I am the mental health patient you see in the movies.
I am drinking diet root beer because it has become my obsessive escape from devestation, sweet fizzing, licorice aftertaste and the knowledge that somewhere in this can is the promise of disease.
I spent most of today curled up on my side on the couch staring at the television remote that my man left on the cushion in front of my head before he kissed me and promised he’d “be back much later but I will be back.”
I was sure, last weekend, I was sure that I had conquered my December bout of suicidal certainty.
It comes every year.
And it’s getting worse.
Every year in December, I plan. Somehow this year I got over it but for the first time since high school I did not think that I would.
Thank God for my dog. Thank my dog for being so important.
Thank recovery for being real.
I got through it.
Last weekend I start planning. Planning buries depression: new workouts, new articles to write, new ways to get published.
I haven’t been published yet but it’s coming, I was sure. Publication has been my dream my whole life. I have written two novels. I completed them both last year. Publication is coming.
A pain starts developing in my lower back.
I make a list of publishers to send my manuscript. I have two novels that I have written and one of them should be good enough for publication if I am persistent enough, that’s what I am told, I hear it over and over again in my head but my knowledge that this statement of persistence is false and my awareness of how well connected and lucky I will have to be to get these books anywhere close to a publisher’s YES button, the fact of my past five years being caught up in writing two novels which I know are not in fact even that good or at least not good enough, it all is scrambled inside me somewhere in my brain all December, Rachel you are nothing if you are not succeeding at writing and you are not succeeding and furthermore your time is up because you are old and you need a job and you need to just be better, I swallow these scrambled facts for one brief weekend.
On Monday I cannot sit down.
My lower back is cement.
Soon my groin, anus and thigh are on fire, tingling, stabbing, pins and needles.
Everything radiating down my leg. I cannot sit, stand, bend over, laugh, cough, exist.
Tonight is Friday and I am still in pain.
The physical exercise and regimented days I had scheduled to help myself and my mood, I can’t do any of it.
Effort is ceased. I am a ball on the couch.
Last night slight nervous breakdown.
All week I had still been trying, through pain or whatever to submit my novels. I decided one isn’t good enough, the other is ok but it won’t print properly. Here comes my man to fix it and he discovers that the “Mark Up” feature is on, the margin is full of comments and in fact any publishers I had already emailed had received copies of the manuscript with the comments still showing.
I worked for years on that novel, all leading up to this dream of submitting it to my favourite publishers and here I go fucking it up because I can never seem to perfect anything.
I have disabilities that I will not admit are challenges for me.
I have a retinal condition. I am legally blind. I can see a dime-sized version of the world straight ahead of me but I cannot see peripherally. I did not see the mark up margin or the comments.
My boyfriend, who I will call N, points out, very quietly, that I left comments in the margins.
“But I already accepted those and fixed things. I already edited everything.”
He searches through my shit pile or files on my computer, generously sorting through one submission after the other until it is revealed that I have only ever sent versions of this manuscript that are unedited and marked up.
Every second every bit of research every fucking word every moment and hour and thought I have had for three years has been this fucking novels and now what have I done but misrepresented the potential of this WHO CARES, I yell, WHO CARES IT ISN’T GOOD ENOUGH
FUCK, I yell, and then just some weird barbaric AHHHH and then, in extreme embarrassment, I sit on the floor and weep.
N hugs me and I feel so bad for him and my dog who is hiding under the desk. I just feel so broken.
This is the Crazy I have hidden from him so far.
This is the Crazy that I hate people knowing about even though I write about disability so often that it is impossible for people not to know.
I do not like when people use the word Crazy because it stigmatizes mental illness in a way that is incredibly unfair. I am Capable despite my difficulties. I am not just Bi Polar. I have Bi Polar disorder but it isn’t me. This woman on the couch isn’t me. This woman on the floor isn’t me. This root beer can isn’t me. Oh wait.
I am the mental health patient you see in movies.
I did not visit the hospital and I haven’t recently so I feel like I have conquered my illness but I guess that’s just not really achievable.
Bi Polar disorder is monstrous. Even as a functioning mental patient I still exist in this polarized cycle, controlled by my medication and by vigorous exercise which, if unachievable for whatever reason, is a detrimental missing piece.
Sitting at home. Drinking soda. Staring at a book. Grieving something.
It used to be cigarettes, it used to be pills and before that it was self-inflicted bruises and burns. It used to be bad poetry. I once stalked a guy in high school until he openly humiliated me and some girl punched him in the face. It used to be a lot of time crying silently in my bedroom playing CDs I stole from my brothers out of a boombox that was better than anything my brothers had in their rooms because for some reason my family would buy me things constantly and I think what I am realizing is, they bought me things because I was the mental patient they see in movies.
Believe me, I have everything I need. But that only helps if I let it help.
My beautiful boyfriend wants to take me to the museum, to a nice meal, to the park with our dog, to the moon, to the less serious version of whatever moment it is when we get there.
This article, it’s not any kind of siren or plea or whatever.
I feel, instead, a sudden want to hear from other mental health patients living at home alone.
I don’t think I can be your likeable hero.
Actually, in this moment the hunt for like-ability has never felt dumber.
Nor do I feel the need to make this article about you.
You’ll find yourself here no matter. I don’t need to spin it. I don’t need to ask you for anything.
This is really about a compulsion towards a new medicine.
I feel compelled towards Thomas Pynchon tonight. In Bleeding Edge, his character states that life is just a series of stages of mental illness until we find sanity in death.
Throughout everything, Pynchon is one writer who makes me feel unafraid.
When I read Pynchon, I feel surrounded by hazed experience in a way that reduces my personal sensation of freak-dom. His characters sense through disordered thinking. Their thinking quiets mine.
All I hope for is that my novels, whenever they are read by even just a single person, I hope I can quiet and calm my reader’s personal experience.
I do take medication and I believe it saves my life but it doesn’t give me fuel for living.
Pynchon does. As does Roth, Lispector, Burroughs, and diet root beer.
And so I curl up in a ball:
Pain throbs. Feelings of complete surrender and regret take over.
Does anyone even like my writing the way I like my favourite authors? No. I don’t think so. Maybe I should work harder but I still feel doubtful that I can be likeable.
There’s no way I have the talent of likability.
But, I think I have talent for medicine.
Whatever image of mental illness you hold in your head from whatever experience whether personal or pop cultural, it doesn’t matter, you should know: This chronic insanity holds no order.
Authentically, you may be in danger and it might be very obvious to everyone around you, the people who are managing you, aware of your whatever crazy but that doesn’t make you shitty to them.
In fact, you are their medicine.
They love you and you quiet their fears.
You’re probably not likeable either. Whatever. WHAT. EVER.
The point isn’t to be likeable. The point is to give something worth consuming.
I am so sick of seeing people post their reviews online. FUCK OFF WHO CARES about reviews.
Every review of anything I ever read is wrong. The opposite of the truth is what’s being written in every review, every opinion, every published piece of shit voice so it doesn’t matter who likes you and your work but you have to make it.
It doesn’t matter which one of us is the more likeable writer or person or who cares.
What’s life about? That’s why you’re curled up on your couch because what’s the point what’s it even about?
It’s not about likeability. It’s about change.
You are someone’s medicine.
If you’re reading this, and transparently I will tell you right away that very few people read this blog but if you’re reading this, find me on FB and fucking tell me what you need me to know. Tell me that you read this. Tell me what you think. Tell me what you’re writing.
I am deeply saddened by the thought that there are countless creative geniuses out there that are hidden and that I am one of them. Am I one of them? I still don’t know.
I’ll probably go back to reading now.
Maybe I will write something new.
The couple above me FIGHTS they fight endlessly. For two days they had a baby up there and the baby was crying. Now the baby is gone and they are fighting again. The cycle of anger and pain is ominous. It’s not exclusive.