Deafening Stillness

My ribs are straining under the weight of breath.

For a full inhale draws awareness to the storm in my belly.

Spouting funnels of agony to the crown of my head.

I am alive.

No, no, no mustn’t be still.

To be still is to acknowledge. To permit. To accept.

Ribs straining.

Awareness of the storm

is agony.

I am alive.

They are dead.

Don’t Suffer in Silence. You’re worth Life – TW

I’m exhausted from the mental battle of the last few days but specifically fatigued over learning of the loss of a friend.

Just days ago I shared my experience when my dad completed suicide on this blog and on social media. September is suicide prevention month and today especially.

In a cruel twist of 2020, the year I actively reduced my time on Facebook in response to increasing division and hate, I visited Facebook today and saw in horror 6 days ago a friend posted her goodbye. Which had prompted a flurry of activity on that Facebook post, culminating with the obituary posted just today.

I am stunned. She was a beautiful soul. We went to high school together and recently physically reconnected through a mutual therapy experience, though we’d always maintained contact via Facebook sharing the love of ballet.

We were born only hours apart. She was my birthday sister. Now she’s gone. As one does I am replaying our last exchange and wishing I’d done more, tried harder.

My beautiful, empathic son, himself planning to study psychology in college next year stated: “Suicide doesn’t really end the pain though does it? It just transfers it.”

Yes. I will never say suicide is selfish because I know the pain of living in mental agony, but it absolutely leaves wreckage in its wake. Wreckage that never heals, only scars.

If you are suffering, reach out to loved ones, get help. You can present at your nearest emergency room and just sit there if you don’t want to talk. Sit and be safe. Or admit you’re worried about your own safety. Or call 1800-273-8255. text 741741 in US and Canada. 85258 in UK. 50808 in Ireland. You don’t have to suffer in silence. You are not alone.

Bad Scriptwriting

Scene: 2020, year of COVID pandemic.

Lead Role: female

Co star: 365 allergies

Supporting role: anxiety

January
Lead: “Oh dang. I have a sinus headache again. Pass me the aspirin.”
Co star: “Want to try a decongestant?”
Lead: “Ok but the one that wont make me tired.”

February
Lead: “Oh I have a sinus headache again. Maybe it’s an infection.”
Co star: “Nah, take Sudafed this time.”

March
Lead, annoyed: “Who has allergies in the winter anyway, honestly?”
Support: “Maybe you have that coronavirus they’re talking about.”
Female rolls eyes.

April
Lead: “I mean, I get these headaches all the time; just sinusitis right? I’ll just take my temperature.”
Co star snickers.
Support: “But I have to take Sudafed and it makes me tired but also unable to sleep. How am I supposed to therapize under such influence?” cries

May
Support: “Maybe it’s really coronavirus. Surely one can’t feel this awful from a sinus headache.”
Co star smirks
Lead, to co workers: “No it’s just allergies, I promise. I took my temperature.”

June
Lead: “Why is my body so weird? Who gets a reprieve from allergies in the summer?”
Co star, annoyed: “I’m still here I’m just not destroying your sinuses at the moment. Use the flonase.”
Support: “Should take my temperature to be certain I don’t have coronavirus.”

July
Co star, dancing around gleefully: “Here we go.”
Support: “Oh my God, my head really hurts. Like really. It’s coronavirus, I know it.”
Lead: “I’ll take my temperature.”

August
Co star, screaming: “HAHAHAHAAA you feel like crap don’t you?”
Support: “Should I stay home from work? What if it is coronavirus this time and not allergies?”
Lead: “I took my temperature, it’s fine. I’ll just work from home again to be safe.”
Support: “Oh my God I can’t taste or smell anything!”
Lead: “This happens every time you take Sudafed. Calm down.”

September
Support: “I will never know if I have coronavirus. I should just isolate myself until the pandemic is over.”
Co star falls, laughing hysterically.
Lead: “I need a vacation.”

Honest Grief – Trigger warning

I lost my dad to suicide. Oh just jump right on in – that’s a hook. “It’s not a hook, be quiet.”

The thing is I understood. I never got angry with him for choosing to end his life. I have been angry with him while he was alive, but the very reasons I was angry during his life are the reasons I understood his suicide.

Oh you’re a saint – it was easy for you to move on then, huh? “To the contrary. I developed post traumatic grief. But I never questioned his motives.”

He was close to receiving a terminal diagnosis for his alcoholism. The death certificate cited Bipolar Disorder as secondary cause to the suicide. This was before I was a therapist (indeed it would be the catalyst to my becoming a therapist) and knew anything about the disorder. But I knew he was a troubled man. And I knew the relentless cycle of promises and failures that is addiction because I, too had been far too friendly with the bottle.

The most agonizing part of losing my father in that way is knowing he died alone, feeling unloved and hopeless.

I think I cried for three years straight. I couldn’t go to funerals, couldn’t hear the word suicide, couldn’t go to recovery meetings, couldn’t be around men with similar features, couldn’t smell alcohol of any kind, couldn’t hear certain songs, had flashbacks for 8 years (yes they just ended – I think).

Complicated by other trauma . “Yes, shh. That’s another blog.”

Dance proved to be my saving grace, and I was a fairly new dancer then (side note you don’t have to start dancing at age 3 to be a performer). Improvisation and composition helped me express what I couldn’t put language to. Because with grief, language doesn’t make sense. Grief is a deep, guttural emotion – it isn’t logical and can’t be healed using the prefrontal cortex. We must feel it.

So I went to therapy. I think losing him in that manner gave me some sort of permission to go and face my demons. Of course I had no idea I was opening Pandora’s baggage.

Good job, I see what you did there. “Now you’re complimenting me? Hush.”

I would then go on to learn my empathy for his pain came from a real place of understanding as I learned about Bipolar Disorder. If you’ve followed any of my blog you’ll know the apple didn’t fall far for me.

You need to wrap this up, kid. “I’m aware. My story doesn’t end there, so how does one…”

My journey begins there, really. 27 years to find a path out of self destruction. I miss my dad so much it still aches everyday but him dying may have saved my life. And pushed me toward helping others. I hope he is smiling down on me. I sure hope I’ve made him proud.

I love you Daddy. Always be your girl. I know you’re at peace.

Sometimes I Forget

I didn’t expect it to be painful. Rather silly. You’ve been doing this for how long now? And you didn’t think it’d be painful?

“Listen. I was unprepared for my words to summon a tsunami of anguish and confusion.”

Who are you talking to?

“Myself, obviously.” I gesture wildly at the crowd of no one.

Back to the story.

She asked me when I first attended. “So I attempted to describe the timeline – you know, scrunching up my face and calling up the details of the first day.”

Seems a fairly benign question.

“But somewhere between my mouth forming words and recalling the emotions of that time I was catapulted into the past and lost my mind.”

We’ve done that in therapy before.

I sighed, “I know but I just thought I was done with all the surprises. Now I have to deal with this thing.”

Yes you do. Still waiting for why you’re surprised?

“Eff off.”

Untitled

Destabilizing. That’s what they call it when you start to go mad. Teetering between reality and psychosis.

Who is crying?

She said “Ok we’ve taken a look around; now let’s go back.”

I hear her, but she seems far away. Or rather I am far away. Where is this place? I hear sobbing.

Who is crying?

My body sees. My eyes do not. I am deafened by blackness.

Who is crying?

I Put That Away

She became aware of heat on her shoulder. Fearfully, she turned her head to see. Her heart sank. I thought that was you. Her head grew heavy, sinking toward her chest, collapsing under the weight of anguish.

She howled, “I put that away!”

Startled at the volume of her own voice, she lifted her chin slightly.

The smell of the cooling September evening taunted her. “And yet you are afraid,” snickered a mocking voice from the trees. “Child, you are simply wearing a costume for them. I know the truth.”

She stood, immobile. Unsure. Only her eyes moved, darting rapidly.

Am I?