Disclaimer: This entry isn't exactly music-related and may be triggering to those with a history of depression or other "mental malfunctions." Proceed with caution.
Well, my 33rd birthday has come and gone. I'm now the age Jesus Christ supposedly was when he died, as I observed for my mother. I don't know why I mentioned that to her. It seems kind of fucked up, in retrospect. You see, I've been kind of having a hard time of it, and she knows it. Also, I pretty much never have anything good to say about her religion, so when I do mention it, she must automatically assume its some vicious jab of some sort. I said this to her after she bid me a happy birthday at eleven minutes after midnight on the 31st. She was on her way to bed. Imagine knowing that your child is clinically depressed and has inherited a bit of martyr complex from your own self and your child then compares themselves to one of the ultimate mythological martyrs right when you're wishing them a happy birthday and a good night. What would you say to that? What thoughts would you carry with you to your pillow?
It certainly puts me at a loss for words. I know what I did was cryptic, selfish, and dramatic all at once, yet it seems to me that my filters have been crumbling away. When I say "filters," I mean both my ability to filter information and external stimuli and my ability to filter what information I put forward when speaking. Sometimes it's a wonder that I can filter my actions. Sometimes it takes all the self-control I can muster. It's become exhausting. I feel as though not only am I pulled taut to the point of perpetual, extreme, rapid vibration, but as everything I perceive is as well and that all of these strings are attached to mine. If a god were to pluck me, the results would be catastrophic. I can easily imagine my psychic energies causing disasters of Akira-like proportion.
Yes, I have a psychiatrist I see regularly, as well as a therapist, and I am medicated. I have been diagnosed with bipolar II and PTSD, though I wonder what the diagnosis would be if it weren't for a mental survival mechanism that actually does filter the information coming from my lips when in the presence of a mental health professional. This survival mechanism insists I can never say anything that would convince a doctor it would be in the best interest of myself and others if I were to be institutionalized, and this same mechanism also insists that I can never trust a doctor or any person in authority over me to not do so. Part of me is surely suffering from a paranoid delusion that They are just waiting for me to give Them an excuse to deny me my freedom and to mess with my head more than they already are. At least when I was an "addict" (I don't believe I am, but I have a lengthy history with the recreational use of substances) I controlled what was going into me and knew pretty precisely how it would affect me. I'm not so sure about the medications I'm being given now.
I think my mental issues are amplified as of late by the fact that I spend so much time with myself. I lived in this small town just outside of Kansas City since January of 2012; since moving in with my mother as the result of the loss of my marriage, my job, and my home in Portland, Oregon. I haven't found any like-minded or similarly-inclined individuals whose company I would enjoy in all my time here. Now I also have physical disabilities limiting my ability to leave the house and to partake in activities I find therapeutic, such as hiking and gardening. An ad for REI centered around trail hiking popped up on my iPhone the other night, and I actually started crying. I'm not mentioning this because I want a pity party, but to assist in describing my mental and emotional state of being. I have always been a child of nature, and during my time in Portland I frequently hiked the nearby trails and was the proud nurturing force behind a flourishing garden of monster tomatoes and sunflowers. My husband and I enjoyed going to the nude beach at Sauvie Island with a friend two days a week for an entire extended Summer and I found sanity and stability in frolicking naked in nature. I was also very active. I rode my bicycle for nearly every situation that required leaving the house.
Now I exist in constant pain and being on my feet longer than a few minutes without medication that causes my mental faculties difficulty results in excruciating pain. My hands often hurt. Sometimes it's painful to tap a touch-screen. And I spend most of my time on a couch seeking stimulation from screen-displayed arts and entertaining; from virtual interactions; from creating music on virtual instruments. "You have your music," is often pointed out to me by my mother, my shrink, and my therapist. "There's that," I always agree. And it's true. If it weren't for the end of my marriage and my disabilities resulting from a failed suicide, I wouldn't be actively pursuing a career as a composer. I wouldn't have dared to share my art with an audience, let alone the entire world. Hell, before finding myself in this admittedly direly-depressing situation, I was terrible at ever completing a work of art. All sorts of wonderful ideas and talent, but never the courage or the concentration to fulfill my potential. Now I'm actually trying, and I'm letting anyone - with the desire to do so - watch and listen and read all about it.
Most of the time it doesn't feel like enough. Pretty much all the time. No filters? I'm suicidal. Not just because I'm depressed and in depressing circumstances, but because I feel like I already had a pretty good run and I was ready to end it. And then my mother forced me to go the ER. I still haven't forgiven her for that. I'm not sure if I ever will. When I say that part of my belief system is letting a person choose what to do with their own body, that's not saying I'm only pro-choice about abortion. I'm pro-choice about suicide. I had made my choice, I was forced to live through it, and now I'm living with the resulting nerve damage that impairs my mobility and even my ability to think. I've been through years of multiple angles of mental therapy, just enough physical therapy that I can use a walker to walk for extended periods on pain meds, and I let myself be talked by one therapist into giving psychiatric medicine a shot.
All around, I think I need better drugs.
I'm giving continuing my existence my best shot, but it doesn't really feel like I'm doing it for myself. I'm letting other people's desires come ahead of my own in regard to my very life. Somehow, I've managed to turn myself into a martyr in reverse. How perverse is that? I'm living for the sake of others when I'd rather not. Finding my own reasons is a struggle. And here I am, 33 years old and ungrateful to be alive, and I've had a good day. My birthday began with my mother singing happy birthday to me at midnight, and then halfway across the world, in the UK, Matt Warface of (IAM)WARFACE wished me a happy birthday and sent me a charming picture calling me a "cocksucker" that made me laugh out loud. I never type LOL - as I abhor that particular abbreviation for some reason - unless I actually laugh out loud, which is also something I rarely do. And so, I LOL'ed. I found myself smiling broadly as I then read an email from Alejandro Saldarriaga Calle of The Arcane Insignia in New York City wishing me a happy birthday and sharing some vocal demos he had recorded for my music.
How amazing is that? To have once upon a time practically resigned myself to never having a career as a musician and now having two musicians whose music I very much enjoy as friends and potential collaborators wishing me a happy birthday from distant parts of the world at 33. One would think that I'm just an ungrateful son-of-a-bitch.
From there, the birthday wishes just kept flowing in. People I'd gone to high school with or had lived with or had been extremely close to during one period or other in my life. The first man I ever fell in love with. My best friend who's not really my best friend anymore because he distanced himself from me but I'll always think of him as my best friend, and I suspect that's mutual. My sister in law who I'm closer to than my own brother these days even though we have some extreme differences in sociopolitical viewpoints, who is currently in Japan, visiting her daughter who is my brother's ex-fiancee (I really should write a book about my family some time). A woman I went through Christian boot camp masquerading as crisis response training with. A heterosexual man who's relationship with me is built solely on mutual physical attraction. Just a lot of really wonderful characters from a pretty unusual life, really, and I couldn't stop smiling.
My mother gifted me with a boxed set of the entire series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles on Blu-Ray. We went on a brief excursion to the library and picked up mocha milkshakes and roast beef sandwiches (a rare occurrence for me, as my stomach doesn't tolerate meat very well) and we went home and watched a copy of the original The Terminator (which she had never seen before, but she's always preferred Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor...but who doesn't?) on Blu-Ray from the local library. After my ex-boss and his wife (who are currently house-shopping clients of my mother's) stopped by to sign some papers and also wished me a happy birthday, we ate slices of peanut butter creme pie and caught up with Fear The Walking Dead On Demand.
It's been a perfectly pleasant day. Hell, it's been a good day. I've definitely had worse birthdays. I'm still juvenile enough to expect the world to revolve around me on my birthday, but no longer make a huge production of it, and today went pretty perfectly. There was a moment of gathering storm clouds of depression earlier in the day when I felt the urge to go hiking (I can't hike anymore) or go dip my feet in creek or a fountain at a nice shady park (I don't live in Portland anymore), but indulging in indulgent food and watching a familiar favorite movie proved an effective distraction, as these things often do. Just now I wondered how often we're distracting ourselves from what we'd rather be doing. In my current circumstances, I think it would be best not to wonder about that too often.
I'd really like to inject a note of optimism here by saying that if I just let myself focus on days like today, I'd find the will to live more forthcoming. But I think that's a lie. I smiled a lot because people I had many fond memories of said they wished me a good day on this day in particular. Because people I have long-distance relationships built in a virtual reality with, who are minor celebrities and treat me as a fellow minor celebrity, made me feel talented and worth their while. Because I was actually successful in distracting myself from my circumstances today. Hooray. I live to try and survive my own mind again tomorrow.