Shame

I utter the word ‘hello,’
And reddened in the face
You look away
Hands in pockets
Lips a tight line
Containing a smirk
That’s for me, only mine

I know not what was said or done
But your embarrassment is palpable
I guess, I must be in the wrong
Later it will come to light
The tone of my voice wasn’t right
Or the way I stood or looked down
Or it was the way words sound
When coming out of my mouth

And the bashfulness on your face
Communicates to everyone
And like a virus it infects them all
Permeates the air
And I become
The cigarette end of jokes

And I, left in the ruins
Become the ash
Greyed and cemented
Into shame

Music is sadness

Music, apparently it has the power to make people feel emotions.
Happy, sad, angry, sentimental etc.

But for me it doesn’t matter if it’s a happy song or a sad song; it all sounds depressing to me.
Music either makes me sad or sentimental but never happy.

The happier the song often, the sadder I become.
Because it’s a sound so cut off from anything I’ve ever felt, it sounds to me like delusion and desperation rather than happy and fun times.
Happy songs seem like tears should always mark their endings.

Because that’s what music is to me, it’s audio wallpaper over changes.
I blame TV and films for this. You know those scenes where two characters say their goodbyes for the last time, and then the music plays as the camera shows one of them walking away, getting further and further away as the credits start to scroll over the screen.

Or the music plays as someone has an epiphany that will be good in the long run, but at that moment it’s tinged with sadness, goodbyes, change.

Music is a vehicle for emotion; it moves it through you, emphasizes feelings you already had but weren’t necessarily aware of.
For me, music is a chariot for my sadness, something I listen to when I need my sadness to have sound.

But otherwise, music is too overwhelming because my feelings even in the silence are already too much.
To put music on for me is like going full throttle, no breaks.
Speeding to the inevitable crash.

All these thoughts

All these thoughts swim
Till they run
Merging and
Words become undone
Falling away
Somewhere hidden
The thoughts gone
But the feelings remain
Without a name

And then a new thought
Falls into view
Only to fall away
Before you really knew
And the feeling grows
But the words, you do not know

And you wonder
Something
Somewhere
The letters of the thoughts
R
u
n
n
i
n
g
.
.
.
.

Certified Adult

One of my many recurring dreams involves becoming suicidal (something that happens in my real life sometimes too) to the point that I end up being taken to hospital.
I always end up in the same ward I was on in my teenage years.
As a nod to the fact I’m now actually an adult, the doctors find me a room reluctantly, only on the basis that I will be moved to the appropriate hospital and ward the next day.
The nurses and doctors always tell me it’s time to stop going there and I always reply with the question, “So what do I do instead?” they shake their heads and look at me with a tired, exasperated expression on their faces.
In the dream, I am very aware I’m an adult on an adolescent ward and ironically in real life, the idea of being around adolescents is actually my idea of a nightmare. But this just goes to show how much more fucked up the wards are for adults.

Now I’m categorised as an adult and therefore also classified as someone who should be doing something ‘useful.’

Any argument from me that I don’t cope with the world ‘out there’ and with wider society and all the things expected of us, is met with disbelief and a constant need to try to bolster up my confidence.

But I wish to provide food for thought against this mentality and push to have it be a ‘confidence issue.’

Many of my school reports mention how I’m a ‘good pupil’ and ‘very quiet’ there will also be mention of my clear social problems. Talk of how I need to learn and gain more confidence along with stark warnings that I will ‘struggle to cope in the ‘bigger’ world’ if I continue on my more than ‘normal quiet’ and ‘abnormal social etiquette’ trajectory.
To a teacher actually paying attention, they may also note a slow learning process.

But for most teachers, the attention was entirely upon my lack of social ability and perhaps my apparent ‘loneliness. If I managed to make a friend, and it should also be noted that some of those ‘friendship’s were forced upon me by the teachers, it would be lauded as a massive deal. Little did they know was that a few of my so-called ‘friendships’ lead to more alienation than I had before I met them for one straightforward but tragic reason, I was easy to take advantage of.
It wasn’t me they were congratulating when I ‘made a friend’, It was themselves.

It wasn’t just teachers, it was other kids parents. I knew very well their sons and daughters didn’t want to invite me to their birthday party and guess what? I wasn’t bothered because I didn’t want to go to their damn party anyway! But their parents insisted I be invited. I know it was their parents because kids being kids didn’t hide it very well, especially if their mother was with them. They’d turn to their mother, looking up at her and say, “But, mum!” as they held tight a crumpled invitation that was for me. And their mother in that hushed tone they try to do, “You can’t invite everyone else and leave them out!” They say while they looked at you through the corner of their eye and thought themselves safe from observation becasue I didn’t look at peoples faces. But I have periphery vision, and I’m actually more observant than anyone would give me credit for.
But they, along with teachers, saw a kid who lacked confidence, and through this perception, they forced ‘friendships’ and ideas onto me. They invited me to their daughters and sons parties with a feeling I imagine of having done a good thing.

Through everyone’s mission to make me a ‘confident’ ‘normal person’ I lost confidence.

I became so ultra-aware of my social quirks and awkwardness that my social awkwardness actually became more magnified. Because while I was trying to be more ‘normal’ I was failing and also feeling rather uncomfortable trying to be normal and so I ended up perpetually embarrassed. Which only added to the cycle of more adults trying to ‘bolster up my confidence.’

Fast forward to that year I ended up on the adolescent ward deeply unhappy, self-harming and constantly on the edge of suicide and my confidence really was a non-existent thing.
But there in that hospital was an allowance for my weirdness while also making friends, with talk of once again upping my confidence but in an environment where my weirdness was allowed to be part of my confidence.
I would make no claim that I gained full self-confidence. I used humour, sarcasm as a way of trying to be somewhat more ‘normal’ and soon sarcasm became a way of life for me and I don’t regret that.
My sarcasm comes from a place of finding much of humanities hilarious sayings and thoughts into their logical conclusions. My sarcasm is in effect a very literal sense of humour.
All in all, despite my illness putting me in the hospital it did become a place I ultimately came to feel a sense of belonging.

My Depression remained ever-present and still remains to this day, and I doubt it’s a thing that will ever truly go away for me.
I remember sad times in that hospital, I remember moments of emptiness as I lay in my bedroom after having spent the earlier evening joking with other patients.
But I found my sense of humour in that hospital because I was finally able to use my creativity in an environment that seemed to fit me more than ‘mainstream’ schools and environments.

And what I have learnt is that ‘out there’ in that wider world I truly am a fish out of water. And while therapists, support workers, social workers may want to push an idea of growing confidence I hope they’ll pause and think.

Too quick are they to jump to that idea rather than see that maybe I’m right. And maybe me not being able to be ‘out there’ in that wider world is okay.

I know that for me I only seem to ‘progress’ in specific environments and once you take me out of that environment I’m like a fish out of water.

So obsessed with the idea of being and becoming ‘useful’ we have become that we want to try and make people fit a square peg through a round hole.
We want to get people like me to a certain point of ‘functioning’ and then say, “Farewell and good luck.”
And if I say I don’t think that day will come and or should come for something that is lifelong I will be labelled as someone doesn’t want to help themselves. Someone reluctant to try.

But I’m not saying I don’t try or won’t try, I’m saying that when I function my best I’m not functioning my best because I’m now suddenly ready to be ‘out there’ it’s because in the best environment for me.

And it’s not to say that I don’t wish to challenge myself, but rather that so many ‘normal’ things are challenging for me.

When we say, “Farewell and good luck,” What do I do then?

Autism: Instructions and executive dysfunction

I read somewhere on my travels through autistic information, that it’s usually best to tell someone with autism what to do when giving instructions rather than what not to do.

I remember when I read that I had a light bulb moment.

It resonated with me, a lot!

The number of times I look like a bumbling fool when being instructed to do something where they have told me a whole list of things of what not to do is uncountable.

I’ve spent my life looking like a clumsy, bumbling idiot, seeming to be unable to follow the simplest of instructions.

There are a few reasons for this. Giving me a list of instructions is overwhelming to me, I don’t know quite why. I can’t quite fathom what it is, only that my brain just goes into an explosive mode. It’s like the list is swimming in front of me with of all these possibilities and even though technically the list may be ordered well, my brain seems to perceive it as chaotic and a mindfuck.

The other reason is I have always struggled to keep up with the sequences of the instruction, especially if it’s verbal.

You could simply state to me how to do something seemingly very simple, by the time you’ve gone through all the instructions and sequence of events to land on the finished idea/product etc, my brain has forgotten a lot of the previous steps you told me already. I’ll often find myself remembering the last instruction only, the rest has gone.

And then if you tell me what to do, and then say what not to do, all I can remember is what I’m not supposed to do.

In fact, for some reason, it doesn’t matter which comes first if you tell me what not to do first and then tell me what to do, or the reverse, I still seem to struggle the moment someone tells me what not to do.

Some instructions are literally only based on what not to do! And with these I become dumbfounded. It’s not that I don’t understand not to do the thing you just told me not to do, it’s that I can’t seem to extrapolate from that, what TO DO instead.

I realise how this sounds. It sounds like a person who is not only dumb but also has no creativity.

It’s not that there is a lack of creativity, but that my creativity can only bounce off what I do know.

Since I read that sentence about it being best to tell us what to do, rather than what not to do, I’ve tried to make sure that anyone giving me instructions or whatever tells me what to do only!

By that, I’m talking simple things.

For example, my mum is often the person who drives me to appointments during the week. When I need to book an appointment I often need prompting and reminding, but I also have to book appointments on days she can drive me.

In the past, I’ve been given a list of the dates she can’t! And it always messes with my mind! So last time I told her only to write down the days she CAN do.

And it was much easier for me.

Meditation diaries: A ramble from being ultra-calm to wanting to explode.

The other day I felt so oddly calm. It may have been lack of motivation to care about anything. I don’t know.

But it was certainly calm. I even started writing up about ‘calmness’ only to find I was too calm to continue typing it up. I realise I had nothing much to say other than, “wow i feel so oddly relaxed considering how agitated and desperate I became just a few days earlier.”

Well, that calmness has gone.

I’m agitated and irritated by every little thing, even things that would normally have at least a minimal soothing effect.

Ear defenders to have some semblance of silence after I felt that noise was irritating me, only to find the ear defenders started to irritate me and then the silence started to irritate me. And then when I took them off I was irritated all over again at the feel of my ears getting used to not being covered again. Then I was irritated by the noises again.

I paced a bit. Came back in. Was instantly irritated by being back in my flat.

Tried talking to someone, not about this topic just about anything to distract myself. Felt irritated with the conversation. Realised halfway through talking I couldn’t really be bothered with it and so said those things you’re expected to say, “So i’m going back to my flat now, see you tomorrow,” All that stuff. Went back to my flat.

Still agitated.

The voices on the radio, music, knowing certain people exist in the world, my own existence, the frailty of life, the lack of any meaning to it despite all the fucking suffering, agitation and angst.

Which is like a slap in the face. Why bother with all these emotions when it’s all so pathetically ‘accidental’ and meaningless?

Yet still, my biology feels the way it feels. We like to try and forget that our biology dictates a lot of how we feel.

And that is just another slap in the face, my brain, my body keeps sending all these hormonal signals and neurons into a frenzied attack of making me want to scream all the while knowing I’ll be irritated by my own fucking screaming.

Everyone’s feelings and attitudes absorbed by me (or so I perceive) and all I want to do is push it all away. Keep away from me with your feelings and your baggage is what I want to scream at people. KEEP THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME!

And then in the silence and in being alone, I realise I can’t cope with my own baggage either. At this point my baggage is so messy it’s not even funny. The bag is bulging to the brim of messed up shit, a lot that makes no sense. And I can’t seem to tease anything apart into breakable, edible pieces.

I think of a song I might want to listen to because a lyric comes to mind then I realise, no I don’t wanna hear any fucking sound. Even if it is one of my favourite bands.

The sun shining is provoking me, poking my agitation with its rays, “Here I am. A complete contrast to how you feel. Ah just soak me up.” And for a moment I think, “Maybe soaking you up will help?” After all sunlight is good for us, isn’t it?

But I’m resentful of the sun shining right now in this moment. I’m resentful that humans as a species made it so the sun is a symbol of happiness. Because I can’t connect to that word, or that feeling and never have been truly able to.

I think it’s a thing that doesn’t exist. Not in the way it’s sold.

But despite knowing this, I feel I’m perpetually mourning the ideals of ‘happiness’ we’ve been sold.

When I was amazingly calm the other day I remember feeling like I’d let go of everything, because everything just was and everything just is. I wasn’t particularly happy, in fact what I was somewhat feeling could have been described as sad. But I’d somehow for the day managed to let go of any expectations and of other stuff I can’t quite put my finger on, and so any feelings were just…well they didn’t have much weight to them.

What puts the weight back into them? I don’t know how my feelings gained weight again. I just know they did. And now they’re obese again with pressure and the heart is working harder to keep from losing itself.

Meditation diaries: I can’t compute…

I have feelings and thoughts that I can’t compute.

An error code is flashing behind my eyes with a symbol next to it. The symbol is a triangle with an exclamation mark in it.

It’s not just a writer’s block error code, it’s a code of full system failure to compute feelings and thoughts into words, even to speak them.

There is a lack of ideas at play but at the same time too much in the head at once.

I’m aware of things that for sure feel doom and gloom yet I have no… pathway to use from there to use the information for any purpose. Whether that be, write it out and spread a message, scream it, cry it… I don’t fucking know.

I consider going down and talking to people I see often, but I find once I get towards my door to leave I realise I have nothing I can think of to say.

I mean it’s not that I’m devoid of anything to share, it’s just that I’m devoid of anything that feels worth sharing.

I don’t know if it’s a good thing. A learning curve of realising not all is worth saying.

A silence that could be peaceful if i’d just let myself be lulled by it?

It’s not that I spoke so much previously that this silence is ‘new’ but that even the little bits I did used to speak don’t at present, seem all that worth it.

I kind of like it. But I don’t trust it at the same time.

Because mixed with that there is a sense of my depression being here, pushing against me like the gravity that it is.

I can’t tell if it’s a peaceful pact I’ve found within myself where I no longer feel the need to share things not worthy of sharing or if it’s the depression telling me those things aren’t worth it.

I know the depression never really goes away for me. But I have noticed those times when my depression wants to truly haunt me, but even then vaguely, I’ll find I’ll go to bed at the same time as usual but still find myself waking up late, and when I do wake up, extremely reluctant to get out of that bed.

It’s not that I get out of bed without reluctance even on my better days, but it’s a worse, more determined, grumpy reluctance.

A menacing, sinister unwillingness to shake the covers off and greet a new day.

It takes a lot more of something feeling urgent to get me up. Like needing to pee so bad I might explode and on top of that hearing the budgie that owns me cheeping and cheeping because she’s noticed she’s been in the dark for longer than a usual night so, “Get up goddamn it! Get up!”

Which reminds me that in previous years before I was owned by a Budgie these days would be spent all day in bed.

Being owned by a Budgie and needing to care for her leaves me with an urgency that means I must get up, even if it’s a few hours later than when I’m doing better.

I had a topic in mind I wanted to write about but as said previously I have no words. I’m surprised I’ve squeezed all this out.

Chapter 12: Dragonfish

Dust motes glide in the split streams of light as people raise their arms over their heads in a colourful array of supposed dance moves. The music blasts and you can feel the bass vibrating through your bones.

I don’t know if their smiles are real, I project onto them the fakeness of my own smile.

I find myself walking through the crowds of people aimlessly chasing for those moments with Jasmine. Women are brushing against me and I’m trying to act like it’s the best night of my life, looking around me at all these faces flashing different colours in the lights, and I’m thinking, ‘are you listening to the lyrics?’

“Please tell me why, oh tell me why do we build castles in the sky…”

“Do you ever question your life?” Why yes, yes I do I question it all the time.

I’m drowning and you’re all living in a submarine separate from me. I can’t breathe.

“I think it’s time to talk with you…..Where is the love?”

Can’t you hear the desperation in their voice?  I want to shake these people. They call it trance music, and it seems appropriate because they’re set in a trance dancing, moving their body like hypnotised robots.

“Give me a reason, must be a reason to hold on to what we’ve got,”

I think I’ve seen Jasmine amongst a crowd of colourful dancing people.

What is the reason? Why are we holding on?

I’m spiralling. Going deeper and deeper into the depths of the ocean, I’m dying and the woman I thought was Jasmine was a bearded man with long hair.

The music is too bright to lights to loud. Existential voices sing over beats that propose promise of a good time. My mind can’t get over the contradiction.

Greenlight, arms raised, purple, pose, red, pout those lips and move that butt. Do the robot. “I don’t wanna say I’m sorry, because I know there’s nothing wrong,” But there is! Everything is wrong!

“Hold me in your arms, cause I need you so.”

I rush out of the club and throw up in a side street. I can still hear the thump of every beat inside the building, feel it shaking my bones.

“Don’t be afraid, there’s no need to worry…”

I go to a nearby carpark and climb till I reach the top floor. The music is blasting from across the road, the neon lights shining on the night.

I stand on the edge. I hear the beginnings of a song called ‘Children’ from across the road. I know they’re dancing in there like it doesn’t sound sad. It must be me and my perception. No. The world is lost and I’m drowning in an abyss. I stand on the edge. The beat the music has gotten heavier. Like my heart.

That lingering tone behind the beat, behind the melody it reeks of sadness. Or am I just too sad to hear the happiness?

I’m dizzy, I’m tired. I lean forward and open my arms to the wind.

Close my eyes.

This is it.

Blue lights. Heavy heart.

Are those blue lights part of the club?

Sirens reach out like a hand over the music.

My hairs a mess and my palms are wet with sweat.

I feel like I’ve had an electrocution to the head.

“You don’t want to do this, son.” A male voice says behind me.

The music coming from the club speaks for me. But he doesn’t hear it’s sadness, he hears it as people having a good night.

 

3 months out of hospital:

 

I submerge my face under the water and I look up at the ceiling. I hold my breath. I hear her footsteps drawing near; I lift my head out with a gasp.
Jasmine peers around the door, “The film will be starting in 10 minutes!” She tells me before closing the door behind her and sauntering off back to the lounge.

 
I’m trying to learn to be a dragonfish, learning how to be my own source of light.

 

 

 

                  The End 

 

 

Chapter 11: Dragonfish

We walk along the beach like a couple in a rom-com, the backs of our shoes hooked onto our fingers. The sea froths at our feet and the rollercoaster from the amusement park behind us laughs its maniacal laugh as screams of its victims penetrate the wind.
“I don’t think I love you.”
Jasmine steps further into the sea so that the rim of her skirt skims the water, she looks over her shoulder at me but turns away quickly.
The hush of the sea seems to divide us further apart with only the laughing track of the rollercoaster behind. I look over my shoulder to the pier behind me where the lone figure stands watching, waiting with smoke billowing out of his mouth. ”
So,” Her words finally crack through the laughing track, the menacing tone of it seeming to stifle the breeze, “You sure know how to make things awkward,” she laughs trying to make light of the moment.
“It’s true.” I agree.
I wade through the water till I’m next to her, “Love is never enough.”
We walk even further into the sea till it’s up to our knees. The waves lapping around us. It’s hard to tell in the darkness, but I think she’s frowning
“But you just said you don’t love me.”
I look out at ahead of me at the vastness of the sea, “And I’m saying it doesn’t matter because love is never enough anyway.”
I turn to read her shadowed expression again but she’s disappeared. I look to my left and she’s not there either. My light bulb head flashing erratically, “Jasmine?” The rollercoaster laughs at my plight distantly. As a shrill scream calls out from the ride I feel a sudden weight against me and my head goes under the water, “Is this what you want?” Jasmine asks through gritted teeth, her voice sounding far off and away, “Well” She pushes my head down harder. Submerged under the water, salt water getting in my mouth on automation a panic sets in me, I try to push myself up against the resistance. She pulls my head and I spit and cough, “What…” Is all I manage to get out before she’s plunged my head back down, “You want to die?”
I gurgle under the water. All these years of feeling like I’m drowning and I almost laugh as the water takes my breath away. She lifts my head out again, pulls my head toward her and before I can cough and splutter her lips are on my mine further suffocating me. “Of course you don’t love me,” She whispers as she pulls her lips away, “You’d rather die than love someone else.”
I cough and splutter up my lungs violently.
“If I didn’t love you,” the rollercoaster laughs at this exact point and it seems appropriate, “I probably wouldn’t hate you so much.” Her voice catches in her throat.
“I’m sorry,” I splutter.
“I know you need help,” Tears break her voice, “You’re too far gone for me.”
I close my eyes and feel the water against my body, “I’m sorry,” I repeat more clearly as she wades through the water and back to shore.

I watch my trainers float away on the water ahead of me before heading back to the pier. My clothes drenched and my lungs still burning. Couples walking home after an evening out walk hand in hand, turning their heads to look at me the drenched shoeless man walking along the pavements as I head towards gates of the theme park a moody man looking me up and down with a sigh, “Really?” he shakes his head again and tuts as he rips tickets off his booklet and takes my money. My face is flapping in the wind, the clouds above begin to spit as the clown laughs at my decline, my stomach lurching at the pull of gravity my mouth gaping open from the automatic bodily horror and excitement. My heart is racing. The laughter is followed by the whooshing sound and click-clack of the rollercoasters momentum. The laugh starts up again but more maniacally as it twists and spirals and I’m upside down. It probably looks comical, just me on my own hanging upside down suspended, the moon shining down on the world as if nothing is wrong. My heart is pounding not because I’m alive but because I’m dying. I look down at all the dots walking in all directions, humans that look like ants. Apart from it all, watching, trying to be like you but always seeming to fall short somewhere.

Concerts, parties, clubs, I watch you and I can’t connect to it because I’m feeling everything and nothing all at once. A balloon about to burst.

Noticing everything, but noticing everything is as good as noticing nothing.

”I do love you, Jasmine!” I whisper to the air around me as the ride pulls to a stop.

“One more time,” I tell the tickets guy, he shakes his head and tuts which I take to be a signal for no, so it’s with a jolt when I realise he’s let the ride start again.