I was born with a vivid imagination, a strategic mind, an unusually powerful memory and a quick temper. This is not necessarily a good combination for anyone … especially a child.
My sister Linda taught me to read when I was very young … four at the oldest. I have fond memories of going to the local library and getting books that were far above my age level (which isn’t too hard to do when you’re four years old in a library). Although I did like books with pictures, I began to find them a bit distracting … the drawings were not always how I imagined things to be … but I could still here the voices of the characters as they talked, the tall grass rustling in the breeze, the rhythm of the horse hooves on the cobblestone streets.
I don’t know when I lost my love for reading … perhaps it was in school where they insisted I read books that were of no interest to me … or maybe it’s just been a growing frustration as my astigmatism worsened over time causing my dyslexic tendencies to be highly exaggerated. More recently it is due to the volume of reading I do at work … work is reading … reading is work … words do not relax nor entertain any more.
I have always loved writing … well, always loved writing stories, poems and songs … homework assignments and reports were not fun … they did not require thinking or imagination … just work.
I remember in first grade we were asked to tell a story to a teacher’s aide so she could write them for us. My story was too long … it didn’t fit on the page. When the assistant read the story back to me she used a voice for one of my characters talking and I said, “No. That’s not how he talks.” I don’t think it occurred to me that she could not hear his voice … it didn’t occur to me that many people don’t hear the voice they are writing … and most likely would not admit to hearing voices.
I did … I always have.
I have mentioned before that much of my grade school days were spent alone. Not that I never played with the classmates … not that I was always an intentional outcast … much of the time I just preferred being alone.
I have lived much of inside my mind … ok, insert whatever “out of your mind” comment you want. When I imagine, my world is limitless … I am whatever I want … I am wherever I want to be, even places that do not seem to exist.
When I am living outside my mind I am limited to the physical world.
I remember the first time I heard Neil Diamond’s song “Shilo” … I could so relate to the words … “So you turn to the only friends you can find … there in your mind.”
So where is all this leading?
I’m not sure …
I have had a string of unusual events recently and I am just trying to make sense of them.
When I am truly writing at the top of my game I can speak to my characters … literally. I talk to them, I interact with them, I hear them and sometimes I see images of them. I will often take the part of a secondary character in the story and live the scene. I can smell the dust in the air, taste blood dripping from my wounds, feel the cool water on my parched throat.
Is that normal?
I don’t know.
Am I crazy?
Again … …
When I was nearing and in the deepest point of my depression I was not able to write. I would get upset and yell … yell at the voices stuck in my head … the characters yet unwritten … because they were taunting me. They talked to me, and I had to listen … there was no drowning them out. It was not always clear voices … sometimes distant murmurs … tormented souls pleading to be released.
When my insomnia was at its worst I had daymares … events unfolding in front of me with vivid detail that were not actually happening. I suppose I should call them hallucinations, but whatever you call them they were real to me.
Once I began to sleep … after I was on my antidepressant these events slowed and eventually stopped. Soon I was back to my normal interacting with the characters of my story again.
Choosing to transition has found me in an entirely new world of stress. Despite the fact that I had been on the road to happiness … despite being who I’ve always believed I was supposed to be, things have been crumbling around me lately.
I do not understand why.
Many recent events have created a confluence of memories and emotion.
- Coming out to my family at a time and in a way I never intended to
- Many people from early school days finding me via my old FB page
- My mom having surgery, starting rehab, suffering a setback, and getting ready for rehab again
- Unusual levels of stress at work
It feels like depression is creeping its way back into my soul. I will fight to the death to stay away from that dark and miserable hell.
But I don’t know how … or even what to fight.
My own memories?
I mentioned in a previous post an incident that happened in grade school. I was giggling and enjoying watching my classmates play two-square. One of the boys was getting angry and yelled at me because he thought I was laughing at him. I do not remember the exact sequence of events, but I was chased by my entire class … and likely kids from other classes. They cornered me … they circled around me … they laughed at me. They laughed at me until I crumbled to the ground crying.
I was hurt …
I was humiliated …
I swore I would never let anyone get hurt again. I turned off my emotions … but that just bottled everything up.
That was a very long time ago … that is a very deep scar … and I have not truly faced the feelings of that time in my life yet.
Recently I had a very emotional period. I felt as if the world collapsed around me … on me, and I was suffocating. I went outside … it was a dark night. I sat on the grass and began rambling to myself. Two of the neighborhood cats sat near me. I heard a noise in the field behind our yard.
The cats did not react.
I listened … ever intent to figure out what I heard.
A murmuring of voices seemed to be directly behind the fence, but I did not see anything. One voice stood out from the rest as he said, “Get her.”
Then the laughing started.
It surrounded me, just like 40 years ago … taunting, merciless laughing. I crumbled in a heap and began to cry … just like 40 years ago. I covered my ears to try and make it stop, but it would not go away.
After what seemed like an eternity it faded.
I freaked out.
After talking to some friends online I was able to calm down. I chalked it up to all the stress and reuniting with some friends from that period of time … at least that reasoning allowed me to sleep that night.
The next day I pondered the situation. I realized it was not completely isolated.
When I was on Topomax I was mental meltdown about to happen. I will not rehash all the details, but that night at my work … that night when I was standing at the dumpster with that shard of glass against my arm I heard the same provoking, spiteful laughter. All I could think was, “I bet it wouldn’t hurt much.”
Perhaps if the glass had cut my arm the voices would have stopped.
I can still rationalize all this for myself. The diet medication, the stress, first truly stressful time on estrogen … all these things could easily cause temporary mental disturbances.
Since that night in the yard there has been other moments where I’ve heard things … murmurings … voices. If I concentrate … listen intently I can almost make out what they are saying … like listening to a conversation in another room.
Again I can rationalize why this is happening. My way of writing a story involves interacting with characters that are not truly there … perhaps my brain is just trying to work out details of events long ago, and to do that it must make these characters real.
I am lucid.
These events have not deterred me from going to work or other duties … but that is a half-truth. I did go to work Friday, but I felt so mentally unstable that I left early. I was afraid of melting down in front of my coworkers.
The voices are not encouraging me to hurt others or commit crimes … they just annoy me.
I do not know what all this means, nor how it will shape my future. The three things I have feared the most since I was a child … going blind, being paralyzed and going insane.
I did temporarily lose my sight when I was in fourth grade, but that is a story for a different time.
I can vividly recall a dream I had many, many years ago:
I was sitting in a dark room.
I was struggling to move, but I couldn’t. I was in a straight jacket.
My heart raced as I slammed my body against the wall in frustration. The walls were covered, but the impact of my efforts jarred every bone in my body.
Sweat dripped off my body, trickling down my nose like a tiny river over a waterfall. I could see the drops glisten as they fell onto my lap.
I looked at the door of the room. I could see the silhouette of a man wearing glasses watching me. After a moment he stepped away.
I began to sob uncontrollably.
I woke up in a cold sweat with my heart racing … it was so real … I could feel the chill in the room and the binding of my restraint.
This is truly where a counselor can save your sanity … an unbiased view … a different perspective. She does not believe I am going insane nor am I having any true psychotic episodes.
So what is it?
She thinks it may be a form of PTSD … reliving old memories in vivid details … memories I have never truly dealt with.
If I had a choice I would not choose to deal with them at this time.