The War Rages On
My brain has officially shifted gears into overdrive. I last slept sometime early Saturday morning. I have tried to hold it together. I must admit that yesterday was incredibly difficult. The speed at which my brain is processing has left me irritated and exhausted.
I can always recognize the impending shift as my rocking becomes more pronounced. My increasing discomfort with stillness and quiet become all that I can focus on. The repetitive back and forth motion somehow soothes my anxiety triggered by the calm. I have to constantly remind myself to relax my clenched fists so my fingers don’t hurt so badly.
I have found that the less sleep I get the more sensitive my hearing and vision become. Noise and light become the enemy. It literally becomes painful to simply sit and watch television. Once again I give you the purest definition of irony. The very noise that I need to silence the demons in my brain becomes too painful for me to utilize to fill the emptiness. I cannot win. My brain will never allow me to rest.
The hum of the fan provides some distraction. It is constant, calming, it is pure white noise. The ever present hum is the exact opposite of the annoying tick of a clock or an unbalanced ceiling fan. That type of repetitive noise can be maddening as each tick gets louder and louder echoing through the silence like an avalanche down an open mountain face. Deafening and deadly. It slowly becomes uncontrollable and all consuming.
The fan sits on the window sill drawing fresh air in from outside creating a gentle wind storm across the scape of my tattered bed. The kids are all with me. They are smart. They can sense that daddy is off somehow. But they don’t mind. Their love is unconditional. They have seen this before. They will stay with me until this episode passes.
For those of you who are still reading, (which I can only guess is no one), you might be asking yourself “Why is he writing about this?”. I am sharing this experience because so many people have reached out to me who are watching their loved ones suffer and they want to know how to help them. They don’t understand where the people they love have gone. No one knows truly what another person is going through. Unless of course they have suffered just as intensely. Unless they have experienced the nightmare first hand.
I am trying to bring awareness to the pandemic mental illness health crisis that faces American society today. I have lived it, I am it. All who suffer live it relentlessly everyday. Most in silence. Most in fear of the shame and stigma that come with being labeled crazy. Well I do not live in that fear any longer. I am open and brutally honest about the realities of living with mental illness on a day to day basis.
My best friend told me on Saturday evening that I am too far out there for even my friends to comprehend. We have been best friends since we were fourteen years old. Admittedly he knows nothing about what I go through. I can tell you that there are two reasons for that. The first is that to him, I am just Chad. He has seen me at my best, but he has also seen me at my very ugliest. He accepted all of it from the beginning, never questioning the painfully obvious.
The second reason is a bit more tragic. As he discovers more about my struggle, it has become harder for him to see Chad. As he said, as he is learning about all the stuff that goes on with my mind, I am becoming harder for him to understand. The embarrassment, the shame, the stigma of mental illness still shudders quiet conversations in the corners of parties, creates whispers at the water cooler in the break room, causes people to recoil at the thought of the unstable guy at the next desk or at the end of the bar.
I am going to continue to share. If I only reach one person, whether it is someone who can’t take it anymore or someone who desperately wants to help a friend, a son, a sister, anyone who suffers alone. This voice is for them to know that they are not alone. They will never be alone as long as I can type or furiously scribble ink on a journal page.