we were, that everything I was doing would seem normal for you and me, problem is, I moved to fast, put too much into our poorly built house…you heard the house falling apart long before I even had a clue, so you were scared and left without telling me. I am holding the whole house on my shoulders, trying to keep it from collapsing, then you have the nerve to tell me that I moved too fast, built too fast and that you couldn’t live in a place like that, with a person like me. Well, after that I just gave up, let the house crumble on top of me, sink to the ground, putting me right back into the despair that you helped me leave.

Although my brain tells me I have to get up, dust myself off, and move on from this place, it’s as if my heart is chained to the floor, and my body won’t even respond. At first, I called out for help, my friends coming to my rescue searching through debris following the sound of my voice, trying so desperately to help me out of this mess. But lately, my lungs have grown tired and have filled with dust, I can no longer call out to them, but they still now blindly search through the rubble, trying to help me. What’s the point of trying to build again, if the house just falls, again and again, time after time? I can’t sustain these houses without a partner to help me, but they’re so hard to come by, especially ones that want to be with me…so my outlook is bleak, and although I will rebuild, I will be alone in this house, trying to keep it from falling on top of me. Although I know somewhere down the line, in time to come, someone will take my offer, and live in this house with me, I don’t know if I will be able to keep it all from collapsing, I don’t want to have to move again, like I did in February, that was hard for everyone, and I just couldn’t do that again. I guess I won’t know until the time comes, but for now, I’ll just lay in what used to be our pile of rubble.

Dark Fantasies

His eyes begin to wake, slowly but surely opening to revel in the slightest gleam of light that is piercing through the far window.

“I’m still alive”

He says to himself in a hushed slur. The alcohol from the night before holding down his limbs, his breath drenched in the stench.

“Why am I still alive”

The throb in his head is only superseded by the throb in his heart. The light slowly cutting through the far window. Extending its reach, now covering his entire face. A light knock raps at the door, echoing through the cold room as the gears begin to turn in his mind. Always racing, no solace from these ever turning gears. From wake til slumber, these gears turn faster and faster without remorse. As these gears clunk and grind, so do his joints as he lumbers to sit up. His body, still attempting to sink back into the comfort of the aged springs. A loving voice calls to him

“Coffee is on the stove”

A warm voice from his caring mother. Except the only feeling this sound brings is dread. The dread that there is still someone that cares for him. Someone who will not let him die. All he wants in this world, is to not be in it. He begrudgingly lays his feet on the stiff, unwelcoming floor. The frigid feeling echoing up his legs, before dissipating into the warmth his body yet retains. The creak of a floorboard, the retort of his knee, as he stands the shadow of his thoughts lurking above him. No person living or dead can see them. Ensnaring him as they do every day as he wakes. The thump of his heart, that refuses to cease. He travels across the room to the closet where his work clothes hang. How jealous he is of them. The day is like any other, it starts the same, and it will end the same. Crawling into bed after drowning his worries in cheap liquor. It is the one thing he looks forward to. He unshelves a pair of dress pants that have forgotten the feel of a wash. He unhooks a dress shirt that you would find on any worker confined to a cubicle would wear. He wraps his body in these fabrics that reek of defeat. Each button feels like a nail in the coffin that houses his aspirations. As he finishes dressing, another ghostly tap at the door

“Are you up?”

His tether to this world asks. He meekly replies, and finishes putting on his shoes and jacket. He checks a pack of cigarettes in his pocket, to make sure that he has enough certainty that cancer will befall him. He walks through his bedroom door into the hallway that connects with the kitchen. The somber feeling of a twisted stomach that is filled with regret reminds him of his mistakes the night before. As he fills his cup with the coffee prepared for him, he wonders

“Will today be the day?”

The day that he no longer has to fight survival. Where he can fall asleep knowing, that consciousness would not return. That nagging voice in his head reminds him that he is not allowed to take his own life. He is only able to hope, that by some miracle, tragedy is brought upon him. He slips on his winter coat, worn so badly on the sleeves. The frosty air greets him outside as an old friend. A flash of light from his lighter ignites his chemical ridden hope. As he inhales what he hopes to be his undoing. The day has started as any other would. He drags his feet to his car, wondering if he should just stay home. If it is even worth it to show up to his dead end, meaningless job. His thoughts haunting him like the trailing cloud of tobacco smoke. His drive to work is uneventful as always. No garbage truck running a red light. No bus spinning out of control. No semi truck blowing a tire. None of the ways he had planned to meet his end occurred, as none of them ever do. He pulls into a parking spot near where the other soon to be cancer patients gather. Although he knows that none of them share the same goal as he.

“Good morning”

As he makes his entrance to his small, unpersonalized workspace, these words are always exchanged here. What is so good about it though, there was no reason for him to say this other than pleasantries. As he sits, the dark cloud that follows him like a stray dog closes around him. For the next several hours, he is here. In this claustrophobic space. Typing and clicking, clicking and typing. Occasionally trading banter with the lost souls around him through the mobile cork and plastic walls. The day drags on as he sinks deeper and deeper into the void. The gears still grinding away, with no pause, no breathing room. A small relief once the clock strikes five. He is allowed to depart from his force labor. His beloved, soothing friend, waiting for him on the store shelf. Watching as those like him pass and select their own poison from the shelves. He cannot wait to leave this tomb of dreams to dive back into solitude. Before departing, he exchanges the rehearsed farewells, and agreements to return. Finding release of the day’s stresses in the familiar burn of a cigarette. The flame, like his endurance, slowly fading with each breath. The drive home offers similar entertainment, is uneventful, and nearing its end. This time however, there is an explosion of glee, ignited by the gleam of oncoming headlights sharing the same path of his own.

Music That Changes my Mood – Part Eight

Music really helped me get through a tough week. Here is another version of “Music That Changes My Mood.” Here is the full series.

Crystalyne – “Wolves”

Courage My Love – You Don’t Know How

Paramore – Misery Business

Panic! At The Disco – Build God, Then We’ll Talk

Fall Out Boy – Sugar, We’re Goin Down

Panic! At The Disco – Lying Is The Most Fun…

Simple Plan – Perfect

Avril Lavigne – Keep Holding On

J.E. Skye

Photo Credit:

unsplash-logoLeio McLaren

What I Learned Today

I have written many different pieces on social anxiety, and this is just one of them. It will be a theme in 2018. Here is the link to “My Social Anxiety Life.”

What I Learned Today in my Social Anxiety Life

Today I realized something new about my social anxiety. It started yesterday after leaving my house for the evening time. My anxiety is always high during the evening time, and specifically between the hours of 4 pm and 8pm. I went for a drive.

While I was driving I started to exhibit signs that my anxiety was reaching the level of a panic attack. This is always the worst feeling in the world. When I have a panic attack in my car, it means I am losing control of the world around me.

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I realized the time. It was around six at night. It had been a couple of days since I left my house. The last time I out in the world was during the daytime. I started to think of when my anxiety reaches its peak over the last week.

It was interesting the answer is always at the same time between the hours of 4 pm and 8 pm. I wondered to myself why this is, and what is the best course of action? It’s something that I never realized before, but the fact that I write so much about my social anxiety it makes sense.

I began to be looking at my past. My worst panic attacks outside of my house. Where social anxiety is always at its worst. The common thread in all these stories is that my anxiety peaks at the same time. It’s true I have had panic attacks very late into the evenings in the past. Those late night panic attacks are always at my house. I don’t generally leave my house after a certain time at night.

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I am usually okay when I leave my house in the early morning hours and during the day. It very rare that when outside in the world it leads to panic attacks during the day. I can name one panic attack that I remember that wasn’t late afternoon or evening. Its a bit of a revelation thinking about this reality.

I am not sure what any of it means. Over the last month and a half, I have been on a regular dosage of Ativan. I take 1mg when I wake, 1mg sometime in the afternoon, and then I take 2mg dose at night. My night time panic attacks have disappeared so the dosage at night is working.

I am so laser-focused on my social anxiety lately. I am trying to find balance in this part of my life. I am finding balance in all the other aspects of my life. This week I have been able to work on school, writing in my blog, and of course, writing my new chapters in my memoir. I have been proofreading when I can and it’s taking shape to be the best thing I have written.

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I still fear my social anxiety is taking control of my life. Not all the time and not every day. I have good days and bad days with social anxiety. The best days I can leave my house and the worst I stay home and write. I worry that things could spiral. I am always aware that this is a possibility.

So I decided to start to track my evening anxiety and where the levels are at during my most vulnerable time of the day. I tracking is the best way for me to understand the “why” it happens this way. It could be that I need to adjust. I am also thinking of starting a thought journal. It could mean a better understanding of my social anxiety.

I am seeing my therapist for the first time in 2018 in a week and a half. It was going to be this week but it my therapist got sick. It happens. I am eager to start by CBT work again. If I track everything well enough here and in my journal, things will work out once I kick the CBT back into gear.

I am hopeful as always. Even with the issues with social anxiety, everything is going so well. I have been able to stay focused on my goals, and I am in a good place. I will conquer my social anxiety this year. I am determined.

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I leave this blog post the way I always do. Always Keep Fighting. It means the world to me if you do.

J.E. Skye

Photo Credit:

unsplash-logoHimanshu Singh Gurjar

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unsplash-logoVincent Chin

unsplash-logoSimson Petrol

unsplash-logoKyle Glenn

A Slight delay – Angel on the Ward

It looks like there will be a delay in releasing the rest of my short story Angel on the Ward. I was editing today and had a computer malfunction and for some reason, my program failed to save when I had to do a hard reset on my computer. I have tried everything to recover the edited work but I lost a full days work.

I apologize that I won’t be able to release the rest this week, but I am hoping the next week. I have a lot of school work that needs my attention and of course, there are the holidays. Its been a rough week for me when it comes to my computer but I keep going.

I will be posting new stuff this week, thank you for all that have been reading my short story. Here is what I have so far if you haven’t read it yet:

Part One

Part Two

J.E. Skye

 

Angel on the Ward – Part 2

I am very excited to share part two of my short story entitled Angel on the Ward. I broke it into pieces because it is a very long story.

This is part one.

The story is set in November of 2007 during my first suicide attempt and diagnosis. The story covers the entire week of Thanksgiving, almost six days, in which I spent my first time in the psych ward. The parts of the story will be released over the course of the next week in honor of my ten-year diagnosis/suicide anniversary, I made it!

This short story is still a raw piece and it will eventually make its way into my memoir once I finish editing. Its written in a short story format with some dialogue. It is far from perfect written and I post it here on my blog to gauge if this story is any good. I wrote this piece ages ago for a short story class and it just evolved over the years. I spent the last week adding to it and I am hoping the end piece will be good enough for my memoir.

Angela doesn’t feature much but she is such an important part of this story. I promise.

It was just before lunch when I made the effort to finally call my girlfriend, she was on my mind since my parents had left. Almost as much as Angela. My life was starting to get messy, and I wondered if it would be so much easier for my girlfriend if I just left her alone. The last thing I needed was to drag her along on wherever this journey was taking me on. My girlfriend had been there for me every step for the last few months. I already put her through so much, yet she stays committed to me for reasons I never understood.

Why continue to make her go through this? I couldn’t keep these thoughts at bay.
What made the whole situation worse was that she was going to school almost eight hours away in Southern California It pained her to be far away from me, and it was painful for me.  It hurt not to just be able to see her every day. When we were together my depression leave me for a time, even if it was just in the small moments. We constantly text and talk on the phone but the distance thing always got to me, but I knew in my heart that I was in love with her. In all honesty, it would be selfish to keep seeing her, but she was the one positive thing left in my life. Could I just let her go?

I sat on the couch closest to the phone for a good long moment. It really pained me to just think about my girlfriend, but it had been at least twenty-four hours since we last had a conversation, and I owed it to her to at least call.

The conversation was as I expected. My girlfriend cried the entire call because of how close I came to taking my life. I could feel her emotions and what she was going through. How could I do something so heartless to someone I love? I really was a monster. I was an asshole making her cry for my stupidity.

She was young like me, but she really didn’t need someone who was so unstable in her life. She told me that she was just a few hours away and was trying to make the nighttime visiting hours.  It took all my strength for me not to break down right then. I wanted her to stay far away from me, but at the same time, life was so much better when we were together. It would be wrong for me to end things not, at least that is what I convened myself as I put the phone back in its place. I figured something like this must happen face to face.

I found myself stuck to the couch lost in my thoughts as lunch arrived. My life was going downhill for months and there was no end in sight. I had a strange feeling that this month, November, would always be tough. If I lived to see another one. My thoughts quickly moved to the last night. What was it that caused me to be alive? I knew what I felt in that moment. Real peace. I was making the right decision. How did it even get to the point where they could pump my stomach? My plan was perfect. I thought I executed it well. At least in my mind. I couldn’t help but think that I was just bad at killing myself now, and the next time I would do it right.

I made my way to the roundtables from lunch. Angela was already there sitting at a table alone. She was no longer in her wheelchair, and she barely looked up as I sat down next to her. A nurse once again puts a tray in front of me. As it was at breakfast I just poked at my food no interest in eating.

A different nurse made her way to the table, “James, you are going to see the doctor after lunch.”

“Okay,” I answered.

My mind began to race again as I followed the nurse down a small corridor to an office. Maybe I could convince him to let me leave. That night would be the preference. I made my way to the small office of the psychiatrist with the nurse. She knocked on the door and left me. Then the door swung open to reveal a doctor in front of me, and he motioned me in.

“Hello, James. Come in we have much to discuss.”

I sat in the chair closest to the desk. My first thought was that this space was much too small for an office. I felt claustrophobic a feeling that I was not used to. It took me a long moment to adjust.

“How are we today. You gave your family quite a scare last night,” the doctor asked. I was unready to get into this subject but I figured the quicker I answered the better chance I had to get out.

“I was really depressed. I got bad. I had a temporary moment of weakness and I tried to end my life. I obviously was not very good at it because here I am. Talking about a subject I hate,” I responded.

“Why do you hate the subject,” he asked in earnest.  I really could not believe this question. It is one that I always refrain from answering because doctors never like the answer.

I gave him the best answer that always came to mind, “You doctors. You never actually listen to what we say. The answer is always just more pills. My previous doctor listening to me for about five minutes and then gave me antidepressants and sleeping medication like it was the simple cure. Instead actually listening you think these magic pills are always the answer. Am I wrong?”

The doctor smiled at me before responding, “It is a common response. Medication is not a cure exactly but it helps. It is all about finding the right balance. Your situation was very troubling. Your family members said that you were hearing voices was this true?”

This made me pause for a moment before answering, “Does it make a difference?”
“It does James. Your diagnosis right now is that you are schizoaffective, it is a combination of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder,” his face was serious with his answer that almost floored me.

I thought treading lightly might be the best course of action. It was a tricky situation. It was not exactly voices I hear. It is more of my voice. The voice that is always there in my head. Telling me what is right, what to think and what to worry about at any given moment and time.  It is the voice that always overthinks situations and keeps my confidence at its lowest. I never occurred that a voice in my head could mean I was schizophrenic. I had no idea how that part had even gotten out.

“It was a side effect of taking my Ambien. It did funny things to me. I would sleepwalk all the time, and once I even went through a glass table. It is what I took to an overdose of the medication, so it is possible it was just a side effects of the drugs. I really don’t know what I am doing when I am on the stuff,” I said.

It was the best explanation I could come up with.

There was no way I was telling him about that voice. It was hard enough to explain it in my head, let alone to a stranger. I did my best to lie and say that everything okay. It was just a temporary setback, a moment of weakness on my part.

It was obvious that the doctor knew better because he immediately made the decision me on a dose of lithium and some different antidepressants.

“Let’s try something new. I know you are on Zoloft so let us keep you on that but up the dosage. I think you should try a mood-stabilizer, have you ever tried lithium?” he asked.

“No, I have not,” I responded through clenched teeth.

“Well let’s try that and for the sleep, we will try something else. There is this medication called Seroquel, we will start this new medication at night. I will have the nurse administer your new medication, okay. You try and relax.” He said with a tone of finalization. He hardly looked up from what he was writing.

I still had one more question. “Is there any way that I can leave today? Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.”

“I was wondering if you would mention this. The nurses said that is what you have been asking. I am sorry but no. You are on a seventy-two-hour hold, James. With the holidays, it will be next week before you see the actual doctor that can release you,” he said in a tone that made it final.

I sat there stunned but I knew this was coming.

I left the doctor’s office with a sense of defeat. My thoughts were consuming. Why did I need to take this lithium? My hope was to say the right thing would mean they would release me from this hell. But it was no use I was stuck here for the foreseeable future. Would I ever leave this hell?

When it came time to take my new pills I asked the nurse for the truth and got very little. My diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder. She told me I was Bipolar but I was on the edge of schizophrenia. That was a mood killer. I had a feeling it would be a while before I would leave this place. I decided right then and there if I were to get out of this place, I had to pretend that I was on the mend.

J.E. Skye

Photo Credit: Hoshino Ai