Descent Into Darkness

“Listen well, children, for I shall tell you of the world we lost and how this place came to be. Of what once was and may someday be again.

“The world was peaceful, once. A place of prosperity, light, and community, where anyone could reach out and connect with whomever they wished. Though conflict remained, it was small and often little more than jest. A brief disagreement blown out of proportion as a symbol of the bond between two brothers. Brothers born from a shared love rather than the same mother. Truly a time when the commonality between men mattered more than the weak bonds of blood and circumstance.

“Some decried this time of peace and love as nothing more than the death throes of a society brought down by its own complacency, and they may have been right, seeing how we now live in darkness and solitude, all that we once held dear lost to us as the great libraries of Alexandria were lost to the Ancients. So to, has much of our culture and what made us great been lost to us with nothing more than the elements to blame. And we, proud and once mighty, assumed ourselves safe from such trite things as a storm or the wind and rain.

“But no. We were proud and we were wrong. And now we pay the price of our hubris as we live out the rest of our days in darkness.”

“Charlie.”

“As the darkness descends ever deeper, we must-”

“Charlie, do you and the kids want cupcakes?”

“Mom! I’m trying to talk about the collapse of human civilization!”

“What? It’s just a power outage. Are you that upset you can’t play your games online?”

“This isn’t about that!

“Leave your cousins alone and go read a book.”

 

The Portal

Timeo stared at the portal, uneasy with the wash of pale light that emanated from it. He’d heard from Gellis there was nothing to fear on the other side of the portal, but Gellis had been through it so many times that he seemed immune to the odd feeling of the light as it lingered on his skin.

Gellis also didn’t seem to notice, but he was a little different after every trip to the outer realm. It was hardly noticeable unless you looked back and saw how much changed happened.

The first time he noticed, Timeo started monitoring everyone who want through the portal. Anyone who was gone for a significant amount of time came back changed in a similar way. The degree of change tended to vary by person, but it was always the same type of change. Timeo was surprised that no one cared when he pointed it out.

“It’s fine. Nothing to worry about.” they’d tell him. He wanted to believe them, but he’d done his research and new that what they told him wasn’t true. His presentations and appeals fell on deaf earths. Fennrel actually laughed at him.

Today was the day, though. Timeo could no longer put off going through the portal. If he did not contribute to the enclave’s well-being, he would be cast out. And then they’d force him through the portal, anyway. Today, he had an appointment with his destiny.

After making sure all of his gear was prepared, Timeo took a deep breath, opened the glass shield, and stepped through the portal. The sun beat down on him, various creatures screamed into the air, and Timeo took his first breath of fresh air. Resolute despite the cancer-causing orb in the sky, Timeo strode off toward his first day of college.

I Just Want to Let You Know You’re Not Alone and Someone Understands

One of the most important parts of any mental health awareness campaign is helping people see that they are not alone. When you are wrapped up in your depression, anxiety, or OCD, it can be incredibly easy to forget that you’re not alone, that other people have felt this way and understand how you feel right now. I can only imagine that other mental illnesses are similarly isolating. The simple act of letting people know that they are not suffering alone, of being able to reach past the barriers they have created and show them other people feel that way as well, can often be enough to help someone who is just starting to live with a mental illness.

Even if you’ve been doing it for years and consider yourself an expert and handling your own shit, it still feels good to know that other people know what you’re going through. That other people can understand your pain and you’re not the only person who ever got in an argument with a loved one and felt like you weren’t worth their effort anymore. Or that you aren’t the only one who freaks out at the entirely-unlikely-but-still-possible interpretations of the subtext of a conversation you had with someone import. Or that you aren’t the only one who feels like your thoughts have been taken over by a whirlwind that refuses to let you think about anything but your deepest, darkest, most ridiculous fear that you know is unfounded but can’t seem to ever let go of because what if it isn’t that ridiculous. Feeling understood is the best feeling when you’re in pain you can’t seem to stop that’s coming from inside your own head.

One of my friends messaged me last night, as I sat on the couch and watched Adventure Time in an attempt to reinforce the ideas of growth and slow change I’m trying to focus on. She had read yesterday’s post and wanted me to know I wasn’t alone, to let me know someone understood what I was feeling, and to thank me for being open on my blog. It was a little thing, a few messages and a few moments of shared emotional connection, but it helped me a lot. I may be past the point where I need to know I’m not alone, but it always feels wonderful to be reminded of it. It was just the boost I needed to get through the evening and to set me up for today. A lot of the comments I’ve gotten from friends today have been incredibly helpful, even if they didn’t explicitly remind me I am not the only person to feel this way. The kind understand and supportive comments, combined with a few frank observations, made me feel seen for the first time in a long time. As someone who gets so wrapped up and isolated in my own head that I can completely rewrite reality in order to have a “plausible” doubt to gnaw on, all my friends today reminded me that I’m here and so are they.

I want to do the same thing for other people. I want to be a beacon, a lighthouse on the shore, a little light in the darkness that says “you aren’t alone and there’s someone out there who understands how you feel.” That’s why I write about things in an open and honest way I struggle to do when I talk to people. That’s why I don’t hold back in my writing unless I’m protecting another person’s right to privacy. I want to talk about how I feel because it is good for me to process this stuff and because I hope someone else out there sees what I’ve written and feels it resonate in them. I want to create stories and write poems that make people feel things. I want to meander my way through drawn-out essays about the tribulations of my life so other people see someone else struggling with the same pain they feel. I put this up publicly in the hopes of one day helping one person who needs it.

This is why I tell stories. This is why I tell the stories I do. I want people to see and feel things that I’ve felt in the hopes of reaching someone who hasn’t made that connection yet. I want to promote understanding by creating art that conveys what it feels like to be anxious, depressed, and suffering from OCD. I want to capture it all so people who have no experience can get a glimpse of what other people feel, to promote empathy. I want to display it so people who have these same feelings don’t feel so alone anymore.

If I ever become a millionaire or make a pile of money from lucrative publishing deals, I’m going to secure my relatively simple lifestyle and spend the rest founding a charity to promote people creating art as a means of coping with their mental illness in order to foster understanding in the wider world about what it means to suffer from depression, an anxiety disorder, OCD, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and everything else that people depict their stories and art. Journals, magazines, art galleries, short story collections, related websites, the whole kit and caboodle. Everything I can throw money at to get creators exposure and to get the world to understand through art. Music, performance art, literally everything that helps promote understanding. It’d take winning the lottery to fund an organization like that, but I think I can get it started slowly with a more reasonable amount of money if I get the right people involved.

Ideally, the charity would help prevent people who are suffering from ever feeling like they’re alone again. I’d also like to raise mental health awareness in the US and the world in general, get funding for better treatment options for those suffering from mental illness, and remove the stigma associated with mental illness. There are enough problems facing people with any mental illness without them also feeling shame for being ill. No one needs that.

Until I have the money, though, I’m going to keep writing on my blog, keep reviewing and sharing wonderful art other people do that speaks about mental illness, and do my best to always be a voice saying “You’re not alone. I’m here and I understand.”

I’ll Never Forget

Writing serial fiction is much harder than I anticipated and this particular story is giving me trouble. Since I don’t have that to post yet, have a bright poem about smiles to counteract the miserable winter weather I’m experiencing.


A brief little flash, a proudly-worn curve,
A tentative quirk, a break of reserve:
A twist of the skin caused by a nerve
Is all that I need to blithely observe
The mark of spirit that’s always in style,
That which we so simply call a smile.

I remember much, at least as of yet.
Though places and names, reasons I’m upset,
My first loves, injuries, and childhood regret,
Are all things that I will likely forget;
I will never lose, no matter the while,
The sight of a face creased in a smile.

Melancholy

Rainy grey days and soft muted nights,
Fog in the trees obscuring the lights
Of passing cars and the lone street lamp
As the world revels in the wet and the damp.

The quick pit-patter of dripping rain
Against the roof and window pane,
The bend and sway of leaf and tree,
The storm-blown scratch of spring debris,
The susurrus of water on grass
As the clouds roil, break, and pass.

A hint of loam and earthy strength,
A touch of fresh that runs the length,
Something new to mark the year
As the scent rides wind far and near.

The cold pin-prick of rain on skin
To mark the storm will now begin,
The deep chill gust that cuts to bone
And leaves stout souls to walk alone,
All hint of warmth retreats from hearts
As the skies open and the rain starts.

Unlit grey rooms and seats to rest
By windows with forehead pressed,
A crack to pull in rain-soaked air
And a blanket warm waiting near,
Silence reigns loud to give the storm
Ample room to sooth and perform
For those who watch and wish to be
Nothing more than melancholy.