Top 10 Albums of 2012!

crystal_castles_iii

My Top Ten Best Albums of the Year:

10.  Cat Power – SUN — I was pleasantly surprised with SUN — it’s truly a great effort from Chan Marshall.  Chan, before the production of this album, felt really discouraged as an artist for various reasons, a lot of them based upon expectations to meet certain standards while also shredding some at the same time — these pressures existed both inside and outside of the industry.  It was brave of her to follow the kind of sound represented on SUN.  She just went with it, put her heart deeply into its production, and out came an end result that is a great predecessor to The Greatest.  It’s a new-ish sound, but it’s not too new to the point that it makes Cat Power fans totally uncomfortable.  Some may disagree, though.  I know that for a fact.  SUN is just truly a great effort, and has been a great listen for me this year.

09.  Purity Ring – Shrines — Hello, Purity Ring!  What can I say, I love this band.  They’re in this weird little “clique” that came out this year, of which I like to call the Canadian Clique of Electronic Music.  Purity Ring is not strictly electronic in my opinion because I find their sound to be very experimental and unusual.  They do not gravitiate toward any boxed-up category — they are just true to their art-form.  I’ve spent the past several months listening to them — and I began to take notice of the lyrics that are integrated within the intricate tracks.  There’s poetic rawness and a bizarre input of unexpected darkness (anatomy, uncomfortable imagery, stark statements, dream-like & surreal scenarios) that the duo brings to the table.  Edmonton, Alberta is where the duo hails from, and the sound of Purity Ring is large, grand, and vast — just like the landscape of a hidden, gem-like territory of this northern Canadian province.  This is a band, like Grimes, that will likely stick around and reinvent their sound with every polished album such as Shrines.

08.  Crystal Castles – (III) — I still listen to (III) whenever I drive anywhere in my car.  This may possibly be because it’s the only CD I own/have in my car — but I definitely do not mind this factor.  Crystal Castles made an album that I love.  Some feel this way, some don’t.  That’s why I’m not going to analyze it too much.  I obsess over any kind of media that makes me feel and react in a strong, intense way.  After the release of their single “Plague” and its video — consisting of one of my favorite horror/art-house scenes in cinematic history — they leaked things bit by bit, and surprised many along the way.  Sadly, I did not get to see them in Kansas this past October, but I’m sure I will in 2013.  Getting back to what I was saying about art making me feel — after I first listened to the album it made me feel uncomfortable, creeped-out, almost jumpy.  It made my mind feel dark, heavy, grim, and godless.  The music took me to a goth territory that is very exciting to hear in 2012 — it’s honestly an album with affect, dispassion, angst, and chaos.  What I find so disappointing is that Crystal Castles has a gigantic fan-base who love their old shit of bleepy Mario Bros/Super Nintendo sounds that were OK when they came out, but now I do not really listen to (I) and (II) unless it’s for a couple of tracks.  So, a lot of people don’t know what to do with (III) — can we dance to it?  Yes.  Can we enjoy it like electronic music?  Can we mosh to it?  Can we feel it?  Absolutely yes, on all levels.  (III) will the album that I will be blasting if I am alive during our Earths’ apocalypse — there’s no doubt about that.

07.  Grimes – Visions — I am in love with Grimes/Claire Boucher, and I am happy to say she’s my best discovery of 2012.  She’s a strange girl who is also, of course, Canadian and cool as a cucumber.  Grimes is getting noticed — her entire vision is becoming more integrated in the scene of electronic music, and especially any bands from the Canadian Clique.  Grimes is so, so unpretentious, in my opinion.  Interviews with her show a frenetic girl with an unusual appearance, and you then learn she’s a visual artist slash musician.  Grimes is self-taught and self-governed with her music.  She establishes her own voice on the album Visions — which is an audio-visual experience that is truly, truly creative — it’s not only fun — it’s exciting.  It’s strange and bouncy in its ambiguous darkness.

I believe Visions is a dodgy album for 2012 considering the vamp of the generalized electro sound being a forever relentless ongoing invention — but her mark in the field is deeply etched &  drawn in place.  Grimes forte is music videos, and I believe she’s probably going to commit more to videos for a while, which I love.  Her videos are inspiring for all of those DIY-ers out there.  She performs with strange, alluring personality that is also awkward and humble — so she’s approachable, and her music is as well.  “Genesis” and “Oblivion” are beautiful songs, and smart singles with complimentary videos that expand her vision even further.  “Symphonia IX (My Wait is U)” is my personal favorite with its cinematic pacing and immense grandeur of opera-like electronic music that has elements of a theatrical experience, where being the audience is very much enjoyable.

06.  Christina Aguilera – Lotus — Yeah, Christina!  I love this album.  It’s very enjoyable to listen to.  Christina is one of my absolute favorite vocalists, and female artists.  Ms. Aguilera really inhabits her own space as an artist with this album: it’s not over-controlled by a band of producers and “yes” people — there’s simply her backing up the production every step of the way.  I wish Christina participated more in songwriting, though.  Why would she hire someone to write a song like “Your Body”?  Can’t she trust herself to write her album singles/hits after everything she’s gone through in this industry?  Well, that’s fine, because “Your Body” was a brave single for her to release.  As its first single, the song was ultimately released first into the open waters full of sharks and animals that eat art whole on sites like PerezHilton and PopMatters — where there are the “opinionated” individuals who aren’t afraid to be downright hateful with pop music.  Pop music takes balls.  Pop music is a bitch.  It’s the most competitive thing on the world stage in context with the music industry.  Yes, her music is, always, over-sexualized and at times shallow, one-dimensional.  In the end, it’s always at least very entertaining.

“Blank Page” is a song that I feel deserves a spot right up to one of Christina’s reliable power-ballads along with “Beautiful”, “Hurt”, and “You Lost Me”, as some examples.  She creates albums into experiences: with opening intros that lead into hand-picked tracks that follow in a famous pop sequence: a couple dance songs, then a ballad, a couple consist of both, then it’s more dance songs, then ending with a ballad.  It’s formulas that keep pop music alive, and she has fun doing it.  “Lotus” is Christina’s best album in regards to the control of her vocals.  Only a couple songs does she blow you away with her occasional shrill-shriek singing that makes you too intimidated to sing along with!  She paces herself, and also experiments with her voice.  I love “Lotus” a lot.

05.  Lana Del Rey – Paradise (EP) — I say “fuck OFF!” to anyone else’s “opinion” about the artist Lana Del Rey.  I hate reading/hearing what people say about her — the way people so unforgivably shred an artist into pieces really pisses me off.  Lana Del Rey first appeared to me as a sensitive artist who wouldn’t be able to handle the harsh blows of the stupidity that swims throughout what is called the audience.  It’s not like she’s an artist that’s constantly thrown in your face: so if you don’t like her, don’t watch her!

Lana Del Rey is an authentic artist to me because she stays very true to her fundamental artistic image.  This image, in a few words, consists of the American Girl, the Girl from California, who is not from this time, yet instead pulled from time capsules planted next to Sunset Blvd motels and buried in the nearby sands of the beaches on such emotional landscapes.  She rides along the windy, twisty roads down mountains near Malibu, California with the fresh morning wind that gusts in her face and hair, making her feel alive.   This image is mastered by Lana Del Rey, especially in 2012.  She’s of her own species, her own kind.  “Ride” is an example of what a true professional female musician represents.

Be careful of how quickly you judge an artist like her — because Lana Del Rey has the ability to maintain a lot of success despite all of the setbacks of her career that is still only toddler-sized.  The release of this EP took major balls, and even still it had to eat the shit of the press.  Luckily, it lives on forever in the hearts of fans like myself.  Fans who make up an audience that is reasonable and rational — and do not overthink why they love an artist like her.

04.  TGNHT (Hudson Mohawke X Lunice) – TNGHT (EP) — This EP was really, really exciting to discover.  I remember my first listen to it was when I was getting ready to go out  to the bars — getting my best outfit together, trying my hair in 5 different styles, spritzing on the cologne — an amount that’s just enough.  This is a fun process that leads to a fun night and I really, really love music that amounts to that feeling of excitement.  Who doesn’t live for going out for a good time?

TGNHT consists of these guys who are producers/DJs and they’ve obviously put in their time having observed electronic music for god-knows-how-long — so their own original creations have a lot of credibility behind them.  I had not ever heard of these guys before this EP.  The EP is very successful, and is gleaming light on them that’s probably long overdue.  If they’ve got this EP out, I can only imagine what else is up their sleeves for the future.  2012 needed a 10-ton dynamite EP like this one — explosive, very explosive.

03.  HOLY OTHER – Held — I love the darkness (or the general goth sound) that exists inside of electronic music these days.  Contemporary electronic music, I suppose, is the proper box to wrap these acts up into.  Sound creations from HOLY OTHER consist of a multi-layered, subdued sound that nails down and delivers a feeling, an affect — something highly abstract as opposed to being “dance music” or strictly experimental to its audience.  The opening track “(W)here” shoots up through a murky surface into an eerie territory that is very much influenced by ambient/house jams and is not unfaithful to the subtle ingredients of contemporary R&B.  I can’t wait to see what else HOLY OTHER releases after their triumph with Held — as they will continue as pioneers of experimental electronic music that yields strong atmosphere and affect — elements that create connections with the audience, rather than just merely entertaining them for the sake of entertaining with their music.  HOLY OTHER intends to do things with their music, and it’s highly respectable, and great to have discovered them.  Held is a great album of electronic obscurity midst lots of other innovative acts in their league.

02.  Pete Swanson – Man With Potential (EP) and Pro Style (EP) — I cannot get enough of Pete Swanson — who is most often identified as one of the main engineers of Portland’s Yellow Swans, a terrific electro-noise cocktail whose songs glitch and glimmer in their odd, at times discordant, sound structures.  I mark Pete Swanson as one of my greatest musical discoveries of 2012, if not of this decade.  The sounds of Man With Potential & Pro Style put me into a state of reverie that I cannot really articulate.  The length of the opening track “Misery Beat” blew my mind and took a firm grip of my very own intrigue: the rest of its discordant compositions follow headily in a difficult, yet rewarding, sequence of tracks.

Pete Swanson’s music on these EPs are conceptual (at least in my opinion) — and Man With Potential is definitely some sort of concept album.  The concept behind the EP certainly follows some sort of nonlinear, abstract flux that draws in a listener and takes them to a strange psychological territory.  Tracks slew along like psychological topography for both the artist and audience, thus creating an unusual bond of action and reaction through the medium of electronic music that experiments endlessly.  I do not expect many people to really “get” my gist of this because it’s difficult, discordant music that is noise, but the noise is more controlled than it seems.  Intricate programming and selected factors of style influenced by house/industrial/Euro electronic that meets rhythmic counterbalances of a common rap/R&B track — this creativity and original sound is very interesting to explore.

Pete Swanson doesn’t hold your hand through the experience: you are all on your own.  Sometimes it’s scary, sometimes dancey, sometimes too unusual, sometimes fun.  The tracks are lengthy and expansive, more captivating an audience for a concept album that you sit & listen through — and its affect drives everything forward.  Dark and moody gothic influences drive through Pro Style as well, but not nearly as much as Man With Potential which may find Pete Swanson a man who has already met his potential — and will continue to produce work that shines in dark, strange territory of psychological music that is experimental and generally electronic.  Cheers to him, he’s great, and I love his work a lot.

01.  Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel… — Well, this is a no-brainer.  It never was even for a moment when I first heard of the albums official release from Fiona’s relentless record label Epic Records.  In 2012, I experienced my very first (and perhaps only) live concert in Kansas City, MO at the Midland Theater where I stood only a few leaps away from Fiona Apple on stage.  I was a die-hard motherfucking fan having some sort of exorcism while the rest of the audience remained subdued, watching her with intrigue, as one would observe a piece of art in a museum.  People do not always know what to “do” with Fiona Apple in regards to her music, personality, and live performances.  I, on the other hand, know exactly how to handle her in every aspect possible.  All it requires is a little bit of emotion, and a little bit of letting yourself go by stopping all of the questions, comparisons, and expectations.

As an album, in the present moment, it’s a perfect piece of art that’s fine-tuned and crafted by Fiona’s engineering talent: her ability to write the lyrics on this album will impress me for all eternity.  She’s the best female songwriter in the industry.  She has a style that is so singular, so original, that it cannot be distinguished from any other female artist whom Fiona may be “cut from the same cloth” — which is something I disagree with.

Fiona is her own cloth — she exists in her own bubble in space and time.  By embarking on a very extensive tour for this album — she proves herself as a grown woman with extreme talent as a skilled artist.  Fiona is provocative on this album such as on the song “Jonathan” where she, on a first-name basis, sings about a failed relationship on top of sounds similar to machinery that whirs and works in the background, then unfolds on a made-from-scratch piano ballad, until we morph completely into her territory that is created from Fiona’s heart — a very personal, vulnerable, strange little place that is the size of the Atlantic.

Fiona demands that you be careful with her due to her fragility, but also due to the abrasiveness on her surface:  she can hurt just as she’s been hurt, and she can love just as she’s been loved.  Fiona is the mastermind of her own emotions and she willingly explores them in songs like “Every Single Night” — a song lyrically comparable to a Confessional-mode where the artist fully self-discloses, but stylistically knows how to blur all the lines that need to be blurred.  She speaks through the fourth wall by shredding it to pieces — there’s nothing holding her together — she’s in pieces right before you — and you need to look closely in order to understand the bravery and brilliance she exudes endlessly.

Fiona is flighty and flaky when it comes to her career itself because she lets everything happen in its own timeline, not a timeline created by anyone else, even herself: her own creative process is something that’s respectable as it is frustrating for her fans.  This album stays in somewhat of a familiar territory, but overall is the much-needed expansion of “Extraordinary Machine” because she goes beyond any previous work by existing as Fiona Apple in 2012: an artist who plays around with both simplicity and complexity in a risky, yet effortless way, and is truly herself when it comes to the context of her musical and visual style.  Now, more than ever, Fiona is proclaimed as a true artist.  Her fourth album is equivocal to all previous work — a factor that’s unheard of for solo artists.  Fiona is strength, courage, and vulnerability that is humble, truthful, beautiful, and challenging.

            Albums that did not do it for me this year in 2012:
Passion Pit – Gossamer — I am not going to get critical, nor will I critique, but this album ended up on pretty much every other top-10 list year and I have no idea idea.  Passion Pit did not progress nor reinvent anything with this album — instead they catered to their regular sound and left me feeling bored, uninterested.  I question whether I’m even a fan of this band or not, though.  They’re well-loved by many, so it doesn’t really hurt that their fan population may exclude myself.

Bat For Lashes – The Haunted Man — Man, oh man.  This album was such a let-down for me!  I had been looking forward to it for so long and it just… ugh… simply let me down.  When I tried to make it through all of the tracks, I felt compelled to just listen to her previous albums instead!  Natasha Khan (Bat For Lashes) is definitely “growing up” as an artist, but I don’t see what took her so long to make this album.  Sorry, but it’s no wonder that her record label continuously rejected any material she would send to them.  The album is just plain.  “Laura” as a piano ballad is nice, but not as her first single.  It seems like she’s a totally different artist now — there’s not a semi-sinister, dreamy David Lynch-enthused soundscape that typically describes the vision of Bat For Lashes.  Instead it just feels like she’s trying to write/create music that will be marketable and, while that’s very true, it’s a just on to another several years before her next album.

Madonna – MDNA — After being bored with Gaga’s “Born This Way” after it’s first full-listen, I expected a little something from the realm of dance music.  Madonna highlighted the Superbowl with an explosive performance, yet she was singing a new song from this record that made me feel distracted — it made me feel like it wasn’t what she should be releasing.

My issue with Madonna’s music is a familiar issue that I’ve always had with the “marketable music of dance/disco” because dance music, in itself, is a product.  It’s created with top-notch programmers hired along with the best song-writers rounded up together where they basically “reinterpret” the artists’ image — and then the artist says “yay” or “nay” to the results.

Madonna is perfectly fine being in this area of the industry, and I have nothing against it.  It’s profitable because it’s what is blasted in every gay club every weekend all around the world.  Clubs are picky with what they choose to remix or play for the dance-floor, and this is in a part of the industry where the attention span is only a mere few seconds long.  I enjoyed some parts of this album — but MDNA isn’t even love-to-hate good, or music just for fun/enjoyment.  You still hear some sort of misconstrued theme/message being translated in her music, and it’s distracting.

                                 Album I wish I could include for 2012:
WHITE RING – Black Earth That Made Me — Okay, so this album was only brought to my discovery in 2012, except it’s been out since last year.  I feel like since I’m on the topic, I may as well digress a bit.  WHITE RING really impresses me.  They’re doing something new and atypical with electronic music along with the efforts of artists similar to their sounds.  WHITE RING is a group that has fine-tuned artistry that intends to breathe fresh air into electronic music — all while trying to revamp the “goth” or “industrial” genre into a more approachable format — a format that reminds its audience of hip-hop, rap, and common styles that ring similar to the creation & production of mainstream rap, thus creating “witchhouse” I guess.  SALEM of course leads the discourse on this sub-genre which has become ever-so-trendy, much to my surprise!  WHITE RING & SALEM are bands that create marketable music that doesn’t stretch out to the market — they cling on to their independence and exist in a musical land of experimentation.

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TASTE MY GAME: a poetry collection — Poems One through Three.

“sucker-punch” (ONE)
(I)
I woke up today in this city – tired and uninspired.
My nerves, searing like little stringed branches of hot iron
glowing in a faint orange that burns and settles into a deep red, dried blood.
Today, I just can’t take it any longer.
Please, now I finally want my
Gratification – and it can’t be delayed
any longer.
It turns out that everything’s the same
because nothing changes if nothing changes.
I’m alive, hung-over, emptied out by that empty glass –
I’ve been drained dry
Down to the ice gathered in the bottom of a glass, clinking around until
it will inevitably melt.

(II)
Oh, yes, again, it was the same old thing – the
Stupid sentiment that sucks in a sucker like me for
a good, hard sucker-punch right in my gut –
where I feel everything there is to possibly feel.

Once there were things I cared about – remnants and
artifacts that I clutched onto – because they reaffirm that
something powerful was once truly possible for me
and in the stir of my solace, my reverie – I know it’s the right thing to do &
I carry on
with these
pieces, things, particles
into my very own next special
moment that glides seamlessly into my next –
and objects’ weight become lighter and lighter.

“like roadkill” (TWO)
My feeling for you, boy, is rotting right in front of me like roadkill
hot under the midday sunlight – to show you that
all that I could have ever wanted
was ran over and left instilled with the indention of one, long tire mark.
Its surface is now sunken in so’s all you can see is what’s dead and still.

I drove over it and left it for you with a strange new strength surging in me
Yeah, I just might cry & plea before I flee, but I’ll still just walk away
In the opposite direction from where you turned around to leave.
I left it all dead so there’s not anything left for you to ever really see.

“Boundless as the Dark” (THREE)
This boundless black absence between us is more space
than either of us needed.
I can’t kill the void by murdering my thoughts for my feed –
Please don’t bore me with any laments and tangents intangible
Your need for my change came sooner than it should’ve –

Look me in the eyes!
I’m your very own renegade and my plight can’t ever die!

Our time is always measured by your short leash.
Just pull me closer to you again, because I don’t have the guts to grab you
and say what ought to be said.
All’s I can say is goodnight, baby, goodnight.
And I beg for our broken fragments to start forming together,
beginning to mend the night.

rock the boat

DSCN2184So, here I am, Sam, writing a journal entry here on my WordPress like any other ordinary time — except this time I’m not single.  I’m in a relationship: unavailable, taken, involved, surrendered.  The value of this information is mainly due to the fact that I haven’t been in a “conventional” relationship since I was about 18 years old, which only lasted a couple of months, I think.  That was a bad experience and I always reflected upon it negatively because the guy was a negative person — because I never understood what was his purpose in my life!?  He was just awful.  But, that’s so irrelevant now.  This has been a natural process for me so far.  It’s so much of what I wanted and more.  I am not the hopeless romantic type, but I guess I do have the Carrie Bradshaw of Kansas City in me —  navigating the dating scene with analysis, calculations, and calibrations, ultimately where I treat interactions like life lessons that flow and flux, and the end result ends up written in a journal or written on a personal blog.  Expressed in some way.  Expressing the experience becomes more important than having the experience: than letting it occur, happen in space and time.

Being single, therefore, alone, has conditioned me to be an observer: to observe everything I do and everything everyone else does.  To observe my interactions before experiencing them on my own.  Observation became the key element to how I perceived the world and lived my life — and while I feel intelligent and more worldly with this behavior — the detriments of it are severe, cold, and relentless.  Calculating the world around me and turning it into a game derived from fantasy and delusions trapped me in a mental space with no forward momentum: just observing time and space instead of being inside of it and letting it become livable — my life now has life, I feel reawakened.  Invigorated to explore it more than I’ve ever explored my isolation and analyses that render me to how I define myself, and how I continuously retrieve my sense of self.

Being that this is new to me, it’s still definitely  a matter that occurred with its own timing, and I know the truth of this.  His name is Dominic and he’s a tad older than me, but not by too much.  It feels like we’re similar ages, at least, so I never think of it.  I met him unexpectedly and found myself really intrigued by him.  I am selective.  I am beyond picky, I am beyond choosy or any other synonym you can attribute to my selection process in potential partners.

prof3

Like many people, especially guys of my age & demographic, I have ongoing, perpetual intimacy issues — I am comfortable with monogamous relationships, I am just such an extremist when it comes to individuality.  I do not like when couples become the same thing as an entity — I’ve just seen that as time goes on, people easily lose their sense of self in their relationships.  Sense of self is vital — critical — imperative.  I do not believe you obtain your sense of self through your vocation to identify yourself completely with another person.  I already tend to over-identify with everyone around me, so I hang on tightly to my fundamental beliefs.  I value autonomy — to govern oneself.  I value solitude — to solidify oneself in a private setting.  Sometimes, I even value the practice of self-involvement so that a person is capable of understanding their placement in the world with their ability to process and internalize their perception of reality.

I am not a late bloomer, but I am definitely not experienced with stuff I’ve witnessed my entire life.  My parents are still married, they are not divorced.  It’s a rare matter.  They’ve had previous failed marriages, but found each other in their thirties, and decided to have me — and the three of us make a tripod structure of a decent, small family.  My parents value the things that I do: privacy, autonomy, sense of self, self-reliance, and other behaviors that avoid co-dependence and potential loss of self-preservation.  I am lucky to not have a belief system, religious or political, forced upon me to identify with.  I am very, very different from them — but I highly value the essential, fundamental aspects that I grew up with.  I’m partly a product of my environment, but mostly a product from myself.  Both concepts are entirely possible.  At least, that’s what I choose to believe.

So far I do not feel swallowed up in this with him.  It’s complicated, yet also quite simple.  I do not allow myself to analyze the relationship, I do not try to analyze him.  That’s typically my first action in these situations — but I feel that’s not a behavior I want to explore any longer.  Sometimes, I think I remained single for so long because I do not really like my own behavior.  I don’t like how uncomfortable, standoffish, and despondent I can be most of the time — but mostly I don’t like how I’m too hard to know.  I’m layered with sensitivity and anxieties — I have one foot in the present moment and another foot in the brief lapse of time that just occurred, which my brain will begin to fixate on.  Being too internal like this effects the ability to relate to me because I am already so disconnected.  I can be self-involved, yet I believe that I ultimately thrive in empathy. I find a balance between myself, my interpersonal happenings, and my reality which serves as a place for me to both project and interpret with my sensory mechanisms — all for myself, which I respond to only if I allow it.

Basically, I have a protective shell that is condemned to many as my “shyness.”  I struggle to let myself feel some things that are emotional — whether it be pleasure or pain — and if I allow it to get to a place where I react to it.  Most of the time I am disaffected by my surroundings.  Pettiness, drama, immaturity, lack of intelligence, and constant low socioeconomic environments make me just shut down and I just feel nothing but irritation, which is exhausting.  I become limber, numb at times — disgusted with the stupid stuff that I’m forced to associate with and somehow accept it as a part of my life, when I really don’t want to.  It makes me sound like a snob, but I choose wisely in regard to what sort of interaction I participate in.  I do not waste my energy on someone badmouthing me or whatever, because it’s just another reminder of how dumb everything is.  So.  When I uncover something authentic that causes affect upon me — sometimes against my objective will — I really become intrigued by it, and I let it happen.  I simplify things by letting in the good, the positive.  Otherwise, I work hard to reject everything else.

I’ve never said “I love you” to a guy before.  Never even had the urge to do so.  Casual sex is how I learned to function in a detached, tender, sad, and disaffected manner in which it feels socially acceptable, therefore social rules become what I abide by: I don’t abide by my own rules governed by my autonomy.  I realize this now.  I realize there’s more beneath the surface of what I’ve been trying to crack for so long.

When I said this to him it felt so raw and true that it made me realize that life is about that exact thing — what is raw and true, so much to the point it makes you physically react.  I became so emotional with my delivery of this, because it came straight from my gut, and everywhere behind and beneath my heart.  My intentions with that saying was wholehearted — like a drop of elixir of my pure, true self.  No more could I hold back anything any longer — love conquers all inhibitions and sees through all of the bullshit we’re so conditioned to live within.  Honesty at times can feel dangerous.  I felt like saying that was dangerous — because it is.  There’s a reason why I’ve waited almost 24 years now to ever experience that physical emotion, the inertia of its impact, the unyielding nature of its validity.

I am not a sap, I am actually quite an objectivist at heart — not entire an Ayn Rand convert but some of her tactics feel naturally acquired in my lifetime — and therefore I pretty much view with my eyes an objective lens; and my objectivity cannot be compromised because it feels so right, so accurate — versus operating & functioning solely & only on my basic feelings and distorted perception of the moment.  Basically, I try to  not fuck it up.  I try to see the moment through an objective clarity — and then I let it in.  It’s analysis, I guess.  I don’t analyse what was communicated between my boyfriend and myself.

I don’t analyse him, nor our interaction, nor what occurs behind closed doors, or in all private moments.  I treasure all of it for that place behind and under my throbbing heart, and ultimately, to my gut — where I feel everything there is to possibly feel.  And now I’ve felt this.  And so far, everything is just fine.  I’m still here, I’m still myself, I am still a separate being from my relationship.  I could never be intertwined & coaxed into an entity with someone because no one would be able to handle the handful that I am — so, there would be no desire for that.

Space, breathing space, head space, body space, emotional space — all of the space is necessary, not meaningless or even perhaps selfish.  The space I’m describing is like negative space that draws the contour lines that make up the figure: it’s necessary space that creates the structure.  Negative space, in art (painting, drawing, charcoal, etc) is noticing this space in an image and how it functions inverted — is critical when understanding the full image, the big picture, the grand scheme of things.  So, I am lucky to embark on a self-selected relationship that is built upon importance space that provides us structure and also keeps us at a perfect distance that allows us to be individuals — to be separate but sharing the same image.

That way, if the image gets broken, it can be mended  to fold back onto myself, and the line structure changes to support the image of myself that I project.  Stability comes from within yourself — I’ve learned this the hard way with my struggles with bipolar disorder.  Balance is something that can be extremely difficult to establish, sometimes you’re so far off course that it’s going to take some major remodeling to get it back the way it was, and that takes time.  Lately I’ve learned that for myself: major things like balance take time.  I’m not going to get balance right away.  I wouldn’t know what to do with it!  I’m so accustomed to being in an uncomfortable, unbalanced state that I just do my best to navigate in whatever condition I’m in.

My mood no longer controls everything.  It controls a lot, but not everything.  I am not in charge — my insides are in charge.  Not entirely the insides I love so much in my skull — the the insides that I call my guts, my inner-workings, my intuition below and above my belly.  My heart beat generates a blood-jet of life that works hard every waking moment.  These places are protected, sacred, safe.  Places that exist within myself — no matter what.  I cannot share these places with anyone, but they will tag along for the ride.  The ride: because I just ride, ride, just ride.  I just ride.  With everything I can carry.  Weight distributed in all proper places.  Calibrating into a state of balance, a state of stability.  Not an immediate reaction or interaction.  Just something that happens.  Involuntarily. Like breathing, and breathing in my own space, shared in the same bed in a sun-lit bedroom of a Thursday morning.

I’m tired of driving ’til I see stars in my eyes

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Moving forward, in itself, is a daunting task for me, but it’s becoming so much easier because I’ve begun to cope with my life using simplified methods and techniques that are cut down to precise concision.  One example being that I ride.  I just ride. (a concept vis-a-vis Lana Del Rey, respectively.)


The overwhelmingly positive response that came from my previous post simply made me feel very, very fulfilled and more comfortable with my self-expression, as it’s already been accepted by many.  This is my territory, but my analysis of everything is due to my interpersonal conflicts, so again, please do not apply your perception of me that’s entirely based on this information.  Well, I had no idea there were so many people out there that would read my interpersonal manifesto and actually “get it” — or at least did not pass me off for a creepy, crazy, or unstable person — which I may possibly be at times, but never to anyone that could confront my situation head-on and really attempt to understand it, and to help me.  November 2012 will be an unforgettable month because it was not only harrowing but horrific — the daunting experiences strengthened me like strips of thick steel that construct a giant ship sailing through open Atlantic waters.  I am powerful now.  No longer do I self-deprecate or wallow in self-pity where I go to an unforgiving territory that does not allow me to stop feeling sorry for myself.  Please keep in mind that my writing here is for the purpose of my writing — I am experimenting with creative nonfiction, stylizing elements with characters that did in fact exist, but are still in a grey area that protects their privacy.  The likelihood of the information being factored against me is slim to none, but I also acknowledge the risk I’m subjected to for my self-disclosure here.  I am an open book here because I want to share my own moving experiences and convey my catharsis.  Otherwise, I’m shut-up following rules, playing it safe and tucked away in anxiety anywhere else — and anyone who knows me can understand this.

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“I would have told her that I’ll never know what it’s like to be her. But I know what it’s like to want to die. How it hurts to smile. How you try to fit in, but you can’t. How you hurt yourself on the outside to try to kill the thing on the inside.”
— SK

My return date to work is not officially been established just yet.  I believe I’ll have at least another week of short-term disability so that I can see my new therapist and adjust to the new medications that I’m on.  I’m not going to sugar-coat it — the medications are potent and kick my ass.  I kind of get anxiety when I take Geodon because I react so intensely to it.  About an hour after taking it in the late morning, I begin to feel so exhausted that I literally search for any possible way to collapse into my bed or any place I can fall asleep.  I fell asleep in my car the other day for about an hour in the grocery store parking lot — and when I woke up I totally felt fine and was completely OK to drive.  Still, that was a scary experience.  Obviously it was the best idea to just sleep there than to attempt driving, of course I know how critically important it was to just stay there — it would’ve been extremely dangerous for me to drive.  Never will I take it in the morning, it’s now a PM medication only.

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Geodon does not really have this much of an effect on me now — I’ve adjusted to the fatigue after a few days of adjustment.  This medication is very, very helpful with my mixed-mania episodes.  Last night was pretty frenetic and caused me to get really agitated and I get this sensation in my legs to just walk, run, shake, rattle — to anything with them — the energy comes from a place of immense restlessness.  Pretty much it’s like feeling physical frustration wrapped up inside of me.  During this I come off ass bitchy or having an attitude to others but that’s only because I am feeling so unpleasant on the inside.  It’s not personal at all to anyone.  I can’t have a phone conversation with my inquisitive dad and try to pretend I’m feeling ayyy-okay… and I’ve gotta just end the call and figure out how to calm down.

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Part I: Misconstrued Information, Subjective Displacement

What frustrates me is that my inpatient treatment at the psychiatric unit did not really provide me any specific methods of “dealing” or “managing” my bipolar/episode shit.  Except for one group session where I connected with other bipolar patients — most of whom were very fuckin’ severe — I had that one session to discuss what I was actually there for!  Mostly… my admittance was built around chemical dependence.  This was because I (truthfully) admitted to having been dependent on prescription drugs in order to deal with my episodes, and I told them I can get carried away with white wine.  Basically, I acknowledged that I self-medicate.  But… I already knew this.  I did not need to attend 12-step meetings every day where I had to identify myself as an “addict” — because I am not an addict, I just have no method of coping with this disorder so yes I’ve taken more (of my own) anxiety meds than I should, but come on… I’ve gotta do what I’ve gotta do in order to function!  It’s like okay, I could take an extra 1mg of clonazepam at work OR try to continue working without it and feeling like a dysfunctional mess which will land me in trouble at work.  What you’re reading is not an addict in denial — I know exactly what I’m right about.  My psychiatrist did not react negatively when I told her any of this.  She understands that she prescribes these medications to me, and after a while my tolerance builds up with them.  Animosity erupted with myself and the psychiatric unit because they lied to me by stating one: they spoke to my doctor about “tapering off” clonazepam, and that I felt “addicted and completely reliant on it” — both things never occurred, and I never stated  that.  Yet still, they slapped a green-sticker on my wrist band.  Green stickers were the chemical-dependent patients, kind of like how orange jumpsuits identify murderers in prison.

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Objectively, I have self-medicated which does become habit-forming, yes, but I’m not an alcoholic because I have a glass of wine to take the edge off of my restless & fitful mood.  I’ve taken several different anti-anxiety medications ever since I was 16 years old.  At this point, they don’t really fucking do anything for me.  So, I don’t expect anything from them… I hardly even take them!  Like everything else, my word is against theirs — and they’re doctors — professionals — and I’m only the lying, overly defensive and inventive addict in denial.  Honestly, it felt really offensive.  This is why I wanted to leave so badly is because these people weren’t even fucking listening to me at all.  After my assessment was finished they admitted me (which was going to happen anyway because my doctor ordered my admittance, and they also got a fully-paid check from my dad, so yeah) to the wrong program because of a misconstrued discussion about my prescription medications and unrelated/maybe related habits with “alcohol” which in reality was my legal consumption of wine a few times a week.  Okay, so, what about me having a fucking meltdown and so episodic I felt like exploding and was completely unable to work?  Oh, that’s addict behavior.

Being in the drug-addict unit was eye-opening because I had no.. idea… how incredibly addicted these individuals that I had casually interacted with beforehand were internally fixated to their drug/drink of choice.  This one guy admitted to such a large amount of Xanax usage that shocked the shit out of me — I wanted to give the guy an enormous hug!  Their stories were so, so harrowing. Another girl I made friends with disclosed her addictions that began when she was 10 years old, and since she didn’t ever disclose this information to me, I didn’t understand how she appeared so normal and functional when in reality she was on the edge of overdosing every time she used her drug of choice.  I didn’t relate to these issues, yet I absorbed and soaked in the saddest things I’ve ever heard in my life.  These individuals radiated sadness — a strange, sort of faded energy that was desperate, completely desperate.

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In one of the narcotics anonymous meetings I had to attend (also, there wasn’t anything else to do, anyway) I had to confront a weird spotlight put on me, since it was my turn to talk, and I began with “My name is Sam and I am… an addict…” and after that, of course, with no judgment the room greeted me back with compassion.  Cult chants were the first thing that popped into my head.  I steer clear of cults and cult-like thinking.  I know that’s a common reaction, but man I was just very out of my element.  Kind support from the other people was great, but I couldn’t help to compare my situation!  I felt so damn boring compared to everyone else!  I didn’t know what to say, I didn’t have a story with addiction, necessarily.  I didn’t want to pass either because that didn’t seem fair.  I wanted to contribute something.  So, I began to nervously mumble that I do struggle with anti-anxiety medications like Klonopin/clonazepam, Xanax/alprazolam, Ativan/lorazepam, etc — but at this point I’m taking such low dosages of only 1 of those, so there’s no point to abuse them in the first place — and I haven’t taken anything “extra” in several months, nor did I care to.  Sounds like bullshit, I know.  Believe me, I would be skeptical of one’s justification about taking prescription drugs.  Why would I deny being addicted to anything at all though?  My dad thinks I am still lying about all of it — but really?  I stated that I was an addict apprehensively because I knew making such a heavy and strong statement like that was due to a stupid, misconstrued mix-up with the psych institution and I was just going along with it.

I really didn’t appreciate them placing me in a corner, on the spot, in that meeting — as I had to introduce myself as an addict just so that I could identify with them yet also concurrently identify with my own sense of self (?)  I identified with the other patients in many, many ways — believe me — but deadly dangerous addictive behavior was not entirely one of them.  But, I digress, I’m not sure how I feel about the 12-step program, now that I know a lot more about it.

What if I wanted to say “My name is Sam”?  Then I’d be unusual for not stating alcoholic/addict.  Why is it so important to self-proclaim that?  It’s like defining yourself with that word — no one should ever define themselves with their bad habits.  I have issues with prescription drugs in the past, but I don’t take that fact and integrate it into my identity.  I don’t feel like that’s healthy or appropriate, but that’s how it works.  By incorporating religion — and attaching a book visually and conceptually synonymous with the Christian Bible — this program acts like a 12-step dogma that has a lot of drawbacks that make it ineffective for the severity of some situations.  It’s not my place to say what should occur in these meetings, but I do think more and more people are becoming skeptical of the 12-step construct.  Men and women lamenting, sharing their individual histories like they carry around an archive of pain and suffering — miserable people fighting with the urge to use their substance, to figure out a life without the obstacle of the matter.  There’s just a lot more constructive, productive, proactive things that should take place during the meetings.  Storytelling seems to be a major emphasis, and this is what confused me after I attended many meetings.

Compromise felt necessary, but what if most of those people didn’t really mean their statement of being an addict — just like how I didn’t mean it?  What should’ve felt cathartic or brave felt phony, counter-intuitive, wrong, weird… and I’m sure others may have felt the same way.  Sorry, but I just don’t agree with applying “alcoholic” or “addict” to my name as if they’re like my fucking credentials or something!  These are not attributes that a person “earns” and then incorporates into their identity.

What I really wanted to say was: Hi, my name is Sam Swayne, B.A. in English/psychology, only son of my two parents, employee of x company, huge lover of art and film, licensed driver of a 2007 red Chevy, resident of downtown Kansas City, Missouri, frequent jogger/runner, and, also, I am diagnosed with bipolar disorder and I struggle with self-medicating.  Maybe that sounds overwrought or overly articulated but to me, for such a personal fucking situation,  that is how people should identify themselves in these fuckin’ meetings.

For example, I have no clue where I could even obtain crystal meth.  Let’s say I did become resourceful and found it somewhere to buy — would I feel comfortable with the individuals doing it?  No.  Would I be able to afford it, if it became a weekly habit?  Uhh… no.  Would I even do it in the first place?  No, because I am scared of that drug — I would be so scared that I’d have a bad reaction to it and end up “inadvertently” dying.  The same thing goes for MDMA, cocaine, heroin, whatever — all of that stuff would freak me out.  Anyone who knows me knows that.  I’ve never done any of those drugs.  I’ve smoked weed and drink wine (which can be applied in the present tense, I don’t really care) and, yeah, I had a party-boy phase when I went out to bars and had lots of cocktails, but I always partied safely.  I’m not perfect and I’m not invincible to substance abuse — yeah, I’ve used stuff in a dependent manner — like alcohol makes me feel confident and extroverted, and weed makes me feel extremely silly.  I feel like I access the funniest version of myself, and it feels totally harmless.  What’s wrong with me smoking it and being in a state of hilarity and joy?  Well, I suppose it’s because it’s a drug making me feel that way.  But… it’s still not harming me.  Everyone in the meetings I went to during inpatient brought up marijuana in the most negative light possible.  They were very hard on themselves for using it — most of them feeling awful for using it so “excessively” when in actuality, they just became tolerant to the previous amounts and had to smoke more.

I would never fucking smoke crack.  First of all — it’s not in my nature because my luck simply doesn’t work like that — I simply just can’t get away with doing shit like that!  I’d end up getting caught, becoming really sick from it from my body rejecting it, or indefinitely experiencing something traumatic and/or humiliating in the process.  It’s not desirable to me, it’s not intriguing, and I have no curiosity for it — and I am the most curious person I know.

I bring this up because most of the patients there were smokers of crack or methamphetamine.    Most of them were there for at least their third time, some of them had been in the program six times, not including programs at other hospitals.  Addiction is now conceptualized differently to me: it’s incomprehensible how much of a problem it is.  It’s a really, really harrowing conflict of the human condition.  My interactions with these people forever changed my perceptions about drugs for the rest of my life.  I care so deeply for these people — my sensitivity to these people in my surroundings skyrocketed — I swam in empathy and vicariously felt their frustration, anger, guilt, and straight-up sadness.  Drug addicts are all universally insulated with a sadness that is practically tangible, it manifests in dark shadows under the eyes, a worn out body with a soul that’s taken on too much.

This shit doesn’t only effect superficial aspects of their lives — it changes who they are, it distorts their lives into a twisted fucking mess that seeps deeper into a swamp of quicksand, and their spirit becomes sucked into the gravitas of a black hole and their identity and essence becomes damaged.  Right now those people rest deeply in my heart, where my humanity hopes something will mend the damage at least a little.  A little, at least.  Their suffering deserves at least a little bit of light, of some sort of resolution.  I just hope maybe they’ll eventually tire of the drug, other than that, I don’t know.  I find it so grim and nihilistic — my personal reaction to the reality of drug addicts in this world, specifically in the US and other nations that wallow in large populations of various addicts.

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Part II: Breakfast with a Side of Battery/Assault and Apathy

Behavior was another matter, because some of the drug addicts stir in their detox.  These people are raw, vulnerable, and miserable in their situation.  This ties into one lady in my unit who was one of the most terrifyingly aggressive girl I’d ever been around.  What I guess you can call an “altercation” one morning definitely further proved I wasn’t exactly in a productive environment.  It was Thanksgiving day — and for some reason I actually woke up at like 7:30am and went out into the isolation area to eat the hospitals’ strange/interesting breakfast.  I felt calm but alert, and I enjoyed being out there alone — it was peaceful to just sit there and eat — it was mindlessly calming.  Suddenly that girl came around the corner and picked up her breakfast tray and  dropped it next to mine, jerked the chair back, plopped down and started eating — but she projected pissed-offness like none other — something was about to make this girl flip out big time.  Just her sitting next to me made me feel anxious, but I stared ahead — blankly — and chewed the food.  Then, another female patient came out, picked up her breakfast tray, and sat on the opposite table across from me and the pissed girl.  At first, the two of them were just eating until the other girl said something.  I sort of recall something like “are you stuffing your stupid face fast enough bitch” and then I realized these two girls were each others’ aggressors — BIG TIME.  I have no clue why they were even in the same unit!  These two were Latina middle-aged women with huge animosity toward one another.

The girl sitting next to me practically switched into an “animal” mode.  I sat there, listlessly staring at the situation in front of me.  The morning/late night staff were no where to be seen.  That was my first observation: “okay, they’re going to fight and no one’s here to see it except for me, but whatever.”  I was so apathetic that I didn’t really care.  Anyway, she slammed her fists so hard on the table that her tray of food went flying onto the chair/space next to her and she starts screaming “what did you fucking say!  what did you say cunt!  you fucking bitch you fucking piss me off today, oh yes  you did!” and the other girl stands up, screams back at her, and dumps her food on the floor and starts hurdling toward her with the breakfast tray.

This breakfast tray was hardly a feasible weapon — it was max 1/2 thick blue plastic — I definitely wouldn’t want to be hit with it but it’s hardly decent psych-unit fight weaponry.  First, they started pushing each other and then one threw a punch on the side of the girls head (that had to fucking kill her fist, hitting someone’s thick ass head!) and then the two began the breakfast-tray championship: beating each other in the face & head with the trays while screaming at each other.  The girl that sat next to me said “oh oh oh you’re gonna get a taste of this tray PUTA!” which I translated to “bitch” thanks to my viewing experience of “Thirteen” and being exposed to a lot of negative Spanish lexicon.  The two continued for about one more minute until the staff finally came running — hurdling — toward the fight, trying to break it up.

Here, the psych unit staff people were fucking pathetic, I’m sorry.  There was no way the strength of two middle-aged white nurse ladies could compare to the strength of two tattooed ex-con Latinas in a bitch brawl.  All of this happened so fast, my reaction was still totally blank.  I just stared at all of it rather than observed it for what it was.  Typically, this is my humorous way of being so disgusted with the world that I can’t even internalize what’s happening.  If something is really ridiculous, I become really passive and annoyed.  It was really hilarious in the end because neither of them were really injured in any way.  They both got injections of Haldol — which didn’t do shit for the girl that sat next to me!  She was still conscious and fighting the nurses after the injection.  That shocked me because if that wouldn’t tranquilize her, then what the fuck would?  Finally her eyes fluttered and they dragged them back to their rooms.  I finished chewing a nasty piece of toast and washed it all down with an elementary-school-sized carton of Vitamin D milk, and rolled my eyes.

The incompetent staff came back out to me with tons of questions about “what happened” — they were acting as if such a thing had never occurred before, despite us all co-existing in a psych ward… they were all out of breath, shaken up, disturbed by the aggression — I’m sorry, but isn’t this their profession?  Yeah, it’s scary, but don’t work there if it bothers you that much.  I asked the two morning staff ladies where they were — or anyone for that matter — and this seemed to irk them as if it was “none of my business” so I understood it as that; alright, the whole matter wasn’t any of my business.

Since I was now in a shitty mood, having my breakfast intruded with that hot, ridiculous mess of stupidity, I definitely copped an attitude to the staff ladies and finally responded with “Well, I don’t really know what to say Carol, maybe you and Mary should’ve already been out here to see it for yourselves, don’t you think??  Alright, I don’t want to fucking talk to any of you people so leave me alone!”  and I ended the scene by emptying my tray of crusts and leftover god-awful pudding in the garbage can.  Then, I tossed my breakfast tray in the pile along with the two blue trays — puta weaponry, wreckage lying on the table among the aftermath of wasted breakfast food that consisted of sausage links, scrambled eggs, and burnt toast.  As per usual, the staff responded neutrally to my attitude and didn’t say anything else to me for 3 days.  My reports from them were “despondent, antisocial with staff and patients, apathetic” — and they couldn’t have articulated that any better.  Actually, all of the words were impressive — I loved the descriptors and how I likely have a deeper understanding of the words than they do.  Looking back, I feel like a total asshole and I want to somehow send a Hallmark apology card to the nurses… but what can I say?  I started to become a product of my own environment.

Later that afternoon, after attending several draining group sessions about surviving sexual abuse, controlling anger, and a sense-of-self seminar — the girl that sat next to me for breakfast earlier comes running up to me smiling and starts to talk to me… acting the polar opposite from earlier, thus her outburst from that morning perhaps being her ugly side?  I dunno.  She had an undercurrent of that ugly side at all times, even when she was being “nice.”  I learned that her name was Lisa — which immediately made me smile, hoping she was kidding — as my mind is constantly making film references to “Girl, Interrupted” — where I felt like Susanna Kaysen in the plot of my life experience in the psych unit.  It was nice to see Lisa smile, but she had braces on both the top and bottom rows of her teeth — and they badly needed to be remove.  The cement rotted into the surface of her teeth, an obvious indicator of her drug usage of course, but this ultimately ruined her permanent teeth to where she would need extreme dental work in order for them to look halfway normal again.  Each tooth had fat gaps between them — and the bottom were all silver… silver from some kind of material that was deliberate I’m sure, just how a lot of black people have “gold teeth” — I didn’t understand how she had silver caps AND braces.  What orthodontist would approve of such a thing?  Every time Lisa talked to me I stared at her mouth, never anywhere else.  Her mouth was huge and menacing.  When she’d yell, it was like a banshee, when she was angry it was loud like a guttural animal in the woods.  When she was being “nice” this frightening smile was glued to her face.  I didn’t trust her because she was behaving like she was “on” something — bouncing off the walls like Tigger and striking up conversation with me?  But, from that point on, I sort of became her “target” friend — she clung to me to every meeting and event, etc.  She was very, very kind with her compliments.  Lisa spoke in an intensely cliche Latin-American accent, her brain mixing it up with Spanish and English causing a distinct Latina/ghetto girl lexicon.  She told me that I was “so fuckin cute” and that I reminded her of her son.  There was nothing else to do but hang out with her and listen to her life story.  So far I sound really judgmental of her, but that’s only because I was judging her at first.  I shouldn’t have done that — but being trapped in such a negative environment brought out the worst in me.  Lisa, when medicated, spoke quite rationally and even had a decent vocabulary.  She was competent and self-aware.  She was a survivor, a person who survived such shitty turmoil that not a single white middle-class American person like myself could even fathom.  Lisa’s crystal meth issue landed her in this program for the 5th time.

Lisa and I — bizarre as it sounds — connected really well.  Lisa articulated bipolar disorder with such clarity and I found myself agreeing and relating to everything she said, or explained.  Lisa uses crystal meth to self-medicate during extreme, uncontrollable episodes of mania that would go on for many, many weeks at a time.  Lisa lost custody of her two kids for pretty much most of their entire lives.  Luckily, she remains involved with them, and they visited her on the visitation days.  Lisa showed me beautiful artwork she made with all of the resources she had — mostly mixed-media pieces that she hung around the bed in her room.  What really intrigued me was this one day we were in her room, sitting on her bed, and she thoroughly explained the meanings behind the images in these pieces — it was really impressive and fascinating.  She had this great ability to visually communicate her inner-madness using typical arts and crafts materials.  Lisa knew right off the bat how therapeutic it was for her to make these collage/mixed pieces.  Over time, they became more sophisticated and detailed, including one that had tiny cuts of red tissue paper in a carefully-drawn anatomical picture of the human brain — the paper severed in half, divided, separated.  The tissue paper represented chaos — yet it was a chaos she understood, and a chaos that I understood when she explained it.  Different afflictions like guilt, craving, need, anger, control, lack of control, love, hatred, compassion, apathy, humor, carelessness, recklessness, panic.  In the middle it appeared similar to a Venn-diagram in the “grey space” between the two parts of her brain: a multi-layered chunk of tissue paper representing madness — her madness and her relationship with it.  Its control.  Its bothersome bind between her emotional polarities.  Moments with her consisted of major humor, hilarious stories — her ability to express dark humor was much appreciated by me.  Then, at times, she’d project negativity toward me that was odd and misconstrued and always, always irreconcilable.  No compromise.  Only her perception, her distortion, her surrender to cerebral madness and its unforgiving grip on her ability to live her life with functional behavior.

I began to question behavior altogether — it’s concept.  Are people like Lisa really damaged, crazy, and mad?  Are they just people expressing their lives cursed with conflict — their mental illnesses defining them?  Lisa can go to an AA or NA meeting and easily identify herself as an addict, but she’d probably first identify herself as bipolar, crazy, or angry before anything else.  Lisa will probably continue to use crystal meth on and off for the rest of her life as a way to cope with her disease and to supply her sense of self with pleasure that she is perpetually devoid of.  She will be in and out of hospitals, clinics, facilities, rehabs, whatever you want to call them.  But she’s going to these places and being treated like an addict — just how I was being treated.  Counseling, one-on-one therapy at least twice a week, for as long as she wants, combined with legal medications are, to me, her best bet in regard to her wrestle with madness.  I don’t think she’s mad, I don’t think her brain is severed into two, I don’t think she’s unattractive, and I don’t like how all I thought about was her appearance at first.  But, I’m superficial and lacking the life experience of these harrowed individuals.  Now, I’m not so much.  I do not judge addicts, drug users.  There is some kind of reason they sought out the substance.  Maybe it is a choice, maybe it is not a choice they make.  Does it really matter?  Is it their choice to suffer with a mental illness?  Absolutely not.  Is it their choice to struggle with mental illness in a judgmental, misconstrued, and an ignorant, cruel society?  No.  Society is incredibly cruel to these people who have already endured so much.

My heart strings have been tugged to their fullest extent.  I can’t go to bed at night without these people in my heart.  Without forgetting their struggles they tuck away and fall asleep with every night. They wake up and it’s still there — all of it.  In a world so chaotic, hopelessness becomes quite understandable.  Not necessarily acceptable — but there’s reasoning behind it that I comprehend now more than I ever have.

“i’ve got a mood disorder, okay?”

Before I begin this, I want to establish a disclaimer:  all of this information is private, yet also is necessary to be told.  This is my decision to self-disclose all of this, and I trust that the people who read it will find it somewhere in their hearts to sympathize with my crisis, my situation, which has been a battle with mental illness for years.  No way will I tolerate anyone judging or exploiting anything that I write here.  Yes, I am sharing it, and I do not really care what anyone thinks.  But at the same time, I would like to maintain a level of privacy in some way — knowing that the “audience” — if that even exists — of this post will be adults about this.  Please, please, please be an adult and respect me.  Respect my situation.  Do not gossip about it and do not hound me about it.  Do not tell misconstrue anything so that it’s held against me or it winds me up into trouble with my job or my personal life.  This is my personal life — and I may be stupid or foolish to publicize it here — but it’s not my style to exist restlessly in silence.  I own my rights to my very own catharsis.

The image above is not me, but it’s someone I strangely feel close to.  To include some Carrie Mathison into the equation of this post, here in my blog, felt very appropriate & relevant — because watching this television show “Homeland” is like looking into a mirror at times, so yeah, the character on the show is both beloved and upsetting for me to watch at times.  I don’t claim to like “live vicariously” through her — it’s just that her “episodes” displayed on the show came SO close to home that it was uncomfortable.  I remember episodes from season one that freaked me out so badly that I had to pause them and recollect myself before I continued watching them — the depiction of Carrie’s bipolar disorder was so identical to some of my idiosyncratic episodic behaviors that I was like “really?  really??”  But, I digress, “Homeland” as a complex show itself, is progressing toward its second season finale that is very much explosively exciting.

I, on the other hand, have not been too well.  I’ll just spit it out — since there’s no one out there except the crickets: the truth is, is that I struggle, alone, in the dark, with bipolar (I) disorder.  Previously it was misdiagnosed as general (clinical) depression or maybe ADD — blah blah blah I dunno — the psychobabble begins to get very frustrating sometimes.  I do not walk around with “bipolar boy” stamped on my forehead because then it becomes a label, and then it becomes something I don’t understand in regard to others perceptions.  To me, it’s an intense mental illness that I have to live with for the rest of my life.  Something like that is too fucking heavy for the simplicity of a diagnostic label, title, whatever.  But, it is what it is.  And according to many professionals, friends, family, and myself — I certainly struggle with this specific conflict of bipolar disorder.

I’ve been officially diagnosed with it for a year now by several different doctors.  But, then again, I didn’t even need an official clinical diagnosis to determine what was going on.  My impulsiveness began to spin out of control in May 2012 — for example, when I impulsively bought the very first loft/apartment that I looked at.  I didn’t look anywhere else but here.  Budget didn’t concern me, important factors such as neighborhood/reputation etc didn’t concern me, I just signed the papers on the spot after taking a fucking GLANCE at this property.  It was one of the most insane things I had ever done because I couldn’t believe… I had done that.  Thankfully — I am pleased and happy with my residence — but what a fucking gamble to take.  I never forgot that, really.  That factor was kind of “tucked away” to my own acknowledgement — no one else knew how impulsive and manic I was being for pretty much the entire month.  Then came a huge crash, of course.

At the time it made sense, but looking back I can easily construe a pattern that began to unfold throughout the following months: 2 weeks of highly functional behavior, 2 weeks of self-medicated, hazy, aggressive, unpleasant behavior that left me restless, agitated, and my mind was an unforgivable territory of racing thoughts that I cannot even begin to articulate.  Just madness.

My mood does not switch “on and off” like a light-switch, necessarily.  That’s kind of a cliche of bipolar disorder.  I consider mine to be much more hardcore.  Essentially, this mood disorder began to effect my life so negatively that I was pretty certain that I was going to lose my job, lose my apartment, lose my financial stability, lose my friends, lose my respect from others, etc.  Episodes became nightly and increased in severity, more specially “mixed-episodes” that are terrifying periods where I cannot distinguish my mood or mental processes at all — whatsoever.  I haven’t had these occur in about two years.

The episodes proceeded to occur for about 12 days in a row, non-stop, relentless, unforgiving, horrific at times.  One of the worst mixed-episodes occurred when I was at work.  This made me panic like I had never panicked in my life — ugh, it was just incredibly unpleasant.  My job is very cerebral, task-driven, fast-paced, focused-oriented — it’s all gauged strictly by performance.  Performance at my job kind of grinded to a halt and I didn’t have a clue what to fucking do.  I would just shake, sweat, and do everything I could to not burst out in tears.  My mind felt like it was driving 140 miles per hour on the Autobahn or something.  Even worse, actually.  My thoughts becomes so unclear that they just… disappear, fade away.  And then I forget what I’m doing or what I’m supposed to be doing.  There’s aspects of the episodes I cannot even possibly articulate.  It’s horrific to undergo such internal madness while trying to maintain an outside composure — and also try to gain some control over the episode.  What’s scary though — is that I don’t have control.  The evilness of this disease takes over and I lose the ability to function in a work setting, social setting, anything.  That’s what fucks everything up and I have to be honest and say “I need help, this is unbearable, this is insufferable.”

Man oh man, did I get help!  I sure got some fucking help.  At a goddamn mental institution, a psychiatric facility located in the suburbs of Kansas City.  There I felt “quarantined” in a unit that left me little to no privileges whatsoever.  I spent days with no shoes, no belongings, not even chapstick.   All I had were my eyeglasses that I didn’t even fucking need  because there wasn’t anything to READ!  The other patients were the dregs of society — and not comforting to say the least.  My first night there, which was a Tuesday evening, my day off that I decided to admit myself to this facility — was the worst that had ever occurred.  I had to be sedated by a very potent medication that knocked me out, which was terrifying, not pleasant.

Several days occurred there with medication, group therapy, and meetings with incompetent psychiatrists that I developed a lot of animosity with.  They were awful doctors.  They were actually quite judgmental and inappropriate!  And if I called them out on it — well who’s to say that my word has any meaning?  They, after all, are the fucking doctors.  I am the crazy one.  I’m the crazy bipolar boy with “borderline characteristics” and so on.  The worst part was though was that the doctors called the shots with everything.  Everything.  My discharge date, my medical records, everything.  I was supposed to stay much longer than anticipated — for some reason they released me early.  Maybe I should’ve stayed the whole time, I dunno.

When I left, I stayed with my parents.  Oddly, this wasn’t as “tranquil” as I had expected it to be.  There was a lot of tension with my parents because I felt like I was supposed to be behaving in a certain specific way because I had gone to inpatient treatment.  Their perception was I was evaluated by doctors, heavily medicated, and then appropriately discharged into the world.  Except the world has been more daunting than anyone can understand, especially my parents.

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It was a part of my discharge agreement that I stayed with my parents under their surveillance; loving and encouraging as it was, it’s pretty difficult for them to understand this on an emotional level.  They  don’t really comprehend “terminology” like “mixed-episode” or “mania” or “manic-depressive” etc because it’s probably really sad and emotionally taxing for them to confront.

It’s a very confrontational disorder, I’ll give it that.  Mood is everything, really.  I’ve learned that.  You can be in a ready-to-go productive mood, a lounge lizard couch potato mood where you’re just passive and whatever, or you can be in an aggressive mood where everything is irritating you and your behavior manifests in bad ways — like if you “snap” at someone at work or whatever.  I deal with that every day at my job and it’s so difficult.  It’s very out of character — that’s a good way to put it.  I’m not a mean, aggressive guy whatsoever — I’m quite mild-mannered and nonpartisan for the most part.  I don’t seek animosity nor do I find myself to be the aggressor in arguments and stuff.

The manic episodes make so much sense to me now.  Once, when I was a junior in college, I enrolled in a creative writing class.  It was September, early in the semester, and the fall — for whatever reason — triggers extreme manic episodes.  I had an assignment to write a “short fiction story” that was meant to be about 3-5 pages long — concise, to the point — what a typical short story is for a general writing class.  Well, I misconstrued that direction.  I did not ask my professor if it was okay for me to “branch out” on the project or to expand my ideas, or whatever.  I ended up staying awake for 48 hours and wrote a “novella” that was about 48 pages in length — with only 1/2 inch double spaced.  The story wasn’t too bad or badly written — it was a bit strange I think… it was about a woman living in New York dealing with a sex addiction or something, but essentially it ended up being very, very, very lengthy.  The detail was good, but it was also extremely scattered in some parts and incoherent.  To say that I would “digress” is an understatement.  Along with this, I took on the load of 18 credit hours including a Religion class I would write 12-page papers for that would be endless, insensible rambling that somehow made sense to me at the time.  During this period I would enjoy it so much that I didn’t notice I would become extremely agitated, irritable, downright mean.  I wouldn’t brush my teeth (which is very unlike me) shower our even eat.  I would drink water, that’s about it.  But the way I’d be come so fucking wired was beyond my understanding. I was not on any kind of drug at the time — that’s important to establish.  I was just so fucking manic that nothing else was important to me except these assignments.  Energy seemed to flow into me and I was constantly restless; unforgivably restless.  Obviously when you begin to get sleep deprived and stuff you begin to get really strung out.  My professors thought it was strange of course, and my writing teacher said it was “overwrought” and she couldn’t even get through reading it.  She credited me for my enthusiastic participation — but looking back — why didn’t she notice something was really odd about that?  I turned in a fucking short novel to her?  How did I find the time to do that?  This sort of thing went on, and on, and on.

Then, I’d have a second term in the semester after all of this manic behavior and suddenly I felt totally dead.  Seriously, just to be flippant, I would feel my wrist for my pulse just to make sure that I was alive.  At least 45-60% of my college experience was me — lying flat on my bed — just staring blankly at the ceiling, totally motionless.  I had to drag my ass to class where I would nod off or just lay my head down the entire lecture — not taking any notes or anything.  Then, I would fuck up the exams, I would fuck up the homework, and I would wallow in excuses — but really I couldn’t explain it.  The depression was relentless.  I was so upset with myself because I’d be so, so incredibly productive and totally on top of my game — and then I would kind of… collapse.  Cycles, I guess… cycles that I didn’t understand.  I thought I was just a typical depressed college student dealing with moodiness in the winter weather — waking up early — going to bed too late — my mind racing, racing, racing!  God, my mind would race constantly that I couldn’t even focus on what to eat for lunch.  I would have to like switch to that “channel” in my brain to make a very simple decision.

The mixed episodes began roughly in early 2010.  I remember it was an arctic, frigid February morning and I had moved back into my parents’ house.  My parents had left for work and the house was empty.  I had to be at a M/W/F class at 10:00am — but I couldn’t do it, there was not a chance in hell that I was capable of making it to the class.  I remember just writhing in bed — repulsively churning in my own skin — my body felt like it was being clenched together by hot-iron metal slabs on each side.  My mind felt disturbed and completely chaotic.

I’m honestly not much of a “Crier” which sounds totally weird for me being such a neurotic person.  But these episodes take me to such a heightened emotional state that tears just flow from my eyes like little rivulets riveting down my cheeks — the kind of deep, guttural crying that makes you almost hyperventilate because it’s so, so physical.  Physical crying — a really “weird” kind of crying that I hadn’t experienced before.  I remember trying to breathe deeply, slowly, calmly, and it would just burst out into deep exhalations that were not relieving at all.  Since I felt no relief, it spun the episode into this terrifying descent where my mind is saying “Calm down, get a grip, you’re fine, you’re not in danger” and then there’s an undercurrent of this harrowing, dark depression that makes me feel dead on the inside — yet I’m expressing this intense, complex emotional state — it’s both worlds simultaneously colliding and exploding.  Mixed episodes are extremely physical.  I tremble really badly as if I’m having a “panic attack’ yet it’s not really a full-blown panic attack, but my heart races and I feel an urgency to release this built-up, pent-up, indescribable manic energy that makes me feel like ripping my hair out — but I always end up crawling around on the floor like a pathetic dog or something.  I try to focus my mind on getting dressed — so I’ll go into my closet and just FRANTICALLY flip through all of my clothes and try to find my shoes.  My mind works overtime to just coordinate the outfit or whatever — even though I know I can’t drive a car or go anywhere.

The restless energy is not a good kind of energy.  It’s a state that drives me crazy because it’s energy that’s just — there — and causes immense psychic pain.  It manifests physically with the trembling, sweating, crying, etc.  Basically I just melt down into a puddle of myself.  A pathetic, frantic, frenetic puddle of myself.

These episodes are definitely what sent me to the psychiatric unit.  These episodes are why I’m cautious of returning to a difficult, mentally-driven job.  These episodes are “activated” throughout various times in the day.

Along with other medications, I am now taking Geodon — which is supposedly like the “Cadillac” of anti-psychotic/mood stabilizing medications.  It’s been really helpful so far with the episodes, but there is still shit that “creeps up” on me and makes me feel really uncomfortable.  The medication is very potent and makes me sleep hardcore.

I don’t know if sharing all of this is going to be a downer for someone, but I really hope it won’t be.  It’s just helpful for me to express what I can here.  There’s a history to all of this — and at the age of 23 I think this mood disorder has come to a peak — a really frightening peak of course.  I have the support of people who love me — and people who TRY to understand, and that’s all that matters to me.