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,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.

Stephen Pimley | Daily Life,Friends,Illness,Thoughts | Sunday, October 27th, 2013

Do you ever get so tired you can’t even produce body heat anymore? I was staying up in case she responded to my text messages and I even tried to exercise to reinvigorate myself. Instead, I literally fell asleep standing in my bathroom holding my dumbbells at my side. Then I took a shower and I was so damn cold I kept turning the water up hotter and hotter until the dial wouldn’t go any further. I felt like my skin should have been burning but my nerves weren’t capable of carrying the signal to my brain anymore. Somehow I managed to forget to dry my hair and I was about to drop into my bed when I realized my head felt cold because it was still wet. After all of that I only slept five hours and I woke up with no idea of what day it was. I was sure I had slept for 17+ hours until I looked at the clock on my phone.

I feel like such a sad lonely loser for missing her when we’ve never even met. Just knowing she was so close was reassuring to me. I don’t think I can even explain it properly. It’s like with my old friends from school that still live in this area. I haven’t seen any of them since 2000-2001 but I am somewhat comforted by knowing that if I could ever overcome my anxiety they are still within driving distance. This is one of the many reasons I am afraid to move when my parents leave the area and I have nowhere left to live. I never learned how to make new friends in person and I feel like if I move my new kid on the block get out of loser jail free card will wear out in my pocket long before I meet a single person.

Through all of this there is still that familiar voice in my head that says I deserve to die cold, alone, and homeless for all that I’ve done to ruin the lives of others.

2004-10-28

Stephen Pimley | Daily Life,Friends,Illness | Monday, October 14th, 2013

ex-girlfriend (7:04:31 PM): please don’t

Societal Eclipse (1:59:01 AM): Don’t what?

ex-girlfriend (2:19:25 AM): talk to me
ex-girlfriend (2:19:27 AM): go away

Societal Eclipse (2:19:35 AM): Why?
Societal Eclipse (2:21:41 AM): Does it pain you so much to even explain your stance on this subject?

ex-girlfriend (2:22:07 AM): yeah, i’d reallyprefer to just leave it at that

Societal Eclipse (2:22:16 AM): Forever?

ex-girlfriend (2:22:19 AM): there’s not a whole lot to it
ex-girlfriend (2:22:23 AM): WE HAVEN’T HAD A CONVERSATION IN YEARS
ex-girlfriend (2:22:29 AM): i don’t care anymore, haven’t in years

Societal Eclipse (2:22:36 AM): Whose choice was that [redacted name]?

ex-girlfriend (2:22:37 AM): you’re pathetic
ex-girlfriend (2:22:40 AM): MINE
ex-girlfriend (2:22:43 AM): i don’t WANT TO

Societal Eclipse (2:22:45 AM): Exactly.

ex-girlfriend (2:23:31 AM): i wish you no ill will but i honestly don’t give a good goddamn about you

Societal Eclipse (2:23:43 AM): The reason for that is?

ex-girlfriend (2:25:51 AM): you’re pathetic
ex-girlfriend (2:25:56 AM): you’re useless

Societal Eclipse (2:26:03 AM): I don’t know this somehow?

ex-girlfriend (2:26:09 AM): maybe not, i don’t care
ex-girlfriend (2:26:29 AM): your personality hasn’t developed past that of a teenager

Societal Eclipse (2:26:30 AM): So your opinion of the world is just to give up on the useless people, as you get to define?

ex-girlfriend (2:26:38 AM): why not?
ex-girlfriend (2:26:44 AM): why should i let someone else drag me down?
ex-girlfriend (2:26:47 AM): for what reason?

Societal Eclipse (2:26:50 AM): This is coming from someone who took two years to even speak her mind.
Societal Eclipse (2:26:56 AM): [redacted name] who dragged me down?
Societal Eclipse (2:27:00 AM): Was it not you?

ex-girlfriend (2:27:09 AM): maybe
ex-girlfriend (2:27:11 AM): deal with it
ex-girlfriend (2:27:13 AM): an dleave me alone

Societal Eclipse (2:27:44 AM): Yeah I’ll leave you alone in your perfection. Wouldn’t want to mar your world with a presence you tainted with your very hand.

ex-girlfriend (2:27:48 AM): thanks

Societal Eclipse (2:28:19 AM): Why couldn’t you have told me the truth when I asked you if I would ever be invited to your wedding?
Societal Eclipse (2:28:27 AM): What harm did you think I would cause?

ex-girlfriend (2:29:05 AM): huh? my wedding? i don’t even remember this conversation

ex-girlfriend (2:29:22 AM): perhaps it was so long ago that at that point i still cared a little but PEOPLE CHANGE
ex-girlfriend (2:29:26 AM): well, most people change, you do not
ex-girlfriend (2:29:44 AM): i recommend it

Societal Eclipse (2:29:47 AM): That’s funny you haven’t made the slightest effort to even learn if I have changed or not.

ex-girlfriend (2:29:49 AM): now why are you still bothering me

Societal Eclipse (2:30:26 AM): Probably because I’m such a horrible person.

ex-girlfriend signed off at 2:30:27 AM.

Stephen Pimley | Friends,Illness | Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

My ex started self-harming at some point in college. I don’t know if it was because she had become used to me doing it or if she would have done it on her own anyway. This was after we had broken up, but we were still hanging out whenever she was in town. One time we were sitting on her bed getting stoned and I found a large burn scar on the back of her calf. I asked her what it was from and she looked away sadly and didn’t speak for a while. She turned back to me and said, “You don’t know how hard it is”, and then she wept in my arms.

Years later when we were no longer meeting and barely talking she made fun of me for cutting. I wanted to call her a hypocrite but I was too busy being hurt to respond. Besides, I know she just said it to hurt me and unleash some of the endless hatred she had towards me for abandoning her.

Stephen Pimley | Daily Life,Friends,Illness,Random,Thoughts | Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

I wish I knew what to say to make you smile. I keep folding my words onto fresh white paper and sliding them under the door of your cell. The only way I know you’re still alive in there is that my letters have disappeared by sunrise. If you could just once… scribble something on the back and leave it for me to find. Maybe then I could get through the night a little easier. Maybe then I could fall asleep a little faster. Maybe then I could smile myself.

Sacrifice Self Sacrifice

Stephen Pimley | Friends,Illness,Thoughts | Monday, August 19th, 2013

I have cast aside my self interest and lied to you so that you can feel better about yourself. Now, I am back to spending my nights alone and you are back to smiling with your friends living off of one fraudulent breath at a time. Never again shall I spare you from the harsh truths of reality. Never again shall I condemn myself for your crimes. Does it bother you at all that you rode on the shoulders of another and when you deemed yourself fit to place your tender feet upon the Earth, bare, that their shoulders slumped and heaved until they fell dead a step behind you? Does anything get through that spell of self-absorption you’ve cloaked yourself in to shrug off the rain? Each drop falling from the cheeks that loved you selflessly when you couldn’t even love yourself. I shouldn’t have apologized for holding you accountable for your actions. I should have held your feet to the flames and shown you how much it hurts when you lash out at the people trying to help you. None of you were worth the cost. You have all merged into a singular frame of anguish behind my eyes. One of you wasn’t worth the cost.

To all the others that heard my words and cherished them; know that I love you. I love you for accepting that you have to change to get better. I love you for taking your recovery into your own hands. I love you for being strong when your own mind seeks to sabotage you at every turn. I love you for fighting off all of the negativity that bombards us from the media, faceless strangers, and even friends and family without a clue of what we are going through. Thank you for all times you thanked me. Thank you for appreciating my attempts even when I’m bumbling through my words, unsure of what helps and what triggers you. Thank you for still being alive and showing me that I am not alone.

You != Me

Stephen Pimley | Daily Life,Friends,Illness | Sunday, August 4th, 2013

It is important for all of us in treatment to remember that everyone can react differently to the same chemicals. The same patient may also have totally different reactions to a single medication based on what mindset they have at that point in their life. For example: If they are currently suffering from mania or psychosis then medications with even mild stimulation (some anti-depressants supposedly do this) can put them over the edge despite what other positive effects it has. I suffered terribly from treatment with the stimulant Dexedrine because it exacerbated the anxiety, paranoia, and hallucinations of my other illnesses. It wasn’t worth staying on it for my ADHD and I only wish I had known well enough then to quit it a lot sooner. If it works for someone else with ADHD that doesn’t have all the comorbid disorders I do, then good for them.

On the opposite end of the spectrum I have stopped taking many medications over the years because of the sedation they caused. In this case even when they were specifically prescribed to help with my depression they actually made it worse. Having too little energy left over to do household chores or any hobbies I enjoy just made me feel more useless to my family and made my life seem more pointless than before. Throughout my life I have known people with so much energy that they can take exorbitant amounts of medication that would keep me in bed for 18 hours straight, yet they still managed to work a full day and get through life. It is not my place to tell them what they should be taking and neither is it yours.

Not all doctors are created equal. Some of my past psychiatrists didn’t have their shit together when it came to understanding that I wasn’t benefiting from what they prescribed. All together the, “Just try it for another few months…”, wasted years of my life. Other psychiatrists are much more flexible and after the initial two to three months or so will ask you if you want to try a different medication until you find one that works for you. Stand up for yourself if you don’t think your doctor is listening to your concerns and complaints about side effects! Likewise, you have a responsibility to adequately weigh the pros and cons yourself in a relatively clear state of mind so that you don’t throw in the towel too early. Does gaining five pounds from a medication make you fat? No, it doesn’t. If it coincided with a drastic improvement in your outlook then your newfound positivity will do more to make you attractive than those five pounds ever would.

I wanted to get this out there and make people think. I’ve seen some potentially unhelpful ‘advice’ biased by personal experiences with medications and doctors. Discussions along the lines of, “Your doctor is an idiot. Don’t take that… I tried it for six months and I just felt awful.” can swing both ways between helpful and hurtful. Let them try the medication themselves without feeling like they are doing something wrong from the very beginning. And most importantly, don’t ever tell someone that all psychiatry is a joke and that they shouldn’t take medication at all. Pursuing homeopathic or other alternative therapies is totally fine and should be encouraged. Telling people that those are the only solutions isn’t okay. It’s really no different from someone letting their religious beliefs interfere with seeking medical treatment. Recovery is a mind and body process but don’t ever forget that the brain is also a physical organ. Our spiritual manifestations of what we consider the mind to be does not eliminate the very real fact that some people need medication to alter their physical balance so that their mental balance has a chance to breathe. Unlike many other organs though, it is still so much of a mystery that you may have to weather a lengthy trial and error process tailored specifically to your needs. Your needs, and no others.

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