#122: “Living Like I’m Not Alive”

How do you stay alive? It’s all so much. The worst part of being happy, of finding friendship and love and hope, of traveling to new places, is when you lose it all. When you move back to the past, and you’re surrounded by the places and the people you hate. And suddenly, those weeks and months of happy times, of meeting friends, of laughing and being told how good you are, they’re all distant memories, and they feel like they’re fading away so fast.
 
I can’t take care of myself. What will I do next? Find someone else to take care of me? I don’t mean to be down on myself when I say I can’t take care of myself, I truly mean it. And I’m shouting out to everyone: “HEY! I can’t take care of myself! Someone, help me!” And everyone responds with “Oh no, don’t say that about yourself, you’ll be fine! You CAN take care of yourself!” But that’s not what I mean. What I mean is that I just can’t, and I need someone to help.
 
Where do I go? All of my friends are so far away. All of my hope is back in Delaware, with Zack and Robert, with the dogs, with the living room and my bedroom and the office and the computer. With the places where I belonged. My parking spot in their driveway is empty. And I’m empty. I hate that they aren’t here every day, that I go moments and hours without thinking about them. I hate that I’m losing them. They’re not leaving, but they’re transitioning. They’re becoming Zack and Robert Three States Away, instead of Zack and Robert In The Next Room. I didn’t want that transition. I didn’t want any of this. I didn’t want my world to shake and crumble.
 
How do you keep living? It’s not that I want to die. I want to live. If I wanted to die, this wouldn’t hurt so much. The fact that I can’t live, it makes it so much harder because now I want to. And they’re so far from me. They can’t pull me up here. And I can’t pull myself up. I can’t take care of myself.
 
I need safe arms to hold me. I need a place to recuperate. But there isn’t one. I have to get up and find a job. And I just… I don’t want to live like this anymore. What can I do? Where can I go? How can this be happening?
 
How can you live?

#119: 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

#118: No Way To Live

job

Waking up every day and going to a job you hate, counting the hours until you can go home and crawl back in bed, the only place you feel safe… That’s no way to live.

I’m not angry. Im really not. I’m actually not upset either, and I’m not devoid of emotion. I’m calm. It’s actually a very nice feeling and I don’t mean it in a sarcastic way. I’m calm, I think I’ve accepted that this is just how things are right now.

I’m not going to the brink of despair today because I simply refuse to do it. My acid reflux manifested itself as chest pains, throbbing pains like a heartbeat that shot through my chest and up into my head. Momentary pain. It was uncomfortable. I didnt panic though. I knew it was acid reflux and so I decided to just keep walking. After a few minutes it did go away.

I’m very quiet today. Usually I talk a lot, to customers and other people i pass, and I sing to myself under my breath. Today I’m quiet. I’m really much more productive that way.it helps me feel calm and centered, too.

I don’t want to be here. I’ve accepted that this is where I am and i can’t change it today. Maybe tomorrow, I don’t know. But I know that I don’t want to be here. I’m tired of these jobs out in the open, walking around and smiling at people. This is not the worst job I’ve had by a long shot. In a way i don’t even dislike it that much, its alright for what it is.

I know I cant be a writer overnight. But there are jobs, even menial jobs, that I’m much better suited to. Id love to work in data entry. Just empty out my brain and type, sit at a desk during the day, decorate my desk with little trinkets, have a cup of coffee with me. Some people consider that hell. I think I could do just fine there. Especially if I can listen to music, or podcasts, or audiobooks, while I’m working. Any job where I can read or listen to something is a winner.

I miss my job at Avalanche. I didn’t know how good I had it. I’d still like to go back. They probably won’t ever return my calls, but I do wish I could do things over again, and I wish I could avoid causing Robert and Zack so much worry, so much anxiety. I wish I could try again at the office job thing. I know the hours were long, and honestly my hours at this job are easier. But still, I just wish I could try again.

There are so many desk jobs in the world. If I try hard enough, it shouldn’t be too difficult to get one, without a degree, right? Maybe Information Technology? They train you on the job, I think. I don’t know. I’m calm. I’m okay. Ill make it through tonight. But I don’t want to be here.

#116: 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.