Last night I had a breakdown of sorts. I won’t go into details of why, because even the king of cringeworthy needs to keep some things to himself for the sake of his sanity. All I will say is I finally learned the truth about some things that I had used for the groundwork of my life. Some assumptions I made turned out to be untrue.
The very foundations of my life shook from their moorings.
My mind couldn’t process this information. Voices were gibbering, and all my emotions bubbled to the surface at once. This happened in a matter of minutes. My level of panic rose so high that I thought my heart would burst.
But, in an instant, everything stopped.
My mind went eerily quiet. All I could hear is soft white noise — like someone had left a radio on low volume somewhere. I felt no emotion. I heard no voices. Noise from the outside was muted. I didn’t move a muscle or take my eyes off of a small point in front of me. This is how I imagine death.
If I were to describe in a word what I was feeling at that instant, it would be calm.
It had been years since this happened to me. I’d not felt the blissful quiet for decades. Back when my psychotic episodes were in full swing, and I often cut myself to dull the pain — after the sickness and pain ran down my arm in rivulets of crimson, I would go into this trance-like state for a few hours.
I called it phase.
When my mind and body shut down and entered into phase, I felt nothing. It was such a contrast to what I felt moments before that often I would cry in joy at the disassociation of it. Phase was an escape from real life. Phase was an escape from the noise.
I couldn’t enter into phase with drugs or alcohol. The only way I could walk through the gates was with extreme physical or emotional pain.
My ticket to bliss and serenity was bought with blood and tears.
Last night, I felt so much pain that I waltzed right into phase. I was never able to enter five years ago when I attempted suicide — maybe if I had I would never have taken those pills. It speaks to the level of distress I felt as my life crumbled around me.
Phase lasted long enough for me to gather my wits and figure out a way to get through the night without taking a knife and plunging it into my chest. I drank a beer. I stared into the whitish abyss and contemplated how I would move on. I didn’t cry because phase didn’t allow emotion. I was able to look at myself with a cold, calculating gaze and do something that the emotional trainwreck in me couldn’t.
I figured out how to live.
I finished my beer and slipped quietly into a dreamless sleep. I woke calm this morning. Phase was gone, and my anxiety and psychosis rose out of the darkness and enveloped me in pain. I staggered a little internally, but stood and went on with my day.
Phase has changed me. I’ve hardly spoken today, and my face is a mask of indifference. I’m sick but not critical. There is an underlying sense of loss and depression and anxiety ebbs and flows with the entrance and exit of thoughts through my mind.
My mind is disconcertingly quiet, but it allowed me to think about writing this essay. It’s also helped me decide where to go next. There was a time last night when I had convinced myself that I needed to die. But my time in phase helped me see that there other options. I guess if I had more honor and I no longer wanted to be a burden to anyone, I would take a blade and end it, but the faces of the people I love flashed in my mind, admonishing me to stay alive no matter how bad it gets.
I’m not killing myself. My death will come as a weathered old man — with my children, and my children’s children around me. My death with be a joyful time. When I tire of sitting on my porch and staring at the sunset, when the kids no longer think it’s funny to play the “pull my finger” game with grandpa, when the beer tastes like watered-down memories, I will slip into the stream of the universe and cease to be a part of this reality.
I’ve tried to describe what happened to me in the last 24 hours in a way that even someone with no experience dealing with psychosis can relate to. It’s difficult to use words to describe the turmoil and uncertainty in me. It’s hard to explain phase without sounding like a maniac.
The last day has been terrible and wonderful at the same time.
This story was not curated. If you write and publish on Medium, you know what that means — a quick death. If not, it just means that it won’t be promoted to other readers on Medium.
But it doesn’t always have to be like this, and this is where I add value to your life. It works like this:
We all write free content for Medium. They don’t pay for it. The money we pay to be members is more than enough to pay the writers who are making money. In return for us writing millions of words of free content and paying the writers who engage with the readers (us again), Medium forbids us from adding any more than a simple text link to the bottom of posts to promote ourselves.
If you do everything right, you get curated.
I have no problem with that. I’ve been with Medium for over a year-and-a-half, and I absolutely fricking love that they gave me a platform to earn and share my writing. I tell everyone I know to join Medium and start writing.
But, if I don’t get curated, my stories die. I don’t earn. The only traffic I get comes in is from Google, and if the people they are sending are not Medium subscribers, I don’t get paid.
But Medium benefits greatly. Every time we bring eyeballs onto the platform, Medium gains authority and in turn, members. They also get income from writers paying them for exposure by featuring them in publications and other places on Medium, even if they aren’t members. It’s a great business model.
I thank Medium for giving me the platform, and I respect them, especially when they curate me and my stories live on.
So Medium, I love you, and if you curate me, I will follow the rules and only put a small text link to my newsletter at the bottom.
But, if I am not curated, I am going to use my work to promote myself and my brand.
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