April 29th, 2017 – Musical Truths

All attempts have failed
All my heads are tails
She’s got teary eyes
I’ve got reasons why

I’m losing ground and gaining speed
I’ve lost myself or most of me
I’m headed for the final precipice

But you haven’t lost me yet
No, you haven’t lost me yet
I’ll sing until my heart caves in
No, you haven’t lost me yet

These days pass me by
I dream with open eyes
Nightmares haunt my days
Visions blur my nights

I’m so confused
What’s true of false
What’s fact or fiction after all
I feel like I’m an apparition’s pet

But you haven’t lost me yet
No you haven’t lost me yet
I’ll run until my heart caves in
No, you haven’t lost me yet

If it doesn’t break
If it doesn’t break
If it doesn’t break
If it doesn’t break your heart
It isn’t love
If it doesn’t break your heart
It’s not enough
It’s when you’re breaking down
With your insides coming out
That’s when you find out what your heart is made of

And you haven’t lost me yet but
No you haven’t lost me yet
I’ll sing until my heart caves in
No, you haven’t lost me yet
Cause you haven’t lost me yet

Monday, February 13th, 2017

The scene unfolded in a time decades before. Possibly the 50s or 60s. In a remote Texas or Oklahoma like town. Possibly Kansas where there seemed to be more dust than asphalt and more sheriffs than police. It was early enough for people to still be out on the streets and late enough for them to be scattered as darkness fell. It was a time when he knew the law was as likely to invoke immediate justice as they were to allow a court of law to do the same.

He hopped on the first bus. He was wearing a long, dark brown trench coat under which he concealed one hand holding a long, kitchen style chopping knife. The blade still clean, shining and sharp for use. He made eye contact with no one. Said no words. Gave no indication of his looming plan.

A few stops went by, and then he sprung his plan into action. He stepped off the bus and walked roughly a block down the street. Then he began to cut between streets and blocks heading towards the path of another bus route. Roughly halfway there he approached a random individual from behind. He grabbed them by the shoulder, spun them around, and with a quick, violent motion thrust the blade into their gut. Almost before they could audibly express their pain or register shock on their face he withdrew the blade allowing the victim to fall to the street, and began his run.

He knew the clock had started and it was now only a matter of time. As he crossed city blocks in an up-tempo jog he spotted the next city bus coming. Desiring to avoid any human contact and prolong the carnage as long as possible he waited for the bus to come to a stop and approached it from behind. When it began to depart, he jumped on the bumper grabbing hold of whatever grip he could find with his free hand and rode the bus for a few city blocks.

He then jumped from the bus, began crisscrossing his way across town and enacted the plan once again.

Another thrust of the knife. Another innocent victim fell.

He found no joy in this. No pleasure or rush. Merely, he felt this was how it must end.

This went on for three, four, maybe a half-dozen victims until he noticed between bus hops that he had made a mistake and somehow managed to jump on an earlier bus route looping himself back towards where he started, and into a net of law enforcement. Now it was time to find out how this would end.

He could see an officer in front of him, and another approaching from behind. He fell to his knees, dropped his knife, and intertwined his fingers behind his head. A clear sign of surrender. Hands ready to be cuffed. Justice ready to be carried out.

That is when he noticed it. The approaching officer was holding a knife. A very large knife. As the officer drew closer, he realized it was not a knife at all, rather a machete. And it was at that moment he became aware of what type of justice he would be facing. He turned slightly to catch a glimpse of the officer behind him and could see the shine of a restaurant style steak knife in his hand. That would be the officer who would reach him first, and he would not go down without a fight.

As contact was made they began to grapple with the knife causing both parties to get nicked and cut. By this time the machete bearing officer had arrived along with another, and they were simultaneously taking hacks at this heinous criminal’s limbs. He felt the first significant strike cut into the calf muscle of his leg.

I felt the first significant strike cut into the calf muscle of my leg. And then another. I began to toss and turn. Wrestling with the officers, feeling the pain of the cuts. I began to moan and prepared to cry out when my eyes popped open, and I sat up in my bed. Heart racing. Terrified. But once again aware of my surroundings and reality.

In some ways, this was nothing new. I have had nightmares since I was a small child that resulted in my waking up with screams of terror. So many that my parents eventually resorted to simply shouting from their room, “You’re okay. Go back to sleep.” But I wasn’t okay. I’m not okay.

The dreams always focused on my death. Acts that should result in my death but never did. Endless gun shots. Falls. Car wrecks. Stabbings. More than a human would ever withstand in any one instance. But in my dreams…in my nightmares…I would never die. Just kept experiencing the pain.

This was different. I was the man in the dream. At the start, I was the man hurting others.

I got on a train in August of last year. I was taken into protective custody. Custody to protect me from me. Custody to protect others from expressions I had shared indicating that I was thinking about carrying out acts against others. Others who have hurt me. Others who have told me I’m okay.

But I wasn’t okay. I’m not okay.

 

Monday, November 28th, 2016

As I laid on my bed, it hit me. I have always been afraid. Battling fear. Paralyzing, debilitating, irrational fear. Some might even describe it as paranoia.

In the early years of my childhood, I would wake up after everyone else had gone to sleep. The house completely dark, but haunted by endless sounds that all homes make. And while not the most logical next step, I would slowly get out of bed, and begin to search the entire home. Slowly peering around each corner. Opening each closet. Ever so quietly making sure that we were all alone and it would be safe to at least attempt sleep once again.

The searches continued into my teen years, but the fear grew intensively worse. Many nights I could not pull myself from the bed to conduct the search. I would lie there frozen. Not moving for fear of creating a sound that would draw a would-be intruder’s attention. Convinced that someone had entered the home, and would soon be harming us. Eventually falling back asleep due to mental and emotional exhaustion.

It should be noted that in the midst of these years were the endless nightmares. I don’t know at what age they actually began, but they have continued to present day. Not as frequent as they once were, and varying in their appearance at different phases of my life. Nightmares that play out horrific deaths. Of me. Nightmares that provide very real images of pain. Torture. Abuse. Acts that should have killed me, but during which I miraculously remain alive to continue enduring the onslaught. I digress.

As I entered my adult years, another element was added to the fear. My mind would begin to play out dramatic, emotionally horrific scenarios. Now, while awake. With my eyes open. It was like a whole new phase. First, nightmares while I slept. Second, paranoia while paralyzed in bed. And now, third, excruciating mental images while wide awake. Maybe it would be thinking through a sequence of events where a loved one dies. As my mind races forward through the time loop, I would tighten up. My nerves would come alive. I might even begin crying.

As my kids grew older this could take on a level that easily should have been addressed with therapy and medication. Let’s say my son was going out with friends after a high school football game. Everyone else in the home may be sound asleep. I would be in the living room. Imagining a knock on the door. A police officer informing me there had been a horrific accident. Advising me my son was no more. And I would sob. Sitting there. On a Friday night just like any other. Weeping over the death of my son…which was totally fabricated by my severely broken mind.

As I drove north on the interstate three months ago and began facing a paranoia like I thought I had never before experienced it struck me as odd. I didn’t see myself as struggling with fear. As being a frightened person.

Now I see it. Because it has always been here. Another puzzle with many pieces I had never placed together. Another piece in the larger puzzle of my Bipolar mind.

Today I still struggle with occasional nightmares. I can still play out the dramatic, emotional, painfully weighted scenarios in my racing mind. I constantly battle trust issues which can tie directly to fears of being hurt. Pain. Sorrow. In my challenge to separate my rational from irrational thoughts, days in which I fail to do so can bring back so much of this past.

At FDR’s first inaugural address he is known to have said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” 

For me…that’s more than enough!

Thursday, August 25th, 12:05 a.m.

I had left home for work at 3 a.m. on Tuesday the 23rd. Upon returning from work and continuing in a desperate downward spiral, I had left home with a bag to simply get some “space”. Checking into a hotel, I operated at a fairly cognizant level of logic into the next morning of work before coming unhinged prior to completing my responsibilities for the morning. That is when things came unglued, and I went on the run.

Almost 18 hours later, I had exhausted myself with constant bouts of paranoia, changing locations, hiding from people I thought were chasing me, attempting to “tie up loose ends”, and all while believing that my plan and demise was all dependent on making that 1:41 a.m. train westward.

All the while my mind was racing. Processing thoughts at light speed. And when I say light speed…I’m telling you, if you don’t have the type of mental illness that includes a severe condition of racing thoughts…you have no idea how quickly the mind can fire!

They had finally opened the renovating train station and escorted us back to the waiting room where I would find myself huddled in a corner counting the remaining minutes until my departure. It was there, amidst the struggle of an almost uncontrollable brain, that I bared down to give all the focus I could to one final email to my wife –

 

I want you to know some of my deepest regrets that have plagued my mind today –

My biggest one is how overly critical I was of you. My endless barrage of criticism and critique had to lead to many miserable days in our time together. My life long struggle to see the positive vs the negative has robbed me of so much joy and peace. And I know it did the same to you. I am so sorry.

I also regret not telling you how beautiful you always were to me. I let that go away after the wedding, which is shameful. You captivated me till the end.

And I regret not sticking to plans. Conflict resolution plans. Emotional health monitoring plans. Safeguards that were supposed to keep us from these moments. Looking back, it is all so obvious: sleep deprivation, parenting stresses, XXXXXX’x departure, the mediation…I should have been more proactive in managing myself. I failed you. And I am sorry.

I don’t know what I am doing. But every fix seems so temporary. I just don’t want to fight this all my life. The constant neuropathy pain. The endless self-management. The lack of resources to tackle a crisis like this when it arises. Life is an endless struggle and I’m just so tired.

The nightmares are back. The ideation is back. The temper. The insomnia. Every victory is fleeting.

I regret not being stronger. Not being whole. Not having managed my life better so that we could enjoy these years.

I regret not having a lifetime with the most wonderful, beautiful partner I could ever dream of.

 

I hit send. Boarded the train. And as far as I could tell, began to say goodbye to my demons. All the while knowing…they were getting on the train with me.