Lucy, You Got Some ‘Splainin To Do

Okay so I don’t know if this is going to be this week’s official post or not, but I just had a theater experience the likes of which I can’t even begin to explain, and i just had to write about it THIS SECOND. I’m just gonna pound at the keys until I stop, and post it right away, and we’ll see what happens, okay?

In no way is this going to be a review of the movie I just saw. I’m not even sure I SAW a movie. What I do know is that I sat in a dark room for like two hours and a bunch of colorful and awesome stuff happened in front of me and I MAY have been kicked into a full blown manic episode by a god damned MOVIE for the first time in my life.

Generally I love the films of Luc Besson. He’s a French writer/director who’s responsible for a lot of good flicks, including Leon: The Professional, La Femme Nikita, and The Fifth Element. He also wrote The Transporter and Taken, among many others. Dude is a fantastic source of action and weird sci-fi alike.

So I’m talked into seeing Lucy by a pal of mine, as I am often talked into seeing movies I otherwise would not have seen. This one just looked a little too stupid to me. The whole premise is based on a misunderstanding of science that should have been put to rest by now. It’s weird and has frustrated me in all the trailers. I’m entirely certain that I am about to sit through two hours of that kind of annoyance… but.

I watch the fucking thing. And it was the trippiest, most insane thing I have ever seen. Colors everywhere, weird CGI shots, crazy good effects, actual nature doc footage of animals killing and being born. I’m not actually sure it had a plot. Lucy just kind of went places and did stuff and it kicked something in my brain into a gear I DIDN’T KNOW MY BRAIN HAD. WHICH MIGHT HAVE BEEN THE POINT OF THE MOVIE, FUCKED IF I KNOW!

All I know is that that thing made next to no sense and yet here I am typing about it, thinking about it, unable to STOP. I just… it… I think it broke me. I went in prepared for either boredom or weird Luc Besson sci-fi… but not… not THIS. My addled bipolar brain just doesn’t know how to deal with the assault of images and sounds it just received.

So much happened so fast all at once and here i am just plugging away and at this point it’s no longer really about the movie, is it? The simple fact of the situation is that I am in the middle of a blast of mania, energy blasting, brain pumping, that weird black sludge that I have instead of blood lubricating all of it and just sloshing and pulsing and working its way through the chambers of my vessels, mechanically manipulating my fingers to type every god damned word that comes into my brain. At this point this has become a demonstration of my mania, both to myself and to those who follow my blog. this is what happens when my brain is overloaded ladies and gentlemen. this is where my mind goes. Circles and cycles and SOMETHING THAT RHYMES WITH CYCLES I DON’T KNOW FUCK IT

It’s been a few minutes now, and I have calmed down a little bit. I managed to wrench my fingers away from the keys long enough to calm myself, and focus, and get a little closer to earth. I couldn’t tell you for the life of me if Lucy set off an episode or if I’m just in one anyway and that’s why I liked Lucy. I don’t even think it matters. I’m just going to post this exactly as is, without proofreading, and toss it out there, because as of this moment it seems like a good idea to have a record of where my mind can go in a manic blast, though this was honestly a very tame one.

Whatever, I’m going to take a bath.

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Harry Potter and the Rejuvenated Life – Part 2

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” ~ Albus Dumbledore

After I finished reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, I couldn’t have waited more than twenty minutes before starting the next one. In fact, the first three books came out so close together (and came into my hands even faster than that) that, for me, there may as well have been no gap between them at all.

As Harry enters his second year at Hogwarts, a number of new, very important things are established, and both the world and the scope of the story grow larger. Again, the series approaches some very serious subjects in a way that’s accessible and digestible to children. In the same way Sorcerer’s Stone is about life, death, and finding strength to face them, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is about acceptance of people different from ourselves, as well as taking care with who you choose to place your trust in, and how. Right now, however, I’m going to talk about racism.

Now, I’m not going to go off on some rant about racism, its dangers, and the fact that it is still very much alive in the world. Far better thinkers and writers than I have had their say on that subject. What I want to do instead is give credit to this book and the woman who wrote it for approaching it so well, and examining it so closely while still making the book deeply entertaining. The lessons it teaches are some of the most valuable that can be learned, and they’re presented naturally, without feeling forced or preachy.

It is detailed clearly in this volume of Harry Potter’s story that Muggle-born and half-blood witches and wizards are reviled by small, vicious sections of the magical population. This, it seems, was one of the largest motivations behind Voldemort’s grab for power. To put it quite simply, he detests those he finds impure. Pure-blood wizards often consider themselves to be superior. Draco Malfoy (Harry’s nemesis at Hogwarts, and I don’t feel that word is too strong in their case) and his parents are among the ones who consider themselves above the rest. His father, Lucius, was one of Voldemort’s greatest supporters during his rise to power, and only through a combination of trickery, bribery, and threats did he avoid a jail sentence. They would just as soon see all of the “mudbloods” – a nasty name for those who aren’t pure – wiped off the face of wizard society.

Interestingly, Rowling does not approach the subject from a stark “pure-bloods are the bad guys” angle. The temptation to do so for simplicity’s sake is there, but instead, she chooses to be more flexible. The introduction of Arthur Weasley, Ron’s father, is incredibly welcome. He provides the series with a much needed counterpoint to the menacing Lucius. Fun, funny, good-hearted, and absolutely adoring of all things Muggle-related, Arthur and his family are also pure-bloods. Their dismissal of this fact is an incredibly strong point. They simply don’t buy into the concept that anyone is better than anyone else due to the nature of their birth.

The book’s examination of acceptance of other cultures and races goes far beyond that pair of characters and what they stand for. Nearly every aspect of the story touches on the concept that being different is not only okay, but a thing to be celebrated. Rowling introduces an entirely new magical race in house elves, a type of small magical being that has been enslaved by wizards for ages. Harry meets Dobby, an odd little elf who struggles against his orders (at great personal cost) to do whatever he can to protect Harry from harm at the school. Harry and his friends attend a “deathday party” for one of the ghosts that inhabits the castle, where they learn about the morbid culture of the disembodied spirits. They meet an intelligent, giant spider name Aragog, who was accepted and protected by Hagrid, despite his monstrous nature. Around every bend is a new lesson about accepting people for who they are and who they choose to be, rather than who we want them to be.

On a personal note, this book also introduces my favorite character in the entire series, one Gilderoy Lockhart, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. Good looking, famous, and wildly successful, Lockhart holds the hearts and eyes of many in the palms of his well manicured hands. Known the world over for his great deeds and heroics, he takes to the job with a great gusto… where it is immediately clear that he’s a buffoon with no real skills whatsoever. The man is a smarmy braggart in the extreme, and I find him ENDLESSLY entertaining. I could read about his particular brand of idiocy for hours on end. He lends levity to a book that is a step forward in maturity from the previous entry.

The story itself is more sinister than the first. A new threat faces the school, like none that Harry has seen, and for the first time, his fellow students are in danger. Someone or something is prowling the halls, petrifying people, and all that the students and teachers have to go on is an old legend about a hidden chamber in the school, said to house a terrible creature that will cleanse the school of impure blood. For a number of reasons, the evidence points to Harry himself as the culprit.

The school quickly turns to mistrust and fear of their one-time savior. Danger, real or only perceived, in a place where one used to feel safe can quickly bring paranoia bubbling to the surface. This is something I know all too well. In my adult years, my mental illness has been triggered by many things, and it can be something as simple as an unexpected sound in a place where I usually feel perfectly at home. This story can and has served to remind me that those fears and suspicions I feel toward the people and places I feel most comfortable with need to be taken with a grain of salt, and considered carefully before taking action. This is tempered, however, with a valuable lesson about who you should place that trust in to begin with. Without spoiling the story too much, at the center of the tale is the fact that a main character trusts too quickly and with too little thought, pouring their heart into the hands of someone who wishes to do them harm. Once again, Rowling’s lesson isn’t black and white, but complex and careful.

The book builds swiftly to an absolutely stunning climax, one that throws all of these philosophies together in one incredible scene, reaffirming all of the lessons learned. In the aftermath, Professor Dumbledore again imparts his wisdom to Harry (and the reader), saying a single fantastic sentence that binds it all together. “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

It doesn’t matter what you are born with, or who you are born to. You choose how to treat other people. You choose who to trust. You choose who to defend. You, and no one else, choose who you are, and all of your successes and failures are due to that choice. Make the right choice, these pages urge. Be a person you can be proud to be. It is a lesson that all children need to learn. I can’t think of a better way to learn it.

 

P.S.: This entry in my series is a bit shorter than the first. I imagine that Part 3 will be as well. This is because there wasn’t much to add about my own life at the time of release, due to the speed with which I devoured the first three books. When I hit book four, I imagine that the entries will soar in length and content, both because the books are far longer and more complex and because my life began to change far more rapidly as I grew up. I hope you enjoyed this, and stay tuned for part 3!

 

I Am Just the Weirdest Person Ever About Food

Anybody who’s been a regular reader of my blog has picked up that I’m really odd about food. My very first post, in fact, centered around it, as did one of my favorite adventures, the time I went to a hibachi grill. My strange compulsions and requirements where food are concerned have been following me from around the time I was ten, and for the most part I can’t explain why. I’ve recently made some good progress, opening up and broadening my horizons a bit, but in general, I’m just as odd on the subject as I’ve ever been.

First and foremost, sauces and condiments of absolutely any kind are a no go. I can barely stand the sight of them. I can’t even type names of the worst ones. On my very worst days, seeing someone else eating something with them can mean I have to leave the table. This doesn’t affect me very much in terms of what I can and can’t eat, since it’s really simple not to put condiments on most foods (though you’d never know it from how often people screw the orders up anyway), but there’s one big headache it causes: pizza. I absolutely love pizza, but I have to get it without sauce and with just pepperoni in order to be able to eat it. I can stretch the limits of my list to include bacon, if it’s good, crispy bacon, but for the most part I stick with what I get. This means, of course, that I have to get my own pizza when in groups, or else everyone else has to eat pizza without sauce too. This particular thing leads to a small pet peeve of mine. People see sauceless pizza as something of a novelty, so they tend to eat it. If I’m at a party with ten people, and we get three pizzas, two regular ones and a sauceless, often time, the others at the party find the sauceless pizza to be something they want to try. What ends up happening far faster than people think is that some or all of the people take pieces of the sauceless pizza, rapidly dwindling the supply, and leaving me hungry with nothing else to eat. Since they are capable of eating both kinds, and I’m only capable of eating one, that seems rude to me, like eating all the vegetarian food at a party where a vegetarian is. I usually get around this these days by either paying for a pizza myself so no one else can eat it anyway, or taking the whole pizza with me and hiding it until I’m full.

I can’t drink milk anymore, which is a shame, because I miss it. There was a time when I liked nothing more than to dunk a chocolate chip cookie in milk, but one day, I drank some and got sick, and every since then, not only does milk reverse direction in my throat, but so does anything with an even vaguely similar texture. I can’t drink shakes or hot chocolate. I can’t drink kahlua, and can only drink coffee black. Too much butter, chocolate, grease, or the wrong kind of cheese will all make me feel sick, and on the very worst of days will immediately set me running away.

Vegetables and fruits are a fascinating thing, because theoretically I like the flavors of many of them. I can manage to eat a few peas, or pieces of cooked carrot, or even one or two small bits of corn, but once I get that far, my brain and body just sort of shut it down. I can’t bring myself to eat another bite, and even if I do, the food just seems to get stuck in my throat. I absolutely love apples, and can eat dried blueberries, but that’s as far as fruit goes with me. It’s a shame, because I remember loving grapes, and the flavor of oranges and other citrus fruit is just incredible, but I just can’t seem to eat them. Oddly, I adore oatmeal raisin cookies, but can’t eat oatmeal or raisins individually.

Seafood is right out.

Basically, the only things I can eat are various combinations of meat, cheese, bread, and potatoes. This limits me pretty strongly. However, I have made a lot of headway lately. I tried a piece of popcorn shrimp. I tried crab. I even managed to try salsa. Neither of them made it onto my “safe foods list”, but still. I’ve been pushing myself farther and farther outside my comfort zone, a little bit at a time. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to eat like other people, and I’m not even sure I want to, but getting just a little bit more variety in there can’t be a bad thing.

Harry Potter and the Rejuvenated Life

In the earliest years of my life, I became an avid reader. As I’ve mentioned before, I started reading very early, and never stopped. I read comic books, children’s books, and a few adult novels. When I was in first grade, they put me in the third grade reading classes, and even that bored me to death. There wasn’t much I could find that really held my attention.

When I was in elementary school, I found the Borrowers novels, and I read them hastily in a single night, absolutely enraptured by their fascinating world. I also loved the rats of NIMH series, and read all three books with a great hunger. Though I still feel a deep affection for those novels, as they helped point my path in life, what they have done for me pales in comparison to one single series. If I’m being completely honest, I have a number of obsessions and display a rabid fanaticism over a great many fictions, but they all fall aside in comparison to a single series.

Harry Potter.

What I aim to do in this probably overly massive seven-part blog is describe the feelings that these novels have inspired in me, and how the series grew up with me, and gave me something to believe in and hold onto at the very worst of times, as well as the best. As a child who was just starting down the road into a life that would be marred by mental illness and anxiety, these books were a tether to hold me to myself when the world slipped too far away, as well as an escape for when it became too overwhelming. This is an explanation and a message of thanks to J.K. Rowling, who created a world that has done more for me than any.

Note: Some spoilers are inevitable, but even though this series is far past the expiration date of my personal spoiler policy, I shall do my very best not to ruin too much for prospective readers.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

“After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.” ~ Albus Dumbledore

I blame it all on Brian Foster. I was a nervous, awkward child, who didn’t really know how to process my emotions. As I’ve mentioned before, I mostly went through my life trying to fake feelings, often at the cost of my own dignity. I didn’t do the best job in the universe of making friends. To put it simply, I was annoying and strange, and even those who I was closest to had long stretches of time where they could barely stand me. Compounded with the fact that I had recently switched to a new school, into a program for the gifted, it was a very unpleasant time in my life. I met Brian the first day in the new school, and although he got annoyed with me a lot, he was one of my first friends.

I would like to say that I saw Harry Potter coming, and that I picked up the first book on the very first day. I didn’t, though. I had heard the name tossed about for a few months here and there, but in the grand scheme of things, it never quite piqued my interest. The exact sequence of events that followed are a bit muddled. The first three books hit here in the United States over a period of about a year, give or take. Sometime between the release of the first book and the third, Brian was reading the books, and suggested that I catch up, and join in on the fun. I recall that I took a little bit of convincing, but before long, I was reading the first.

Of this, I am certain: I was transfixed from the very first sentence. I sat in the lunchroom at the school, reading it while Brian sat nearby. I bombarded him with questions, completely unable to wait to find out more (“So Hagrid is some kind of… magical biker giant?” “Just read the damned book, Kyle!”).

What I read took me away from my hectic, confused, distressing life, and showed me something I had never thought of before: a hero I could relate to. I had of course read many books with great heroes, adventurers galore, everymen and women who climbed in the face of adversity, and became more than they were. The problem was that I didn’t feel like an everyman. I felt like an outsider.  Harry Potter was a skinny kid with glasses and a scar on his face, just like me (The scars covering the right side of my face are from a dog bite when I was a toddler. They’re barely noticeable, but to a 12 year old boy just becoming aware of the fact that looks meant something, I may as well have been the Phantom of the Opera.). This boy was unsure of himself, and though the school he had just entered was a magic school instead of one for the gifted, he shared my fish-not-only-out-of-water-but-straight-up-on-the-moon experience there. This boy could have been me.

Orphaned as a baby, Harry had been raised by his magic-detesting Aunt and Uncle in a cruel, abusive home, forced to live in a cupboard under the stairs while his cousin was doted on so much that he was given two bedrooms. My own home life was nothing so horrific, of course, but I didn’t really identify with my sports-loving, non-reader parents, and my foolish 12 year old mind latched on to this as a similarity anyway. Suddenly, unexpectedly, it is revealed to him that he is a wizard, and will be attending Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry, where he will learn to harness his magical abilities. He is also, as it turns out, quite famous in the Wizarding world already. You see, far from dying in a car crash like his Aunt and Uncle told him, his parents were murdered by a foul and evil wizard so feared that none would even say his name out loud. Lord Voldemort, or He Who Must Not Be Named, as he was most often called, then turned his wand upon young Harry, casting a powerful killing curse. For reasons unknown, the curse didn’t kill baby Harry, but instead obliterated You-Know-Who, who hasn’t been seen since. The Boy Who Lived is looked at as a great hero in the wizarding world. Far from entitled, Harry’s painful upbringing had left the young boy humble and kind, with a firm sense of justice.

Harry Potter’s first year at Hogwarts was a fantastic, whimsical one. J.K. Rowling was quick with a joke, and brought a smile to my face on every page. The characters felt alive in a way that none ever had before, and I daresay that none ever have since. Don’t misunderstand. There are many, many novels which feel true to me, and which share that kind of power, but there’s something special about Rowling’s. Something I’ve never been able to put a finger on.

From the muggle (The wizard word for non-magical folk) loving, incredibly large Weasley family, to the full range of oddball and fascinating teachers, every single one had a life of their own. We followed Harry as he made friends and enemies, and found something that I had been looking for all my life as well – a mentor. As I mentioned in a blog a few weeks back, I adore my father, and am eternally grateful for the love and guidance he has shown me throughout my life. However, I was just starting to feel the real effects of my misfiring brain, and as I wouldn’t be diagnosed for nearly thirteen more years, I felt quite alone.

The headmaster of Hogwarts, Professor Albus Wulfric Percival Brian Dumbledore, stood out to me immediately. I found myself drawn to his bizarre appearance and wisdom, and his sense of humor mirrored my own. He’s called both a genius and a bit mad in the same breath. Throughout the challenges Harry faces in that first year, from homework, to Quidditch (a wizard sport played on broomstick that sounds far more complicated than it is), to facing off against the greatest evil that the wizarding world has ever known, Professor Dumbledore is there to guide Harry, and keep him safe.

The book showed me a way to find strength in myself, and that even a strange, scarred, skinny kid could face down his past, and become someone new. I call on this same strength today, as I face down my illness and my anxiety. Perhaps more than ever, I owe my resolve in the face of darkness to these pages.

Not only were the chapters within a source of strength, and deeply entertaining, but they faced me with a level of respect that I had never experienced before in my life. Presented in these pages, beautifully told, and without the slightest bit of condescension toward the children the books are meant for, was my very first lesson about death itself.

Lord Voldemort’s ultimate quest, aside from ruling the wizard world, cleansing the earth of non-pure-blood wizards, and subjugating the blissfully unaware muggles, is immortality. He has gone to great lengths to become undying over many decades, twisting himself into something barely human. He returns, not truly alive, sustained only by the evil actions of a servant who still remains loyal to him, and seeks not only to be restored to life, but to life everlasting.

Harry staves him off, with more than a bit of luck and the help of his best friends at the school. It is in the aftermath of this confrontation that Professor Dumbledore speaks words to Harry that I have never forgotten and never will. “To one as young as you, I’m sure it seems incredible, but… …it really is like going to bed after a very, very long day. After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.”

Mortality haunts us all. The idea that it will all end some day is terrifying and painful. It’s also something we should never shy away from. One of the foremost themes of the Harry Potter series is mortality, and how we should not shy away, but confront it boldly, ready to face what comes next with dignity and hope.

The breaking down and dressing up of such necessary concepts as mortality, finding strength within yourself, turning your weaknesses into strengths, and not just tolerance of those who are different, but acceptance and celebration of them are nothing new. Never before or since have they been discussed so openly, and respectfully, or so beautifully presented to children. This book finds a way to reach deep inside, and plant these seeds in your mind.

That’s not the truly incredible part, though. What’s amazing is what follows. The books continue. More of the story is told. The themes get darker, the tales grow more serious. The books get longer, and deeper, and more elaborate. Characters grow and change. You start out reading children’s books… and end up reading adult novels. The series grows with you, and feeds and nurtures the seeds it planted.

Never has this been more true than with those lucky enough to read these books within my own generation. I picked up the first book a twelve year old boy, unsure of myself and just beginning to seek an identity, and I put down the final book a twenty-one year old man, just becoming sure for the first time of who I wanted to be. I’ll be damned if that wasn’t J.K. Rowling’s intention.

These books have been especially useful for me as I grow older and find myself becoming further and further hindered by my mental illness. I reach out for them in times of trouble, and call on the strength they give me to find my way. No matter how lost or broken I feel, I can always reach out for these truly magical tales, and find myself rejuvenated, stronger than when I picked them up.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be re-reading them again, and starting today, I’ll be posting a blog of this nature for every book, exploring why it’s so powerful and important, and connecting it with the time in my life that I first came upon it. I hope to take those of you who love the books already on my own personal journey, exploring how powerful they’ve been to me specifically. For those of you who haven’t read them, I hope to show you why these books have become a phenomenon, and why I recommend them to everyone, of all ages.

Above all else, I want these blogs to say one thing: Thank you, J.K. Rowling. These books have changed my life for the better in so many ways that I can barely find the words. Thank you.

 

P.S.: Hooboy, this one got away from me. The idea was to do a fairly quick overview of the books, and why they mean so much to me. When I started writing, though… well… it just kinda kept going. The plan from here on out is to make this a kind of a recurring series. I won’t post them all in a row, and I’m not sure how long there will be between parts. I’m just going to keep working on them, and I’ll post them whenever the time feels right. I hope you all enjoyed this.

Sometimes I See, Hear, and Feel Stuff That Isn’t Real, and That’s Okay

This one isn’t going to be easy to write. It might not be easy to read, either. Since I started this blog, I’ve been simultaneously eager for and dreading this blog, and I think it’s time. I’m going to talk about the hallucinations and delusions that strike me.

I remember being a child and assuming that my parents were poisoning me. It wasn’t a suspicion, but nor was it some panicked concern. I was just calmly certain that it was happening. I ate the food anyway, because I was far more concerned about them finding out that I had those kinds of thoughts than I was about the poison. The way I figured it was that if I was right, I might survive the poisoning, but if I told them about it they might kill me directly. If I was wrong, I would embarrass and hurt them. It was a strange situation to be in. I now marvel at how lucid and intelligent the thoughts were. This is typical of my delusions. No matter how awful the belief is, I have never to my knowledge let go of the possibility that I’m wrong, and as such have never acted on them.

Over the course of my life, I’ve had a lot of experience with things like this. When I start dating someone, it takes weeks, or even months to stop thinking that they’re going to kill me or turn out to be some kind of demon. I’ve lain awake more than one night, convinced that if I look at the woman next to me, she’ll be something utterly inhuman. My mind takes that fear of the dark and the unknown that so many of us live with and amplifies it by thousands, until all I can do at night for days in a row is lie there trembling and wait for the dawn. I once became certain that my roommate was the devil himself, literally, because of the shape and length of his fingernails. I believed it for weeks. I constantly guard my thoughts because I find that for long stretches I am completely convinced that people are reading my mind. I was certain once that something was inexplicably wrong with the moon, and the feelings of dread that accompanied with it destroyed my sleep for a week.

Twice I’ve woken from dreams in the depths of sleep paralysis and brought the dreams out with me. This experience is actually fairly commonplace, but the way my mind coped with it after the fact isn’t. The first time, a large, hairy beast tackled me and I awoke to find it pinning me to the bed, breathing in my face. Afterward, I became convinced that the creature was stalking me in the waking world. I was certain I could feel it behind me, and that if I saw it in a reflection, it would pounce. I’m still afraid of mirrors quite often. The feeling of unease accompanying looking into them has never ceased, though the object of the fear changes.

The second time I had the experience reported so often where one awakes to find they can’t move, or speak, or breathe, and are taken by tall, thin creatures and have experiments performed on them. For weeks thereafter, I was certain that I was no longer myself. I KNEW that I was a replacement, something inhuman made to feel and think and act exactly like myself, but not to know that I was. I was certain that something had gone wrong, that I was supposed to believe I was the real me. I even started to believe that I could feel the seams in my artificial body. One day I woke up and the delusion was simply gone. I rarely think about it now. It makes me deeply uncomfortable to do so.

The big one, the one I’ve been dreading talking about, is the things that watch me at night. I’ll sit there, perfectly happy, and suddenly I’ll feel them. I’ll be aware of a presence, aware of the fact that something is observing me, close to me. I will become absolutely convinced that if I change my behavior in the slightest way, give any indication that I know they’re there, it will trigger something awful. I sit there for hours, staring at a computer screen or playing a game, long after I’m exhausted and want to sleep. I just know, with every fiber of my being, that the slightest wrong move could spell disaster. Sometimes, on the most extreme of nights, I am compelled to self-harm, completely convinced that if I just hurt myself enough, they’ll go away.

These incidents have all lessened considerably since I began therapy and taking medication. I don’t know if the meds are doing it or if it’s some kind of placebo effect, but either way, there’s been a lot of improvement. The hallucinations are a whole other ballgame. They can be shocking, but a number of them are actually quite funny in retrospect. They don’t force themselves into my mind the way the delusions do, and I can almost always shake them off.

I used to hear ethereal music come echoing up the stairs when I was a kid. It scared me so much that I began sleeping with music playing, and later in life with the TV on, something I still do. The visual stuff didn’t really kick in until much later in life. I frequently see shadows and faces of spindly, unpleasant things darting just out of my line of sight. On a few memorable occasions, I’ve seen small grey things with bulbous heads peering around corners at me. I see bugs a lot, or feel them on me when there are none there. However, these things all usually feel quite unreal to me, so I’m able to brush them off and go about my day. What really bothers me is the voices.

My voices are annoying and boring. I hear the voices of people I know who aren’t anywhere around me saying things like “Hi!” or calling my name. They never make suggestions or demands, they never try to get me to do things. They just annoy me slightly with simple greetings. It’s gotten to a point where I almost wish they WOULD demand that I assassinate someone, just to break up the monotony.

One time a couch growled at me. That one was so funny that I laughed out loud then and there. I knew it had to be a hallucination, because it was the dumbest thing that had ever happened to me. I laughed, tweeted a joke about it ( “There is no couch, only Zuul!”) and went on with my day. That night, as I slept on the couch, it began whispering to me inaudibly. I told it to shut the hell up and let me sleep. It did.

I’m telling you guys this stuff for one very simple reason: I am sick and tired of the stigma associated with mental illness. If I hadn’t been so afraid to come forward with this stuff twenty years ago, when I feared I was being poisoned, I might be a different and better off person today. The United States is a horrible, horrible place to be mentally ill, and I’m not going to be afraid anymore. None of us should have to be. I am Kyle Fulton, sometimes I see, hear, and feel things that aren’t there, and that’s okay! I didn’t choose to be this way, and I’m getting help.

Anyone out there like me, share your stories, admit your pain, own your fear, and get the help you need. Take back your life. Keep a sense of humor. Laugh at the absurdity of it, but don’t let the world push you down anymore.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think the chair would like to go for a walk.

The Figurative Voice in My Head Didn’t Want This Blog to Exist

This is a pretty consistent problem with me. I get all geared up, I start actually working on something regularly, be it this blog, or working on writing fiction, or poetry, or exercising. Things chug along for a while there, and I’m pretty happy with what I’m turning out. Slowly though, ever so slowly, stuff starts to creep in at the edges. My obsessive, worrying nature latches on to my enthusiasm and productivity like a cat on curtains and rides them all the way down, shredding them as it goes.

It’s a pretty consistent, discouraging blast of self-discouragement. The thoughts range from legitimate self-criticism like Why did you yak on about Space Camp for like ten paragraphs, what is this, middle school English class? to complete absurdities like What would Hugh Jackman think if he read this? I bet he would be embarrassed, Kyle. He would be ashamed. You would disappoint Wolverine, how does THAT sit with you? Not very well, figurative voice in my head. Not very well at all.

This causes me to quickly lose interest out of self-defense. It’s far easier to happily live my life if I’m not too busy worrying about whether or not famous actors approve of my choices. However, in doing so, I give up a pretty good opportunity to seek more and push farther than I usually do. This time around, I’m not going to let it happen. There’s absolutely no way.

Tonight, I suddenly remembered that it had been Wednesday, and that I hadn’t yet written a blog. Ah well. You can just write one tomorrow. It’s not like anyone is waiting with baited breath to read your inane rantings on, like, vampires or whatever. No one’ll care. It started out sort of friendly. Like the figurative voice in my head was trying to be supportive by saying I was allowed to take a break. That’s how figurative voices in your head get you, though! They’re tricky.

It soon moved on to another tactic. Okay, fine. You really want to feel bad about not writing today, huh? Fine, why not read some of your more recent ones! Oh, yeah, remember that Zelda one? Boy, I bet you feel dumb about that now. All cryin’ and shit. My figurative head-voice is kind of a bully. I pushed past the attitude, trying to find a reason to write, a focus, something to spark some vague interest in writing tonight’s blog.

I told my friend Jess, she of acting and japanese steakhouse fame, that I had forgotten. She encouraged me to write like the wind. I opened the site, and sat there staring. What to write? What could I possibly write with no planning? I turned again to Jess. “Minecraft!” It’s not a bad suggestion, actually. I went so far as to type the word Minecraft in the title line before FHV popped up again. Minecraft? Seriously? MINECRAFT? You’re going to slap out a blog about a literally plotless video game where you move blocks around? I considered this. Though I believe that there’s a blog in that game, I didn’t think I could possibly write it in one sitting with no thought. Though the game is simple, the feelings it inspires are complex.

So what to write? I was deeply discouraged. FHV had almost won. We both knew that I hadn’t forgotten so much as I had pushed it under some stuff in the corner of my mind to give myself an excuse to fail. Suddenly, I noticed something. The stat bar on my page had moved. Someone actually read my blog today. I took a look, and lo and behold, several people have read it this week. Suddenly, I felt invigorated. I felt energized.

I dove deep into the recesses of my mind, and I found FHV in the old moors. We stared at each other across a dark, foggy field. He was tall and broad of build, with dark hair and eyes. His face was fairly handsome beneath the beard, and somehow… familiar. I smiled. Why are you smiling? he asked, his eyes full of malice. His voice was powerful and melodic, with an Australian accent. My eyes widened in shock. Of course! How had I not seen it before!? My lips moved to form the name I dared not speak aloud. Hugh Jackman.

Seriously, he destroys sinks in a weridly high number of his movies, keep an eye out for it.

The sink-hating bastard in the flesh.

He gave a subtle nod, indicating that he knew I’d recognized him. I was confident in my own power this time, though. I stood my ground. “I have what I need to defeat you,” I said, softly, with a smirk. You can’t beat me! You’ve never beaten me, and you don’t even have a topic! I didn’t look away for a moment. The fog swirled around us as I spoke. “Don’t be so sure, you bastard of a literary device/triple threat! I have you right where I want you!” FHV/Hugh Jackman looked at me, his dark eyes wide with fear for the first time. What? No! “Oh yes,” came my reply. Suddenly, I raised my voice, calling into the mists, “I’M GOING TO WRITE A BLOG ABOUT NOT BEING ABLE TO WRITE A BLOG!” It can’t be done! NO ONE can escape that level of pretentious meta! You’ll never survive! The fear in FHV’s voice was as thick as maple syrup and even sweeter. My face split wide into a laugh as I showed him the computer monitor. “I already have.” FHV/Hugh Jackman screamed in agony. A brilliant white light poured forth, tearing him to shreds. He melted away like a candle, leaving only a greasy black residue in the moors of my mind.

He’ll be back. He always comes back. He doesn’t always look like Hugh Jackman, though. That got weird fast. For now, I can kick back and take pleasure in the fact that I just wrote an entire blog about defeating a figurative voice in my head that looked like Hugh Jackman so that I could write an entire blog about defeating a figurative voice in my head that looked like Hugh Jackman. I sat down with the goal of finishing something to post tonight, to keep my momentum and make sure that I didn’t lose this blog too, and I have done that. I may only be able to get away with something this absurd once, so at least I can say I did it in style.

Suck on that, Hugh Jackman.

My Dad Could Beat Up Your Dad

This isn’t going to be a long post at all. I can honestly say I know for certain that it’ll be the shortest post I’ve ever done, because there’s no beating around the bush on this topic. My dad is pretty damned awesome, and that’s all there is to it. He’s always been supportive of me, helping me deal with my issues however he can, even when he doesn’t understand them. He works around the country, traveling far and wide to make money for our family, to keep us happy and healthy. In the years since I turned 18, he’s never once made me feel like a drain or a bum.

He’s gone to great lengths to teach me what it means to put your family first, and to make sacrifices for the ones you love the most. I’m not very good at following his advice or learning the lessons, but the fact that he got through to me at all, considering how deeply dysfunctional my mind is, is a miracle.

When my dad is around, I can tell because I hear him playing “Crazy Train” on his electric guitar with the amp cranked up to 11. My dad plays a damned electric ukulele. I’m going to say that again for emphasis. ELECTRIC UKULELE.

I’m proud of my father. I’m grateful to my father. I love my father.

Electric ukulele.