I question the legitimacy of this piece of writing.

Father’s Day has arrived; another obligatory greeting card holiday meant to single out one group of the population for adulation and kudos.¬† Everyone is waxing poetic about their dads, the dads they know, etcetera, et al, ad hominem. Everyone is feeling the feels: the love, the pride, the gratitude, and in many instances, the loss. Everyone, that is, except me. I can’t express any of those feelings because I’ve never felt them. I lack the ability, having never felt them myself. I’m not alone in this; there are about a bazillion of us bastards inhabiting the planet, and before you get all uppity about the word bastard, please understand that I mean it solely in the archaic derogatory:

a person born of parents not married to each other.

 

Me!

 

The  other kind.

 

 
There. Glad we got that out of the way, because I certainly wouldn’t want to offend the other kind of bastards out there. Or bastard. Because he is a huge bastard, of all the bastards there are on this planet. BIGLY. But I digress. I’m a bastard, or illegitimate, as some prefer to coin it. I don’t like that word, because it’s confusing; it can be a noun or an adjective.


Definition of illegitimate. 1 : not recognized as lawful offspring; specifically : born of parents not married to each other. 2 : not rightly deduced or inferred : illogical.

Now, I am not an adjective, and I certainly do not see myself as unrecognized. People know me, capice? Again, I digress.¬†¬† I just wanted to point out why that word is actually more offensive than being referred to as “ye bloody bastard!” in a Scottish burr. I’d quite enjoy that, actually.

My parents weren’t married, no. It would have been impossible for them to be, because one of them was already married when I was conceived, and inasmuch that I’m the bastard, here, it’s pretty obvious that it wasn’t my mother already engaged in a lawful union. They never did get married, despite having two children together, and my father never did all the fatherly things dads do if they’re even halfway decent at the job. Sure, he came around occasionally, but you can probably figure out why, and it had nothing to do with luck, although his intentions rhymed with that word.

There’s no sense going over it. He wasn’t there, he isn’t there now even though he still breathes, and he never will be. I don’t want him to be, and never needed him to be. So, Father’s Day is a big, empty space of time for me, and always has been, except for when my kids were little and I helped them to shower their father with all the Father’s Day¬† worship and accoutroment. I simply do not recognize it as a day of anything for me.

I’ve been thinking, though, that we bastards (not “wee bastards” in a Scottish burr, although¬† AGAIN! That would be lovely) deserve a special day to celebrate our lack of a father. We could call it Sperm Donor Day, or Tadpole Day, or Thank God Mom Didn’t¬†¬†Douche Day.

Too much? Sorry. I didn’t¬† think so. But ¬†then again, one has to have a certain, skewered sense of humor in order to grow up a fatherless child during a time when it was not cool. Anyway, since dads are often called Papa, I am going to celebrate Father’s Day by worshipping my current musical God and hottie, Papa Emeritus III of the band Ghost. He’s been more present in my life than my sperm donor, because not only have I met him legitimately,¬† but we have hugged, as well. So Happy Papa Day!

The literary equivalent of Alex Kintner after the shark ate him. 

When you’re a writer, you have to write. I mean, you have to, okay? You have to even when you don’t want to. You have to when it isn’t convenient. If you’re very ¬†fortunate, ¬†you have to because it puts food on the table and pays your bills. When I say that you have to, it’s because of all those things, which also flow from the very need to write. Words, ideas, phrases all cram themselves into every crevice, nook, and cranny of your brain and if you are a writer, you know that you must purge them or drown in them. Some of them string together in such a way that they’re poetry. Some are viciously funny or violently dramatic. Some are quietly poignant and simply eloquent.

And some are crap. Utter rot, totally pointless and without direction. You know those ones the moment you put them to paper (or monitor) and you feel this sinking feeling from deep within that tells you that you’ve just wasted an hour or more of time you could have spent rearranging your band t-shirt drawer alphabetically or scrubbing the grout between the backsplash tiles.

Oh, fuck that. You weren’t going to do that stuff. Okay, I wasn’t.

Anyway, I have a lot of words crowding up my brain tonight, elbowing and jostling and knocking around, and it’s uncomfortable as hell. ¬†I’m a writer. I call myself one, and people tell me that I am, and who am I if not a weaver of witchy witticisms and eclectic coloquialisms? I’m going to spill them out all over, probably just like Larry Vaughn feared that Kintner boy was going to spill out all over the dock if they cut that shark open in Jaws. Nice visual, eh? Think of my words as partially digested body parts.

Who decided that we should wipe after going to the bathroom? Who was that person? I want to thank them. Brilliant.

Personal space. How is it that this became a thing? “Please stand back. You’re invading my personal space.” Sorry, bitch, but it’s crowded in here with all your uppity assumptions that you own this air right here.

Donald Trump’s hair. I mean, what is that? I can’t with the swirly, cotton candy comb-over that really isn’t.

Paul Ryan’s face. Hell, Orrin Hatch’ s face. And what¬†the hell is it with Rick Santorum? Did this guy crawl straight out of a sewer in Harrisburg? Because he is really that shitty of a person. Oops! Did I just “out” my choice of political party with these observations of horrible people? Sorry. Can’t get away from the drama for a second, apparently.

How was it decided that actors and singers ¬†should be paid more money than police officers, or soldiers, or firemen? Who the hell made the assumption that people would be fine with paying ridiculously huge sums of money to people for playing make believe and music? Who placed more value on entertainment than saving lives? Turns out, whoever that fucker was, he was taking a page right out of HG Wells’ ¬†time machine, because look at the figures entertainers get for one starring role or one huge song today. On the other end of the spectrum, a soldier with a family probably qualifies for food stamps. There’s something wrong with that. If I’ve gone all preachy-judgy, I apologize, but it’s been bothering me and we’re at the social commentary part of my little ditty, here.
Quantum physics. These are apparently laws. Or something like that. I don’t really know, but that’s how I clear out my brain: I introduce quantum physics, or anything that begins with the word “quantum”. Even that show from the 80s or whatever, with Scott Bakula. Want to clear the room up in my noggin? Introduce quantum anything.¬†Or couponing. That’ll do it.

See? I got nothin’. Here’s a sleeping kitten:

Am I the Highway? 

I’m feeling….all the things. The things I desperately try not to feel.

It’s been building again, after a brief respite. The past year has been a roller coaster for me, with short pauses at the tops of every hill. Those pauses allowed me to catch my breath and to listen, for that blink-of-an-eye moment, when my heart and gut were in agreement. Then down again, into the depths, where the ride seemed to take forever before slowly climbing to the plateaus of clarity once again.

I’ve made some really great decisions at the crest of those hills. A year ago, I was testing unfamiliar waters and deciding if I could swim, after being unable to go near the edge for a while. I jumped! I took that chance. I found that I was a fair swimmer, ¬†but then someone dunked me and I went under. When I resurfaced, it was once again all about survival, treading the choppy waters and curling up into a survival ball and bobbing along on the surface. I felt the way a shipwreck survivor must feel, wondering if they will ever see land or be rescued before the sharks come and rip them apart. Ideally, one wants rescue, not the deserted island. No one wants to be Tom Hanks, ¬†babbling on to a soccer ball with a happy blood face. In a way, that was me at my job, only the cooler was my deserted island and I guess you could say that a gallon of milk served as my Wilson. (No blood face, though. That would have been a code violation.) I was alone, and unsure, and there really was no one, in a crowded sea of people in and out of that building, to reassure or rescue me.

I understood, from the beginning, that this was not the right fit for me, but you don’t ¬†get to pick your desert island when your ship goes down and safety appears on the horizon. You go for it and then you make the best of it. In this case, the island was inhabited by people but they were all doing the same thing as me: trying to survive. And some had been doing it a lot longer than me, so they weren’t always forthcoming with the ways in which one could get better at it. You had your saboteurs, too; the ones who ran things seemed to be in legion with them. It’s beginning to sound as if I was stuck in a metaphorical goddamn Lord of the Flies, doesn’t it? I guess that says more about the situation than I expected. That is unfortunate. Because not all of it was bad. But most of it was. The minute I saw a way to escape the island, I took it. I was at the top of a crest again, and I saw with brilliant clarity what was right for me.

Yeah, you’re shouting at the screen right now, telling me that if we’re mixing metaphors could I at least fucking warn you, right? Sorry, but if you’re reading my stuff with any regularity, you have already agreed to my terms. This is my brain, and this is a typical day of my brain on lifesaving drugs. Any questions?

Okay. So I am off the island, and it is good.¬†Please, don’t think that I regret anything about the fact that I left my shipwrecked mates to survive anyway they could. Because I don’t, not at all. That may seem heartless, but for a great deal of my time on that island nobody gave a single fuck about me because they were all too busy doing their own surviving. Maybe it would be better if the survivors banded together to tame the island, but in this case, the island is way too big and way too supernatually powerful. It chews up everything in its wake and spits it out. Ask any struggling smaller town in America about the carnage left behind when one such island rises from the ground and consumes everything in its path. Yes people, I’ve got metaphors shooting out of my ass today! This is how we say what we want without saying, “Walmart is an evil fucking entity that must be stopped.” Oops. So much for metaphors!

I am free, and I am on a ride that, for now, contains no inclines that I can see. Problem is, it’s on lower ground and there hasn’t been a lot of sunshine. I know that I insist that I am a vampire, and that I love the dark, but the darkness I love is hard to navigate right now because of some of the things that happened to me while I was on the island. My eyes were damaged by the conditions of my cooler-cave, and it’s a big “if” right now as to whether or not I will get them back. If not, then I get to go on a cornea transplant list and wait for a dead person to give me their corneas. This is not the island’s fault, because it stems from a pre-existing condition that I never imagined would travel into my eyes. Alas, I am angry at the goddamned island anyway. Because now I can’t see in the dark, and that’s scary. I can’t read books for more than a few pages before the need to cover up one eye in order to focus wears me out and I give up. I have to put drops in them numerous times a day and that only works for a while. While my eyes feel better now, they aren’t there yet, and that frustrates me. It’s worrisome, because I need my eyesight for my career path. It’s just another health issue to stack on top of the growing pile. Which leads me to think about age. And then the state of clusterfuck that this country is in with healthcare. Will I even be able to get a cornea transplant if it turns out that I need one?

So many things like this swirl around in my head, ripping and tearing at the walls. The panic attacks come swiftly and with more frequency when my brain is under siege. And that makes me feel low. And when I get low, then my shadowy nemesis, Depression, attempts to stage another coup. This is what it’s like, all the time. Plateaus of clarity and lightness of being that simply do not last long enough. You want to stay on solid, level ground, yeah, but then you’re vulnerable to attack. Why do you think cats like being up high? They’re safer there because they can see the enemy.

I know that I can’t stay up on high all the time, because the air is a little too thin and then I don’t always think clearly. That can be as dangerous as the low country and the predators that lurk in the shadows. It’s just this, though: I get tired of having to stay vigilant. I would like longer stretches of time up there. It doesn’t have to be forever, because I know that life is a sequence of hills and valleys and winding, twisted roads.

But this. Depression, and then suicidal thoughts. This is what it feels like. Exhaustion, sadness, and the idea that you simply cannot do it another day. And then it turns into another moment and then, BOOM. Or actually, *sigh*. Just

sigh.

You’re Chris Cornell. Or Robin Williams. Or someone you know. You wonder – do you know someone who is getting to that last moment of exhaustion? You might just. In fact, I’ll bet an entire bottle of Zoloft that you do. ¬†But that is what it feels like, and Chris Cornell is what it looks like. Those of us who fight this battle recognize others who are fighting, too. We nod at them, maybe even give them a little smile. ¬†We take our pills and force ourselves to live because we still have enough fight left in us to remember that there’s going to be another hill. We aren’t being relentlessly attacked at every turn. We’re either treading water or just riding along, depending on which metaphor you prefer. Sometimes there’s a sneak attack, an ambush, and we have to fight with everything we have. If we are lucky, we aren’t completely alone when that happens, but if we are, it is imperative that reinforcements show up quickly. Sometimes, they just don’t get there in time and then the cry goes up into the sky and we find out that another warrior has been lost. Those are the hard ones to take. The ones who led so many of us through the unknown with their words, their songs, their laughter. When we lose one of the Commanders, we dive into our bunkers and lick our wounds. We mourn. And then, we correct our course, and reemerge to move toward the hills again.

I am not alone, and the hills loom off in the distance. I can see where I am going. But look around you. Do you see a warrior with no backup? Maybe follow them for a while. Until the hills get closer. Or maybe designate yourself as their sherpa, if they will let you. The point is, don’t let them travel alone. There is solitude, and there is loneliness, and then there is alone.
Don’t let them be alone.

The Number of the Beast

Migraine. What an evil, heinous, totally offensive word. It’s a one-word response to the question, “What’s the matter?” that instantly elicits a wince, a vampiric hiss, and immediate sympathy from ¬†the inquirer. Those who suffer understand. Those who have only had an experience or two get it. Those who have the remarkable good fortune to have never taken this particular ride of pain¬†still get it. They hope never to experience the horror, and so they wish yours away with the fervent hope that it’s not catching.

I’ve got to address Migraine personally, because it’s become apparent to me that Migraine is an entity, not a condition. An entity so dark and pregnant with evil intent that really, we should have trained Exorcists to defeat them with rituals. Except, of course, that there is no tried and true way to drive out the demon. What works this time may not work next time.

Migraine: I am sick of your shit.

You stormed the castle last Friday, knocking down the gates and rendering me blind and nauseous with your white-hot poker of pain inserted into my skull. Two prescribed pills later, you allowed me to pass out, a pile of exhausted flesh and bones. You kept the poker at arms-length that day, threatening me with the tip. I survived. Saturday and Sunday, you toyed with me, reminding me at every turn that you could level me if I pissed you off. By Monday, I could feel the thunder, both atmospherically and figuratively (The way you paired yourself to the three small tornados we experienced that day was sheer brilliance.)

On Tuesday, you released the Krakken. You took my breath away with the force of your attack. I lay, crumpled and defeated, on my bed.0b99216b2a2a637b91a5673c83413958

Over the course of the past 6 days, I have given you every offering which in the past appeased you:

Drugs. A darkened room. Cool pillows. Fluids. Drugs. Greasy pizza. Coffee. The sound of the fan blowing. Meditation.  Drugs. Coca-Cola. Horizontal positioning. A pillow on my forehead. Begging the husband to kill me as blood sacrifice. Different drugs. A Big Mac and fries. Tim Hortons coffee. Cookies. Quiet acceptance of your power.

Nothing worked this time. Oh, you teased me, for sure. A slight calming of nausea here, 30-40 minutes of peaceful sleep there. You occasionally loosened the vise grip you had tightened around my head. The ability to peer at the tv or the phone’s screen or normal daylight without wincing in pain. You¬†played with me, you feckless bastard. And then you tightened down that grip again.

Today, I think you may be packing up your suitcase of medieval torture devices and preparing to take your leave of me. I waved my white flag of acquiescence late last night. The thing is, Migraine? Even Aunt Flo knew when she’d overstayed her welcome. She wasn’t the Kurgin of Middle Age, wreaking havoc whenever she came to visit. She almost seemed apologetic when her stays grew longer and more painful. The fact that I had to completely remove her luxurious accommodations from the weird freakshow that is my body in order to finally bid her farewell is beside the point. You¬†know I can’t remove your penthouse suite unless I blow my head off. Clever, aren’t you?

Being a menopausal woman is no fucking cake walk. You are at war with your body. It takes a gigantic set of lady nuts, an unlimited supply of Poise pads for the times when your bladder laughs at you just as you’re unlocking the front door, lots of drugs, air conditioning, and extremely patient family members who understand that you may be possessed right now, but someday, that demon will be gone. It takes the courage to push through your days when in truth, you really could use 2 power naps just to accomplish anything because your body keeps telling you, “Please, no more. I am¬†soooo fucking exhausted.” It takes tremendous strength of character not to dissolve into tears while simultaneously bludgeoning the first male you see because you just¬†know there’s a man to blame for this bullshit somewhere in history.

All I ¬†know is that my ovaries better shit the bed soon, or the chance that I may spend my golden years furtively digging a hole to freedom behind a poster of Gerard Butler with a shiv I fashioned from a petrified tp tube instead of peacefully rocking away on my front porch with the husband by my side increases with every month. Because I’m capable of violence and¬†someone, somehow is going to encounter me during one such psychotic break if this continues for much longer.

“Woe to you, Oh Earth and Sea
For the Devil sends the beast with wrath
Because he knows the time is short
Let him who hath understanding reckon the number of the beast
For it is a human number
Its number is Six hundred and sixty six”

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Detour? Fuck that.

A year is a long time. It passes within the blink of an eye, and when you get to be 50 years old, with lightning-speed. And yet, if you take the time to break it down into months; disassemble the days; a year can encompass many, many things. Significant events, milestones, important moments only identified as such in hindsight, and of course, a great many fuck-ups and fuck-offs and – if you’re like me – outbursts of incredulous “Fuck¬†me“s.

When we are children, a single year passes slowly, and I’ve never been able to figure out why that is. I’ve given up wondering, except to recall with wistful envy endless summers spent outside in the hot sun, the rare “fun event” that YES,¬†lasted all day,¬†and holidays jam-packed with food, fun, family, and my head falling onto my pillow at the end of the day, exhausted but content. When you’re an adult, some of the magic of time just drifts away. It’s probably because adults make the plans and bog down in the details. Kids just experience. Adults create.

I’ve been taking a little time to disassemble the past year for myself, and reading this blog has helped. I began writing again, just over a year ago, because I needed to. Writing, for me, is as effortless as breathing. I do it out of a necessity. It saved me when I was a child and it saves me now that I am doing this adulting thing. It has enabled me to¬†continue¬†to do the adulting thing during times when the low time was so low, I could not see daylight above me. I’ve written in fits and starts, but when I began this “very serious blog” it was to help empower others who suffer from¬†anything that makes it difficult for them to make it through a day. Physical pain or challenge, mental illness, plain old¬†life shit. I vowed to expose myself and my hills and valleys with blatant, raw honesty. I knew that it could help someone, somewhere. I’m seriously fucked up and I own that now. I am not ashamed to say that mental illness has roosted in the dusty rafters in my dark attic of consciousness all of my life. At times, it flies around wildly, knocking things over, igniting fires that threaten my life. That hasn’t happened in a couple of years, but I have the benefit of clarity, truth, and enough drugs to recognize that the albatross is restless again and threatening to come down from its sleep-perch to pull me down with its incredible weight.

I am disappointed in myself for allowing inauthentic, disingenuous things to block me from continuing with this blog and carrying out its purpose. When I began, I had a plan, and it was a GOOD one. It felt real, and attainable, and true. And then Voldemort happened, and I ended up in another dungeon of my own creation. This was not how it was supposed to go. Remember, my lovely, patient readers, when I vowed that I was¬†never going to drink the koolaid? Well, put alcohol on front of an alcoholic enough times and sooner or later, they’ll probably have a weak moment and take a sip. I took a sip, and because I was thirsty, it tasted good. Just like that, I toppled down the rabbit hole. I knew I was falling, and every now and then, I would catch myself and find some solid ground. A couple of months ago, I was on solid ground for a second, and had a blindingly bright moment of truth come to me.

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And then I fell again. This time, down some real stairs. Broken toe, sprained ankle and foot. And I had a few days to lay, immobile, and think. And thinking is good, and it is bad, and it is dangerous, but thinking is also an implement of truth which allows for courage. ¬†I laid aside my self-doubt (because I am¬†so fucking¬†sick¬†of that bitch and her whining) and went to my touchstone: my husband. I talked, he listened, and he affirmed everything I was thinking. See, without him, I don’t ¬†do so good. I stumble around when I’m low and I let the bird chase me and beat me with its wings. When I shut him out, life becomes harder than it needs to be. Don’t get me wrong – I do not tie my complete existence to this human – but I recognize that he gets the trains moving on schedule and we are a team in this life. He’s still here with my crazy ass because he may be well be crazy himself, but I’ll be damned: he loves me. And he heard me, and that was the antidote to the poison that had been slowly permeating all the soft tissue of my body. It never reached my heart, it never ate into my bones, and the fog in my brain cleared.

I’m writing again, friends. And I’m continuing with the journey I started when I wrote the first entry in this blog. I have found the last horcruxe, and I am going to smash it to bits. The map took me a little out of the way, but I’ve found the road again and I ‘m firmly on it. No detours, no tricks. I ¬†may be crazy, ¬†but I am going to be¬†happy and crazy.

Oh, you bet your ass.

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I have forgotten who I am and just what the fuck was I thinking?

Yes, I have been MIA. An explanation is in order. And then you can verbally assault me with “I told you so’s”. But First, this.IMG_20170314_122300_349

Restless night. A new, throbbing pain settles into my foot, definitely caused by the awkward incident with the 130-lb Male Sibling Unit yesterday. I’ve tried to be good with my Tylenol intake, knowing the consequences of too much over time and understanding that I have definitely pushed that envelope in the past. This though, necessitates three capsules at bedtime and another two sometime around 4am.

Somewhere in the vague fog between dreams and waking, I become aware of an awful, familiar feeling. It seeps into my body first, sliding itself around my limbs and then sinking deeply into the skin and tissue and bone. It is a damp coldness and my mind groans and cries quietly, “Ah, no. Please.” It is relentless, though, bringing with it the inability to move. This must be what it’s like to freeze to death on top of Mt. Everest. The soul-crushing litany of fear overtakes me, with its familiar refrain:

You’re a big fuck-up.
You let down everyone you know.
Everything that goes wrong is because you fucked it up.
Remember, you did this to you. You can’t blame anyone else.
You’re better off alone, so you can’t fuck up anyone else’s life. Or gone. You know it’s true.

My eyes peer out from underneath the pillow I keep near my head at the dim light coming in from the windows. It is a dreary, wet morning. March is only a good month for me because it blessed me with a miracle almost 27 years ago: my daughter. When mornings begin like this, she is a talisman that I cling to in my mind’s eye; I cannot let her down. I cannot let the ones who still, by some twist of fate, still care for me. The terror that has sunk into my very being becomes heavier, like a wet, woolen blanket pressing me down into the mattress.

In the early days of mornings like this, I would blindly reach for my phone and text my husband, who was usually right in the next room. He didn’t leave me alone much in those days. He would come to me, bringing a little, white pill, and then wrap me up tightly in his arms. I would listen to his heartbeat and wait for the pill to clear out the invader. Don’t ask me why a tiny pill has the ability to drive out the demon; I have stopped wondering and researching and have come to simply accept it. I know that it is a chemical reaction that attacks my psyche and yeah, yeah, yeah.

This morning, though, I can’t text him. He’s at work, and I need to pull my strength together and go get that pill. I have rejected keeping them by the bed; it is a stubborn refusal to allow myself to capitulate to the devil I know. My ankle and foot sob as I put weight on them, but the pain is almost welcome compared to the panicky sadness. I hobble out to the kitchen and click on the Keurig; as the machine releases the heavenly, brown ambrosia into the mug, I grab the pill bottle from the cabinet and force my early-day arthritic hands to turn the cap. I dry-swallow the pill and welcome its bitterness in my mouth. You’re okay, you’re okay, you’re okay, I repeat in my mind as I grasp the mug and limp back to the safety of my bedroom. My morning buddies – Katie, Mia, Roo, and Nicolai – rush through the door before I close it and settle upon me after I place the coffee mug on the stand and pull the covers up. Nicolai is my battle buddy. He always senses when he needs to be near me, waiting at the door every single morning and seeing me through morning routines. He will stay close, gazing at me with his soothing, golden eyes. They communicate love and protection. He’s almost as soothing as my husband.

I sip the coffee. I wait. I occupy my hands with my phone, checking email, answering Facebook comments, reading the posts of others. I’m not really paying attention, and later I will return to passages of real interest, able to truly comprehend. I wait. It takes about 20 minutes for the tide of panic to recede, and it does, just like a wave on a beach shore. The shakiness calms and the icy core of fear in the center of my chest begins to melt as the Xanax aims its heat gun on it and melts it slowly away.

This wasn’t the worst one, but episodes like this are becoming more frequent. Like they were in the beginning. Back then, I didn’t have a schedule, so I would stay up late, putting off the need for sleep. I knew what was awaiting me at daybreak and I would avoid it, thinking exhaustion might quell it somewhat. Now, though, I need to barrel through and keep my head clear. In the beginning, when the requirement of immersing myself in human contact was newly essential, I would enter the benzo cloud shortly before clocking in. For a short, blissful time, it was only necessary at night. But now, it’s returning, like a cancer, and I don’t really know if I can be brave. It’s exhausting. It’s a real Hell on earth, and if Hell does exist, this will be mine. It has its claws in me again, affecting every moment of my day. I am short-tempered, paranoid, irrational, and terrified. These minor, incremental breakdowns of my physical body are intellectually endurable. We all get older, and we all degrade. The demon, though: it is relentless in using these incidences to try and persuade me that I should just GIVE UP.

I cannot. I will not. Depression is a liar and a cheat and its sibling is anxiety. I need to remove the factors that leave the door unlocked for the insidiousness to sneak in. Put some better locks on that door. And I will. Because the choices are too clear, and I am not going to lose this fight.

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