There Is No Ladder // The Sadness

I really hate consistently giving updates about my (lack of) mental health so I am just going to say something, and this will be a venomous rant aimed at nothing in particular, so there's no bullet points, sorry.  I recently found out that after Van Gogh (probably) shot himself, while he lay there dying, one of the last phrases he uttered was to his brother.

"The sadness will last forever." 

The quote really struck me.....little did I know in a few weeks I would be reminded of that in the worst way.  I hate this disorder.  I absolutely despise it. It's a disease.  No grand epiphany or breakthrough, unless you count the one where I realized that I am never going to get better, never going to be "healthy".  It's not going to happen.

I had been "making progress" which is bullshit code for "I'm learning how to fake being better."  I never got back any desire to live after it went away, but through extensive guilt trips and feeling like a morbid asshole about my suicidal tendencies, I just accepted that people wanted me around and I should do some good before setting myself on fire or whatever.  Anyway, I had gotten pretty comfortable with "making progress" and I was actually doing...really well.  Stable.  I even made a few art pieces I liked (Mad Max themed, of course) I was toying with the idea of a barbeque, which is a huge deal for someone like me---aaaaaaand then, nope.

One triggering event and all the "progress" just totally crashed and burned.  I was so upset, because all of the good I had done over the past six months slid right out of my hands.   Once again I was incapable of doing anything but torrential crying, having flashbacks, being frozen for hours, put on suicide watch because when you're in that much pain you would gladly take a train to the everything.  The only contact I had was to explode viciously on someone that I care about and feel like even more of a shithead due to it.  The monstrous side of me takes on a whole new form when I'm in my Vietnam mode.

And at some point during this stage of looking and acting like someone possessed by the devil, I started thinking about a person who means a great deal to me.  He has type I diabetes.  It's something he will always have to live with and something he didn't deserve or ask for, but has to deal with nonetheless.  And it has its own shitty problems, namely thinking ahead of time about everything that goes into your body, and regardless of how good or bad you do at calculating, still having to jab yourself with needles on a regular basis.  What part of that is good? Where is the "it makes you a stronger person" bullshit that I have to hear? Why doesn't he hear those things? because diabetes is bullshit and PTSD is bullshit and they're both bullshit with no positive side. 

Robert can meticulously track carbs for days, eat nothing but the perfect diet, and still have his sugars look like something out of a joke book written by literal assholes.  He can get really, really sick despite doing whatever bullshit he has to do to keep his ill-functioning pancreas from destroying his body.  I'm not trying to compare the struggles of diabetes to PTSD.  What I am saying is that with both diseases, no matter what we do, we will never be rid of this condition, no matter how healthy we look or how much we seem to be smiling or how young we are.  And that's a damn shame and it pisses me off.  This "healing" and "recovery" is such a lie and I don't know why it's even called that.  It's a disability, it's a chronic disease, whatever you want to call it, there is no ladder up and out.  It's just balancing on a tightrope and waiting until the next time you fuck up and fall off and somebody has to scrape you up and put you back on. 

I hate faking it.  I hate smiling and I hate socializing and I hate not being able to say "I'm doing good" to the cute Starbucks barista when she asks without feeling like a scummy liar because I'm not "good" at all.  I hesitate and give a waning, tired smile and hope that she doesn't see through my LIEEEEEESSSSS.   I have moved away from wondering "when will I feel healed?" to "when can I successfully fake being healed?"  I don't know why I care, it must be some deep-seated biological urge to appear healthy in life.  But at this point it's the only option I have.

And now that I think about it, that's exactly what Robert does.  I always tend to call bullshit on the "it's fine" mentality that most adults filter out into the wilderness, but since he and I are close and he shares more with me than with others I always wondered, why does he bother with placating them with fake happiness?  Why does he bottle all that shit he's going through up?  Why does he say "I feel fine" or act like it's not a big deal that he's jabbing himself multiple times a day, like it doesn't hurt every damn time?  I still can't answer for him, I just observe it happening, but I might be starting to understand.  At least for me, it's so much easier on people in my life to just hear 'I'm fine.'  It takes the burden off them, and also, partly off me.  If I can fake a smile then I'm contributing to that much less worry.  As I said, I think it might be biological.  What sort of human is consistently out of spoons?  I think for so many of us that struggle with chronic illness, faking it is the first thing we learn.  Before therapy, before medicine, before we find god and remedy our heathen souls (just kidding) Too bad for me that at least right now, I suck at faking.

I've long since said 'screw you' to the mindset that mental illness is somehow inferior, or less than, a more "measurable" illness like diabetes.  I can't poke myself with a lancet and tell you how bad my brain is doing, but screaming and crying reliving years of forgotten memories and past traumas while curled in a ball on my bed in the dark is pretty measurable if you see it go down in person.  But the point is, the ship of "this is a real illness" has already sailed.  I know that shit, I've known it for years.

But what I didn't know until all of my "progress" flew out the window and I saw just how easy it is to slip and fall right back to where I was, or even a worse place! ...is that unlike a single traumatic event or some reversible condition-- obesity, type 2 diabetes, etc - I'm going to be stuck with this forever.  Learning to fake it, forever. It's actually kind of chilling to me how relaxed and happy I look in that above picture (to be fair, Derik can make me smile no matter what) even though the multitude of other attempts he got were far closer to how I actually feel.

At least I can now fully appreciate the bitter words of one of my favorite artists.  "The sadness will last forever."

Photos taken in Big Cottonwood Canyon and Solitude Resort in Utah.

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