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Joy


What lower rung of hell is this?

I can look up and see the devil’s a**

Making any attempt to see a silver lining

Instead, willing me to open my mouth

And accept the rancid offering

Work Threats


Stop speaking for me

You’re not in my head

You don’t know the story

You’d actually be scared

Think on that

Tip Toeing Lightly


If I could dance on lips
And dive from a tongue
I could rule the world
As I pirouette


I don’t know how, but I know when. Everything changed for me, and not in a good way. I had almost one year of a life I thought unimaginable…then it slipped away, taking a piece of me with it. Hollow. Like a part of my essence, my soul had dimmed to nothingness, vanished. And I don’t know how to get it back. 

As stated in previous blogs, I struggled with a darkness that pulled me into romanticizing death as the only one who could want me. From an early age I began believing that my own father didn’t even want me, much less any other man. Add to this my struggles with weight and the gnawing, agonizing belief that I was completely unattractive…I began to accept that I would never be loved by another. Not that I couldn’t fall in love. I was actually capable of feeling so deeply that I could drown in it. No, it would never be returned.

Then he happened. My high school boyfriend. Tall, broad shoulders, extremely good-looking, creative and spiritual. More amazing, he seemed to like me. I more than liked him. For the first time in life, at the age of eighteen, I kissed someone and there was such an electric charge that I felt it all over, my knees buckling. I had never experienced anything like it. And it was with HIM. A totally HOT football player. And me. A nerdy, unattractive, overweight, gracefully-challeneged nobody. He kissed ME. How in this world could this be happening? Why would someone so hot want to touch ME? Be with ME? Kiss ME? Could it be that what I had thought before was an illusion? Men really could find me attractive and want to be with me?

I felt like all of my hopes and dreams had come true. I had hit the jackpot! I never thought I would ever connect on an emotional and physical level with a guy, much less someone who should have been dating the head cheerleader. Someone so awesomely attractive that I would be the last person he would look at. But it was real. We were together. And for that one year, I came out of the darkness…at least part of it.

I cannot begin to describe the depth of love I had for him. Words just seem so inadequate, like no description could do it justice. I was in so deep, that when he was away, I physically ached. There was a heaviness in my chest, a pressure, making it hard to breathe. There was one time he went to visit family up north. I wouldn’t be seeing him for a while, and in those days, we wrote letters. I read those letters over and over again. I didn’t want to be around anyone else. All I wanted was him and me together again. A piece of me was up north, and I actually grieved. The only solace I could find was looking up at the night sky, gazing at the moon, and knowing that the same stars were twinkling down upon him.

When he returned, all was as it should be again. When I was with him, the rest of the world fell away, and there was just us. Public displays of affection were common, because we just weren’t conscious that anyone else existed on the same heavenly plane where we were floating in each others’ arms. At least, that’s the way it was for me.

I opened up to him more than I had ever done with anyone. I laid myself bare in front of him, confident in the fact that I had finally found someone who would accept me unconditionally. There WAS someone other than death. All the lies I had believed growing up were just that, lies. I felt so comfortable in this – that my prayers had finally been answered – that I shared a secret with him. Something that I had thought that I would never tell another soul. I was absolutely certain that it was safe with him. After I told him, he dumped me.

I don’t know how it happened, why it happened. How could it be? I felt like someone had punched me in the chest and was trying to remove my spine through the front of my body. It was all a LIE. I knew it. There were no illusions, except with him. All those things I grew up thinking about myself, they were true. He didn’t really want me. He didn’t really love me. He could never accept me the way that I am…no one could…I’m destined to be alone because it’s exactly as I feared. When people see the real me, they will run…just like he did.

I lost a part of myself that day. An aspect of my spirit died. I even stopped writing the hundreds of pages of poetry that had been my only outlet and comfort. No passion for life. No passion for death. Just nothingness. 

For the past twenty years I have tried to get the passion back. To feel that deeply for something – to feel the way I did with him, or even as deeply as I did when embracing the darkness. But it’s gone. I don’t know how to revive that part of myself. So I go on living, doing what I think I have to do…just existing, taking the joy where I can get it. It has never been enough. Not enough to get me out of bed in the morning or keep me from having nightmares at night. 

I never knew that unconditional acceptance again until I had my daughter. That’s all I’ve got. But I’m trying. I want to bring the passion back. It’s hard getting over the belief that it’s just gone, never to return. But I’m going to try. It will be painful, and I’m not confident that I’ll succeed. But I have to hope. The pain will be better than this nothingness, blankness…no color…no sound…just gone.

I miss my spark.

What diagnosis?


cartoon+blue+landscape

I have been working with a couple of doctors, seeking a diagnosis to address my anxiety, depression and other issues that I’ve discussed in previous posts. One doctor (we’ll call her Dr. P) said something that I had a rather bad reaction to – “You definitely have PTSD, but I’m not ruling out the possibility of bipolar disorder.”

When I was a college undergraduate, a campus counselor had also suggested that I was bipolar. At first I accepted it, but the more I analyzed myself in relation to the diagnosis, the more I rejected it. For over ten years, I have disregarded this possibility. Until the Dr. P said those words.

As she said those words, tears started to fill my eyes. The tightness in my chest signaled that deep down, I really didn’t want this diagnosis. Not just because I don’t agree with it. It also seems that I have fallen into the stigmatization of bipolar mood disorders. In part I think this is because of the celebrity association I have with the diagnosis. When I think bipolar disorder, one of the first images that comes to mind is Axl Rose. Surely I’m not like that.

As a teenager, I remember reading any article about Axl Rose and bipolar disorder. Friends of Axl commented that you could be talking to him and he’s fine one moment, then the next he has you up against a wall, beating you. Explosive temper to say the least. Like it or not, I can identify with this. I do have a rather short, fiery temper, but as I told my other doctor (we’ll call her Dr. F), my temper is not something that just randomly explodes. Something is said or done that triggers it in me. And quite frankly, I don’t think my unwillingness to put up with bullsh*t means that I’m bipolar.

Dr. P did say that how bipolar is defined now is broader than it used to be. I researched the common definitions of bipolar disorder I, bipolar disorder II, cyclothymia and bipolar spectrum. If one looks at the bipolar I definition which states that you only have to have ONE manic episode in your life, then yeah, I could be considered bipolar. The episode that I had in grad school where my mind basically shut down, and I even had hallucinations…sure, you could consider that a manic episode. 

Still, whether I’m just scared of the diagnosis or overly-self-analytical, I’m still not convinced that bipolar disorder is the issue. In my perspective, I do suffer from PTSD where certain things do trigger certain reactions related to previous trauma. This is something that Dr. P, Dr. F and I all agree on. Chronic depression has been a serious issue since I was a teenager. Even on “normal” days, I struggle with the side of depression that affects motivation and energy levels. Some days it just seems like too much effort to leave my home. On the worst days, it’s too much effort to leave my bed, even to take a shower. When you regularly have to force yourself to do these things, you become quite exhausted. I never have episodes of extreme happiness, activity, rapid speech/thoughts, etc. What I DO sometimes experience is extreme avoidance…specifically with situations that cause me great anxiety. For me, that’s related to an anxiety disorder. 

Stress is something that we all experience. For some of us who have a chemical imbalance, increased stress can completely disable us. In some ways it’s like the depression, but instead of not wanting to leave your home because it’s too much effort, you don’t want to leave your home because of fear. THIS is what I deal with in my life. Even looking at the episode I had over ten years ago that some could categorize as a manic episode, my stress levels during that time were off the charts. I was working more than sixty hours a week and going to grad school full time. If that weren’t stress enough, Andrew passed, which completely devastated me. It was too much to deal with for any one person. Although I was living with someone at the time, she was no real help to me in dealing with these things. So, since I couldn’t deal with it adequately myself, my subconscious mind forced me to take somewhat of a mental vacation by shutting down normal production, tuning out from a reality that my conscious mind could not deal with. Is that bipolar disorder? I’m not sure. What I do know is that at that time, it was the circumstances that were abnormal, and my body saw fit to deal with them in the best way it knew how.

Dr. P hasn’t given an official diagnosis. She wants to talk to me one more time. What this tells me is that even she is not confident that bipolar disorder is the right diagnosis. In processing the possibility, I have come to terms with it. Whatever label you want to give it, I just want to be able to wake up in the morning without fear and happily shower and get dressed for a day that may be stressful, but is nothing that I can’t handle in a healthy way. Is that too much to ask?

 


cartoon+crows+and+moon

I almost threw “Mining the Dark” in the garbage. 

As you may recall from one of my previous posts, I realized that the character of Emma is highly influenced by my own trials and tribulations. Once I realized that, I somehow thought that the characterization was “fake,” which is odd given that we’re talking about a fiction book. I guess “fake” in the sense that it was too real, too me.

I discussed this with a friend, specifically in talking about how art impacts life and life impacts art. For those of us who are creative, not having an outlet for expression can just about drive you crazy. It should be no surprise that some of the greatest artists struggled with some type of emotional/mental challenges. My favorite example is Edgar Allan Poe. Poe is one of my favorite authors of all time. He, quite naturally, struggled with depression due to the untimely death of his wife, which many have said suggested influenced much of his writing. Another favored author is Emily Dickinson, who was widely known to be deeply troubled by thoughts of death, as many around her died when she was young. Her depression was so significant that as an adult, she became more and more reclusive. And then there is the ultimate example of Sylvia Plath, an acclaimed poet and novelist who committed suicide not long after being prescribed anti-depressants.

Extraordinary artists are all a bit…askew. Given their challenges, they are able to see life through a lens that some find shocking, while others shout, “Yes! I’m not the only one!” They always make an impression, a very emotional one. This type of response is the reason why I always said that I appreciated it when someone hated Emma, because I marvel at the fact that a character I created could evoke such strong feelings in another person. That is, until I accepted that Emma is somewhat an aspect of my own personality. When you hate her, you hate that part of me. Although I may not know you, the thought of that terrifies me. 

I’m embracing the fear. When I was a teenager, writing poetry was a great way to release the pent-up thoughts and feelings that would’ve otherwise consumed me. It’s foolish for me to think that I cannot use my own writing to do the same thing now…and maybe help another person along the way.

Love her or hate her, Emma is here to stay. I’m not throwing out “Mining the Dark.” If anything, I’m more committed than ever in completing the manuscript as soon as possible. 63,000 words and counting….


When a company grows, it’s usually a good thing. However, there is the real possibility of too much of a good thing being bad.

I’ve seen people run companies like a Wall Street portfolio. Diversification is key. When you diversify, you’re not investing all of your money in one thing…one thing that could ultimately fail. Creating different sides of the business, and even acquiring subsidiaries, not only ensures that you will strengthen your main business, but you will also have reach into many other businesses as well. You can do this by breaking off parts of the company under different names, and as long as you don’t focus too much on one side of the business, you don’t risk the hackles of anti-trust lawsuits.

Add to this an intense focus on retail growth by worshipping your customer base, and you have the recipe for building an empire.

But to what human cost?

When you live in a consumer culture, investing in customers is a no-brainer. It’s simple when the average individual has been socialized from birth that buying random products that in no way fit any real world need, all in the name of proclaiming a socially constructed status that says, “Hey! Look at me! I’m cool, and important, because I have all of this STUFF.” Well, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that loyal customers will continue to pay to buy their fictional happiness and the fat-cats at the top will continue to get fatter.

How are customers impacted? Well, they have it good for a while. With a focus on low prices, customers can buy even MORE of what they don’t really need. But think of this, as the company grows, becomes better at its various business interests, what will this do to the market in the long run? What a lot of people don’t realize is that the tendency of capitalism is toward monopoly. You may ask, how so? Think of completely free, open market competition – no holds barred. In any competition there are winners and there are losers. Our government has recognized this, and this is why we have anti-monopoly laws. But even when it doesn’t come down to just “one company,” the consumer choice will become fewer and fewer.

So what of the company that has diversified its business? Surely it couldn’t corner the market in every side of its business dealings. However, when one side of the business does well, that spendable income can be used to boost the competitiveness of other businesses. And when all of the businesses focus on having the lowest prices…well, we’ve already talked about the tendency of capitalism and competition. 

All of this culminates in one company being able to corner multiple markets. As a reasonable people, what do we think will happen when said company controls market share and the competition either folds or just cannot keep up anymore? Quite simply, once a business controls the market, they can then control the price of products with little regard to having the lowest price because they have the only price 

Even if prices do not go up because the business wants to maintain consumer loyalty, how can the business continue to remain relevant, particularly if new competitors come on the scene? There are multiple ways that companies cut costs, mainly by controlling overhead. What is one way to control said overhead? Workers. Either by outsourcing the work to cheaper labor or by underpaying the non-union workers that are currently employed. A very easy way to do this is if the workers actually BELIEVE in the cause, so much so that the idea of lower pay or perceived mistreatment does not even enter the collective mind. Corporate enculturation. Enslaving the masses is easy to do when they’re willing to be enslaved, or better yet they don’t even recognize they’re being exploited.

When thinking about big companies that do things such as this, one very simple thing to do is follow the money and ask who benefits. Do consumers benefit? Absolutely. Do the shareholders benefit? Sure. Upper echelons of the corporate structure? Without a doubt. What about the workers? All the way from the front line to upper management (below VP level). If long-time employees struggle to take care of their own families and are urged to be “happy” with minimal increases (if any), is it really worth it? Even more so, what about the conscientious consumer? When thinking customers learn how workers are expected to overwork themselves, put the company before family, manage any illnesses that come about because “customers” come first and be content with this mission when annual take-home income actually decreases…aren’t those the seeds for boycotts? You would think that someone in PR is thinking about these things…and of course directing the company to provide a few more crumbs so that the working masses do not revolt. 

When health care and mental health professionals speak of seeing trends with a particular company in that multiple employees are patients because of stress and anxiety-related illnesses, surely there is something more that needs to be investigated.

As consumers…as employees…as decent individuals, we need to start asking these questions. And for the love of all that is holy, if you find yourself in a situation like this, and there’s no union…start educating yourself quickly. Remember, if it’s bad in “good times,” just think of the outcome when times are rough. It won’t be the company’s elite that has to lower their living standards…it will be the workers.

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