Someone told me that every great story starts with the main character thinking he or she is a nobody. Arya Stark, Luke Skywalker, Rey (Skywalker?), Captain America, and Spider-Man are just a few examples. But, sadly, these are fictional people. The writers create their destinies and mold them the way they see fit. Characters can go through more pain and struggle than any real human could possibly bear and still survive.
I, on the other hand, am not a character in someone’s book. If I was, it wouldn’t be much of a story. I’m just a guy from a small town with not much meaning whatsoever. Or, at least, that’s what I’m told to think by my own mind.
The mind is both a beautiful and horrible thing. I can’t trust mine anymore. The voices are getting louder and stronger and the anxiety and panic attacks are getting harder to control. Bear Grylls says that when you have strong anxiety, breathe it down and crack on. So, I’ve been trying that. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
Yesterday was a particularly hard day. I got home from work, ate some breakfast and watched the new Chelsea episode on Netflix. Afterwards, I laid down and couldn’t get to sleep. My mind just wouldn’t stop. I caught up on all my Snapchats and then tried o sleep again. Suddenly, every regret, worry, wish, hope, want, and desire bombarded my mind at one time. I couldn’t organize my thoughts. It felt like a hurricane inside my head, like I was being prepared for mummification while still alive. Then the nausea started and the room started spinning. I closed my eyes as tightly as possible but the voices and the memories and the sounds just got louder and louder. I started to panic. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t think. I was trapped in my own head.
After a few minutes of using Bear’s breathing advice, I gathered up enough of my mind to call mom and ask if she needed help with anything. I got dressed and spent half the day with her. She was able to distract me and talk to me until I calmed down. After I helped her with a few chores, she gave me some chamomile tea and honey. That actually helped! I fell right asleep and when I woke up, the voices were pretty much back to a whisper. Thank God for my mom. If it wasn’t for her, I don’t know what I would have done yesterday or even where I would have ended up.
I think part of the anxiety was worrying myself about work because it was Friday the 13th and I work in a sketchy town (Not Sylva, but a few towns over). The other part of it was reliving regrets and bad memories. That seems to be a reoccurring theme for me. I obsess over what I’ve done in the past even though I know I can’t change it. I feel like I have caused so much pain and heartache and I just can’t forgive myself for any of it. I truly hope and pray that God has forgiven me and that the people I hurt can forgive me too.
It’s scary to be alone with your thoughts. You never know just what is going to pop up and haunt you. I don’t want to be on medication because I know that that will just numb the pain and it won’t truly go away. Miss a pill and boom, it’s all back again.
Regrets are hard to escape even without mental instability, but when instability is a way of life for you, how do you regain control? Did I ever even have control? There’s a man that lives near my parents that fought in Vietnam. He’s just a country guy that loves his guns. One of his bumper stickers says, “Give war a chance.” I don’t understand that. You see and hear war vets going crazy after the experience or spiraling into a deep depression because of survivor’s guilt. This guy? Nope. He wants more war. That reminds me of a quote at the end of The Hurt Locker: “War is an addiction.”
That makes me wonder…can mental problems become an addiction? What if I can find someone to help me and I get better but then I find that I still have no one? Would I go crazy all over again? Would I crave to have those voices back? Is there such a thing as having withdrawals from being cured of craziness?
I do want to get better. I do want rid of this guilt and regret. I don’t want any more pain. Sometimes I think being alone would be worth it if it means I wouldn’t have any more anxiety or panic attacks.
The anger is subsiding, which is great. I used to have horrible anger problems, but using Bear’s breathing techniques and reminding myself to let go and let God handle it, I’ve been able to control anger. So, at least that’s a good sign.
I started walking up the trail across from my house. It’s a steep uphill climb and a steep downhill run so it’s a great workout. Focusing on nature seems to help so far. It’s like Rob Lowe says in Parks and Recreation, “If I keep my body moving and my mind occupied at all times, I will avoid falling into a bottomless pit of despair.”
There’s only one problem: eventually I have to stop. Eventually, my body will become too tired to keep moving. Eventually, my mind will lose focus. Then, all the bad stuff comes flooding back stronger than before and that worries me. I want to get better. I want to be able to think about the good things in my past without being flooded with guilt for all the bad things in the past.
The only reason I avoid suicide is because I know mom will be the one to find me and she does not deserve that pain. But what if I outlive her? The past and the future worry me. I worry what I’ll become if I can’t fix my mind now. If I can’t trust myself now, I sure won’t be able to then. So I’ll keep searching until I can find an answer. Until then….I just don’t know.
Steven is 25, an amateur film critic, and lives in Sylva, NC.