Heavy Steps

walking

The best way to describe how I’m feeling right now is “over it.” And I just am. Honestly I’ve grown so absolutely weary of the constant struggle to get up and go to work and fight the relentless anxiety. I am just ready to let go. And i don’t mean commit suicide, or even stop going to work.

Just… Its too much to care about anymore. There are important reasons why I need a job. I need to pay Robert and Zack for allowing me to live in their house rent free for nearly a year. I need to buyfood. But… What is worth this? What is worth this struggle? I don’t know how long I have to live, and here I am wasting precious days working a menial retail job, and for what? A paycheck that doesn’t cover any expenses and the privelage of more tedious work?

At least the anxiety has decreased significantly. What was once a steady pulse of hot fear has melted into a thick blanket of apathy and submission. I’m feeling more and more like Marvin the Robot fromHitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, who is programmed in such a way that he is literally incapable of feeling enthusiasm or joy, and constantly laments his station as a glorified servant instead of putting his abilities to use.

I’m angry. I’m pissed off that I’ve come so far in life and yet here I am, still walking the sales floor and greeting customers, folding towels and pulling plates to the front of shelves, exchanging inane useless chatter with strangers just so I can have someone to talk to.

There are so many jobs I’d be happy to do.  It doesn’t have to be something illustrious. What I’d love would be data entry. Just to sit at a desk quietly, listening to audibooks and typing numbers into forms. Or a personal assistant, bringing someone coffee or organizing files. Or a secretary, keeping things organized and greeting people from the comfort of my seat. I could even work a government job, as long as I can just be in an office, sitting down. I don’t know why that’s so much to ask.

But no. You need a degree to sit at a desk. And in order to have a degree you have to go to school, and in order to go to school you have to have the time to do that instead of working, or the emotional and mental fortitude to go to school as well as work a menial job, and I just don’t have either.

I don’t believe I’m going to get another chance at life. And its killing me to waste my life in retail stores and restaurants. I want to matter. I want to wake up in the morning and do something I care about. But there’s a mentality in our culture that no one gets a “free ride.” God forbid I subsist on someone else’s money or in a simple home paid for by the government, even though I have a mental illness that severely handicaps me emotionally when it comes to working out in public. If I had a physical illness the government would be happy to give me a check, but because people still don’t believe mental illness exists and it’s just an excuse to be lazy or have a bad attitude, I’m expected to shoulder a burden much worse than the burden carried by people who are doing more physical labor than I am. I have to fight the world every single day.

And I’m so tired of fighting. I’m so tired of wasting time.

Give me a piano, let me earn money with that. Give me a desk and an office in which to write my stories, let me earn money that way.

Give me a safe place to sit and read and learn, to walk the neighborhood listening to music, to communicate with people, to fight the loneliness and battle the darkness that follows me every day in my shadow.

Even if I did no work at all I wouldn’t be getting a free ride. The battle I fight is ongoing and not always visible, but I’m fighting it. I know what you’re thinking, I’m just making excuses for being lazy because I don’t want to work. There’s a mentality that “If I had to bust my ass for money, so do you. If I had to suffer, so do you.”

But I’m already suffering. My full time job is surviving the day. Even in a day in which I have no work at all to do, I can still find myself fighting for my life against the anxiety and depression that pose a very real threat to my life, not to mention my well-being at the very least. You can call in sick from work with a fever or a stomach virus, but I can’t call in stressed and emotionally exhausted. There are days off from an office job or a retail job. There are no days off from mental illness.

And besides, the attitude that because you worked hard for what you have then everyone else had to work just as hard, that attitude doesn’t make sense to me. If you had to suffer through unnecessary pain to have success, why would you want other people to suffer the same as you did? You might say “it isn’t fair that I had to work hard and you don’t,” but what is fair about wanting someone else to suffer? Is it a bitter desire for revenge against life that leads people to think it’s so wrong for someone to “freeload”? What is freeloading? I mean look at that term. I carry my anxiety and fear with me everywhere I go. Even if all my needs were met by other people, my load still would not be free. I would still by fighting against my mind and my body. Anxiety isn’t just having a bad day or feeling sorry for yourself, its an actual disease that affects your body, it is NOT “all in your head.”

No one tells someone in a hospital bed with a terminal illness to stop feeling sorry for themselves, get out of bed and go to work like the rest of us. Because that person is physically unable. What if you’re physically able but mentally unable? What do you do then?

Exactly the same thing you did the day before. You go to work like everybody else and you do the same tasks as everybody else, only the work you’re doing is a thousand times harder because your brain and your body are constantly devising new and inventive ways to harm you. Tonight while I was working I was folding towels and suddenly realized that I was standing on the opposite aisle from where I’d started. How did I get there? When did I walk across to another aisle? Had I blacked out? I looked around and realized that I hadn’t moved to another aisle at all. I clapped my hand over my mouth when the room started spinning and the wave of disorientation hit me. Which way was the exit, which way had i been facing before, where WAS I?

This is something that has never, ever happened to me before and it felt very much like I was in a dream. I don’t think it’s going to cause me problems in the future, but who knows? What if I start feeling disoriented all the time? What if it makes my panic attacks worse?

I’ll just have to keep going to work and nothing will change.  No one will have sympathy or compassion for me, at least not enough to alleviate my suffering by giving me some other task, because there aren’t any other jobs there to give.

I just have to keep getting up and fighting my own body and mind every day.

And the truth is my stamina is running out and I’m losing the ability to keep fighting. I don’t know what will happen if I can’t fight anyone. I doubt it would mean that I’d hurt myself. But what would I do? Would I just stay in be and refuse to move? Would I stop eating, just stop living, and just exist? I cant imagine that’s a real possibility.

But I’m so tired. And I’m just crying out to rue universe, please, give me something else. I’m willing to do the work, I just can’t do this work. I can’t keep working these public service jobs, I cant keep ringing up groceries and standing on my feet for eight hours, I can’t keep dealing with the crowds and the noise and the lines of people, I just can’t. I need something else.

I don’t want something else, I need something else. I need it. I can’t survive this way. I’m so tired of fighting.

I’m exhausted.

gray-ocean

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The Mind Killer

ampersand

(Originally posted a few days ago, September 19, 2016, on Facebook)

Probably the hardest thing about living with anxiety disorder is that once you’ve had a panic attack, your natural inclination is to run away from where you had the attack and never come back. But most of the time the place you had the panic attack is somewhere you have to go on a daily basis, like work or school. In my case both have happened. Many times.

Sometimes you go back and you see that you’re going to be alright, and that just being somewhere can’t hurt you. And sometimes it’s even worse than before, and absolutely nothing, no matter how hard you try, can make the anxiety, the fear, the panic, and the misery stop. There are times when no amount of optimism and positive attitude can fix the problem, and the anxiety just. Gets. Worse.

Today I’m going back to work after having an incredibly bad panic attack yesterday and getting in trouble with management besides, because I had this panic attack while berating the management for doing a shit job. I’m lucky not to have been fired. But the fact is I have to go back, and the anticipation and the anxiety is absolutely unbearable. I’ve taken my meds but honestly they aren’t doing much of anything anymore (made an appointment with my doctor for next week), and I just have to do it. I have no choice. I have to work. There are no other options.

This is the hopelessness of living with anxiety. This is why people say they can’t bare to be alive because of the fear. Every breath is a battle against your own body, and the more you try to take care of it and help yourself the more it betrays you. Frank Herbert says in Dune, “fear is the mind killer.” Anxiety is a personification of fear that grips tightly around your body, tendrils that suffocate and paralyze you.

But still, you have to get out of bed. You have to brush your teeth, and take a shower, and put on your shoes, and drive to work. And smile at customers. And spend hours wondering if you’ll make it through the night. And you know that this will go in indefinitely, until you’re given enough drugs to numb the sensation. Because every feeling is a jagged knife that cuts you.

I have to go back to my own battlefront. I am afraid. I am just… afraid.

Death

Rain Over the Forest

One day I will die, and I will no longer exist in any way. My body will not exist, my mind will not exist, my hopes and feelings and angers and will will not exist. I will be obliterated from existent. I will not see black. I will not see anything. I will not feel fear or longing or sadness, because I will not feel anything. I will not bemoan my banishment to the void, because I will not bemoan anything, I will not regret or fear or hate or love or experience joy or sadness or pleasure. I will no longer exist. I will be utterly, irrefutably, and immutably destroyed.

And this does not trouble me. Because there is one thing I can leave behind. One thing that can live forever. My thoughts, my stories, my music, my characters, these things are said to be fanciful wastes of time, distractions from my real life. But in truth, my stories and my imagination are the only part of myself that can continue to exist. If i think back in my life, what I love most, what matters the most to me, are the stories in my mind, the moments of happiness and despair that I can capture and put down. And if I can leave behind these, I will still exist.

I don’t create to fight death, because death will be there waiting for me. Death does not come after us, it waits for us. And death will be a calm and beautiful embrace, I will relax and relax and relax until I am nothing but peaceful and eternal rest. I will no longer be troubled, no longer fear, and I will no longer have need for joy or love, because I will have reached a nirvana far greater than any heaven. I will be at peace forever and ever, and my peace will never be disturbed. And my stories can touch others if I leave them behind.

I can take comfort in knowing that no one in the history of all the world can say they know what happens beyond death, not just because I know they’d be lying if they did, but because deep down we all know the same thing: we are going to die. And that is not tragic, nor is it sorrowful, it is beautiful. Death is a hope for an eternal sleep, in death the evil and the righteous are made equal, and every one is given peace from the labors of life. Death is not a cloaked shadow to be feared, nor a pit of endless darkness. Death is the moment when you fall asleep and give over to the sweet ecstasy of relaxation, death is the feeling of all pain being relieved, death is the cure of all malady and fear and trouble.

Death is a reward for one patient enough to wade through the waters of life, beautiful and bright, murky and stagnant. We live and we love, we enjoy the pleasures of being, and then we relax, we rest forever. There is nothing here to be feared.

Never Going Back Again To Crucify Myself

me

 

This post is going to be hurried because in order to properly explain the situation I’m in I would need more than the twenty minutes I have before I need to leave for work. However if there’s one thing I’m beginning to learn it’s that you need to make due with what you have.

I still need to sit down and really talk about everything that’s happened in the past year of my life, but in a nutshell, my current roommates saved my life. I was living with my family, more specifically my mother and her husband, both of whom are abusive in a variety of ways and one of whom (spoiler: my mother) is a psychopath. Not like a dangerous I’ll-stab-you-with-a-knife psychopath, more like I’m-so-selfish-and-greedy-that-I’ll-push-you-to-kill-yourself-just-so-no-one-can-say-it-was-my-fault style psychopath. I don’t think even she knows what a dangerous and toxic person she is. But anyhow. My roommates, Zack and Robert, agreed to help me out of my situation, and without really knowing me at all, they allowed me to travel hundreds of miles here to Delaware to live in their guest room for virtually nothing.

They bought me clothes, a car, a cell phone, medicine, food, involved me in all of their activities, took me to concerts and shows with them, and never asked for anything. Their intention was always to charge me reasonable rent when I had the money, but when I finally got a full time job and had the money, I was so selfish and unable to properly budget my money that I only properly paid them rent two or three times, and then I quit that job because of my anxiety. And believe me the anxiety was awful. I was coming home almost every day (especially Friday’s) in tears on the way home, having a breakdown when I arrived, and then climbing straight into bed because I was so emotionally and physically exhausted and overworked. I didn’t know at the time that I had type 2 diabetes, and the fact that I was pounding every sugary beverage into my system to try and KEEP some energy to work was actually making me sicker, all went over my head because I didn’t know.

I got a new job, at a retail store. I loved retail for the first few years I worked in it, and I enjoyed it, so I thought I would be happy going back to retail. It turns out that was very much not the case. I’m not the same person I was when I was twenty, and I can’t take the abuse from customers that I used to be able to. “I don’t give a fuck” is a sentiment that crosses my mind more than once a day now. And so, all too late, I realized that not only had I left a full time job with health insurance and benefits for an incredibly part time (like two to three days a week) job that I didn’t even enjoy.

And then yesterday happened.

I knew it was going to happen before it happened. I can’t explain it. I’ve been wondering if maybe it truly was some sort of intuition, or maybe I just put all the clues together subconsciously and then realized right before it happened. But Zack and Robert left under somewhat mysterious circumstances and all the sudden it hit me like a brick: they’re going to ask me to move out. No one had said anything about it, but for some reason, I just knew. I texted them both about it and got no response from either one. I thought that I must just be paranoid, but somehow, I knew it was coming.

When they got home, we all sat down in the kitchen. Robert pulled out a list of discussion points. It’s been eight months and I’ve hardly paid any rent since I’ve been here. The car I was given has been damaged twice while I’ve been driving it, and I’ve gotten two speeding tickets, most of which had to be paid off by Robert because I had no money. I’ve been lazy, I haven’t been maintaining my personal space or the shared space very well. I haven’t followed simple directions. I’ve been rude and inconsiderate. I’ve assumed they would continue to pay for everything and keep me up even though it isn’t their responsibility. I’m preventing them from living their lives. I’m draining their money because I’m not paying what I owe, and because of me they aren’t able to go on vacation or save up for their future.

It was hard for all of us. Robert was crying. Then I was crying. Zack looked away because he hates confrontation, he just petted the dog to try and stay calm.

I might have known this was coming. But I didn’t see it coming until just before it happened.

The thing that hurt the most was how mad I was at myself. These people had done absolutely everything for me, far more than even my own mother ever had. They’d shown me kindness and expected so little in return. And what had I done? Turned into the lazy cousin who’s trying weakly to get his act together and living on my family’s couch while I try to hold down a job. Except of course that I’m NOT their lazy cousin, I’m their lazy roommate from another state, to whom they have NO responsibility whatsoever.

I was about to commit suicide when they met me. Maybe it wouldn’t have been the next day, but I was on the road. Do I KNOW I would have killed myself? No. But I do know that’s where my mind was. That’s where my thoughts were. Yesterday, before they came home, when I suddenly realized exactly what was happening hours before they came home and talked to me about it, I started looking online for easy ways to kill yourself. My very first thought was to run, to escape, to die and be free of responsibility.

I was given two options. Stay, and pay what I owe. If that’s my choice, I have a month to get myself together and find work that will pay me enough to pay them. The other option is to leave, though it wouldn’t be for a few months. They care about me. They love me. But they can’t put their lives on hold for me any longer. And of course I should have realized that before now.

But I’ve been so selfish. All I’ve thought about since I got here was how lucky I was to be away from my family, and how sad I was for a variety of reasons. I miss my ex boyfriend, I have anxiety, I have depression, I feel suicidal, I’m overweight, I have diabetes, I’m not good at my job, I’m worried all the time, I’m scared I’m scared I’m scared.

I was standing on a cliff in my mind yesterday. I could either fight to get back out into the world or I could fall. If I fell off the cliff I wouldn’t die, but I would be hurt beyond understanding.

There was a final moment of fear. I stood alone in my bedroom and whispered to myself, “What have I done?”

And then it came.

Determination.

I will not let Zack and Robert down after all they’ve done for me. I will not abuse their kindness. I will not be defeated by anxiety, or by fear. I will work, and I will work hard. If I have to work a full time job or three part time jobs, no matter what, I will survive, and I will live. I will accomplish my dreams of being a writer and a musician, and I will not fear an honest days work any more. I will not let anxiety dictate my life. I don’t care that I’m not strong enough right now at this moment to accomplish everything, I will get stronger. I will not be defeated by life. I’m not just fighting for myself anymore, but for my new family, the family who matters to me, the people who gave up their own livelihood so I could be safe.

I promised them I would fix this. That I would find work. It would be a lie to say they have faith in me. I can tell from the looks in their faces that they have only seen me give up time and time again, and they probably don’t expect me to pull through. But I’ve made my decision. And for once, I feel the conviction of my decision, and I WILL be strong. I will not be intimidated by the world, by honest work, or by responsibility. I will stand up and push through it, and every time I fail or fall, I will keep fighting. If I get my old job back, great. If not, I’ll get a second job and a third job and however many jobs I have to, but I will not disappoint Zack and Robert.

At least one person has already offered me a place to stay if I need to, so that I don’t have to go back to my mother. I’m so grateful they’ve offered. But I won’t need to accept it, because I will push through this, and I will succeed.