Are you happy? – 2018

This is the third time I’ve tried writing this post.
I don’t know why I seem unable to come up with a coherent thought on this matter that I actually want to say and I don’t mind putting forth, but here it goes.

I don’t want to focus if I’m happy or not – it seems the more I think about the subject, the more unhappy I become. Call it blissful ignorance, for sure – but if I don’t seem to realize how unhappy I am with everything, I feel like I can go about my life in a bubble of sort of faux happiness.

But I’m not delusional – I take medication to make me feel okay. I start on another in a day or so to help with my anxiety. Actually, I’m taking all the same medications now except for a sleeping medication that I took back when I had my first battle with depression – with an additional medication to help with my cholesterol, because heart problems run in my family, but I digress.
I don’t have friends, except for my girlfriend. She has friends, and they associate with me through her, but ever since I graduated I don’t talk to anyone.
I don’t write anymore, as much as I’d like to. It seems like I can only write poetry when I’m going through something and I feel like all my fiction has been shit thus far.

Literally all I have the energy to do is watch YouTube, eat, and sleep. I can’t even bring myself to start a series or something because it’s too much work and commitment.

I try to talk to my girlfriend about it. I don’t like therapists and I don’t really trust in my family, so she’s the one I try to go to, but it feels like she can’t really understand it. And I find it hard to explain it. How do you explain that you feel one step out of sync with the rest of the world? That everything continues on and you’re just stuck, ski-skip-skipping.

I don’t have any suicidal thoughts – on the contrary, I am literally so afraid of dying it’s crazy. When I drive to work, or when I walk through the shady parking lot on the way back to my car, or when I go into a crowd, or when I read any news about the state of politics. Or when my grandmother tells me she’s having open heart surgery because bad hearts run in the family.
Or when I have a pain in my chest, or I can’t get enough air in my lungs, or my vision gets blurry because my headaches get worse and worse and I’m afraid of having a brain aneurysm, heart attack, and lung collapse all at once.

I’m afraid that I don’t believe in God and when I die it’ll just be another thing that I got wrong and I’ll spend eternity in pain.
I’m afraid that I’m right and when I die, that’s it, and I’ll never recall being who I am and everything I experienced and all the trouble I went through will mean nothing.
I’m afraid of pushing people away who needed to stay and keeping those who I needed to step away from.
I’m afraid of being so afraid that I don’t take any of the steps in the direction I want to take to better my life and do the things I want to achieve.

I’ll be twenty-one this year. If my girlfriend and her parents have their way, I’ll be engaged by the end of it. We’re looking at houses once our lease ends. I’m in a steady job that I hate but pays my bills and has cohesive benefits. We make enough money that I can mostly buy what I want without too much concern. My girlfriend loves me and I have no fear that it’s insincere.

On the outside things are okay. I’m doing better than I ever have been, and if seventeen year old me could look in on this and see what’s going on, he’d probably sock me in my mouth and berate me for complaining – after all, this is nearly everything I had hoped for.

But it’s never as good on the inside. I’m not the person I wanted to be. I’m scared I won’t be – scared I won’t ever have the chance to be.
The world moves on but I’m just ski-skip-skipping.

And that’s it. That’s it on one page. That’s the pain and struggles and worries I have – that I try to keep inside and not think about in the hopes that they won’t bleed through the cracks. And with everything out on one page maybe I can keep in contained – locked away in a webpage prison, separate from myself. Maybe I can will it out of my head and into the real world where I can keep it away from me.

Maybe, someday, it’ll fade away and I’ll catch up with the rest of the world and finally feel in sync.

Maybe.

Here’s to 2018.

 

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Cold, Cold Man

Music is too fucking powerful, man. There are bands I absolutely adore, but there are some songs that I listen to by bands that I’ve never given a second glance that just make me shut my mouth and go back in and time and watch a film reel of memories that make my skin tingle and make me choked up and relive a dozen feelings that I hadn’t felt in a long time and missed dearly.

What am I?
I have become so disassociated with myself that it hurts. I look back at myself from various points in my life and they feel like different people. I don’t feel like an evolution of who I used to be, I feel like an recreation of what I was that someone made from faint memories. Sometimes, I don’t feel real. I feel different than what I was twelve months ago – I look back on those memories and feel like it was another man making decisions and than he died and I woke up sauntering around in his body confused and anxious and unsure. I take medication in the hopes that these feelings will dissipate. but it doesn’t make me feel happy, really – instead, it’s like looking at my depression without glasses. It’s blurry and unclear and I can’t make it out, but it’s still there, lurking, waiting – just out of sight enough for me to occasionally put it out of my mind.

I feel so out of touch with who I am that sometimes I’ll put on one of these songs just simply to remember. To feel it. To let those memories wash over me and let me feel a recreation of emotions that I’ve missed feeling, whether directly or not.
I know I’m a cold, cold man, and it disappoints me. I could be better. I could be different. I could be who I want to be and not hurt those around me if I could just take the time to pick up these pieces in front of me and do my best to put them in their place. I don’t, though, because I’m a narcissistic piece of shit – I think that I’m fine, that I am who I am, that this is natural, that I know who I am, that I can think for thirty seconds and suddenly diagnose all of my issues. I can’t let anyone tell me what my issues are, because they are always wrong and it’s only valid if I come to terms with it first.

I am a cold, cold man. I’ve probably done half of this to myself – everything I miss, everything I regret, everything that I don’t like about myself – a good portion of it could probably be remedied if I didn’t force myself into a little corner where only I exist, and only I know who I am.

But the problem I have now is that after doing that for this long, now I’m at the point to where I feel like I don’t exist.

So, I play the songs – Cold, Cold Man by Saint Motel, Texas by Magic Man, and Bloom by The Paper Kites to name a few that are hitting particularly hard right now – and let it wash over me like a rainbow of colors against a blank canvas. I feel human. I feel alive. I feel like I am Brandon again. In touch with who I was and who I am and who I hope to be.

Then, they fade away. Memories locked back in my head again waiting for the moment that they can come back and show me myself. Waiting for the songs to play.

I’m hoping one day, everything will finally come together and I’ll connect with the world and all of me comes back to me. The puzzle will finally be completed again, and you’ll be able to see the entire image for what it is.

Until then, I’ll be here, listening to the songs play over and over again, washing over me until I flood.

 

This is the Sound of Settling

“I’ve got a hunger twisting my stomach into knots
That my tongue has tied off
My brain’s repeating, “if you’ve got an impulse, let it out”
But they never make it past my mouth.”

Death Cab for Cutie is one of my favorite bands of all time – in fact, if you took Fall Out Boy out of the equation, they would be my favorite band. And despite how much I love Pete Wentz, the lyricism of Ben Gibbard is absolutely unmatched in my opinion – and it honestly sets the bar for the level of imagery and metaphor that I would someday love to reach. As I write, I’m listening to ‘I Will Possess Your Heart’, an excellent song off of an album of theirs that I once considered my least favorite, but love dearly now.

But I digress – for this isn’t about my love of Death Cab and the poetry of their lyrics.

I’m twenty years old. I have, with any luck, three times my life yet and if I really get what I want, more than four times. Yet for some reason, I constantly go through life with the fear that I’m running out of time – and I’m not doing anything with it. I currently work as a phlebotomist for a plasma donation center, and for people who know me they’d know that that is something entirely out of left field for me – and something I have no passion for. I can’t bring myself to devote any time to the novel that I’ve been writing since the eighth grade, I’m currently not doing anything to further or utilize my skills or hobbies, I have approximately zero friends, and sometimes I feel like my girlfriend and I are just sort of in auto-pilot without much emotion.

I’m not doing what I want to be doing, I don’t look the way I want to look, and I still have the terrible feeling that I need to do something soon or everything I do will be for naught.

But what’s even worse about it, is that I feel like I don’t know exactly what I want to do, either. Am I settling? IS this what I want? Is there something deep inside me that I haven’t tapped into and I won’t feel fulfilled until I experience it? I have no clue.

I’m lucky enough to have things that I’m passionate about – because some people don’t have that. My girlfriend frequently feels melancholic because she says there really isn’t anything she feels that way about. I have writing, and acting, and film, and politics, and… she just sort of, does.
I can understand the frustration that comes with that – but on my side, I worry that I’m interested in all of these things enough, but I don’t know what I would love to do, or love to be.

The point I’m trying to make is this – I know what I don’t want to do, and what I don’t want to be. I feel that I have the general jist of where I’m heading, and I’m unsure if that’s what I want to be.
All that I know for sure is that I want to be happy.

But I’m not quite sure how to accomplish that just yet. School? People? Activities, hobbies, places, things? It isn’t clear – and I think my main obstacle is my lack of direction. I have no clue which way I need to go and I feel like I’m flailing. I have no plans for school – I have no goal set for what I want to be, other than a writer – and I have no support system in place other than my girlfriend, and as dearly as I love her, you gotta have friends.

I’m standing in place – stationary – as the world goes by around me.
Like a moment trapped on the event horizon of a black hole.
And I’m gone in one instant – yet there as everything goes by.

I feel like I’m settling for settling. I feel like I have options and a way out but I’m settling for this.

I sit in front of my computer alone in my apartment typing and listening to music play while I debate if I want to cook dinner and wait for Cel to come home and rant to me about her day. I’ll take my medication at nine PM, go to bed around ten or eleven, then wake up tomorrow and drive half an hour to a job I hate and day dream about other places I could be and other things I could be doing.
Then I’ll drive home – hit some of the traffic at five – then come home to an empty house and sit in front of my computer and feel like I’m not doing anything.

And wait for the days to pass me by.

This is the sound of settling.

– Brandon, 6:46 PM

Little Blue Pill Blues

(NOT A POEM)

I’ve struggled a lot with how I felt about taking anti-depressants. There is no doubt in my mind that they work – and they help and safe millions every year. They are incredibly important and without them, I can’t say whether or not I’d be here today.
I started taking them when I was about fourteen, and I stopped when I was around sixteen/seventeen.  As I’ve stated before, I stopped taking them because I didn’t feel like they were necessary anymore, as my depression had weaned away quite a bit and didn’t feel like such a constant presence to warrant taking them everyday. I didn’t want to take pills that changed how I thought and how I felt – once I felt like I was stable, I simply wanted to be me with all the feelings that came with it, even if it meant the occasional spell of depression.

I didn’t want to be defined by my pills. I didn’t want to be that person that took anti-depressants – stupid or not, as that may be. I know there are people out there with depression and bipolar disorder like myself that simply can’t function without medication – and that’s just fine. That is completely understandable, and I feel incredibly lucky that despite having this mental illness, I was able to ever be stable enough not to take them.
And I didn’t want to have to take them forever. I wanted to be able to utilize them for a time, bring myself together, and move forward. And I did, for a time, as I got better.

But as I stated before, the depression came back, and it hit hard.
It took a long time before I even thought about getting back on my medication. I waited for weeks for the illness to go away – I tried doing things that made me happy, I accomplished things that I had waited for years to do, I lived round the clock with the love of my life – but a lot of the time, when it cuts this deep, there really isn’t anything that can be done to temper the effects. And it’s difficult, for yourself and the people around you that maybe can’t understand what it’s like, and expect you to be a certain way and aren’t sure how to take it when you aren’t.
And when it affects so many aspects in your life, you have to really sit back and consider what would be best – and that’s what I did.

I could,

A) Try and wait for the depression to go and hope for the best
B) Get back on my medication and do something about it
C) Wait until it completely engulfed me and something even worse happened

With that hand of cards and no end in sight, I knew that something had to be done, and after a great deal of time thinking and considering, I went to my doctor and was given a new prescription of a medication that I’ve had a long history with, Zoloft.
It was the first medication I started taking way back when. Young, angsty me even wrote a poem about it called ‘Zoey’ when I was fifteen or sixteen.

I don’t like that I have to take them, but I understand that I need them. There are somethings that can’t be solved with fresh air and meditation – somethings that can’t even be solved with love, attention, and care.
Sometimes you need the extra help, and I certainly do. It’s not anyone’s fault that I can’t produce happiness the way other brains do, but it’s my responsibility to myself and the people I care about to make sure that I do what I can to make myself better.

At this point in time, I’ve been taking them for under a week. There’s no signs yet of whether or not it’s going to help, though I already feel a little better knowing that I have them. Anti-depressants usually take four to six weeks to kick in to full capacity, so I suppose we’ll see where I’m at at that point in time – and hopefully there’s nothing but good to look forward to, with any luck.

Hope the last few months of 2017 are treating anyone that reads this well.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

– Brandon, 5:31 PM

I Don’t Know Why I’m Sad

(NOT A POEM)

If has not been made obvious yet, either through the content and themes of my poetry or the few and scattered journal-like posts, I have depression.

I’ve dealt with serious depression since I was roughly fourteen years old. I remember vividly being younger than that – perhaps around ten – and writing in my journal something along the lines of :

“I feel sad a lot for some reason. I feel depressed – not the medical kind, but I don’t feel too happy.”

Little did young me know that it was, what I had called, the ‘medical kind’ of depression. Inherited through my mother’s side, it kicked in hard when I was in my early teens and I started taking medication. My depression was a very key factor in my growing up and a factor in my personality, for better or worse. I started writing poetry and short stories as catharsis for my many sad thoughts, my lack of a social or love life, and just the constant feeling of being alone. It helped me feel better. It helped me feel like I wasn’t alone, even though I was just reading my own writing.

When I reached seventeen or so, I stopped taking my medication. I had reached a point where my depression was no long a constant roommate – always looming and poking at me and being an active part of my life. It had been relegated to a recurring character in the story of my life, hitting me in small bouts every so often through out the year, and kicking in with my Seasonal Affective Disorder in the second half of the year. But it was no longer a big part of me – and being able to function and be me without the medication was a worthwhile trade.

I was okay. Maybe not happy, because I have only felt truly happy a few times in my life – but content. And okay.

And it stayed like that for a while. About two and a half, three years. I even stopped writing poetry, for the most part. I was a changed person, and I mostly embraced it – sometimes I would worry that my depression was too much a part of me, and that something was missing in my life without it.
But ultimately, I knew that that was a ridiculous notion and I continued moving forward – and mostly had a great deal of fond memories wrapped around it. I was in the first serious relationship of my life, I had entered theatre in my junior year of high school and after trying a handful of various activities I finally felt like I found the place I belonged – I had friends. I had people who liked me. I was as happy as I felt like I could’ve been, and I didn’t want to let it go.

That’s why I ended my first relationshjp – because I felt that as I was attempting to rise above the confines of my depression that I had let define me for so long and finally become someone new in of myself, the woman I was with refused to do the same. I felt that she wanted to stay depressed and I felt like she was pulling me down with me – so I ended it after nearly two years, and I went back into my life with confidence and by god… I was actually happy. For about three months, I felt truly and completely happy – I was popular and liked and I felt attractive and wanted and talented and I fell in love with someone new who didn’t compromise my emotional growth and I. Was. Happy.

It quickly faded. I jumped out of theatre to work more hours at my job to pay the medical bill I had been given after a car wreck, and that stands as the biggest regret I have so far. I faced a lot of those little bouts of depression off and on as the year went on, and I hated how things regressed so quickly.

A couple months later, something happened and then my depression showed up on my front door with its suitcases full of sad songs and tattered clothing and anxious thoughts and reminders of my mortality.

He lives with me now, full-time, a constant companion again for the first time in years – but in those years we weren’t together, he went to the gym and ate well and came back as some sort of jacked up mother fucker who not only made me sad, but gave me more anxiety than I have ever had before – done in such a way that I am never out of their grasps. I get anxious, and it makes me depressed, then I’ll get anxious about why I’m so depressed, and it’s a vicious cycle that shows no signs of relenting.

I have many of the things that I always thought would make me happy, back in the old days of being depressed. Not all, but many of them – and yet, none of it makes me any less depressed.

I don’t know why I’m sad. Sometimes I feel sad about things that I know I’m not sad about. Sometimes I just sit and soak in a pool of black – and nothing is real to me except for the fact that I feel terrible and it’s who I am right now.
For god’s sake, I wrote a whole new poetry book in just under a year dealing with a lot of it.

I don’t know what to do. I don’t know where to go. I don’t know what to say. Would theatre make me happy again? Would actually having some god damn friends make me happy again? I have no fucking clue. Things have passed that I thought would mark the end of my depression, but surprise! It’s still there. So for all I know, none of that would make it go away, and that’s the scary part – I just don’t know what to do.

I feel helpless. I even considered rethinking religion because I feel so damned lost, but I can’t bring myself to do it because it’s so damned ridiculous.

At the beginning of this year, I asked myself and whoever the hell reads this if I was, and if you were, happy. And here at almost the end of the year, I can say – I am not. I don’t know when I will be. I’ll ask the same question next year just to check in, but things don’t seem to hopeful.

Though I am always hoping things get better. Every day. Because no matter what I sometimes feel, I am not depression and depression doesn’t make me who I am.

Also – “The Rubble Before Us; Fleeing Dreams and Other Things” will be out sometime in the next six months, hopefully, maybe. You can read all of the poems in it on here, anyways.

Well… we’ll see.
See you next year.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

– Brandon, 8:45 PM

Turn Right

Stuck on the highway between a semi and an oversized truck
Nothing left on the radio besides the terrible
and the so over played it sucks
I’m going twenty miles more than I should
Though my exit is only five away
And it kills me knowing that even though I’ll turn right
I could so easily drive right by

Wait until I find a better station, find a better song
Maybe just drive until I can admit to myself
that I know something wrong.
But you know as well as I
try though as I might
hours of miles or states away – I’ll never feel the same
All I do is turn right

I don’t know what it would take
After nights of rushing thoughts
and written admission a hundred ways
It doesn’t matter the time or place
It’s just not the same
I could run and hide and change my hair
Write a million words – no one would care
I’ll never go fast enough
to not still be me
and there’s not enough gas in the world
to change what I’m meant to be

Glaring Omission

(red curtain)

don’t forget
we all fall
and there’s nothing left
at the final call
to leave behind
or store away
because we can apologize
some other day
i won’t please you
you can’t speak to me
we don’t understand
the language of being
softer words
than the touch of your tongue
and my mouth writes monologues
that your lips haven’t sung
yet despite the lack
of oxygen
between you and me
i still find far too many allusions

to our own soliloquy

Under the Skin

(no more)

Under my skin
You fell so deep
Lips like honey
Against my skin your kisses seep
Dripping like rain
On tear soaked diary pages
Leave it all to me
Running off as the storm rages
Left to find solace in empty memories
Recalling what you’ve remember a thousand times before
It’s time you realized that what you picture
Isn’t there anymore
You make your way under my skin
And I yearn for those sugar soaked eyes
And warm embraces made of gin
I want to remember
What I want you to think of me
But what’s in my head – the dreams that I see
There’s nothing there that is based in reality
Nothing that we can reach to, from under the skin
Anything that we can make flesh
Anything we can begin

Dark Skies

I want to know
Why the light around us always seems fleeting
With every second I stand alone with you
I just want to see
Why there’s nothing here for me
And all that’s left is all I know
Two feet standing on the ground, and the pitter patter
Of the rain’s melodic fall
Drown me out
Pull me in
The dark skies are but the first signal of what’s just about to begin

Will I understand?
Come to terms with the situation here at hand?
These gray clouds and duller words
The crack of thunder is the only thing I ever heard
The horizon stays empty
As all the lights fade down
Left in the flood is all that we lost
And that we found
Look up to them –
Take it all in
Feel the trembling of the world
Underneath your frightful skin
Admit that the end of the world
Isn’t the end of sin
Crash and fall
Flash of the lightning’s crawl
The cooing of the wind turns to harsh screams
And all that’s left
Is what I refused to believe

A battle amongst the heavens
The black and gray versus the brightest blue
And the skies begin to dry
And nothing reigns supreme
As eternity looms nigh
And I cannot fathom the forever standing in front of me
As the trumpets start to blare
And when the people look above
You can see the light in the air
The skies ripple open and the seraphim ride through
Yet the end of all things
Is just something else to do
And they call to the masses
All that was and all that will ever be
Those who stood firm in faith
And those who could never believe
Yet I look above, alone as I was, and I know –
There will be nothing more for me