It’s been a pretty rough time. I’ve been feeling very worn-out, pulled in multiple directions. But a steady stream of content is very important, and training myself to produce it is part of the reason I’m using this blog.
So I’ll do something different, and not only tell you about myself, but also do a little stream of consciousness writing. More insight into the life of A. Fehmel Sr than you could ever possibly want, and every second of it free!
I’m going to talk about suicide and self-harm and other icky depression things, so if you think that kind of talk will hurt you, I ask you to please not read further.
I became a writer because I am goddamn sad all the goddamn time. It never stops. Every facet of my life is colored by this unshakable sadness, despair like salt in every meal. Even the cakes. No, especially the cakes.
Mummies were made with salt, way back in Egypt. Put in natron salts and dried to jerky for the mummification process. Maybe that’s what it’s like. So much salt that the limbs get stiff, the mouth dry and unable to make words, tongue shriveled. Fingers in a rictus, your eyes sucked to blind pits. Still there, but entirely unable to function. At least the Egyptians didn’t ask their mummies to keep walking.
Depression has been kicking my ass for a pretty good bit. High school is what sticks out the most in my mind. I wasn’t anywhere near the top of the class, despite the general opinion of my peers (not to boast, this is directly out of their mouths) that I was the smartest person in our class and a damn lot smarter than a couple of the teachers, who were mostly good at regurgitating text book notes in a way profoundly more confusing than needed. I told them that being smart wasn’t as good as being a hard worker and went back to crying over my homework for no reason and being unattractive to men.
I told my mother I was very sad all the time and didn’t feel like I’d amount to much. She said she was afraid to medicate me because of my age. Not because of the increased suicide risk, she wasn’t aware of that at the time. She was afraid it would stunt my development. I was too afraid of the explosion that would result if I told her I wanted to kill myself, that I slammed my arms into things when it all got to be too much (too much of a weenie to cut, too aware that everyone would notice and ask and be mad at me), which was pretty much all the time. She was scared that Big Pharma would ruin my personality, destroy my drive, do something.
Sometimes, I think about what I could have accomplished in high school if I wasn’t so sad. So tired. So heavy that I sank into what they all called laziness. Gosh.
It all came to a head my first semester of college. I took college algebra to get it out of the way, and because my test scores were high enough to waive the need for remedials or any other basic class. It was my first web-based class. It was really hard. My teacher made no sense and got rude when questions were asked. I had only one friend, an old female veteran with a lazy eye and close-buzzed hair, with whom to study. She wasn’t any good at math, either.
The highest my average got was a twelve. I would log onto the site, stare at the questions, and just start bawling. I dropped the class to avoid destroying my GPA. It was at that point I said “this shit is really stupid” and pestered my mother until I got on anti-depressants.
Things started really looking up after that. I was doing very well. I took multiple fitness classes to alleviate hereditary chubbiness, and was lifting, running, doing everything better. I was almost ready to apply for my associates.
Then, I got sick. Really, really sick.
It’s like the structure of a novel, come to think of it. Just when the hero thinks they’re on their way to solving the problem, something comes to undercut them. That something was severe pain, all the time, and the inability to stand. Dizzy spells. Nights and nights awake despite tiredness so deep it put the heaviness of high school to shame. Falling in front of God and everybody like my old Gran.
Now, I’d been experiencing pain for a long, long time. But I figured, and so did every doctor I talked to, that it was because I was fat. But this was different. I’d been working out, getting stronger all the time. I thought that period of my life was over. No more achey joints and smug doctor expressions! But the sickness came upon me and wouldn’t leave. It wouldn’t go away. Nobody knew what it was. There was never anything wrong in any of the tests.
I didn’t used to be claustrophobic. MRI machines have a way of changing people.
As I got used to it, I wrote Dark Skies Over Brightwater, my first novel, because not doing anything was making my depression even worse. For the first time in a few years, the old pangs of ‘dying would solve everything’ came back. And this time, there’d be a scapegoat, so that my family need not blame themselves. I knew it wasn’t real, that it wasn’t a solution, just the wheezing of the disease that came first. Knowing doesn’t help.
It’s gone, now. It faded away. The pain still hits, but the fatigue, the falling, it’s gone. My cane sits forlorn by my desk.
When is it going to come back? It’s like being in the jungle and having caught a glimpse, some yards back, of a panther. You can’t see it anymore, but you know it’s there. You start wishing it would just get you so the waiting is over. You want to sit down and let it come. But you have to keep walking.
And that is why I write now.