Autobiography · Mental Health


She reminds me that each day brings us closer to when the days start getting longer again. That in thirty-three days it will be as dark as it’s going to get. I try to remind myself of this when I’m outside smoking a cigarette at 4:30 PM and the sun is already sinking below the horizon. When I’m wrestling with my brain to get me out of bed to go running without light. We’re getting closer to it getting bright again.

Like every year, I take my vitamin D, I try to remember to eat, get enough sleep. And like every year I struggle to take care of my most basic needs while I’m living in the dark. All the things I know I need to do to feel better seem to be just out of reach.

My therapist tells me we’ll work on motivation. My psychiatrist tells me we’ll figure out if my medication is draining me. My sister tells me she’s only always a phone call away. My mom sets up my old apartment in case I need to be somewhere else. Chuck says I can stay “for a night, a week, forever”. Andrew checks in on my wellbeing over and over. Vinnie shares smoke breaks with me. We’re rallying.

There has to be a way to get through this again. I’ve managed it this long, it’s silly to think I won’t be able to this time. But every day my alarm clock goes off and I can’t make myself get out of bed. Today I slept until 9:45 when I had to be at work at 10:00. It’s hard. Everything is so hard. My mom tells me how much fight I have in me and follows it up with, “I just wish you didn’t have to use it all the time.” And I find myself wishing that, too.

I don’t want or need life to be easy. I just need it to be a little gentler with me. But I guess like anything it just comes with practice. It’s just muscle memory.

Photo courtesy of Jason Leem.


Pink Floyd, bourbon, and identity

"vinyls" © Lubomir Panak, 2009. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
vinyls” © Lubomir Panak, 2009. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Cathartic. The word has been coming up a lot lately.

They say if you meet more than one asshole on any given day chances are the asshole is you. Staring at the mirror, trying to shake the feeling everything I’ve ever done is wrong and all of it is sitting on my chest.

On Saturday night we listened to The Wall. I stretched out on the couch with my hands wrapped around a glass of water. Remembered sitting next to my dad, his legs crossed toward me, mine curled up and leaning toward him. Both our armrest-hands swirling tumblers of bourbon.

The first note grabs onto my shirt collar and for the next hour-and-a-half I’m staring straight forward, breathing hard. Every once in awhile Mason and I lock eyes and shake our heads. “It just doesn’t make sense. Like… How the hell did they even..?”

My family listened to this album countless times while I was growing up. We had the vinyl version, the CD version, the tape my mom made so we could listen to it in the car. I know every line. Every note. But I hadn’t just sat down and listened to it in years.

Retraced my fingers along the spine of it, inspected the curves. Placed my head on the rise and fall of its chest, moving my lips in sync with its. The words I knew perfectly before I understood them. The words that explain myself to me with a confidence I’m afraid I’ll never learn.

Before I found words, I used these ones. Often they are still the only ones to make sense. When my whole body shakes and the corners of my vision dip in and out of focus. When my hands curl into shapes only good for dragging across bricks, breaking mirrors, or pounding dents into the roof above the driver’s seat. When the things I can’t sort through to explain knit themselves into a nest in the bottom of my throat. My brain just repeats:

There is no pain, you are receding
A distant ship, smoke on the horizon
You are only coming through in waves
Your lips move, but I cannot hear what you’re saying
When I was a child I had a fever
My hands felt just like two balloons
Now I’ve got that feeling once again
I can’t explain you would not understand
This is not how I am

I can give perfect directions back to the places I learned everything. I can tell you exactly why I associate love with terrible things. Repeat over and over, “I know it’s not right. I’m trying to do it differently. I’m learning. I swear I’m learning.” It is easy to distill out the parts of myself I consider separate. Tag-alongs. Experiences, thoughts, and feelings that complicate the experience, but do not contribute to who I actually am.

Cue existential crisis.

At what point do we admit we are on both the inside and the outside of our wall?

Let me out.

Let me in.


Night swimming in Puget Sound

"Morning Fog on a Puget Sound Beach" © Ingrid Taylarg, 2010. CC BY 2.0.
Morning Fog on a Puget Sound Beach” © Ingrid Taylar, 2010. CC BY 2.0.
After meeting with Alyssa, I decided to take a walk through an unfamiliar neighborhood. Inspected the yards of strangers, admired well-tended gardens and the last remaining Christmas decorations. I soaked up the quiet. The kind of thing you never realize you’re missing until you stumble on it again. How easy it was to hear my own footsteps, my own breath.

The scent of a new fence swept across a lawn. Cedar. That smell is forever tied to the summer my family made baidarkas in a friend’s workshop. I was too young to handle power tools, to build something, so I spent my time running around outside. I’d slide down the muddy embankment to the nearby creek. Then I’d roll my pant legs, wade up out into the water, and get all my clothing soaking wet. Bend over and hang my hands in the water, stay motionless as my fingers and toes grew numb, hoping to catch a fish, a tadpole, anything. Continue reading →