Thoughts of a fading light
After feeding me tales of regret and adventure with a healthy dose of friends long lost, I awake to find you patiently waiting. My brain is the enemy that never stands down. Each day starts the same way, knowing what I must do and thinking through a maze of plans to carry out my mission I tell myself that today will be different. It’s a simple goal for the day: go outside. By 9 a.m. I will carry on with my day having failed once again. The Vegas sun is too much for me I tell myself by then leaving me three hours to accomplish my mission.
I am haunted by the recent insight that for the last seven years the engine of my failures was the need to stay close, to stay home. All those days riding the bus to work then getting off, crossing the street and returning home explained. All this time I thought it was physical illness and once I got my heart fixed or my blood pressure controlled or my weight lost, I would feel better. The mundane task of failure was waiting for me to give up on the way to success. Success wasn’t a good job or a healthy life with healthy relationships; it was arriving to work and doing my job for one shift. That’s all. Impossible.
A panic attack is not due to a lack of caffeine, too much caffeine, the lack of breakfast or too much breakfast it just is. The racing heart and labored breathing combined with a cold chill and sweats made me feel that my insides had dropped down to my feet. Since I stopped drinking and followed the doctor’s orders nothing changed except my expectations. I went from someone who failed each day to someone who regretted failing in the past and must do right by myself to make this feeling go away. I was wrong. It’s not leaving. It’s a part of me
So, here’s my typical day. Up at 3 a.m., take my thyroid pill while the coffee is brewing, check the news etc. online while drinking my coffee. Take my morning pills, ten or so, then eat a banana. I’m trying to lose the weight I gained while recovering from open heart surgery. I eat fruit in the morning and as a snack when needed and one small meal like a pot pie in the afternoon. That’s it.
Sometimes I leave the news on but by six or so I turned the television off. The rest of the day will be a battle to stay awake. I try to stay awake at least two hours before returning to bed. Sometimes I watch a movie on my computer but most times I play power keno on my computer, an activity that can get me through five hours. The goal is not to have a productive day but to survive the day so I can go to bed. I reckon I spend about eighteen hours a day in bed. Its not that I’m tired the issue is safety. Just as I feel safe staying inside, I feel most safe withdrawn to the safety of my room and my bed.
I go out only to take out the trash and check my mail, but it must be no later than 4 a.m., each time I imagine what could go wrong. My main worry is that someone will be out there. Maybe a panhandler or a friendly neighbor that is my worst-case scenario the threat of being noticed or worse conversation. I once waited to gather my mail until two neighbors finished gathering theirs. Eventually I gave up when they noticed me and rushed inside to safety. The only daytime venture is for a doctor’s appointment, maybe two or three a month. I try to combine my grocery shopping with that expedition.
The panic starts almost as soon as I am out the door. I try to walk with my head down to not notice those noticing me. The bus, especially during this pandemic is terrifying. I am usually the only one wearing a face mask, as the others, mostly homeless or down on their luck like me engage in their conspiracy theories about the pandemic. Since I am following the rules, I assume the other passengers are judging me for thinking that I am better than them. It’s exhausting.
The doctor visit is the same in the waiting room, but I take comfort in the fact that it will have a defined beginning and end. The grocery store is another matter. I shop in full panic attack mode clenching the cart, telling myself to ignore the feeling that I’m going to pass out, its all in my head, nothing to worry about. As I carry my groceries to the bus home my only fear is passing out from exhaustion. A trip outside for the doctor and groceries is all I can handle for the day. I put away my groceries and go to bed the rest of the day.
I wait for 5 o’clock so I can take my meds and go to sleep. The voices outside remind me that its too early to sleep but I take comfort in routines. I used to hallucinate at night, but the meds seem to have fixed that. Now I have painfully vivid dreams revisiting people or wives or places from my past. If I wake up during the night, I am anxious to return to sleep and continue my dream. Sleep is exhausting never satisfying. I don’t have that fresh outlook for a new day feeling, I just begin the routine again.
Where will all this end? I know my mental health providers are doing the best they can, and I always obey their recommendations. After each session with my therapist, thankfully done remotely by webcam my goal is simple: try to open the door each day, then try to take three steps and so forth. Taking out the trash and going to the doctor and store don’t count. I just can’t do it.
So, I wait. As I spend more and more time in bed my expectation and my hope is that I will diminish to the point where I cease to exist blissfully unaware of the needs for living. I want to get better I just have no hope it will happen. I’m not suicidal, far from it, I’m just tired. So much I wanted to do with this life, now my hope is for invisibility, to vanish permanently inside my mind. The light is fading Until then each day is the same. Each day I suffer. Each day I wait.