Rejuvenated

My writing no longer feels as though it is being forced out of my hands and onto paper (or keyboards).

I am no longer feeling as though I wasted money on a writing platform that I am never going to use like I anticipated to.

I no longer feel as though my blog page is a cluster of bad writing that jumps from talking about anxiety all the way to writing random fiction pieces.

For the longest time I wanted to post my pieces to Facebook proudly, knowing that my best work was being shown to friends and family. I wanted to share my blog in writing groups, to try to get my writing out into the world. I, however, was held back by the never-ending sheet of fear that would wash over me on the daily.

I belong to several blogger pages on Facebook and all the time see people sharing links to their blogs for others to read. I have always wanted to do that but I kept holding myself back from doing so. I had the fear that they would click on the link and the first post they saw was going to be my most recent post, one that I wasn’t a fan of and didn’t feel proud of, hate it, and click off. I was obsessed with coming up with the most perfect “home page blog post” so that I could finally post in the groups about my blog and not feel embarrassed to do so.

I also found myself posting on my blog and not writing to Facebook about it. I felt pressured to put out content, even if it wasn’t any good, to at least get my money’s worth and to feel like I wasn’t wasting money that I used to put into the WordPress account and page I created. I wouldn’t tell family and friends about the posts I wrote because I felt like they weren’t any good and I didn’t want them to read it and silently laugh at me.

“I somehow missed the few posts before your most recent one!” people would tell me.

I hated how my blog post was looking, was sounding, and I hated not knowing what my next post would be about.

I felt embarrassed that I went through the trouble of not only buying a WordPress account and not getting any use out of it, but also felt embarrassed that I created an ‘aberrations’ Instagram page that for a long time felt as though it was going to just fade away into the background for someone to find and laugh at the failure of the account (You can definitely still follow that if you want to haha).

I have only been blogging since August, but it really has felt like way longer.

For the first several months I had no idea what direction I wanted to take, who my audience was, and what my plans for the future of the blog was.

My therapist even asked me at my last appointment “Who is your audience and what do you want them to look like?”

To be honest, I still have no idea what any of the answers are – but I am trying to find them and am willing to ride out the process and enjoy the journey.

I feel rejuvenated.

I feel like a little kid – excited and proud to have “scheduled” posts ready to go up in the future. It is funny how some of those things make you feel so organized and make you feel like professional.

My blog may not be perfect. I still use way too many tags and categories.

My posts may not be fluent.

My spelling may be horrible. My punctuation is awful as I still use too many commas and dashes.

I am however trying. A new breath of life has been breathed into me at the start of this year and I am excited to go through the learning process to see what the world has to offer me.

A New Calendar Year and Expectations

The beginning of 2018 started with a strong mentality. I was convinced that a new calendar year equaled out to a new me. I told myself that it was going to be the best year yet and that this was my year, that this year would top everything else – and definitely not be like all the other ones.

Who doesn’t begin every new year with this mentality though?

2018 began great – I was involved in my first serious relationship and was happy in it, I was back into dancing, and I had started a new semester at college. A bad blow hit our family whenever my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and would have surgery and radiation to get rid of it.

Due to the stressors of life, I had slacked on getting my college loan situation figured out and before I knew it – I was getting emails essentially telling me I was taken off all rosters until I paid tuition or got a loan. Every place I attempted to get a loan from rejected me and my parents when they tried to co-sign. Within the week a professor told me that I could no longer sit in on their class, despite knowing my situation.

I wound up dropping my minor which was computer science shortly after those first few weeks at school due to the way that particular professor treated me.

That rattled my second semester quite terribly – after I got my loans figured out, I dropped the class with said professor and that wound up taking me down to just 12 credits, barely reaching the required amount of credits to remain full time.

It was also around this time that I became obsessed with the way I looked and began to overwork myself in an attempt to lose weight and have a better body. I pushed myself so hard that I wound up in the hospital – essentially pulling the muscles and enflaming the tissues within my chest wall. This ‘injury’ set me back not only in my workout journey but also affected my daily life for a long while.

Around this time my mental stability began to dip and I returned to therapy after not going for several months. It was the first time in a long time that I felt as though I really needed to return and talk to somebody and for a while it helped me.

My mother had her surgery which was successful, she began radiation, I performed in my performance at my old dance studio, I was still happily in a relationship, and eventually I scraped by in my second semester of college.

Most notably, with my depression and anxiety, I do not get seasonal depression in the winter months like a large majority of people do. I have noticed that I get my most depressed come summer months and I have never been able to figure out why. I cannot seem to grasp if it is the large quantities of ‘free time’ which gives me too much time to think or if it is because I work so much that I push my mental and physical strengths too far.

My summer began with a lot of concerts and a lot of work. I had seen the big names such as Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, Weezer, and The Pixies. Come July I had met my favorite Youtubers, Dan and Phil, and began to gear up for the last year of Warped Tour – and many more concerts to follow that.

This was around the time that my anxiety began to come back and the things that were not big worries for me began to return. I found myself not wanting to go into convenience stores and I found myself retracting and not wanting to leave my home. I stopped going to my boyfriends’ house and generally stopped socializing. I began to work more and more and was working two jobs at the time. On top of going to concerts near weekly, juggling a relationship, and two jobs, I quickly overworked myself to the point of exhaustion and wound up missing work due to overworking myself into exhaustion.

The months of July and August have mainly been repressed. I was still working and enjoying life, but my mental state was at the worst it had ever been. I can remember going to concerts – laughing, smiling, having a great time, just to get home and cry myself to sleep for reasons that I did not understand or comprehend.

What started off as weekly therapy appointments turned into considering going twice a week which eventually turned into several visits to the psychiatrist – along with several shifts in medications.

After an extremely life changing week or so, I began to change near the end of August. I returned to both of my jobs, began to consider teaching dance at my old studio (and getting hired), and I got to start up my third semester with a schedule where I only went on Tuesday and Thursday.

In September I had turned twenty surrounded by my family. I spent a nice day shopping and at lunch with my mother, came home, and then had a nice dinner with my entire family. The following Friday my best friends and I got to enjoy a nice night out. A night where I was no longer stressed, I was carefree, and this was the night where tings took a dramatic turn – and even though I didn’t know it at the time, it was for the better.

October was whenever I began a true transformation. I was attending therapy by the weekly. I began to talk to those I hadn’t in a long time. I began to stabilize the relationships I had neglected for many months and essentially returned to a form of normalcy and general happiness.

I was dancing like I used to in high school and was doing another performance. I now not only had my family, but my dance family as well. I began to teach at my dance studio – falling in love with my little children more and more every day.

After our performance in November, I made it through midterms, and I got to enjoy Thanksgiving in Maryland with my family. I got to go back home and work Black Friday with my favorite retail team. November was filled with family and friends – all that I could have ever asked for.

December began preparations for Christmas. By December 14th I had finished my third semester of college – with perfect attendance for my 8AM class. I finished with all A’s and B’s – a new accomplishment. By the end of finals I had started at a new job, my third job, and already loved it.

In December I got to build relationships with unexpected people and got to spend time with those people. I began to feel myself opening up more and becoming less guarded and less anxious as time went by.

Now, it is the end of December.

I am ready to move on from my worst year, 2018, but I am also grateful for all that it taught me and all the things and relationships that came out of it.

2018 was by far my most heartbreaking year filled with confusion, sadness, anxiety, and stress.  It, of course, was filled with heartbreak and loss as well.

I sometimes choose to look at the negatives of 2018 and how horrible it was – breakups, my mothers diagnosis, psychiatrist appointments, therapist appointments, hospital visits, etc.

Instead I can focus on the two most important lessons that 2018 has taught me.

In this year I have ultimately learned how I will allow myself to be treated (and when to recognize if and when someone oversteps my boundaries), and I have learned that even in the most heartbreaking of moments – so much more can come out of it.

I am leaving 2018 with stable relationships. I am leaving 2018 healthy and smiling.

In the year of 2019 I would like to continue the relationships I have made with others and build on them. I would like to stay positive and truly happy – not just to front it for social media and family. I expect to continue to know and understand my self worth – and to realize whenever people cross my boundaries. I expect to recognize red flags and to not brush past them continuously in hopes that people will change.

Most importantly, I expect myself to remain strong and to remind myself of who deserves to be in my life – and to be okay with letting go of those who no longer aid in my happiness.

Normality

Authors note – This is the beginning to the story of Emerson who is featured in the previews I posted titled “Submerged in Paranoia” and “Alone”. Let me know if you are interested in hearing the entirety of his story.

—-

It is normality that gets us through our day to day life. You could tell me your form of normal is sitting and watching an episode of Friends every night before bed. You could tell me it is normal for a couple to hold hands as they walk together along the sidewalk. All of these things seem like a normal occurrence.

What if I told you my normal was to question my sanity? To question everything I see and touch? I could tell you the stupid details of my life but the reality is that I don’t know them. I don’t even know why I am talking to you.

Maybe it is because I have given into my version of normality that I have tried too many times to change. Maybe I have given into the loop of insanity that tosses me from one side of the room to the other. I must have truly gone insane, you see.

True insanity comes whenever you are speaking to the voices on the insides of your skull like they are a real person. I suppose when you have no one to talk to these are the things you resort to.

I wish that I could change into a normal human that easily. I wish that I could be a mindless drone that wakes up, goes to the gym, goes to work or school, maybe sees a friend or girlfriend, builds relationships, makes small victories on the daily, a brand new accomplishment here and there, and goes back to sleep…but that simply isn’t my normal.

“Emerson.” It feels as though whoever said that was yelling my name through a long tunnel, my own name echoing a hundred times over before it reaches me. I am brought back to earth again. I come to see Taylor sitting across from me as her little boy, Dalton, crawls all over her. His tiny hands tug and pull at the tank top that covers her chest just barely. A half eaten Wendy’s Hamburger sits on a table in front of me.

I stare at the hamburger like it is a foreign object. I don’t remember how I got here. I don’t remember ordering…sitting…eating.

I remember now that Taylor had said my name.

“Hmmm?” I finally hum out to Taylor

“Penny for your thoughts?” she asks me as Dalton slams his sweaty baby fist down on a package of saltine crackers, crumbs spewing from the package and skidding across the table. Some go as far as to slide underneath my tray of half eaten food.

It dawns on me now that Taylor wants to know what I am thinking and where my thoughts lie. What I want to tell her? That I want to die, that the voices are more intense now more than ever, that I haven’t taken my medications in over a week now, and how I was supposed to go to my doctor today but I rescheduled for the third time.

I couldn’t tell her these things.

“I have no thoughts to give.” I reply to her. A simple response – one that she doesn’t like and I can see this visibly. Her mouth presses into a fine line and her thinly filled in eyebrows press in towards one another. She sucks in a long breath and her free hand, the one that isn’t holding her son in place to prevent him from flipping over her shoulders, swirls around the small bowl of chili that she has sitting in front of her.

Dalton is now slapping his hands on the table, more saltines flying up and falling back on the table as he screeches loudly. Few people turn to look over at us.

Screaming children must be their normal.

“You know you can’t expect to get better when you can’t ask for help.” She says to me lowly. “I don’t know how many times I need to tell you this.” She says in a near whisper. I roll my eyes at her and lean back further in my chair, feeling the cheap plastic press into the middle of my back as I look at her.

“I’m not asking you to lecture me. It’s the last thing I want, actually.” I say to her. This wasn’t our normal. I know you’ve lived in the crevices of my head somewhere for a long time and you should know this but I feel the need to reiterate that most of our conversations, from what I can remember, are good ones.

This is where I am supposed to inform you (and whoever is listening to me ramble) where Taylor and I met. Truth be told, I couldn’t tell you. I suppose that being mentally insane can give you a pass on those sorts of things.

She never brings it up or uses it against me when I forget her birthday.

I can barely remember how I got to Wendys let alone what has been happening the past few hours.

All I can remember about Taylor is that she cares far too much, that she has a son, and married her high school sweetheart. Normal is how I would describe her life story.

In attempt to change conversation, I clear my throat and look at her. “How is Cameron doing?” I ask her. This seems to make her angrier and she stands up in a huff, scooping Daltons mess of saltines into her hand.

“I’ll see you later, Emerson.” She says as she grabbed the tray in one hand and held Dalton on her hip as she walks away from me. Dalton squealed out into the shitty fast food dining room and attempted to wave at me as they moved through the exit.

Like that I was alone with just the voices on the inside of my head.

Let me ask you this… are you my normal?

And I am Alone

A ghostly hand reaches out in attempt to grab me and I unsuccessfully bat it away from me.

“Get away from me!” I scream at the hand that is nothing but pale white skin with blue tinted veins clinging to bone. I cannot see the body in which the hand belongs to through the darkness. Nothing but an extended arm is extended towards me.

It’s fingernails are long and sharpened at the edges as the nails themselves continue to yellow as each second passes by. I am shaking as I try to back up away from the long extended fingernails to prevent any further harm done to my body.

“I don’t take orders from you…” I yell at the hand. I try to smack the hand away again but the fingernails scrape at my forehead. I feel the burning sensation as blood pools at my forehead and drips at my hands.

“You get away from me!” I scream, chunks of my flesh hanging from its pointed nails.
Dark red blood is falling continuously onto my skin now and it seeps into the creases of my fragile hands. The blood that falls onto my body is unbearably heavy against my soft skin. I can feel the hot liquid as it rolls onto my skin the substances feeling as though it at just the right temperature, enough to burn through my flesh. The hand continues to swipe at me as the blood drips into my eyes, the same eyes that have seen too many horrible things in their lifetime. My eyes burn like a thousand fires have been set to my sclera and my vision is tinted with a red filmy substance.

“Get away!” I scream as I continue to back up away from the hand as my legs tremble and shake. My vision is tinted and blurry, I still cannot see. My bloody palms wipe at my eyes in an attempt to get my vision back but I wipe more of the hot tacky substance into my line of sight. I can feel the whip and the snap of the wind as the hand swipes at me again and again and the nails scrape at my cheekbone, peeling my skin back layer by layer. My hands grip at my skin as the freshly opened wound rips and pulls at my nerves. I scream out into the empty air and I feel the strain and wrench of my vocal cords as my fingernails peel at my skin. My back strikes against something cold and hard. I pull my head back to dodge another swipe of the fingernails and my skull cracks against a harsh surface behind me.

My once red tinted vision suddenly goes black and my body hits the ground underneath me.
The cold air holds onto me as I wrap my arms around myself and hope that doing this will protect me from the outside world. My body shakes violently and brutally. My hands are wrapping so tightly around myself that I am nothing but a firm and bloody ball of human flesh and bone. I feel hands grip at my body arms both firmly, but not hard enough to hurt me, and my eyes pop open and a face stares back at me.

The face is kind and familiar.

“Emerson!” She yells at me. I shoot into an alert as my hands grab at my face but no blood stains my fingers. My fingers glide along the skin of my face and I feel nothing but the flesh that lines my prominent bones. Bones that have gone too long without food. Bones that are heavy and crumpling from lack sleep. No long and yellow fingernails dangle in front of my face. The kind face extends a hand to me again and I try to escape her touch as she reaches out for me. Her touch burns at my skin as her hand rests at my shoulder and I feel as though a thousand needles were jammed down into my fragile skin. I shrink away from her once more.

“You were deep in it, Em.” she whispers to me. “I came over when I heard you screaming.” she says to me as she tries to reach out to touch me again with her hand. I pull away from her as sharply and as quickly as I can.

“I’m fine.” I manage to growl at her.

“Emerson,” She whispers to me. We both know that I am far from okay. Even the voices in my head know that.

“I said I’m fine.” I hiss at her rudely.

She looks at me with that face that she has looked at me with a thousand times before.
Her face is sad, her lips forced into a sad frown. Stress presses into fine lines and her concern is evident in premature wrinkles. Her forehead shows signs of stress and anxiety with wrinkles forming in her face in heavy and thick crinkles and rolls. Were these premature signs of stress there before or after I came into her life? I may never know and I know she would never tell me the truth.

I wipe at my face again in an attempt to find the blood that was just drenching my face a few moments ago, find signs of anything that just happened being real.

“You’re alright.” She says again. Her hands rest on the tops of her thighs now, she got the message not to touch me.

“Emerson, your delusions have come back full force… you’ve been taking your medicine?” she asks me to which I do not reply to her “You know what the doc-” she begins but I cut her off.

“Taylor, Please.” I say to her as I rub at the temples of my head with my left hand, my right hand trying to find the cut that I felt rip into my skin just a few moments ago.

“I’m fine.” I whisper to her as I avoid the stares that she pushes into me. Medications. Doctors. Needles. According to her this is all that I need to feel better. What she doesn’t realize is that I am Emerson Matthews. I suffer from delusional disorder along with depression, and who knows what else. I am a concoction of all things negative in this world. All things bad were pushed under the fragile frames of my skin, compact into one sad human being. What did I do to deserve all of this? My fingers push into my skin harshly and I can feel the movement of the loose skin that blanket my bone. My fingers push and pull at the skin that is there so hard that I feel tenderness that resides there, and while it hurts, but I don’t stop.

“I need to be alone” I whisper to her but that word rolls off of my tongue like venom. It bites at me and puts in a sting in my rapidly beating heart. I know those words hurt her, but they hurt me too, just the same. I watch again as her pink lips push into a line and she stands to her feet without a word. The sadness in her body is evident as she moves through the house and she closes the door behind her. I can hear the slide and the click of the door as it locks into place and I hear her footsteps disappear down the stairs and onto the street. I swear to myself and to you that I can hear her front door slam behind her, making me shrink away from the sound.

And I am alone.

That word wraps around me like hands holding me at my throat. It works its way into my stomach like a virus with its fingernails scraping up my insides. I feel sick to my stomach and try to stand up on my feet. My hands press into the cold stone of the fireplace that I had just smashed my head into just moments before.

Did I really hit my head or did I just imagine it?

I try to maintain my balance but my knees quiver; the pull of my tendons and ligaments cause my knees to cave in.

I am alone but I did this to myself.

The emptiness claws at me and the pit of my stomach grows larger with each scratch and scrape. My eyes land on the white door to my left but the loneliness paralyzes me and I cannot move. My mind is cluttered with a thousand thoughts and voices. Along with a constant repeat of the scene that just unfolded. Blood, hands, and the hurt I just did to Taylor. How, much like the delusions, Taylor came in and left without a second guess.
The feelings of being alone are pervasive and consume me like an infection. Loneliness pushes through me like a wave and eventually it will drown everything in its path. Eventually I will be nothing but an empty shell of bruises and bone. My memories of a time before this one are vacant.

Loneliness is all I have ever known.

The pit extends into my gut and I can feel the twist and pull of this vicious virus that I am trying so desperately to get rid of.

I want to cry and I want to scream out into the empty house. The house that is filled with nothing but empty rooms and delusions – those of which that belong to a mad man. A panicked and rushed gasp escapes the back of my throat and my hands grab at my mouth as if I was going to push the sound of distress back in again. This is all that escapes me as my eyes slam closed. Tears leak profusely from my eyes and begin to soak my cheeks. My stomach concaves inward and I feel the roll of my spine as my body begins to work against me and I hunch over. My knees convulse and I collapse, my bones falling onto the hearth of the fire place. I curl into myself, the stone is cold against my body once more. Panicked and frantic sobs escape from my mouth and the tears soak at my face. I try to quiet the sobs that frantically escape me, trying to silence the weakness that I try so desperately to keep away from the human eye. The stone is cold and my body is empty. I lay on the large flat rock holding myself more and more tightly as more sobs escape into the empty air.
And I am alone.

Submerged In Paranoia

“Mr. Matthews, we are going to ask you to open the door for us.” A voice pelts through the door separating me from them.

I stumble across the floor before losing my balance. Scrambling towards that same door, I pressed my back against it, my bare feet slipping out from underneath me.

“Mr. Matthews if you don’t open up the door, we will break it down, you don’t want that do you?” a voice asks me, the same voice from before.

“Leave me alone!” I scream at them.

“You know we can’t do that Mr. Matthews.” A different voice replies to me.

Heavy red and blue strips slice through my white lace curtains, along with fluorescent white headlights that burn my sensitive eyes to look at, white lights bouncing off the walls and into my eyes.

What did I even do? My face is covered in a hot and sticky amount of sweat. My chest heaves heavily and my heart strains to pump blood through my body. I must’ve been running just before I reached the house. I try to gain my footing again but my feet just slip out from underneath me again.

My arms trickle sweat, beads of perspiration beginning to move and slide down my arms.

That was whenever my eyes caught a glint of red, just for a short second, enough for me to take notice.

My crazed eyes land on the red blood that coats my hands, red blood splatters following up into my arms, near my elbows. My fingers touch at the blood that is already beginning to dry, tacky from an unknown persons body.

“Oh God…” I call out my voice caught and jagged in my throat. The voices outside the door, along with the sirens, on top of the voices inside of my skull begin to stumble and overlap one another.

Where one sentence ends, another voice is there to take its place.

My hands find my ears and grasp at them, tacky blood coating my ears as my fingernails begin to rip at my ear, an attempt to pull them off.

Maybe then the voices would stop.

More sirens. More commands. More voices.

“Emerson, we just want to talk to you, can you do that for me?” A female voice stands out from the others. Maybe it’s because they think I’ll trust a female more than a male. They are wrong, even if her voices are calmer than the other ones, less harsh.

“Just stop!” I yell out to them. More voices are attempting to talk to me. I can no longer decide what is real and what is fake. Voices inside my skull attempt to talk over one another, making me go mad.

My fingers continue to claw at my ears that are now tacky with blood.

Anything to stop the voices.

Again, this time from the other side of the door, they are drawing in closer.
“Emerson, open the door!” Someone yells at me, a man, with a voice that makes me jump.

“Just stop.” I beg as I shake now, rocking back and forth, my spine crushing against the wooden door so hard that it shakes.

Voices inside of my head fight for dominance and figures dance in the headlights that shine through the curtains.

I can almost hear the click of the guns they’ll fire at me.

“Just stop.” I beg again.

“Mr. Matthews, this is your last chance.” The same, meaner voice, yells at me.

“Stop it.” I beg them.

“Mr. Matthews we will beat down this door.”

“Stop.” I whisper, tears rolling down my cheeks and dripping onto my knees, soaking the fabric that covers them.

I rock back and forth. Voices combine.

“Stop it.” I say out loud.

“Last chance!” The woman now yells.

“STOP!” I scream out into the air.

And just as quickly as they came, the voices all come to a standstill. They stop in a dead silence.

My eyes peel open, fresh tears still streaking my cheeks.

No longer do red and blue streaks of light shine in a revolving circle. No white headlights shine almost directly into my eyes. My heart still thuds heavily inside of my chest wall and I can feel the blood as it pulses through veins that get tighter by the second. My throat is heavy and I can hardly breathe.

My spinal cord feels crushed and bruised as I stand on my feet again, my feet still sweaty and slick.

Trembling hands grab at the door knob to the front door and I rip it open, expecting to get shot down in an instant.

A smack of cold air hits me hard, pushing through my hair and sending chills down my exposed flesh. Leaves push against the ground with yellowing grass that now reached the middle of my shins. The air was silent, almost as if no one was around for miles and miles, as if I was the only remaining person in the neighborhood.

Shutting the door behind me, I stumble into the bathroom, knocking over things and nearly crashing my body into the sink.

Broken shards still line the back and the inside of my sink as I glance at a broken reflection of myself. My eyes are distant and hold no sparks of life, those were lost long ago.

Rather, they are just a darkened green, my hair lined with sweat. My ears no longer have tacky blood lining them and my hands are clean.

The blood never existed, at least not this time.

As I stumble into my bedroom, stripping off the shirt that was soaked with sweat and tears and tossing it somewhere on the floor, I can feel the cold air hit my body.

As soon as I lay my head down against the pillow, the same whispering of voices return.
They are further away, in some deep crevice of my mind and brain.

I can close my eyes and sleep, undisturbed by the voices.

For now.