(This is an essay I wrote in November of 2018. The essay wasn’t very good at first, but I decided to rewrite it and republish because it’s a good snapshot of what one of my mental episodes looks like.)
I sat here for the past three hours doing everything except the writing I set out to do right after I woke up this morning. I read my email and at least fifty stories on Medium. I went through my notifications several times to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I read email again and hated on influencers on Instagram.
I finally got disgusted with myself. I got pissed off that I was wasting time I could use to be productive.
Sickened, I called myself a fat, lazy ass and took a nap to dull the anxiety.
Am I really lazy? What is going on with me?
Since I woke this morning, the noise in my head has been unbearable. If you don’t know, I’m having an episode, and psychosis is a huge part of that. It’s making it hard to think at all.
But that shouldn’t be an excuse — should it?
If I were a writer worth his salt, I would be able to push past all obstacles? I should be able to put my head down and start typing out the most delightful prose, even if there is a war going on between my ears. I should be able to focus like a laser and do what needs doing.
After thinking like that for an hour, I got even more anxious. I started to panic. I couldn’t think about anything except how uneasy I was and how loud it was in my head.
But, that still shouldn’t be an excuse — right?
Right on time, depression showed her ugly face. I could feel myself sinking in the mud, and there was little I could do.
Thanks — just when I was about to start writing and make some progress (not!).
So, for the past few hours, I’ve been reading — oh, and watching Netflix. It’s about all I can manage right now. At least reading is somewhat productive, while Netflix is mostly mindless.
On top of everything else, there is the assholish part of my mind that won’t accept any excuse for failure or weakness of any kind if it keeps me from doing what I need to be doing to reach whatever version of success that keeps me motivated today.
Enough complaining. I’ve had enough!
I’m sick to death of the noise, voices, anxiety, depression, and all the other mind-fuckery that comes with it.
I don’t know how much more of this I can take.
It’s not always like this. Sometimes I’m a machine. Sometimes, I can sit for hours and write beautiful and compelling 5000-word essays. Sometimes I can take a topic, open my mind, and spill knowledge all over the page and end up with something I can be proud to call my own.
Oh, wonderful! Right on cue, my wife runs screaming through the house — raging at everyone and everything. I don’t know what set her off, but she may not stop for a while.
Sometimes everything falls in place. But, the last few weeks have not been that time. The last few weeks have been one of the nine circles of hell (I can’t name which one right now — maybe all of them). It’s been Dante’s Inferno all over my house.
It’s quiet. It’s too quiet. (Really? Paranoia too?)
The house, which normally is as loud as the midway of the state carnival, has fallen silent.
My precious daughter squeaks the door open and waltzes in, drinking a yogurt drink. She says slyly, “You can have a drink if you want,” — like my angry wife wasn’t shrieking at her at all. I look at her and smile, almost forgetting that she is interrupting this stream of consciousness thing I’ve been writing feverishly for the past fifteen minutes. Now I’ve stopped even looking at the screen of my laptop.
The wife swings open the squeaky door violently, and it makes a sound almost like pain. The child runs for cover. Several items slammed down and a few loud sighs later, she lays in the bed next to my desk, loudly watching a video in Tagalog on YouTube.
Now that the house is quiet, I find the words have stopped flowing. The arguing in my head gets louder with each passing second.
The little one runs into the room, this time crying. Somehow, from what I can understand of the story, the dog got in her way, and she skinned both her knees. The wife doesn’t make a move to help, so I turn my attention to the medical emergency.
She immediately starts screaming, “NO ALCOHOL, NO ALCOHOL!” followed by a string of unintelligible Hiligaynon. She can switch between the languages freely, but I’m no closer to understanding the problem.
She finally quiets down, and I wash her scraped knees — minus the alcohol.
Now they both lie there on the bed, staring at the phone screen, most probably making plans to overthrow me in my own castle. I can hear them mumbling even now, plotting my downfall.
An hour later, the anxiety is back, the wife is screaming about shampoo, and I’ve given up any hope of writing.
Then, after more yelling and punishment (even a cold shoulder to me, even though I did nothing) I hear the shower start.
The only noise is the tap, tap, tapping of the keyboard, and the murmur of a sniffling child watching Peppa Pig on my phone.
Can I write now?
That remains to be seen.
As bad as the voices in my head appear to be, it’s not the worst. I even think the clamor in my house every day is not the biggest thing keeping me from writing. After all, if I really needed quiet, I could work at 2 am.
The biggest thing that keeps me from writing is my inability to let it all go.
I could write. Hell, I could write what the voices are saying — that might be interesting.
But I don’t.
I get so anxious and depressed because I let it all get to me. I let it all build up and make me miserable, so all my mind can handle is the drone of Netflix and strong, black coffee.
I need to let it all go, but I haven’t figured out how.
I hope I figure it out soon — I’m not getting any younger.
So, maybe I shouldn’t be calling myself a lazy pig when my house is a circus, and there are elephants and tigers doing tricks in my head. I know I need to learn to deal with it better. This is the life I signed up for, and I don’t see it changing anytime soon. This is the life I love, and it makes me feel alive like never before.
So maybe complaining is okay — I just need to be kind to myself.
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Jason Weiland is a writer, blogger, freelancer, and mental health advocate living a dream life in a place he only dreamed of as a kid. He talks about difficult issues but has never lost his sense of humor or willingness to understand others and help when he can.
He would love to connect with you on social media.