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Valdemar or the agony of the undying

Tales Of Terror 1962.avi_snapshot_01.01.26_[2016.05.17_01.27.33]

Vincent Price as Ernest Valdemar in Roger Corman‘s Tales of terror (1962).

Lately I’ve been writing a lot about hopelessness in here. That’s the way I’ve been feeling recently, so be it. I never started this blog to please anyone, but as a means of catharsis and self therapy. I never check whether I have followers or not, although it’s nice to get a notification every now and then telling you someone new is following you. I don’t really care if people stop following me because of the nihilism of what I write. I mean, if I end up doing like Lenny Bruce, who in his last monologues talked more about his crude reality (trials, censorship and his bitter disappointment with the hypocrisy of American society and justice) instead of delivering witty jokes to entertain people or make them think, so be it.
If some reader feels they relate to what I write about and want to leave their comments they’re welcome. It’s nice to see someone who understands you or empathizes with you when you need it the most.

First I’ll start with some trigger warning about suicide and mental illness/disorder, which is what I’m going to talk about here.
A couple of years ago I attempted suicide for the first time. Yesterday was my second. I believe it’s good to write about it because these things shouldn’t be forgotten. I need to remind myself about what stage of my life I really am in, about my weaknesses and about my strengths as well.

Yesterday was particularly painful and traumatic. I’ve spent the last months of my life in isolation in my own room, which is a complete mess, by the way. I live with my parents and I hardly ever speak to them. I’m pissed. I blame them for this situation because when I relapse in my disorder they hardly ever do anything to help. They rather become part of the problem.
I’m not seeing any therapist and do not speak with my friends either. I don’t trust them. It’s not the they-want-to-hurt-me type of distrust, but more of the they-won’t-understand-anyway type of distrust. Honestly, if I speak to a friend telling her ‘I can’t stand this sadness’ (meaning I’m feeling utter despair at the moment) and she tells me that I need some ‘laughing medicine’, I’d rather not speak to her.

Anyways. Since I don’t see any way out in my situation I had been planning to be gone forever. Yeah, there was a slight hope that in case I survived I would be taken care of as I feel I haven’t lately, but if not, OK. Too many years of anxiety and distress, I’ve had enough.

I was home alone and at around 19:00 I took 30 pills. It was the same dose as the first time, although this once every tablet was stronger. I honestly had no idea if that dose was actually going to kill me or just left me unconscious for a few days. Or induce me into a coma. I had not read the instructions and had no intention whatsoever. Any specifications about a possible intoxication would have told me out of it (wanting to die does not mean you’re not actually afraid of it) and I was determined to do it. And so did I. Right after swallowing them I waited for a short while lying down. Then I stood up and I suddenly felt my throat really dry. I touched my face and I couldn’t feel my skin. I stood up and I couldn’t feel my feet. And I broke down. I started to scream. It was the most heartfelt and genuine scream I’ve ever done in my life. But it was like screaming into the void. There was only silence within and out. Thousands of thoughts crossed my mind, but the main one was: ‘I don’t want to die’. I didn’t want to die in this pathetic manner, alone, without having been able of communicating my sufferings to anyone. I ran to the entrance and out to the stairs. I thought of going out into the streets asking for help, I picked up the keys and opened the door but I kept lurking from behind it; but even in that state I kept thinking I didn’t want to scare or embarrass anyone. What if people avoided me instead of helping me? What would the neighbours think? I called my father. I screamed into the phone asking him to save me, to come quickly and save me. ‘I’m dying’. My father, as usual, denying it. ‘No, of course you’re not.’ ‘You don’t understand… I took pills…’. He kept trying to comfort me on the phone. ‘We’re coming’,’ We’re right there’. But the only thing I could feel was that I was losing consciousness and couldn’t do anything about it because the pills were already doing its thing. And I thought, ‘how can you be so stupid as to think that something like this was not going to have any real consequences? And now you’ll die alone, abandoned, and what’s worse: with a dreadful feeling of void and anguish.’ I was asking my father to call an ambulance. I can’t believe either this time or the other I had to be the one to ask so, because he was not reacting. I hugged my mother, she hugged me back and the only thing that came to my mind was ‘I love you so much’. ‘I love you so much as well’, crying. I guess I was afraid of dying without having ever told her.

In the ambulance and at the hospital I kept anxiously asking the paramedics and doctors whether I was going to die and they kept telling me no. But I wouldn’t believe it. I thought they were just trying to comfort me or they denied it just because my parents were there. They simply told me I was having a panic attack. But they kept looking at me and it felt so uncomfortable… Even in that state I realized my behaviour was weird. I kept groping at things: people’s hands, the walls, I slapped myself in the face not to lose consciousness and to recover skin sensitivity and not to lose touch with reality. I looked at things from up close so that my eyes didn’t lose focus (also, I’m short-sighted and I was not wearing my glasses) and I kept pulling my hair and weaving it. But I could feel those weird looks in their faces. I honestly don’t understand: they’re used to these things and however they looked at me in a way that disgusted me. I was asking if I was going to die and all I could feel was their looks of pity all over me and an awkward silence (except for the rush of people up and down and the bleep of the machine that was checking my blood pressure).

I have lots of memories from yesterday night. Even if they are blurry, and I was dissociated, I was struggling so hard that I even remember my mother (and at some point another woman who was visiting a patient) trying to hold me so that I didn’t go out of the ward and into the corridor; I remember hitting my head against the wall and walking up and down the ward to stay awake. They wanted to hold me (they even talked about using ‘restraint’; how can they fucking do that? Do they understand what it means to tie down someone who is in the middle of a crisis and is positive that she’ll die if she stops moving?!), but I didn’t want to stand still because I was scared that I would fall asleep and die. I tried to breathe in and out (and that actually helped me calm down) because I was feeling out of air and I was convinced it was because of the pills. I was afraid that my breathing system would paralyze and I would die of asphyxiation. I kept thinking of an article I read once about the lethal injection they administer people in the death row. First it paralyzes your members, then your lungs (and apparently that is very painful), and finally your heart and brain. Apparently the lack of air was because of the panic attack (or the psychotic break; I’m not a doctor and doctors never tell you shit anyway, but I believe that was closer to a psychotic break than to a panic attack, since actually I had been losing touch with reality for a long time), but it felt so real… Every time I felt I couldn’t hold it anymore and I would lose it to the sedative effect of pills, something triggered in my mind and I panicked: I couldn’t lose consciousness no matter what or I was going to die. Everything felt so unreal, I just saw myself groping in the air and voices echoing just as when you are under water. ‘I don’t want to die HERE!’.

Have you ever read The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar by Edgar Allan Poe? It’s about a man who’s hypnotized at the very moment of his death and his consciousness remains imprisoned in his body in a way that he can’t either wake up or fall asleep, and he agonizes until his body ends up rotting. I think I understand now what kind of disorder poor Poe must have had (no doubt worsened by his alcoholism). Johnny got his gun comes to mind as well, now that I think of it.

I kept asking for the doctors to hurry and perform a stomach pump and give me some medicine to work against the effects of the pills, as they were supposed to do. My mother tried to calm me down telling me I was not in danger, otherwise they’d have come sooner, and they were just getting everything ready and waiting for me to be more collected and cooperative. I was willing to cooperate, damn it, I didn’t want to die. I just couldn’t understand why the hell they didn’t hurry. Apparently that night was a busy one due to several severe cases of flu among elder people.
At the same time, though, there were moments when I kept telling myself ‘No, you’re not going to die’, and I realized somehow how strong I actually am. I guess even if I was actually dying I would have kept struggling until the end. I guess…

Eventually I got better, I don’t even know how. I must have struggled a lot to prevent thirty damn pills of 25mg each to knock me down. I guess 30 pills are not that much after all. I’m so naive and dramatic… By the way and on a side note: the pills I took (and at first I intended to take more than 30) are damn easy to purchase at any pharmacy, whereas in case you have an anxiety attack and you urgently need to take some actual anxiolytic, they won’t sell it to you unless you have a medical prescription. Talking about fucking double standards, here.

As soon as they got a ward ready for the stomach pump I was feeling better. I’m not sure if it was actually that, because I kept thinking it must be already too late. In fact, not a single pill came out of my body after the procedure. They took blood and urine samples and the tests came out fine. A psychiatrist came and asked the usual questions. He also said I could stay at the hospital or go home. That was my call. If I was thinking of doing anything ‘stupid’ again I’d better stay, although in ER there was not much more they could do, and maybe it was convenient that I entered a waiting list to check in, since at the moment there were no beds available. To sum up, they give you an apparent range of possibilities without actually giving you anything. Splendid. I have a scheduled visit this month with a doctor and last night’s psychiatrist also prescribed some antidepressants to me to start somewhere, but honestly, things have gotten so much out of hand at this point that I don’t think I can’t wait anymore. Otherwise I wouldn’t have resorted to… that. And at that moment, after going through such turmoil, do they expect me to be able to take such decision? For fuck’s sake, no one wants to be interned in a hospital, but odds were I would go back to the same last month’s dynamics if I went back home. What to do? I decided to go back home. I didn’t want to spend the night at ER. Either way, no one would take care of me the way I needed to be taken care of. At home either. At the most, I would be checked out every now and then and told to eat, but that was about it. And the drama has always been too prevalent at home, even if I myself am aware of the seriousness of what happened yesterday. But at least it’s home, a ‘safe’ space with (too well) known people.

But today is another day. Even before I did what I did, I knew that in case I survived nothing would have changed. In fact some things have changed, and I’m still touched about what happened, but that’s not enough if everything around me remains the same and I keep having the feeling I need to punish myself or do harm to myself in order for others to react to my problem since I feel powerless to do anything myself. First I decided to check in at the hospital but I don’t know anymore. It’s not the first time in my life, but the first time it was not an asylum, it was more of a shelter home. I’m scared and I feel terribly lonely in this journey and yesterday’s events are still so very recent. At this point all I can say is I honestly don’t know what will become of me.

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A tribute

In the Studio (oil on canvas)

The Studio (1881), by Russian artist Marie Bashkirtseff

 

I remember your tanned skin, your white hair, your melancholic eyes and your appalling presence. I thought ‘He must have been handsome in his younger days’. That was actually stupid because you were still really handsome. I always thought you were unreal, like straight out from a novel or a movie. And the story behind you actually backed it up.

You spoke in your deep, slow voice with that accent from somewhere in the South and you strolled up and down the atelier with your overall calm demeanor, searching for some painting, some brush or some chemical product. You took me in when I knew that was your sanctuary and you rarely let anyone in it or in your thoughts. And most of the time we remained silent each one of us doing their thing. And words weren’t missed at all. 

That spot was our refuge from the nonsense going on in the rest of the place.

You gave me advice but you were never condescending. On the contrary, you treated me with affection, respected me, never got angry at me or lost your patience.

I still keep those pictures you painted and gave to me. Some of them are hanging on my room wall.

I knew you had your demons, some of them extremely hard to cope with for others and yourself of course. I remember hearing your screams from the other wing of the house when the migraine stroke and I have the image of you bending on the sink, your head under the tap, letting the water run and your face contorting in pain.

And however, I treasure my most precious memory: the day you went back home and I was invited for a while, and your wife showed us around that ancient palace full of relics from long lost times. And I remember when I got back into the van and it drove away, I turned back and I saw you standing at the threshold with a tender smile on your face and your left hand on your chest, tapping on the place where the heart is located. And I knew exactly what that meant. Something we never actually said to each other but which was completely understood.

That was the last time I ever saw you, and I still wonder whether you’re feeling well, how must you look like or whether you’re even still around. I just hope you’ve found your place in this fucked up world. 
You were one of the kindest human beings I’ve ever met -though briefly- and you won’t be forgotten.

Dedicat a en Lluís T.

In defense of wrath

IMG_20180109_111830

Koba, a bonobo ape who was subjected to animal experimentation, teaches a lesson to some humans in Dawn of the planet of the apes (2014). 

 

Being angry all the time is tiresome, and I’m definitely not the type that can keep being angry forever. Let’s rephrase that: I’m not the type who can show their anger 24/7. But I’m afraid if I let go of the anger I feel I might forget why and with whom I was ever angry in the first  place. And that might lead me to keep putting up with shit I don’t want to put up with any more. And anger can definitely be a useful and legitimate weapon of choice.

It also takes courage to stick to your anger and I’m not sure I’m brave enough, which makes me frustrated at times.
Also, why should those emotional and psychological experiences which are a result of my disorder be less valuable than the ones of ‘shiny happy people’?

I don’t know if I’m done being angry or even if I want to. Not yet. What is more: I may not be angry enough.

Heresy

bizarro

 

I did not celebrate anything in this year’s holidays. And I have no intention of celebrating anything anymore in the years coming. I didn’t even celebrate my own birthday, and a Middle East politician and religious leader who lived 2000 thousand years ago and whose existence is mythycized by Westerners, as well as his followers expect me to celebrate HIS birthday? Yeah… Here’s what: no. And on top of that be a part of a whole economic framework based on compulsory “generosity” (what’s so generous about giving when you’re made do it?) where you are forced to consume for the sake of those you love and in HIS name? Count me out. I’m not even a member of his selected club anyway. As the Buñuel paradox claims: I am, thank god, an atheist.

As for generosity, presents, congratulatory messages… There’s a good amount of anthropological theory on reciprocity you can check out if you feel curious. In the end all these behaviour patterns serve the purpose of strengthening bonds between those  who share a certain cultural background. As for me, I’m not particularly interested in strengthening any bonds with certain individuals just because we are part of the same culture (?) (sometimes it amazes me that we are even part of the same planet).

There are many ways and a whole lot of moments when you can prove your love for others. If some think that because I didn’t send any messages or any gifts I am less worthy of their friendship or attention, then they are certainly no more worthy of mine.
I choose my own idols, shrines and rituals. And at the main altar at the pantheon there’s just one certain someone I want to be: me.

At the bottom of the cellar

'The_Survivors_of_the_Chancellor'_by_Édouard_Riou_01

An engraving by Édouard Riou for an edition of the novel Le chancellor (1874) by Jules Verne.

 

There’s this slave shackled at the bottom of a ship cellar. Humidity and the mold on the wood planks is soaking her bones. The stale odour is filling her nostrils. Her muscles are numb and stiff from the restraint. And the cold metal of the rings on her neck, wrists and ankles sever her skin. The pain is making her twist in frustration. The smooth sound of waves outside which would normally be soothing becomes a deafening silence that causes anguish, despair and melancholy.

Suddenly the cabin starts to rock. The tide and the waves rise and water starts leaking through the planks. Her pulse and the rhythm of her breathing increase. She’s so scared she doesn’t even try to release herself. She would like to curl and wait for the storm to pass but she can’t do that either. She can’t scream. What if the boat sinks? Will anyone remember I’m down here? Will they care enough to rescue me?

When the storm eventually dies down she finds herself slowly getting back her normal breathing rhythm. The turmoil of her thoughts seems to cool down with the weather. She goes back to the awareness of the pain and the shivering cold, and she also finds herself thinking I’m alive after all. But now… Now what?

Scaffolding

Valdemar-Clarke

One of the many illustrations Harry Clarke did for the 1919 edition of Poe‘s Tales of Mystery and Imagination. This one’s for The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar (1845).

 

This bunch of wires, springs and quilted wool hold my back and my atrophied muscles and bones.

I started neglecting this building site a while ago, but it still puts up with me and my nightly vigils, my tears, my orgasms, my muffled laughter and soliloquies, my crayons, my bars of chocolate, the oily bread and cookies where ants and mites have been feasting on for months now.

The stains and the stench don’t bother me anymore. I wonder how much longer will it be able to hold the weight of my downfall.

My musings, my dreams, my anxieties, my hopes, my strivings, now sleep in the metal and fabric carcass.

If only this shabby scaffold could talk back to me it might remind me of who I ever was.

Kiss your misery*

peterPan-kino

‘To die will be an awfully big adventure’, says Peter Pan in the homonymous 1904 play by J.M. Barrie. In the picture Betty Bronson as Peter Pan trying to steal the clock from the saltwater crocodile’s mouth in the first film adaptation from 1924.  

I’m absolutely positive that almost every single person in this world (or at least in this society) must have considered attempting suicide at least once in their lives. Or if nothing else the thought, the fantasy, has crossed their minds. Be it because you were about to be evicted, because you were fired from work and couldn’t pay your bills or feed your kids, because you ended up living in the streets, because you developed an addiction to some substance, because you couldn’t cope with the loss of someone dear or a broken heart… Or because you were merely depressed or stressed (and clinical stress has nothing to do with being too busy; you can actually be very stressed by doing virtually nothing, but us people with some anxiety disorder know damn well what it means to get stressed due to overthinking and negative anticipation).

I already talked about my suicide attempt in another entry and what a taboo it is, mainly due to Christian morals. That’s why to some people the mere thought of it leads to some self reprimand and judgment. But as I said we’ve all have gone through grim times overflowed with anger, disappointment, mistrust towards the human species and general nihilism. The only thing that changes is the way we approach those dark stages. Some seem to get their energy from who-knows-where (sometimes it’s a mere sense of commitment and responsibility to those beloved; others, as I said, just a quick dismissing of the thought) and carry on. Others… are not so lucky to be able to gather that strength and just end the pain permanently (even if it was meant as a temporary measure, since there’s no turning back). Actually it’s not even a stage, sometimes. It also has a lot to do with the times we’ve been forced to live (an economic crisis, for instance), besides our biological specificities. Most of the times things escape our control, although we’re told by self-help gurus and cheap new age philosophies that life is some sort of indecipherable mystery and a lonely road of self discovery that is only fit for the strong and the brave. Neoliberal bullshit. 

Also, overinformation/disinformation through media fuels the anguish, the existential void and the sense of guilt even more.

As I said, I do believe people just face it differently. The average individual just drinks, smokes and dances the pain away every weekend to be able to endure the cycle of work and lifetime commitments. But in my so far short life I’ve also witnessed two other types who are actually two sides of the same coin. In fact I might belong to one of those types. 

Basically, the premise is the same as in the average group: escapism. But there is a slight difference: death seems to rule the lives of these types in one way or another. They’ve either experienced it themselves (they’ve been close to death or they’ve witnessed someone else’s death with the subsequently huge impact this may have had in their own lives), or they’ve sense it somehow (usually, fear and anxiety have made them want to know more about it, as their surroundings tried to evade or conceal everything about it).

The first type just painfully realizes through some event or a chain of events that life can feel terribly unjust, lonely and sad. They’re driven by a force that draws them to death and they try to fight it constantly and express their sorrow and pain through some constructive means, usually through some form of art (when they can afford it, that is). And they bawl their eyes out by writing music, poetry, painting, acting and whatnot. They hope this will provide them with answers or at least with the strength to carry on those other average people out there seem to find so ‘easily’. Once in a while they might flirt with the idea (or even the act) of dying, and there will be a bunch of self-destructive phases every now and then, when the struggle becomes just too exhausting. In the end, for those who choose that path, creativity can be a terribly painful process, and depending on it just to keep hanging on, drags you and consumes you slowly. Whether they succeed in releasing themselves forever from the pain is just a matter of chance.

The other type is kind of fascinating to me. They’ve basically driven by that same Todestrieb (thanathos impulse) throughout their lives due to some traumatic experience or extreme sensitivity (or both); but instead of trying to fight the urge to kill themselves they just act constantly in a defiant manner towards death. To sum up they’re basically daredevils who live life in the fast lane, who look at all the misery and at death itself straight in the eye and give them their middle finger. Or a wink. Or a kiss. From the pragmatical perspective of the basic survival instinct they’re not bound to last long, and the extent of their life will usually be a matter of luck. It can’t be helped to get burned if you persistently play with fire, and you can outsmart what’s by no means a matter of wit, but a matter of physics, biology, kinetics or whatever (whether you drink, or smoke, or take drugs a lot, or you drive at 100mph on an interstate road, just to give a couple of examples). This type will eventually die, and apparently not because they were proactively looking for it, although we might never get to know their ulterior motives.

I definitely belong more to the first type, but I’ve met quite a few people who belong to the second type (I actually have a friend who can fit that description) and they fascinate me. Actually, I envy them and I’m not going to lie. Even if “common sense” tells me I shouldn’t. I’ve always found that brazenness, that impudence, that cockiness really cool. I don’t care if people see it as an immature behaviour or it’s a pantomime that masks actual despair instead of a calculated choice. What’s not a farce after all in this crazy world? I wish I had the courage to live without thinking too much, as these types do, instead of thinking too much about life and/or living. And sorry, but choosing the average lifestyle is not an option, as arrogant as it may sound.

Life’s not something you sign a long term contract with, just as you do with your mobile phone operator. Some people can’t even choose when to quit and the fact that you’re not even allowed to make that decision on your own due to cultural or religious constraints just pisses me off. I know absolute freedom does not exist at all, and that the fact that death ends up becoming the ultimate liberation in such a twisted world sounds kind of sad. But I’d rather fuck life (and death)’s brains out that let life fuck (with) mine.

*A verse from hide’s song Misery (1996)

A mild poetic attempt to approach an incessant disorder*

I can’t cope with losing things, people, time, chances, whatever. Even if that’s exactly what I end up doing all of the time. Oh the tragic irony.

I’ve been running away from loss, from the fact that you’re fated to missing things that will never come back for the rest of your life. And that it will leave an indelible scar in your heart, that your insides are going to be turned upside down and crushed by that feeling from time to time. That you’ll cry, and you’ll beg for what you’re missing to come back, even if at that time it wasn’t actually what you wanted.

I think now more than ever I understand why I chose the name I chose for this blog in the first place. I usually find myself looking back at things I did, felt, thought, wrote (and not from such a distant past) and I try to recognize myself in them. And I fail. Just as if I was periodically resetting myself, demolishing myself, erasing memories, experiences and trying to start from scratch. Recreating myself, rebuilding myself… reminding myself. Since no one has that amount of energy or time to invest in unattainable perfection such as the one I mistakenly claim to have, that’s why life turns out to be such an exhausting journey for me at times. And now is one of those times.

I’ve finally come to realize -though I feel it’s kind of late- that the obsessive idea of trying to mend what’s already broken or crooked that I seem to have been persistently pursuing so far, is ultimately an absurd chimera. 

Mood of the day: instead of a picture I choose a melancholic song by the Japanese visual-kei, progressive rock band Luna Sea from 1998.

*(Excuse the very dramatic, pretentious title)

 

Soul-snatchers & dead-walkers

kusuriuri

kusuriuri2

A scene from the cult animated series Mononoke (2007).

 

Do you know what it’s like to live on borrowed thoughts and emotions?

Catharsis

franken2

An image from Mai-chan’s Daily Life (2003), an ero guro genre manga by Waita Uziga.

Don’t draw mandalas. Don’t write poetry. Do not try to appease your anxieties and anger. Try to draw your worst nightmares and fears. Give them a name, a shape, a color. Embrace your darker side, depict your darker fantasies. Look at horror in the eye for a change. And scream. That is way more effective.