Stephen Pimley | Illness,Memories | Saturday, February 28th, 2015

IMG_8484.cropresize IMG_8486.cropresize

Right – severe – profound sensori-neural hearing loss
Left – hearing WNL
speech descrimination excellent AS CNTAD
Immittance – normal compliance
Acoustic reflexes absent right
present left

WNL = Within normal limits
AS = Left ear
CNTAD = Could not test right ear

Stephen Pimley | Friends,Memories,Thoughts | Saturday, February 28th, 2015

It still amazes me how some of the most powerful and influential memories can be buried for years at a time only to bubble to the surface in crystal clarity when my mind is meandering through totally unrelated topics. The particular memory that came to light last night is that I never had more than one real friend at any one time from the first grade through sixth. There were about five boys during this time period and some of them really stood out from the others in how awful they were and how weak I was for putting up with them.

I have always been particularly inept at standing up for myself and so I ended up in situations where I could spend afternoons for months straight with someone from whom I felt immediate relief upon making an excuse to go home and do homework (AKA watch cartoons alone). At the same rate I guess they helped to shape my life because they highlighted traits that I never wanted to reflect in my own mind from a very early age. This is also a good reminder that my own trait of the standoffish observer started long before I can think of an obvious reason or trigger.

The second to last friend during this period is a standout example. He was a pathological liar to a degree I have never witnessed before or since. Almost every time we weren’t just watching TV or playing games he was busy spinning tall tales about the most ridiculous shit. I don’t understand what he got out of it because I never believed him. At first, I probed him for more details hoping his web of deceit would unravel and he would just admit it was all bullshit. Oddly enough he doubled down at every question. Here are some beloved examples that you might find hard to swallow:

One afternoon he was playing with a butterfly knife trying to learn how to throw it properly against a wooden fence. I asked him where he got it from because I was amazed his parents let him have one (my mother by contrast wouldn’t even let me have a capgun because she thought they were too violent..). He unfolds this story about how he found it embedded in the fence with a chunk of human scalp and skull still attached… He removed it then used his outdoorsman training to follow a trail eventually catching a murderer that was on the loose. The police rewarded him by making him an honorary officer. He was given a badge but this was mysteriously never around for him to show me. Even more odd was the fact that they let him keep the knife which he claimed was evidence in a murder case.

I was (okay, still am) a huge nerd for books about ancient warfare everything from the 1600’s to the Trojan War era. I started telling him about the weapons I was reading about in the books I was always checking out from the library. Instead of either showing no interest or saying that’s cool he actually tried to one up my story by claiming to have all of those weapons in his attic. Supposedly he was in Baltimore with his family and a ship carrying priceless artifacts began to sink in the harbor. He dove into the water dozens of times to retrieve weapons and dump them on the docks before returning for more. The owners were so grateful to him that they let him keep a musket, ballista, cast iron cannon, and so on. All of these were safely stored in his attic. He said he would have to ask his parents to let me see them but he wasn’t sure if they would let us.

A summer day spent at the pool was a barrage of him pointing out which girls were “sluts” and which ones he had “fucked three times”. Mind you this is a chubby little 11-year-old boy talking about 15-18 year-old girls as if there was anything remotely redeeming about himself they would be interested in. Looking back I feel particularly bad about letting him talk about strangers like this but I’m not sure there was anything I could have done to change his ways.

His stories never stopped, no matter how ludicrous they were or how pointless. It is given that he was oblivious to how poorly received his bullshit was. Or maybe he suspected, and it was some kind of sick game to him to see how high his fantasy could fly while I stood there not caring enough anymore to call him out on it?

Even to this day I don’t exactly know what it was about me that I couldn’t just tell him I didn’t want to hang out anymore. I guess being constantly bored and annoyed was more palatable to me than standing up for myself and facing that conflict. In the end I ended up hanging out with his little brother and ignoring him for a few weeks. I guess he was so hurt he stopped coming over to my house to ask me to play.

This really makes me wonder if most kids had such odd personality traits at an early age and I am just making a lot out of nothing. Is it possible these boys turned out perfectly normal? Do you think that life itself would have turned this boy around to redeem himself?

Stephen Pimley | Daily Life,Illness,Thoughts | Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

This afternoon the panic came back so strong I had to force myself to sleep before the nausea overwhelmed me. Even then, as I laid on the pressure inside my chest, I worried that I could throw up in my sleep from the thoughts consuming me. It’s that old familiar realization that the currents have taken a hold and my body will be swept into whatever jagged rocks the world deems me worthy of. Free will is just an illusion inside of these channels. Yeah, my mind may tell me that I’m making a choice because it’s more reassuring to choose unwisely than it is to accept that I’m just a terrible person who is bound to fail and fail again. My friends try to convince me I have an opportunity to look at the positive. I cannot show them that this already is the positive without exposing enough of myself to make them hate me nearly as much as I hate myself. How can you convince a person that they deserve better when you don’t even know who they are? Why can’t they see the truths in the pain behind my eyes? I am so tired of sweating and thinking and trying to hide. I wish it were time to sleep already. It certainly is dark outside, but I still have so much suffering to do.

Stephen Pimley | Daily Life,Illness,Thoughts | Thursday, June 19th, 2014

I am taking it as a sign that the paroxetine has almost completely cleared my system now that spontaneous panic attacks unrelated to anything happening in the present have returned to assail any attempt at peace of mind. So much for my little experiment. I was hoping some of the things I have learned along the way while medicated for the last couple of years would have kept them at bay. I am so drenched in sweat from this anxiety it hasn’t even been eight hours since my last shower and I feel like I need to cleanse myself again. I don’t think anyone without this affliction could understand how debilitating it is when every little random object around the house can thrust the mind deep into a cocoon of the darkest memories. Then there are the totally irrational daydreams about hypothetical worst case scenarios that consume me for hours on end. How could I possibly be any use to the world when I can’t even shampoo my hair without getting lost in the darkness? Did I really shampoo or have I just been running my fingers through my hair all of this time? I can’t remember… I just know that I still feel dirty and another thirty minutes locked in a small steamy room with my demons couldn’t hurt. Never clean, never calm, and never safe. The only comfort I can find anymore comes in watching the horizon for the approaching end. I think I can feel it trickling in and it tastes a whole lot like stale sweat and goodbyes dead on my lips.

Stephen Pimley | Daily Life,Illness,Thoughts | Thursday, June 12th, 2014

It is too easy to ignore and distract myself from the scope of my mental illness until a change in my environment lets all those realizations rush in through the spillway. Feeling like I do now, it is so clear why I had to go all those years using to just get through the night without putting my scars on my arm or worse. It’s not so much “highs and lows” as constantly hanging on a precipice with suicide below and the rare social contact I have as tiny and ever-crumbling rocks jutting out of the side. I might get a toehold and something to hang onto temporarily, but nothing is ever solid and I often fall asleep with hands bleeding from a stone designed to fit every palm but my own. Support groups are no help. They don’t know me and I haven’t the time or the ego left to sacrifice making that happen. This looming void also makes my OCD more pronounced because one of the only ways I can avoid self-destructive measures is to engage in prolonged reality avoidance trips with music and closed eyes, video games, or locking myself in the guest bedroom with a good book. That doesn’t sound too bad does it? Well yeah, when you consider that no progress is made in any of the remaining hours of the day and a person with no job or education can not simply self-care leisure themselves 24/7 through life on someone else’s dime. I think a lot about how much better off my family would be financially without me around. I make plans to save them a large wad of cash to pay for my funeral. I get sadder knowing they wouldn’t even have the knowledge or energy to sell my CDs and computer parts for top dollar to help dig themselves out of the debt I have contributed so much to.

Stephen Pimley | Daily Life,Friends,Illness,Thoughts | Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

I don’t know if this was the right thing to do or not but I deactivated my Facebook account Sunday morning. I find it too triggering because I can’t exercise enough self control to not check it ritually. If I didn’t have OCD then I could probably get by just fine. I wish I had the ability to limit how frequently I look for any new messages or check if my “friends” have finally bothered to read the messages I sent them days or weeks ago. Alas it is far too depressing for me to log in and see everyone else able to put up at least an outward image of maturity and progress in their lives while it takes every ounce of willpower I have just to keep from regressing.

It wasn’t until moments after I deactivated it that I realized I needed to get back on by the 26th to contact a member of Active Minds about a group we made tentative plans to attend. I have no other way of contacting her and I really wanted to see what the community was doing about mental illness awareness and suicide prevention at the high school level. As far as I can tell from their website, this new group has similar goals to Active Minds and sprung up locally after a series of suicides in county high schools.

Stephen Pimley | Daily Life,Friends,Illness,Thoughts | Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

Why can’t I plan ahead more than a few hours? I kept avoiding picking up my medication last week. I don’t know if anyone will understand but I honestly feel too ugly to even drive to the clinic and be seen in public for five minutes. I put it off and lied to myself that it was okay because I could take 20mg instead of 25mg to make it through Sunday. I had no knowledge or memory whatsoever to foresee that yesterday was a holiday. Why I am so incapable? I already feel nauseous and my skin is prickling with sweat in a prelude to the horrible sensations that will descend upon me in the coming day. I want to not worry about taking medications on time just to function below an acceptable level. I want my brain to do more than come up with bullshit excuses to avoid stressors while everything gets worse in the background. I want a best friend honest and caring enough to put me down gently. When I turn away tell me about the rabbits…

Nobody has the time or energy to help me and that is okay. Some lives need to slip away to spare the keepers focus for those that are worth saving. Anyone with open eyes will see there is far from enough love to go around. My silent killer is the empathy I have for others and the apathy I hold for myself. There is no going around this mountain. There are no shortcuts, no valley passes to take me through to the other side. When the rocks break free beneath your feet and sweep you down, how do you want to be remembered: Your arms flailing and outstretched with a gasp of regret on your lips, or standing stoic with grim determination as you salute those you leave behind?

I wasn’t capable or strong enough and that is okay. You can’t bring yourself to love me for who I really am and that is okay. Some things just need to change.

Visiting Hours

Stephen Pimley | Daily Life,Friends,Illness,Memories,Thoughts,Writing | Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

On some levels I regret going and yet I know that it had to be done. She deserved the company, even if I left empty-handed. As much as I hate to admit my weakness, I always want to see her even when I feel that the exchange will be uneven. Who could say ‘no’ to her hugs anyway? She’s too damn beautiful to refuse. I was expecting she would be a bit disheveled given the circumstances of our meeting. Nothing seemed out of place, not a hair less perfect than I remembered. She had every right to hate the place she was in. I just wish I could convince her to treat herself the way she expects the doctors to. I believe in her strength. She can get through this. She can live again without a head full of numbers and measurements and comparisons to the ugly lie she sees in the mirror.

I left her eyes a bit red, a bit watery. I think she worries my time is running low. Nobody should ever worry about me. I have no immediate need to rush to action because I have no drive left. How is it that other people feel compelled to be? Why is it they consider living such an achievement? Not everyone deserves the luxury. My friend deserves to live, and better yet than she has been offered thus far. I… I don’t understand what is so different about the way others interpret the same sights, sounds, and smells that I do. Maybe, if someone like her could love me then this stone would move. Of course, it is never going to be her responsibility to feel something that doesn’t come naturally to her.

My friends all wish I could I could give myself the attention I give others. What do they see in me that I don’t? Is it a mirror image of my relationship with them, or something else entirely? Would that they could see the beauty in themselves as I do. Little roots of love dripping through their veins seeking to brighten up every far corner. This void extends beyond the darkness of our past, to every little crevice of being we failed to bless with our presence and attention. I like to think that with enough love we can bridge even the gaps between us. I like to think that with enough visiting hours the deepest of pains will no longer keep a person chained in the dark. We all have someone to visit and to care for, be it a friend or family. Perhaps even ourselves. Would that I could visit myself. Someone please tell me the hours.

Rebounding Again

Stephen Pimley | Daily Life,Dreams | Monday, March 24th, 2014

Holy fuck my brain.

I woke up and my legs were both covered in a bright red base coat of bio-luminescent paint, further detailed with a floral pattern in every color imaginable. The types of flowers and their arrangements were distinctly different on the left leg than the right and I wondered if there was any significance to this. I wasn’t even sure if the patterns were really on my skin or just a temporary hypnagogic hallucination, so I sought to document the moment. I got out my camera and tried to focus on the design, but every time I snapped a picture it started to move and warp away. The pattern shifted as if it was trying to hide itself from the eye of the camera. It swirled into a blur of colors at the center of the viewfinder then Sepultura’s “Arise” began playing. I held up my camera in astonishment at how it suddenly started playing music instead of taking pictures. In doing so I revealed that behind it was my old radio/tape deck alarm clock from the mid 90’s and I had hit the Play button by accident. I fumbled with the buttons as the music grew painfully loud in my ears. I could hear people having a muffled conversation in the hallway outside of my room and I didn’t want to disturb them or even alert them to my presence. A fraction of a section after I stopped the music it started up again. My vision panned to the right where another tape deck had begun playing the exact same song. I stopped this tape as well, then lurched across the bedroom trying to clear my head. I found my jeans crumpled in a pile on the carpet and stared down at them trying to summon the series of thoughts and actions that would result in my legs being placed through them. A few seconds of jazz music filtered into my ears then vanished. “That was definitely a hallucination!”, I exclaimed in triumph. There were no other radios in this room and I finally knew that at least this time it was all just my mind playing tricks on me. I *pushed* against some unseen wall in reality trying to force my way back… to another place where my footing was more solid. I woke up on the floor of a school classroom. In my sleep haze I had been documenting my dream experience to my teacher while the other twenty odd students poured over small netbooks, apparently oblivious to my presence. The teacher commented on how wonderful such a dream must have been and how jealous he was for my youth. I replied, “No sir, in fact it was quite terrible to experience and the entire time I found myself wishing it would end.” He shrugged as if I just said the most absurd of things but he didn’t want to press the matter. He handed me a netbook like the other students had, and ushered me over to my desk and chair. The screen revealed some sort of day-to-day simulation of human life broken into city-sized groups of students around the world each categorized by an era of history and a lifestyle they were choosing to emulate. As I walked around the room to observe other students interacting with their experiments I also began to fly and the room itself became the simulation with twisting paths linking each distinct city otherwise isolated by the life choices of its inhabitants. I woke up in bed and my legs were out from under the covers and in the air. They were thrashing violently in muscle spasms so powerful that they must have begun in my dream yet had to run their due course even now that I was fully awake. I tried to regain control over my body but even as I did I realized that the surface of my legs was bright red and flaking dead flesh everywhere. The closer I looked the more I saw crevices where the flesh had dried up and separated revealing dried blood. I hobbled out of bed and somehow found small comfort in knowing that I would have a decent excuse to miss school today. Recovering from my severe dehydration in the hospital would surely be better than having to be around so many other kids. A man was sitting on the foot of my bed as I began to dress for the day. Laughing aloud, he commented on how horribly I slept. He went on and on about how much noise I made in the grip of my dreams and I that could be heard from his bedroom across the hall. I tried to avoid thinking about it as I was already ashamed enough of my dreams, further still that everyone else knew about them. I woke up again. Did I wake up? There was so much more, but the pieces slipped out of my hands before I could get to this side of reality. My head is still reeling.

Stephen Pimley | Dreams,Illness | Saturday, December 7th, 2013

I wish I could stop dreaming up apocalyptic scenarios that wake me up in the middle of the night. In that state I haven’t the strength to resist and I force myself back to sleep in an attempt to “solve” the nightmare through lucid dreaming. The problem with dream worlds is if you push too hard they unravel and my brain wants to come up with the worst conclusion possible in every situation. People die all around me and I am paralyzed with the belief that I should know how to save them if only I were a better person.

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