(This story was originally written on October 25th, 2018. It was a good snapshot of my life at the time, so I thought I would republish it. During these psychotic episodes, I have very little control of my mind, and I tried my best to capture the chaos that went on that day.)
I’ve been having a rough time lately. I’m trying to write every day, but the situation in my mind has been appalling. Some days, I can’t even get an extra thought in with all the racket competing for attention. I feel like my mind has a mind of its own.
But you see, I have goals. These goals are not nice to have but written in stone with a chisel. I have to do something about my financial state of affairs, and I need to do it now.
I’m going to admit something hard for me to say. I’m on Social Security Disability (SSDI).
There, I said it.
I don’t know why I’m ashamed of it because I don’t have a choice in the matter. I haven’t been able to keep a job for a long time, and freelancing is problematic because I have problems with consistency. Clients don’t want to hire you if you can’t deliver on deadlines day after day.
I’ve proven over time that I can’t, you know, deliver.
When I have days like today, where the voices in my head are challenging each other for airtime and I can’t form a thought – much less write anything worthwhile – I become anxious and depressed.
Seriously. It took me 2 hours to write the last 217 words.
I’ve been trying to come up with a way to explain the situation I’m in, but all that comes to mind is FML – fuck my life.
I’ll try again.
I can’t hold a job – I’ve proven it time and time again. Along the road I’ve walked the past fifteen years are the shattered, smoking husks of lost opportunities.
Freelancing seemed a viable option to supplement my SSDI, but like any job, they expect you to deliver on deadlines. It’s not personal – it’s business. I get it.
You don’t have to explain to the crying man sitting in the corner.
I thought a solution would be to get something going on Medium or write articles for blogs on my own time and schedule.
I’ve been reading the advice of others about what I need to do to be successful on Medium, or with writing in general. One of the first things always mentioned is you have to write every day and put out content seven days a week.
That’s just not realistic for me.
I sound like a complainer – I know, I disgust myself. But I’ve tried writing and publishing every day, and I even made a schedule. I went one step further and tracked my time to see where it was all going.
I sit at my desk and try to type. I try to make the words flow. Today I ended up with my head in my hands, screaming for my brain to please shut up. I finally gave up and rested in bed with my laptop open. I’m struggling to write this post, 20 words at a time.
My family tries to help, but I can’t tell them that every small noise they make rings in my head like a dinner gong. I can’t tell them everything irritates me.
The worst thing is – if I can’t get my mind under control, we may not eat next month, or the month after that, because my Social Security can’t last forever.
I can feel the panic building. My stomach feels like I ate a 5-pound burrito and the contents are pushing into my throat in preparation to throw up. My hands are shaking.
Music. I need music. Ed Sheeran – take me away.
Dogs are barking. I still hear them. My daughter, Zoey, is chattering happily in the next room. Control. A woman’s voice is droning on in the back of my head. I’m ignoring her, but she’s persistent. My medication isn’t doing anything to help. PANIC.
I need to take a break.
An hour of Netflix and my mind has quieted somewhat. Zoey is sick today and sitting at my desk watching funny YouTube videos on my phone.
It’s as calm as it gets around here — no better time than now to write a few words.
Sometimes, it takes a little distraction for me to be able to focus. Does that make any sense? I need to focus on something other than what’s going on in my head. Sometimes, the things that live in my head are so disturbing that it takes a lot of noise to drown it out.
More breaks. I can’t keep it reigned in.
If SHE is not talking in my head, it’s an old woman. Nothing they say makes sense.
I’m scared because I don’t want Flora to find out the voices are back. She thought the medication was helping, but it’s not. The only time it’s quiet is when I’m drunk, but I promised myself I wouldn’t self-medicate. There are also problems with the headaches. When I drink, the headaches get worse.
Worse yet, when the headaches are screaming in my head, so are the voices.
I know they’re not real. I’ve been dealing with the people in my head long enough to know the people aren’t real people. My mind creates everything.
Knowing it doesn’t help. Knowing it makes me feel like more of a freak.
I have to stop.
I shoveled the food into my mouth, more out of habit than hunger. I didn’t even taste it. Every little noise distracts my mind – even the sound of the fork touching the plate was torture.
I yelled at Zoey again. She was just playing, but my mind convinced me it was bothering my wife while she was working. I can’t control the anger that builds in my chest.
Now I feel horrible. I’m such an asshole.
I forget kids don’t hold grudges. When I went to check on Zoey, she smiled and hugged me. It’s scary to think that so many people count on me.
I don’t want to lose what’s left of my mind.
More food. A nap. I try to do something, anything, to keep my attention away from the battle in my brain. I wish it were something as simple as a fight between good and evil. I’ve never been able to figure out the purpose of the chaos in my head.
Flora gets angry with me because I’m not helping her. She knows I’m having a bad day and I don’t know why she has to bang stuff down and make noise when it hurts my head. The sound carries all over the house. I can hear everything that goes on. Zoey whines about something, and I have to unwrap the blanket from my head and take care of it. I’m not hiding in the dark more than a few minutes before it happens again. It’s like this all day. I make sure there is no noise when Flora is working, why can’t she do the same thing when I need quiet?
Am I complaining too much yet?
I feel like I am.
It’s been a very long day. I don’t know how much more of this I can take. I didn’t get much work done. This short post is all I’ve been able to write.
If you read this all the way through, I thank you. It was a little disjointed because I wanted you to get an idea of how my brain deals with all this. I had a hard time, but I wanted to publish today while I still have the courage.
Tomorrow, I may look at this and decide I don’t want something this personal floating around out there, so here it is.
Don’t pity me – just try to understand.
This essay also appears on Medium.com.