Mental Health

My Mind, My Friend, My Enemy

I’ve always been an intelligent person.  Growing up I always noticed the patterns of things, in shapes and forms, and later in ideas and concepts.  Though homeschooled, I did well and ended up making a high of 1350 on the SAT, 31 on the ACT and then gained a final GPA of 3.69 earning my Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington.  I’ve never not had an agile and competent mind.

my mind always been a source of pride for me

In fact, as might be readily apparent, my mind always been a source of pride for me.  I have always lived in my mind, and I, as do many intelligent introverts, prefer the company of my inner demons and angels than the company of similar beings around and external to me.

I’ve relied on my mind in my career and in my hobbies and in my relationships, utilizing it to make friends and succeed and enjoy the small nuances of life.

But then, about 5 years ago, agitated by a very painful experience leaving the church I grew up in, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder reared it’s tenacious head and what was my favorite gift became my special curse.  My mind – my friend – became my enemy.

Where once I could listen to the internal dialogue with pleasure, now that dialogue became a flood, a torrent of anxiety-inducing madness.  Where once the waters of my mind were fairly tranquil and fair, now I drowned in a shit storm, choked by anxieties and compulsions, depressions and inanities.

Such is the life of someone with OCD.  I do not expect to be healed of it.

Now, 5 years removed, two of which have been spent in therapy and on medication, my mind has become my frenemy: neither/both friend nor enemy, that weird uncle that you have to be related to, but which you really don’t want to be seen with.  It’s a humbling existence: having to rely on something that might very well decide to betray you at the drop of the proverbial hat.  You never know when your day will be roses or thorns (often its both).  Clarity-of-mind and the mind-fog have become close bosom-buddies, and both like to fuck with you and your fears.

Such is the life of someone with OCD.  I do not expect to be healed of it.  In some ways, these days, I don’t know that I want to.  I just want to learn how to live with it.  To exist with it.

Because maybe that weird uncle is me.

(featured image source)

Mental Health

The Emperors’ Nude Clothes

Many might remember Demi Levato’s Vanity Fair photo-shoot with Patrick Ecclesine. According to Ecclesine, as a subdued Lovato spoke regarding her recently deceased grea-grandfather, she came up with an idea:

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past day, it’s that life is too short.  I’m about to launch an album that finally represents who I truly am. How do I embrace this new chapter in my life? How do I really walk the walk? What does it mean to be confident? It means letting go, being authentic, saying I don’t give a fuck and this is who I am. I want to show the side of me that’s real, that’s liberated, that’s free. What if we do a photo shoot where it’s totally raw? Super-sexy, but no makeup, no fancy lighting, no retouching, and no clothing. Let’s do it here, let’s do it now.

What transpired was an impromptu au naturale photo-shoot in Lovato’s Manhatten hotel room.  For many, the photo-shoot was the victorious coming-of-age of a young, liberated woman. For others it was another sad example of a nihilistic young millennial showing off her shapely, youthful goods.  More cynical observers chalked it up to a successful artist’s shameless self-promotion for her upcoming album, “Confident“.  But, no matter how one parses it, it is no longer very startling.  After all, there can be only so many “shocking” nude photo-shoots before it becomes somewhat passe. It turns out that nudity isn’t all its cracked up to be.

Lovato is an outspoken advocate for mental health awareness, having spoken before the National Alliance on Mental Health at their Annual National Convention, as well in various new interviews and public awareness campaigns. demi-lovato-middle-finger-picHer history with Bipolar Disorder was one of battles with bulimia, cutting and drug addiction.  Since her diagnosis in 2011, she has found the right medications mix, treatment team, and therapy to ward-off the full effects of Bipolar and even succeed in the midst of them.

But, success notwithstanding, the wounds of mental illness never leave you, nor do the questions, doubts and insecurities that it brings. I myself struggle with the mind-fuck of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Depression, along with random bouts of generalized Anxiety and Complex-PTSD flashbacks. I think I understand something of where Lovato is coming from and what she means when she sings:


I used to hold my freak back
Now I’m letting go
I make my own choice
Bitch, I run this show
So leave the lights on
No, you can’t make me behave


So you say I’m complicated
That I must be outta my mind
But you’ve had me underrated

In a world that still doesn’t “get” mental illness – that jumps between the extremes of indifference and discrimination on the one hand to over-indulgence and pity on the other – a big “fuck-you all, I roll my own way” is, frankly, understandable and perhaps even justifiable (if not exactly laudable). In a world that seems (and with mental illness, perception’s a real bitch) to persist in ignorance, rawness and authenticity; honesty and frank candidness seems to be the order of the day. For Lovato, this means speaking-out about mental health, it means using her hard-earned platform to force the conversation, no matter how uncomfortable it might be. It also means engaging in a desultory photo-shoot, where there is nothing (literally – no clothes, no makeup, no special lighting) but cold, recycled air between her skin and the camera.

ss11-demi-lovato-patrick-ecclesine-vfAnd there is most assuredly a need for the mental ill, high-functioning or not, to be able to speak out about their struggles, as needed; in therapy, with family and friends, with bosses and coworkers.  The stigma that is still attached to mental illness is highly unfortunate, and if Demi Lovato can do a little bit to ease those discussions and help the well help the sick, then I applaud her.

Still.  Could it be that honesty, sincerity and raw, naked authenticity have become the mask that we hide behind? Could it be that nudity is our new armor, that we hide behind our skin (flawless or not) and our looks (muscular or curvy; flabby or shabby) for fear of what we might reveal inside? That something as un-shocking as a nude photo-shoot is really just a contrivance, an elaborately simple conceit for hiding from a shitty world and that rank probity is our shield against ourselves?

Is our desire for the Real, for the Authentic, an honest pursuit or could it be the lullaby lie we tell ourselves when things go bump in the dark night of our souls? After all, we’re simply little emperors, naked in the dark, alone and afraid.



Blank Verse

Transitory Dreams

All my dreams have slowly slipped away
I stand before the massive maw
Naked in the fog of future’s present past
Memory confused and lost

Hope has flown beyond the setting sun
Night has come with beasts in tow
Clouds preclude familiar silver light
On a darkened rocky path

Life has lost its special taste and joy
Complexity confuses all
Color fades beneath the darkened clouds
Vision is removed

I am frozen in decision’s grasp
A slave of choice’s hold
All my paths are open to the void
Curled on the floor

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Mental Health

Madness. Madness, all.

I don’t fit in anywhere.  I’ve no connections, no history, no group, no tribe.  I’m alone and I hate it and I love it.  I am an odd duck no matter where I go or what I do or who I am.  Fuck the world…

On edge…  teetering on the cusp of breakdown…  I’ll never be rid of the darkness and madness…  my brain whispers at me, its constant buzzing drone is forever with me.  I can never be rid of it.  It will never leave me.

I know why folks attempt suicide.  To get people to finally pay some fucking attention.  Depression and anxiety is so passé.  No one hears.  Then, you finally attempt it, it’s “Oh, I see now, he is depressed.”  Ya, no shit mother-fuckers… People pay attention when there is blood streaming from the cuts on your arms.  Suddenly, it’s real.

My mind doesn’t work.  It’s all scattered and sporadic.  I have such a hard time with the details of things.  It keeps going to ultimate things, then getting lost, it flounders.  Too many voices, too many swirls, too many eddies and currents and flaccid fluctuations.  I cannot keep anything still.  It’s all fucking broken and I cannot escape from it.  Madness, all.  I’m lost, lost in the fog.  I am imprisoned by my mind…

Madness and misery.  Nothing makes sense.  Questions, All are Questions.  No one understands.  No one trusts me.  No one tries.  I am alone in the fog.  Alone in the dark.  Alone in the confusion and in the chaos.  It’s all broken and shattered.  Cracked.  Dust.  Constant reboots.  Perpetual confusion.  There is no constancy or consistency…

I crave silence of mind.  Just a modicum of peace…  It’s all a never-ending storm.  Until it’s not.  When it is again…

I am my enemy, and my enemy is me.


(featured image source)

Mental Health

Faith, Doubt, and My Neurotic Need for Certainty

I feel like my brain is broken in the “believing” bits.  I don’t even know what faith is anymore, much less the specifics of anything resembling a theology.  Perhaps the damage comes from the fucked-up marriage of C-PTSD and OCD… hurt at the hands of Christian leaders upon a person with the “doubting disease”.  I just cannot believe anymore.  Still, I persist in whatever belief that I can maintain.  I go to Communion to receive Jesus’ Body and Blood (I hope?) and I pray the prayers of others as I can no longer pray my own.  I just need to be content with that…

Someone warned be recently about where my thinking has been leading me, calling it dangerous, warning me about throwing the baby out with the bathwater… when the baby keeps shitting the bathtub, perhaps the baby is the problem…

I have realized something recently.  I’ve been tortured by fears of losing my faith, of being outside of God’s love (if He/She is even there), of being damned.  Yet, I think I’ve already ditched it (such as I was taught, such as it’s always been).  It has died on the vine, cut-off at the root.  I’ve said that if the beliefs I was raised with are Christianity, then I don’t want to, and cannot, be a Christian anymore.  Thus, my whole understanding of Christianity has already flown the coop.  If that’s all I knew of faith, and I cannot in that anymore, then that faith is dead.  Gone forever.  So, what next?  Perhaps that’s been my path all along.  Perhaps a new form of faith and belief has been growing beneath the surface.  Then again, perhaps not…

Friends tell me to ease up, that my suffering is the proof of faith’s growth.  Sounds like bullshit to me.  It seems more acceptable to talk about doubt, but its always under the banal shade of a “wink, wink, nudge, nudge”.  You doubt, but that just proves the veracity of your faith.  But what if that doubt is really, truly disbelief and you believe that the Bible is full of shit and that the church is simply a collection of pietistic assholes and that that’s not a noble thing or a proof of misguided Divine Love?  What if you really do believe that God (if He exists) is just a tormenting prick, getting-off on pain  and hurt and that Jesus is just the Church’s lick-spittle?  Is that still the doubting bit of faith?…  Then, most fucked-up of all, the next morning, you believe all of the major elements of Orthodox Christianity, and doubt feels just like a bad dream…

It’s like I am Two.  Warring, fighting.  Never finding what we’re after.  Never arriving home.  Always wandering, never finished, always seeking…

I want a simple faith.  Not simplistic or ignorant or lazy or naive, but a faith that holds to simple truths, that is secure enough in simple truths to be open about the rest.  A faith that is comfortable with doubt and complexity and uncertainty and that is loose enough not to be offended…

Church services are such fucking dog-and-pony shows.  The emperor is naked, his hairy ass is glowing and no one says anything about it.   We mumble hymns and call it worship.  We parrot tripe and call it prayer.  We attend to the sermon and call it  God’s Word.  We’re all disingenuous fakers and we wander why no one comes or cares…

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Mental Health

Cesspool of Dreams

It always starts with the whispers.

Voiceless premonitions – indications – intuitions – that something is bubbling up from the cesspool of the mind.  That I’m about to fall down.  Down..  Down…

Into the shit.

Sometimes the pool swirls in silent rage.  Breaths quicken, limbs twitch, thoughts run and yell and scream.  A possession of some Otherwordly trickster, an agitating sprite of confusion, an eidolon bent on overwhelming, on breaking my psyche and memory.  Beatific filth flows between my teeth and out my gaping facial orifice.  Fuck.  Shit.  Shit.  Shit.  Cunt.  Prick.  Fuck.  Fuck!  FUCK!

It always starts with the whispers.

I can’t sit still.  There is nothing to do and everything to consider.  Unholy possibilities assail my mind, with dancing images of stabbings, explosions, missing limbs and severed heads.  Conviction flees my soul and I am buffeted with doubts and questions.  Uncertain vacillations about my doubts complete the madness’ deconstruction.  Before me lies an empty world of nothingness.  A life bereft of meaning and hope.  Eyes twitch – unfocused, confused, lost before the endless, awful possibilities of life unlived.  Questions slit my remonstrations’ throats and leave them lying in the void to die alone beneath a cruelly crimson flood.  Madness reigns in melancholy happenstance as fevered thoughts flash and flit and flirt before my addled brain.  The world’s become a tenebrous place.

Sometimes the pool stagnates in torpid sloth.  Instead of a storm of agitation, frozen death begets the meme.  Breaths labor to flee my shrunken frame, limbs lie limp within gravity’s constant grip, their strength stolen from them by a black malignancy, sunk into my core.

Weighed down by sorrow’s bloated weight, my head rests heavy on my heaving chest.  I cannot raise it.  The sadness of the world assaults me, overwhelming whatever paltry defenses I’ve been able to develop since my last swim in the pool.


I want to believe.  I want to see hope and experience happiness, but the pool is no place for such positivities.


I want to believe.  I want to see hope and experience happiness, but the pool is no place for such positivities.  The part of my mind and soul that’s able to experience joy is a wasteland.  Scorched.  Torched by too many years of wrath’s acidic flow.

Unfocused, I drift.  A dead-man breathing, wasting air best utilized by one whose mind is not a corpse alive to all its rotten possibilities.  Floating on a sea of misbegotten vagaries, I weep inside with tears bled dry by habituated hatred of self and all my hopes and memories.  Before me lies the Void, a yawning maw of apathetic sorrow, sadness putrefied by time’s remorseless trot.

The whispers are never far.  I hear them always, waiting…  wanting to throw me once again into my cesspool of dreams.