Henry Rollins has a piece of spoken word on the “Family Man” Black Flag album called “Salt on a Slug” and I think about it often when I’m in these moods. The narrator in the piece describes the aforementioned action and his boredom as the audience laughs but I often relate to the boredom and the violent actions it produces.
There are these things inside of my head that I call “thunderstorms” that feel like an insane amount of pressure that keeps me from thinking or doing anything. I’m not sure why I call them thunderstorms but when I search for a word that’s the mental image I get: a sea of black clouds that rumble with thunder as they roll over a flat plain. I’m almost sure that boredom and then guilt I feel for being bored is their originator. Yet when I try to be productive, I find myself incapable of moving. I don’t know why. It’s a self-defeating mechanism inside of me that keeps me frustrated and angry with myself. I like to think of this as my pouring salt on a slug but the difference is I’m actively harming myself.
People find the summer to be their favorite time of the year but I don’t get it. The heat, the humidity, and the brightness of the sky seem oppressive. When I think of a word to describe the summer I think of a blinding whiteness that bleaches out the rest of the surrounding colors. I prefer the autumn. I need crisp, cold air that can only be held back by layers of clothing and a sky that stays grey until it grows darker sooner and sooner every day. My world seems at peace with itself.
Maybe that’s why the summer seems to drag on the longest for me? July felt like a war of attrition and June wasn’t much better. My mood slipped again and the ugly parts of my bipolar disorder came out again. More self-destructive thoughts and behavior. More closing myself off to the world and harvesting my ill feelings to feed myself like a machine operating on renewable resources. More thoughts of how hopeless I feel about goals and my inability to achieve them. I think often of how I’m not disciplined despite being so rigid. Like, if the mother of three with an office job can have ideas and stories inside of her, why can’t I? If one person can move further towards their goals, why can’t I?
I feel like a mechanic sometimes. Pushing myself forward day to day, operating on the machine that is my head to get it chugging along for another day until something else on it breaks. Oh, a popped gasket? Better get on that. Oh, the brake pads are wearing thin? We should replace those. Oil change? Low gas? Burnt out headlight? Done done and done. Am I moving forward or just treading water?
I hate stagnation. I feel like I always need to be moving forward and that means not celebrating little victories as they come. What’s worse are the feelings I have when I’m not making any progress at all. That’s when the thunderstorms roll in. The pressure builds and I’m not capable of anything but tuning out and existing on autopilot. I don’t want to be like that. It’s the downside of being bipolar. Even with medication I feel stable most of the time but moments like these leave me feeling like I’m getting pulled under. I can see the surface but I just can’t get there. It’s maddening.
I hope that, by writing this, I can shake myself from these moods and focus on something productive. I hope that by sharing these kinds of thoughts other people can see them and this will force me to put more work out. I hope that I can go against my programming and ignore the voice inside me that says this is all pointless and that nothing will improve.
I don’t like the culture we live in where people dwell on their bad feelings and depression and mental illness. People use it as an excuse for shitty attitudes, shitty behaviors, and being irresponsible with their day-to-day lives. Like it sucks, yes, but it is your responsibility to check that shit and move on with your day. Sounds harsh. All right then, the world is a harsh place. I can’t speak for how you all feel but I know my own feelings damn well. My feelings are keeping me from work and without work there is no progress and without progress I will keep having thunderstorms.
I’m tired of thunderstorms. I don’t want someone or something else deciding my future. I want to carve my path. I want to have control over life and squeeze every breath from its throat. Time to get back to work.