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.•https://youtu.be/DVQ3-Xe_suY•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, to 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 correct diagnosis, but that wouldn’t happen for several more years…••Some of the insights gained through my interactions with this new head shrinker did prove to be beneficial, however. I let myself stare, eventually with some acceptance, into the face of my obvious addiction issues (“self-medication”) for the first time. I was an alcoholic. I was able to admit that first. And I tried a little to do something about it.It didn’t take right away. I didn’t let it. I wasn’t ready to let go of the security blanket of booze, however obviously toxic it had become to my physical and mental health and well-being. Eventually, an intervention by friends and co-workers and the offer of help balanced against the threat of losing everything pushed me to choose the former. I certainly didn’t have any intentions of buying into any saving graces, but I was willing at this point to go along.•https://youtu.be/RjcrkTaVqJs•With some difficulty we got me into a psych ward in Las Cruces, New Mexico, a skip from both the Texas and Mexico borders, to dry out and start to detox while we worked on getting me the rest of the way in to the hospital’s drug and alcohol rehab program. I got as loaded on booze, Librium, Valium, and pain pills as I could and got through admission, somehow. Whatever meds they put me on in the psychiatric hospital went right on top of everything else, and I remember only hazy images and moments from my week or so there. My roommate was a schizophrenic teenager who whispered to someone in the corner during the night. Someone checked my vitals every half hour at first, then every hour, and eventually every three, day or night. The food was plastic and cardboard with lots of sugar and seasonings to help it all go down. The people were…interesting, really.••One guy had tried to decapitate himself with a razor knife and was giving himself over to the gods of his native ancestors. One girl had scammed her way in their to escape – temporarily, surely – an abusive relationship. A kid in their for antisocial behavior out of nowhere sprinted for the vine-covered lattice wall of the courtyard one exercise hour to climb his way to freedom, only to sit down in exasperation on the other side and wait to be caught.Word came back my fourth or so day there that my stupid expensive insurance might not cover the rehab stay. All of a sudden I was in a panic. Maybe I was starting to be clean and sober – sort of, with all the psych meds – or maybe I just knew how serious my situation really was, but for whatever reason I was terrified. I went to a corner, weeping quietly, and begged…SOMETHING…to help me, to let me stay here, to let me get help and get over all of this. I didn’t know what or who I was talking to, but I was willing to ask. And maybe that’s the important part.When being admitted, the staff only let me have one of the several books I had brought with me. The one they grabbed at random turned out to be the Dhammapada, a collection of sayings and teachings attributed to the Buddha in scripture form. I desperately dug into it. The more I read, the more everything seemed to fall into place. I was experiencing extreme suffering because of where I had brought myself in the world, by my attachments to the wrong things and my disregard for those things that might provide some relief. The words weren’t a haughty preaching of ungraspable, lofty aspirations, but sensible concepts and more straightforward ways to think about and approach the reality around me. It made sense, intuitively.••Those pages and the words on them hit me at the exact moment they needed to, and the rest began to fall into place. With some help, everything worked out with my insurance. I got into the rehab program. It was just the thing I needed at the time, and I embraced it, in my own way. I earnestly began to take stock of my life, my role in it, better ways to think about and approach the things this life can throw at us, and better ways to deal with the toxicity inherent to all of the behaviors and realities and modes of existing that had brought me to where I was.To be continued…•© Ryan Scott Sanders and Hank The Wvrm, 2014-2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. 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