Mental Health: Disoriented

Last night, following her reading, I saw a writer get interviewed about her process. She said that a challenge of her latest book is that she was living it while she was writing it (menopause). However, she felt that that created an energy in the writing the reader could sense.

When I graduate in May, my thesis will be about mental illness in my family as it pertains to me, my brothers, and our relationships. In regards to my experience with one of my brothers, Alex, I am living it in real time. This means I have little time to digest what’s happened before I’ve got to get it on paper, effective, meaningful, and perhaps resolved in some way. The process itself is dizzying and disorients me, but the idea of energy coming off the prose is something I hope readers can feel, at least. I gotta get somethin’ outta this gig! Lol.

I’ve still got to find the right balance between revelation, contemplation, and privacy, though, as I don’t ever want my writing itself to deter any progress, especially regarding Alex. I talked with him a few days ago, the first time in a month, and all of the poetic sadness I’d painted around him the last three and a half years evaporated in one conversation.

I don’t know what conclusion I imagined after all of this with Alex. Maybe death? Just enough time has passed that I’ve lost sight of who my brother is when not using heroin, but I got a taste a few days ago. Detox is supposed to be rapturous, epiphany-inducing! Instead he seems to have returned to the same flighty, obstinate person I’ve always known. What’s worse? Going through something horrific and coming out, unchanged? Or, just never changing while living a fairly event-less life? I’d argue the former since there is so much hope wrapped up and hidden inside of horrific circumstance.

I’m exhausted.

It’s as if everything I’ve written about Alex the past three years has lost all soul. What happens when there is no hope at the core, after all? That when the terrible things peel off and the center is revealed, there’s just nothing there? It’s like I’ve been carrying around an enormous owl pellet, disgusting and crawling with things I don’t want to think about, because I know there’s a ruby at the center of it that will reveal itself with time. Instead all there is inside is exactly what’s on the outside.

It seems I’ve been carrying around something repulsive and heavy for no reason at all.

Written on Thursday, October 24, 2019.

Wednesday posts cover something that’s top of mind for me that week and are written in a short period of time. This means that editing is not strong. While it’s not my best work, it is my best, unfiltered thought.

More on Bummed Out Baker:
The Aftermath of the Birthday Hullabaloo
The Uncertainty of Mental Illness
Mental Health: A Regular Ole Tuesday

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Mental Health: The Aftermath of the Birthday Hullabaloo

If this is your first time visiting Bummed Out Baker, please read Mourning the Living and 31 Birthdays for context for this post.

After all of last week’s hullabaloo, I heard from my brother Alex today. It was a welcome surprise. He called me from a Chicken Express to wish me a belated happy birthday and to let me know that he had planned to call on my actual birthday, but that he’d lost his phone. He said that he still thought about me all day on my birthday.

I accidentally declined his call today, and as soon as I heard his voice come through on the voicemail I called the number back without listening to the rest. I knew I had a narrow window of time before he’d leave the restaurant and that I had to call straight away if I was to catch him. An employee answered and, when I asked for Alex, I heard him ask “Is Alex still here?” to someone else, signifying Alex’s familiar presence to the staff there, and then the phone muffled and I heard the employee say “sister” and “birthday” as if he were justifying Alex’s use of the phone to another employee.

“Is that ayewunsennighthreesisate?” Alex rattled off my phone number.

We talked for a bit, the details of which I’m purposely omitting. It’s strange to live this saga in real time.

A hallmark of this blog is transparency for the sake of normalizing these shitty, hurtful family situations, but I also don’t ever want to be exploitive or disrespectful to the time it takes to simply process happenings. Basically, I will share what I can when I feel it’s ready to be shared.

Last Thursday I slept until 4pm. I was shocked when I sat up in bed and saw the clock – I’ve never done that before. I’ve been sleeping 12-14 hours a night, sleeping through alarms, waking up physically exhausted, unable to get out of bed. These long sleeps result in restlessness the following night, and then the cycle starts again. I’ve always been a high maintenance sleeper, meaning I require more hours than the average bear to be at my best functionality, but this is something else. I’m gonna talk with my psychiatrist about it on Thursday because, as I’ve discussed before, my mood sunsets with the day. Staying up late and then sleeping strange hours has not been good for the ole psyche.

As always, I feel extremely fortunate to be able to sort out my issues without the fear of losing a job or without feeling like I’ve failed my family. I know not everyone struggling with mental illness-related sleeping problems has this luxury. As a privilege check I want to openly acknowledge the rarity of my specific situation.

Are these Wednesday posts helpful? I aim to be consistent when I post so that readers can always count on new content each week, but am not sure of reader preferences. Please let me know.

Written on Tuesday, September 17, 2019.

To subscribe to Bummed Out Baker and get my mental health musings and recipes emailed to you directly, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the website – Follow on Instagram for behind-the-scenes panic attacks and my begrudging, meat-eating husband captured in the wild – Follow on Facebook for mental health articles and discussion – Follow on Twitter for sassy tweets and a sprinkle of nonsense.

If you or someone you know needs help right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.