A Labyrinth of Twisted Abjection

“This digressed mind is a labyrinth of twisted abjection…”

– Michael IX Williams

Abjection is a sort of perpetually bleak, depressed, hopeless, dejected state of mind and being. I have been feeling particularly abjected as of late, even after the most recent stay in the funny farm.

My memory of my struggle with mental health begins in my mid teens, when it all just seemed like grunge-afflicted adolescent angst. I experimented with self harm at that time, and generally felt apathetic and empty, but I didn’t really have a concept of depression as a mental illness, as far as I recall. Still, I began self-medicating with drugs and alcohol without even realizing that’s what was happening.

When I moved to Albuquerque to attend UNM, I sought help with mental illness for the first time. I knew I felt depressed, moreso than my teens prior, and could tell it was made worse by loneliness and adjusting to a new city. I went to the campus health clinic to see what they could do, and was put on Zoloft and had a few sessions of talk therapy. This would be the first of many times I dismissed a therapist as less intelligent than myself and lost interest, or perhaps faith, in therapy. I ditched the Zoloft soon after, as well. The self-medication progressed, unknowingly.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but with the benefit of hindsight I can see that I had possibly my first psychotic episode in my early 20s, around the end of my third year of college. I was feeling grandiose and overzealous and wanted to graduate with honors in both of my dual majors and the Advanced Placement program. Soon, the reality of three full theses combined with a relationship breaking up and general weirdness brought everything to a head, and I went on a bender of drugs, alcohol, and self-harm combined with delusional thoughts and a break from reality. The self-medication continued.

What I can now recognize as my next psychotic break / psychotic episode happened a few years later. I had been in the healthiest and most solid relationship of my life for several years, I had a decent job for a mid-20s college dropout, life seemed to be on the up and up.

And then everything started crumbling around me. My brother committed suicide. My relationship was threatened by my affection shown toward another woman. My drinking and drug use worsened. That familiar feeling was creeping in, and soon I lost time, lost myself, lost just about everything. And I continued to self-medicate for something I didn’t understand was wrong.

A couple years later I was taking a trip from Farmington, NM, my hometown, and Tucson, Arizona to visit my mother. This was my first time driving myself on this voyage, although I had made the trek many times as a youth with my parents. I didn’t expect any issues. However, as soon as I rounded a bend and saw Salt River Canyon open up before me, I started to get dizzy and disoriented. I had never had a problem with heights before, but something was different here. I started to hyperventilate. I tried driving the tiny, two-lane, winding road as best I could from one pullout to the next. I made it nearly to the top of the other side in this manner until the panic finally took me over.

That familiar fizzy sensation in my spine. The coke bottle tunnel vision. Labored, harsh breaths. The panic. The fear.

I recovered and continued to my destination, and damn sure took a different route back home. This is the one that really got my attention, though…

The panic attack and my raw-nerved feelings afterwards convinced me to see a psychiatrist, who diagnosed me with major depressive disorder and general anxiety disorder. If I had more knowledge of Bipolar disorder at the time, and more self-awareness, I would have been able to tell him about some of the other symptoms I experience so often I just thought they were universal, and perhaps we would have arrived at a correctcontinued diagnosis, but that wouldn’t happen for several more years…

To be continued…

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