Below is the first chapter of the book I am working on. I am almost finished with the first draft and will begin editing soon. It is supposed to be difficult to read: halting, uncomfortable in places. If you find yourself being able to flow through it with ease then I have not done my job.
The Madness That Lies Within
Metal folding chair kicked back on the back two legs, my legs propped up against the wooden railing of my current place of residence, my apartment that I shared with my wife and soon to be mother of my child. I was out there to smoke. I was out there to let the tendrils of carcinogenic pulls of nicotine laced smoke into my lungs, let it process – slowly crystalizing my bronchial tubes – and then exhaling, that part being one of the parts that I enjoyed the most. Sometimes I French inhaled, allowed the smoke to creep out of my mouth and inhale it into my open nostrils, letting it snake its way down my sinus cavities and into my trachea, making its way into my windpipe and back down into my thorax. I was smoking clove cigarettes before they stopped making my brand and then before they made them illegal because the government released propaganda stating that flavored cigarettes, including cloves, were targeting children. Fuck that. Children should be governed by their parents, not the government who can’t run an insurance program that nearly ran itself for years that assisted those who could not assist themselves, like those who had terminal illnesses, including cancer and AIDs, and other diseases that are well known but I can’t think of right now.
My significant other, my wife, the future mother of my daughter, was asleep so I was not out there to get away from her as I could’ve just as easily have done that on the couch in our crowded living room where my desk also found its home. My desk, that I spent more than seventy percent of my life at, not just my waking moments, but all of my moments, was like a well-loved pet, I took care of it, gave it a bath when it needed, relied on it for companionship, and was more comfortable when it was around. Most of my friends were on there and I created my own little niche on there that needed me, I made sure of that. I had spent so much time on my computer, and would continue to spend just as much, if not more, in the coming years, that my best friend (other than my wife, the future mother of my daughter), was on there because I had just been approved for a disability that was the reason I spent as much time as I did in front of the computer. My disability was not because I was blind or because I was missing an appendage. My disability was not because I got injured at work and I had most of my body crushed, as a matter of fact my body was in pretty good shape, or it would be if I took care of it, which I didn’t and did less and less as the years went, but I will get to that … eventually. No, my disability was because I was fucking crazy, certifiable, insane, and just not legally declared so.
I saw things that weren’t there; people, alive and dead, those I knew and those I didn’t, people who existed and some that my mind made up, just for me (wasn’t I a lucky fuck). I saw things move where nothing should move, I saw the walls breathe, I saw the ceiling bleed once or thrice. The floor opened up and tried to eat me, but I jumped to my couch, which became a rickety old life boat, to save myself. I saw my wife, the future mother of my child, when she wasn’t there, when she was at work, when she swore that she was no one near our dirty little apartment that we called home. I made phone calls, crying into the phone to people who had no idea who I was because I couldn’t figure out the right buttons and, because of my severe anxiety (which I will get into in a bit) I couldn’t tell them anything like, most important, who I was and where I was. I saw birds flying at my head when there were no birds, or were there (you knew I was going to say that, didn’t you). I saw animals in the grass, but the grass was left undisturbed. I saw my neighbors covered in blood, running around, but I had no neighbors in that unit. And worst of all, yet one of the smallest things, was that damn black cat that always showed up. It showed up so much that I asked my wife, the mother of my unborn child, if it was real and she confirmed that I was, again, seeing things. I even tried to take a picture of it which resulted in odd things, from flares to darkness to a regular shot with no cat in it. I hated that fucking cat.
I heard things as well, auditory hallucinations they called it. It was not as bad as the visual ones, but the disembodied voices were freaky and the people that I talked about earlier, they talked too, a lot. Sometimes these people, bodiless or not, were so loud that I couldn’t hear anything else. I even bought a pair of headphones, well I had my Rachael, my wife, the mother of my unbo – you get the idea, buy them for me. They did nothing to block out the voices. A lot of people, including the mental medical professions, psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, and others, would ask me what the voices would say. Sometimes they were just a running commentary of my life. Sometimes they tried to convince me to do things, good things, bad things, indifferent things, just things. Sometimes they sang, loudly. Sometimes they tried to have conversations with me and if I wasn’t paying attention or the voice had a body, I would talk back, these hallucinations becoming good friends of mine.
But they weren’t always voices that I heard. I heard cars starting when they weren’t (I looked). I heard car horns and people knocking on my door. I even called the cops on a neighbor because I thought I heard a party going on but when the cops got there, I watched out of my window, they were just talking to the young couple for a bit, I watched the whole time expecting a gaggle of people to pour out of the unit. When the police were through with my neighbors they came and talked to me, my wife wasn’t home, and said that there was no excessive noise, no noise at all as a matter of fact. I apologized and they went on their merry way. I would hear people pounding on the walls and, unless Rachael was home, I never knew what was real and what wasn’t. Some days I would find myself, because I wouldn’t realize what I was doing, which was not uncommon, lying on the couch, you guessed it – in the fetal position, fully dressed, silently crying until my face was soaked and my shirt was marked, leaving a tell-tale sign for my wife when she got home so I took to changing my shirt often and burying clothes in the dirty clothes pile. I would’ve done the laundry, but we had coin operated machines and a specific day for laundry where Rachael would stop and get quarters just for the event.
I mentioned finding myself on the couch. I frequently found myself in places that I didn’t remember going. Nowhere too far from our apartment and, actually, usually not out of our apartment expect out on the balcony where I usually had a cigarette in my hand which was occasionally burning my fingers because it had burned down so far. I was not the crazy guy walking down the street, twitching, talking to himself. I was the crazy guy sitting in his apartment, twitching (because of the anxiety issue) and talking to myself, of course I didn’t know I was talking to myself, I thought there were people there.
The severe anxiety was really tied in with a bit, and sometimes more than a bit, of paranoia. I didn’t like crowds, so I didn’t want to go anywhere, but I hated being alone so I constantly shook when I was at home. When I did go out, I thought people were not only following me, but listening to my conversations, and I don’t mean on my cellphone, which was there as well, I thought people were literally getting close enough to me to listen to what I was saying. Because of that, I spoke really low and annoyed the piss out of my wife. It was hard to go out to dinner somewhere because I had to have my back to a wall or I freaked out the whole meal and couldn’t eat. I was constantly afraid that Rachael was going to leave me for any number of reasons. How long could one person put up with all that I was dishing out. I had more issues than all the versions of Superman put together.
And the crazy part (weren’t all the parts crazy with differing levels and variations of the crazy) was that the psychiatrist I was seeing considered me ‘high-functioning’ because I could take care of myself, drive (even though I shouldn’t have), and had someone who loved me and stayed with me even though I had so much going on. Yes, that was a part of the diagnosis. Because of Rachael, I was high-functioning.
I didn’t just start off like this randomly. I had been going to see a therapist or some other level of mental health professional, most of the time was seeing more than one at a time, almost my entire life. I had used and abused drugs as a teen and much younger (which I will expand on later), and had many traumatic events happen in my life. Oh, and I had a childhood that was less than favorable. I wasn’t physically abused that much, I was extremely emotionally abused and ignored which is a form of abuse, and I wasn’t sexually abused by a relative, but some therapists and psychologists say I could’ve repressed those memories. Since the rest of my childhood fit it, they said that it was a good possibility that it happened and I just don’t remember it, of course there was one significant incident that could account for that, but I just never thought of it like that until very recently.
I quit using drugs when I was twenty-three and not much later I met my first wife (yes I have been married more than once). She was married at the time and I helped her get away from a relationship where her husband wore more make-up than she did, yes he was a ‘goth’, but he was stealing the make-up from her, trying to sneak around with it and not being honest to her about it or anything else, and she was beginning to be, not exactly creeped out by the make-up wearing issue, but uncomfortable with it and the dishonesty thing was wearing her down. We were together for a short period of time before we decided to get married. Bad idea.
It is now my opinion, from experience (bad or good), that a person should spend time with their perspective spouse for at least a year, more than three is better, and live together first, for a while preferably. Now if it is a same-sex relationship than I would imagine that less time would be required because while they would still need to get to know one another and understand how to co-exist, while their bodies aren’t identical, they are more alike than an opposite-sex relationship partners’ would be, there would be a little time cut off for that, at the very least, of course I could be completely wrong as I am only trysexual – as in I will try it once, maybe twice to see how I feel about it and then maybe continue with it, if I like it, and I don’t know everything about relationships that I have been in (both same and opposite sex) so how much do I really know about any relationship and, besides, I am not the one to be handing out information or advice on relationships at all since I have had so many failed ones.
But, my first wife and I had very little in common and I rushed my feelings for her since I had so little love in my life and after a series of one night stands and meaningless sex that my life consisted of, this relationship that lasted longer than a few weeks immediately seemed like it was the one that was going to go the distance and I also thought that the metal clips that were popular in the seventies that were most often attached to feathers were all used as roach clips and if someone had one then they obviously smoked weed religiously.
I found out that I didn’t love her shortly after we married. I tried, I mean I liked her a lot, she just wasn’t my world and that seemed wrong to me. We decided that it might be a good idea to add some spice to the relationship since it wasn’t ‘perfect’ (this was mainly my idea and she went along with it to make me happy) by including other people for sexual variety, but there wasn’t supposed to be any emotional attachment to the other people. Problem was that the first girl I decided to add to my life for ‘sexual variety’ I became extremely emotionally attached to, so much that she became my world, which was exactly what I was looking for and expected in a long term relationship, especially a marriage, if I wanted it to last anyway.
I tried to work it out by having two women in my life but after several months I realized I was not being fair to any of us and it was extremely taxing on me emotionally, mentally, physically, and especially sexually. I had to drop one of them and I loved the wife less, so much less that I am sure that I didn’t love her at all. A divorce was the only logical option, to me. The first wife was devastated. We also found out she was pregnant during the whole process. What could’ve been a clean break and the continuation of a wonderful relationship between Rachael and me as well as the start our time together starting the rest of our lives became scarred by the fact that the divorce could not be finalized until the baby was born.
Rachael and I waited the nine months, lived together, and then waited another year and then some before we decided to get married. It was the best choice I have ever made. I hope to be with her forever. She is my world.
So after my happiness, Rachael and I ran into some financial troubles because I couldn’t hold a job because of anxiety issues that we didn’t really know were issues at that point. We moved in with her parents and they were wonderful to us. Two kinder people I will never meet. They love their children with an unyielding strength that they show it at every chance they can. They would literally not only give an arm for them but all of their appendages, their organs and anything else they could.
I got comfortable. I believed and so did mental medical professionals that I was Bi-Polar. I had depressive states where I wallowed in my own self-pity and I had manic phases where I had no sense of right and wrong, doing some really stupid fucking stuff as well as was violent at times, but not often enough that it was an issue at all.
During a severe depressive state, I was on Percocet and Oxycontin for a Discectomy that was performed. I was laid up in bed and didn’t move for nearly anything. If I could’ve had a bag to piss and shit in, I wouldn’t have gotten up at all. The drugs were a great mask for the mental state I was in, I convinced Rachael that I was just ‘out of it’ because of them. Part of that was true, but part of it was because I hated my life and wished nothing more than to lie there and die. Several times a day I thought about taking a few too many pills and ending it, but I thought I could not leave a body, which had evacuated its bowels, for my in-laws to clean up. At that point in my life suicide was not really an issue as I had more respect for myself and those around me than ever before, even at my lowest. In the past and the future suicide had and has been an issue as my sense of self-worth fluctuates more than a barometer.
After I pulled myself out of that depressive state that was aided by pharmaceuticals, which caused me to soil my sheets several times, thank you (again) to Rachael for cleaning up after me time and time again, I quickly entered a manic phase and a fucking righteous one at that. No violence, but the ability to care what was right or wrong was gone. I still knew, I just didn’t give a shit (okay, maybe I didn’t know most of the time, but I liked to think I did – it gave me a sense of rebellion).
So I ran a credit card scam on my wife’s sister’s husband. Not that it matters, but I just want to talk about something and this is my story so I will.
Heather, Rachael’s sister, is three years younger than she is. Rachael got married to me when she was almost twenty-two and she became a part of my life when she was nineteen. Heather’s boyfriend, who was her high school sweetheart, proposed to her and signed up to join the Marines while they were in high school. They were going to wait until he got back from all of his training to even start planning a wedding. It was still a bit young, but not horrible and not too far off from when her sister would get married, of course the fact that her sister and I were getting married, let alone when, had not even entered the picture yet. Instead they decided they couldn’t wait and that he would get more money from the military if they were married. So just after she turned eighteen, before she graduated high school, they got married.
She was divorced not long after. She decided she couldn’t wait on her husband to get back from Iraq, so she decided to fool around with a Navy boy while Michael, her husband, was on active duty. This has nothing to do with my story and her story is extensive, but it’s not mine to tell, even though I really want to. I mainly won’t tell it because her parents will probably read this and, not knowing what is fact or fiction, would have a doubt in their heads about the integrity of their daughter and I really don’t want that.
So the credit card scam on Michael while he was in Iraq was shitty of me, I know, but, as I told you, I was in a really bad manic state and I didn’t care what was wrong or who it would hurt (not an excuse, just the fact of the matter). So I didn’t even do anything special with it. I got a Sears card and bought a DSLR camera and some gear for it. I picked it up at their automated pickup center (what a good idea that is) and no one knew any difference.
I hid the evidence, not the camera itself as I told them that a friend had sold it to me really cheap, for a few months until Martin, my father-in-law, got the bill in the mail as I did not get to it first. It apparently wasn’t the first one he had gotten either. He and his wife confronted me about it and eventually I broke down with lots of shameful crying. My manic state came crashing down around me. I nearly went into a rock bottom depressive state when they kicked us out. I didn’t care about me, but I cared about the relationship between Rachael and her parents. Michael, being such a wonderful kid, didn’t press charges and convinced the credit card company that it was a misunderstanding with a relative and all was not forgiven, but I was not sent to jail or charged at all. Thank you, Michael and thank you Michael’s family.
Rachael and I moved in with my parents. It was a mess. We moved into the unfinished basement that we were not allowed to do anything with for fear that we would get comfortable and think we could stay longer than they wanted us to. My sister lives there now with her husband and two kids. It kind of felt like a kick in the balls when they partially finished the area for her, including putting in a bathroom. They are good people and I love them, but I doubt they are ever leaving. I can’t fathom why my parent’s thought it was a better situation for my sister and her husband and kids to live there than us who were much more productive, but perhaps they just wanted more for me, I have to tell myself that so I don’t get pissed about it from time to time even though I still do. We were not there long, a few months tops, before we found our first apartment together. It was not our first apartment together, truly, but it was since we were married.
Sometime between Martin kicking us out and the mess at my mother’s house was when I had my breakdown. It progressively got worse. I was diagnosed with schizophrenia and will spend my life jumping from drug to drug attempting to find the right combination that makes me “normal”.