Life as an Extreme Sport

falling apart at the seams from the pressure of overwhelming apathy

I’ve been trying to hold myself together, these past few months, with little but sheer force of will. It’s always kind of surprising to me when I discover that’s not enough, but… it hasn’t been. I have completely failed at balancing my life, at even living my life. I seem to be able to concentrate on one thing at a time – I can either focus on school, work, or life, but even a combination of two there becomes overwhelmingly too much.

An insomniac for much of my life, I have gone from one extreme to another. Where I used to be unable to fall asleep until very late at night, if at all, I now have a hard time staying awake for more than a few hours. I can be sitting at my computer, and wake up five hours later, feeling like I just closed my eyes for a moment – it is supremely disorienting. Not even my academic schedule manages to help me figure out the days now, only the calendar on my computer. Without it, I would be sunk.

I realized, several weeks ago at this point, that one of the things missing – aside from any semblance of balance – is laughter, and how much of life I structured around making sure I laughed when I lived in Seattle. It helps relieve stress and pain, and I anchored my life with it. I don’t, here. I should, but I don’t. There’s a lot I should do right now that I don’t, and I can’t figure out how to work my way out of this. I can’t even find the path back to normal – I just know I need to get there. Or at leas that I should want to get there.

Mom dying threw me for a loop bigger than I really expected. I had thought, “Jessica died. I made it through that – it sucked and was painful and I still miss her, but I did it there and can do it again.” I guess I really didn’t understand or estimate the emotional impact that losing your mother instead of your close friend has on you, but it’s been so different. And I don’t really know why – I can take stabs in the dark, guesses, but that’s all they are. Were I to take them, I’d probably lay most of it on having a support system when Jessica died, and not much of one here. Which is not to say people haven’t tried, but for better or worse, I’m not close to many people here in Albany, and the people in Seattle are simply too far away to be the sort of support system I need right now.

It doesn’t help that when I did reach out, here, to the people I did feel I could lean on, I was told in no uncertain terms it was my problem and not theirs. That’s always fun. “Hi, I’m kind of breaking right now and help?” “Your psychological problems are your own and are no excuse!” Yep. Just what someone who’s barely able to get out of bed in the morning needs to hear, definitely the best way ever to motivate. Maybe general yelling and frustration would work, too?

Or, you know, maybe not.

I’m trying, I really am. I’m going through the motions, in the hopes that the movement alone will kickstart everything – it’s been mostly unsuccessful, with a few highlights here and there. And two weeks back, I was really starting to feel like I was getting it all together again – a bit of insight, a bit of laughter, a bit of energy. But that’s all come crashing down again, for reasons unknown to me, and I’m back in this world of grey and no way out.

What’s worse is that I know I should care about getting out, and just don’t.

I’ve managed, in a short period of time, to sabotage just about everything I have here in Albany, and I’m pretty sure there’s no coming back from that. Which I am also pretty sure is contributing heavily to the apathy. No one cares that I can barely keep myself pulled together, no one cares what it’s done to me, why bother? Why not just drift away?

Neil Gaiman has a friend, someone that acts as his security and handler at conventions, or at least at ComiCon. I was reading her blog after the last ComiCon – she’s a funny writer, and had some great con stories – and I came across her anguished post at the reaction of her dear friend’s death. It was a death she knew was coming, but it still struck her in the solar plexus, knocked the wind out of her, out of her life. She wrote that all she wanted to do was drive and drive until she found the edges of the ocean and then she wanted to walk, walk into the water until the waves covered her head and swallowed her whole and the cold took her and numbed her skin to match her numb soul, that she wanted to walk until she could walk no more, off the visible earth and into the everdarkness of the wide open, the tears on her face mixing with the salt of the sea.

It sums up so neatly how I feel. I want to drive east until the fingers of the Atlantic tickle my toes and just walk, walk away until all there is is the cold relief of the ocean and the silent sea.

I should hasten to add that it’s not a wanting to die – that would be too much effort. That would be caring. That wouldn’t be grounded in overwhelming apathy. That would have colour, texture, feeling. This, this does not.

I think the most supreme irony is, after being rebuffed by the quarter I thought could help, would help, were in the position to do so, I shrugged and threw myself on official university services… only to be told I was too complicated, my case was beyond what they could handle, go see these other people. And to then have those other people never call me back.

I have turned into a walking posterchild for what happens when the system fails. The system of friends, of colleagues, of health care help. Everything, everyone, has failed me – and now what do I do? Now what do I do?