Month: December 2014

Painful Forgetfulness

I rise, in the throes of excitement.  Today I see Mikal for a tattoo consult, an embellished lotus flower on my forearm.  My heart pumps adrenaline through my vessels, permeating cell walls, intoxicating my system.  Oh yes, I feel you beckoning me from the cabinet.  I promise I will come, push and screw your bottles, dispense pebbles of happiness into my hands, wash them down with cleansing waters.  I will not forget, I declare.

I hop into the shower, blood coursing with greater and greater speed.  My mind fogs as the shower envelops the bathroom in a sheet of steam.  I fuse with the spouting water from the shower head.  The abrasive water carries away with it all of the fibers within my mind that remind me of what must be done this morning.  Every morning.  I know you are still beckoning, I feel you.  Just five more minutes, okay?  This shower will be done imminently.

I dry and dress.  My mind is dominated by my contemplations of the swiftly approaching consult.  The pebbles in the cabinet no longer yearn on my heartstrings.  I am free, severed, floating in an unfamiliar world, one I know not.  How are you?  We have never met before, have we?  It’s a pleasure.  With shaky hands I eat a yogurt as quickly as possible in order to catch the bus while the pebbles to which I am typically undyingly faithful quiver with loneliness and inattention in their desolate cabinet.

Freedom feels amazing, the taste of a delicacy elusive and rare.  Bubbles form within the pit of my stomach and gurgle to the surface, releasing fragrances sweet and manic.  I board the bus and say with swift speech to the driver I need a heads up when we hit Division and 50th.  I am unfamiliar with this route.  Bubbles spilling from my mouth, I make my way to my seat and promptly set my iPod to Taylor Swift.  By the time I reach Mikal, I am flying high as a kite, words gushing forth with the rapidity of water flowing from a broken dam.  My eyes widen, my voice raises, and the adrenaline rushing through my veins increases in potency.

I am so happy, so, so happy.  I could sing songs and compose music heralding my intense happiness.  I enter Starbucks to sit in warmth while waiting for the Streetcar to go to the library.  I notice a woman sitting in the same seat as she had the day before.  I go up to her and forthrightly inform her she is sitting in the same seat.  She replies, “Yeah, so?” with confusion, and I gaze at her with the widest grin my mouth could muster and say, “I just wanted to say hi.”  I walked away, bouncing on clouds.

After obtaining a library card, to my utmost excitement, and possibly the bewilderment of the library staff, I made my way to Powell’s.  I entered the cafe, sat down with my laptop, and began to write a chapter in my book with fury and unrestraint.  I came to a disappointing halt, much to my dismay, when I realized I had reached the point where my memories had been seemingly obliterated, and I would require hospital records to continue.

I began to feel the hunger in my mind.  It was lacking sustenance.  I crossed the street to Starbucks and downed two shots of espresso, hoping to ease the discomfort that was beginning to brew within my core.  I called my mom “just to talk,” as I had been saying all day, with the total number of calls teetering towards twenty.  The loneliness compounded the discomfort, edging it in the direction of a stage four hurricane.

I returned to my apartment breaking, cracking at the seams, shaking in bafflement.  What has gone wrong?  I was flying a mile high only to crash to the depths, flight captains losing contact with air traffic control.  And then memories flooded to the surface.  Did I entertain those pebbles that were so ardently beckoning me this morning, the sources of my sanity and stability?  No, they remained there, waiting for me like lovesick puppies huddling around the front door waiting for their owners to return.

I have not made this mistake in years, if in fact, ever, and it is ground I do not wish to tread again when preventable measures are ready at hand.  The pain of bubbles of elation popping and the darkness that ensues is like a paralytic injection that halts all operable properties of the mind and leaves one in a state of paralysis, wondering, “Where or how did I go wrong?”

I Want

I want, I want
The child whispers as she
Suckles at her mother’s breast
Milk seeping through chafed nipples
Nipples scarred, marred
By the battles fought and the
Battles won, the many times
She walked the tightrope
Teetering over strife and failure
The fruits of existence

But does the child know what she wants?
To want blindly, to walk unguided
To which the child shall be relegated
Aspirations, to heal the peoples
To heal the world
Merely, to heal oneself
What is the price?

She wants, she wants
How many pennies
Green and copper must be tossed
Into the fountain bubbling over
With the milk from her mother’s breast
For her wants to manifest?

Reward children indiscriminately
You spoil the egg
Neglect their wants and desires
You allow the apple core
To ferment and to rot
Succumb to the elements

This child, this girl
What is the harm in entertainment?
To overwhelm her with the sweet milk
The bosom of the earth has to offer
How radical is the want to live unbridled?
Unfettered by the patriarchy of
Troubled minds and tortured psyches

One drop of this milk of great potency
Shall tear the shackles of imprisonment
With the ease of ripping tissue
And return the investment tenfold
For blessed and gifted is her mind
Far too precious to be cast to sea
As the tides roll out
Carrying the day’s dead.

© Alexandra Shall 2014

Inertia, You Sly Monster

Asleep.  A fallen redwood in a damp forest.  Immoveable.  Unable to be roused or awakened.  A ringing begins in the distance, permeating the fog sitting heavily like a brick upon the fallen tree.  The arrhythmic ringing crescendos to deafening timbres.  The world grasps me firmly and draws me to reality.  The accosting arrhythmia is my alarm clock beckoning me to join the world of the living.  I politely decline and slip back into my alternate reality.  Depression is an ugly friend – bossy, controlling, narcissistic – and it has its hold on me.

Depression inertia is trying to move a concrete wall with simple tethers, or to wander through a thick fog, so dense each step requires the strength and agility of a Roman gladiator.  Or may it be likened unto an attempt to drag oneself through a pool of quicksand, ever hoping to reach the elusive reward resting on the far bank of the pit that controls life and livelihood.  Sleep is ever-so-enticing when in the throes of inertia, though it has a dark side.  It masks itself with promises that if you sleep just one more hour, your despair and sorrows will dissipate.  You will join the world of the active with joviality and effervescence, but, in truth, it speaks lies.  Suckle just enough of the nourishment sleep has to offer, but inebriation is a sly devil.  With each extra ten-minute snooze, a little vitality is siphoned from your energy stores, supporting the demons that keep you trapped in the world of inertia.  Sleep is restorative and enriching, but when it becomes the warden, it is quite adept at constructing an impenetrable prison.

I have fallen into a depression, and inertia has hijacked my emotions and motivations.  I sleep for hours and hours, not rising until afternoon.  Each time I reset the alarm clock, it gives me hope that in ten to twenty minutes I will be ready to face the world, but depression fibs.  Giving into the inertia guarantees that I will never be able to face the world.  Once awake I move from place to place, going through the motions, but exist solely behind the facade of a plaster mask.  The words in my books are jumbled, seemingly constructed into a language written and understood singularly by depression.  My mind perseverates on suicide as tears flow down my cheeks like water seeping from freshly broken dams.  I know I must move.  I must.  But dear inertia, you are so good at what you do.  I am bonded, shackled, wed to psychiatric treatments that cannot reach you, so I must sit.  Wrestle with my roped wrists and ankles, shake myself free.  I will not fight dirty.  We will not mud wrestle.  Rather I shall rise above you, take the higher ground.  Stumble and stutter in my tracks.  I dare you to reach me as I soar.  I will crack your narcissism with my disregard for your hostage tactics.  Yes, I am under your spell, but I am beckoned for a higher purpose.  Game on?

Hanging in Limbo

What is wellness?  Stability?  These are questions that I have oft asked myself over the last month or so. How will I know when I have achieved the coveted status, the pinnacle place of mental health wellness? I ponder the importance of this contemplation.  Does it matter or hold significance in whether I perseverate over whether I am “well” and “fit,” or rather is it more important to just “be,” to live in the moment with mindfulness and awareness?

Since the beginning, I have been highly treatment-resistent.  I have had twelve hospitalizations, been on over twenty different drugs, and have endured thirty-eight electroconvulsive therapy treatments. In the last few months, I have explored alternative routes of treatment as a supplement to my psychiatric care.  A naturopath has honed and fine-tuned a special concoction of supplements and extracts that have positively affected my mental wellness, resulting in some symptom reduction.  In fact, a significant reduction.  Natural approaches coupled with the psychiatric approach have proven highly effective.  I am still weighed down with depression, anxiety, obsessions, and agitation, but utilizing my arsenal of coping skills and treatments has created a life and existence for me that has been elusive for many years.  So am I well?

My psychiatrist recently placed me in partial remission, which was the impetus for my perseveration surrounding what it means to be well.  Initially, this instilled in me a belief that I am now healed and should act and conduct myself as such.  Symptoms I may feel should be diminished, and I should embrace a life in which I no longer have sickness.  This led solely to frustration, as I knew that my true predicament was incongruent with these notions.  Then I started to think.  Is this black and white, or is there a spectrum? Room for the vague and the unsure?  For relativity? I see this as a complex phenomenon. In a linear direction, there is the spectrum of mental instability to mental wellness.  A person may land anywhere on that spectrum at any given time, but this categorization is superficial and not the only factor in involved.  In comes the concept of relativity.  Someone may fall closer on the spectrum to the societal understanding of instability, but yet have exceptional coping skills and support, thus creating a situation in which they could cope and exist more adeptly than someone in the same position – thus possibly more well than first perceived.  Contrarily, a person may fall closer to mental wellness on the spectrum, yet be unable to effectively cope.

I feel as though I am slowly navigating my way from the instability end of the spectrum to the place of mental wellness. I am beginning to understand the ambiguities and relativity in the process, and labels such as partial remission are not all-indicative of a certain state or place in someone’s existence.  In fact, it is just a label used solely for documentation in medical records.  When considering the spectrum and the concept of relativity, I can see that while I may not be entirely well, I am walking in the right direction, and my obsessions over the worth of words and labels are insignificant. What truly matters is to live mindfully and unconstrained by one’s own psyche.  To be controlled by the spectrum is to hang in limbo, not knowing where one truly falls and whether that knowledge is important at all.

I am sitting in my new apartment writing this piece.  I am scared.  I am afraid.  Obsessions and anxiety are creeping from the darkness and grasping their sticky tendrils around the threads of my mind, attempting to draw me from my place of progress.  While I could succumb to their power and view my place on the spectrum as the be-all and end-all, I can instead draw to mind the concept of relativity and recognize that while I may have some setbacks, I am fighting with well-honed coping skills and implementing my naturopathic and psychiatric interventions, compounding the linear nature of the spectrum and allowing a more dimensional look at my wellness and stability.