“You win, you lose; you get back up and try again.
Some do, some don’t; some will, some won’t…”
– ‘All the Feels’ – Fitz and the Tantrums
I’ve been haunted recently by a random quote– from a random season 7 episode of King of the Hill– that’s been lingering in my mind like an intruding murderer patiently waiting in the shadows of the night. It presented a scenario that I never really considered but– considering how wrathful I’ve been feeling and acting with relative regularity of late– is something that should maybe frighten the shit out of me. It represents a particularly dark path my life could take, and one that, if I don’t continue to push back against, could prematurely disrupt my plans for the future:
“Paramedics said he got so worked up, he just stroked out.”
While it wouldn’t be accurate to ever describe myself as an outgoing and happy-go-lucky fella, to say I’m the one who snaps in a rage– and peppers his conversation with innumerable F-bombs because no other words can apparently depict his fury– doesn’t fully jive with who I am, either. It could, I suppose, and I really am the guy who flips out, storming around at the drop of a hat in a blind tempest of rage, mumbling expletives under– and over– his breath. Perhaps this is my true form, and the unfortunate reality is that I am the dude who needs to seal himself inside a walk-in freezer, screaming into his arm to release the frenzied exasperation like they’re venting the Instant Pot (what a delightful Christmas present that’s been, by the way).
But it’s not. That’s not who I am, and, maybe more importantly, it’s not who I want to be. I’ve been writing these essays sporadically– about embracing my mental illness, and enthusiastically acknowledging that I have a problem that actively needs solving– for nearly two years now. And what have I actually done in that timeframe to combat the emotional issues and psychiatric conditions that have plagued me since my childhood?
Well, I’ve come to a personal acceptance that I’ve got these barely understood disease(s) of the brain, and sort of encouraged other people to be open and honest about their personal troubles, as well. That’s something worthwhile, isn’t it? What am I supposed to do: actually, say, do something to fix the illness I’m purportedly suffering from, as opposed to just writing a thousand words here and there about how hard it is? Should I be engaging in some sort of ongoing treatment, be participating in therapy or counseling sessions, while taking medication prescribed by an actual psychiatric doctor to address the chemical imbalances that clearly exist inside my brain?
That sort of talk is bananas, folks. I’m fine and I’ve been doing fine, thank you very much. Any concerns about the lacking long-term viability of my current lifestyle is bologna, and the only thing I may need to work on is increasing my oxygen intake, because–and don’t quote me on this– your mood is in direct correlation with the oxygen deprivation of your body or something? I don’t know. But I do know that everything else is just driving a gravy train with biscuit wheels, because what is life but one feast after another, with little regard for the in between?
Someone mentioned last month they thought it was “really brave” that I started writing these essays examining my mental state. They were impressed with how I’ve been able to deal with my mental illness, and the residual trauma from both of my parents’ untimely and tragic deaths, by sharing these posts publicly. And they were right: I have been incredibly courageous in my endeavors here as the Paper Clown, exhibiting a bold approach towards self improvement by writing a blog (let me just brush my shoulder off). Mission accomplished.
Realistically, though, I’ve just been drifting through this project– one which was largely meant to spearhead my personal growth and satisfaction– without utilizing every available tool in my arsenal. It’s a battle overcoming the shit I deal with inside my mind, and I’ve been a passive participant in the war for my sanity for too long. I can’t save myself by occasionally writing an essay and posting it on my personal site, a lesson I’ve unequivocally learned these past 18 months.
I really, really don’t want to end up like that random KOTH character: introduced exclusively to throw a lunatic tantrum and “stroke out” suddenly, left face first on the ground, twitching as the life slowly bleeds away. I want to live, and continue to experience life to the fullest, and be more than the fraction of a human being that I’ve felt I’ve existed as for, frankly, most of my adult life. I haven’t been my true self– a thoughtful, sarcastic goof who actually enjoys things on a consistent basis– for too long now, and I can’t wait around for someone else to do it. No one is going to live my life for me, and I wouldn’t want them to, either.
So this week, I’m taking a real, tangible step in the right direction, and completed an intake with a psychiatric doctor to get back on medication (because, strangely enough, I have not been on any meds since right before I started writing these essays). I know this isn’t the end-all, be-all in my treatment plan, but it’s a huge step in the right direction. Psych meds aren’t for everyone, but they are necessary for some people, and me? I’m one of them. I have no idea what will happen or how things will change for my mental state in the coming weeks and months, but I do know I’m feeling proud of myself for the first time in awhile.
And for right now? I’ll take it.