Beautiful Nightmare

Puka

She is made of ravens and wolves.
She moves like midnight. Stumbling in her dark,
I feel the hot breath of mortality against my cheek.

I chained her struggle beneath my skin
until I learned that she made me
—not prey
—not pray.
Her claw and bite marks form
a dream catcher of scars within my mind.

Our peace is uneasy.
I’ve unleashed her in increments
still terrified of her hungers.
She fucks like a beautiful nightmare.

In battle, she leaves no head unturned,
no taboo unmolested,
no limb unreckoned, the last digit tallied
in her ledger of destruction.

She is fierce in her love,
in her hate, in her
sense of justice that is blind and armed.
She records every slight to our person.

She is the horror of beauty.
Deny her, embrace her;
like any other creature,
she longs to be loved.

©2017. I.O. Kirkwood. All Rights Reserved.

SUICIDE: How You Can Help Yourself

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WARNING: This is a very sensitive, even volatile, subject. If you want to respond, please do so when your rational mind is engaged. Step away, think about how you feel, and comment appropriately. Be respectful, be kind, and be informed.

Mr. Cornell most likely committed suicide because he was on an anti-depressant that made him go off the deep end. Even though he might have taken his medication religiously, the treatment made him feel worse.

Of course, this is speculation on my part but I have years of personal experience and research to support my opinion. I went fucking crazy in the middle of ritual thanks to Prozac. Gods only know what I would have done if I was alone.

I’m very sorry for his family’s loss and the loss that Mr. Bennington’s family is experiencing. I know this pain. My heart aches for them and I relive the aftermath of my favorite uncle’s suicide (guess what? He was bipolar too). I hope my post doesn’t cause further pain and hopefully, my words shed some light on the madness.

It sounds like a spur of the moment decision, right? And it was, but the underlying condition was years in the making. Mr. Cornell’s and Mr. Bennington’s suicides most likely were built on this foundation. Back in the 60’s and 70’s, people killed themselves with drugs. Our opioid epidemic and alcoholic culture exists because people are miserable and killing themselves slowly—anti-depressants might be a hidden epidemic.

Truth Bomb Alert: If medication, ANY medication, makes you suffer more than it helps you, it is the WRONG medication. You sail your proverbial ship and doctors who don’t listen to you should be fired.

Just in case you missed my last post, my desire to end my life was planned. I had decided that if the illness stole one more precious moment from my life, I was dead already. I was at the point where I was saying daily, “I want to die,” or, “I want to find a hole where I can hide and sleep for a [month] [year] [decade].” Sometimes I said both multiple times per day. Out loud. I knew something was wrong but no one seemed able to help me.

I made plans as if I was going to tough it out too, hoping that pursuing things that used to make me happy would end the torture. I would put a good face on it. No one knew how ill I was except for my kids. I stopped writing. I love to write. The illness took away the very thing I was born to do.

Who wants to live trapped inside herself? Who wants to fight himself to have an interaction with another human being?  I am so lucky my doctor is as dedicated to research as much as to care. I thank her every day for recognizing my illness.

Truth Bomb Alert: If you recognize that you have an illness, you have a moral obligation to seek treatment. You aren’t responsible for the onus but you are responsible for how you respond. Adults take their medications and pair the biochemical treatment with other types of non-pharmaceutical treatments.

I have always had a very positive outlook throughout my life with the understanding that my thoughts created my reality. My life was not getting better no matter how hard I tried. I’ve had years of cognitive behavioral- and psycho-therapy, taken multiple medications, and seen many different doctors who couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t responding to treatment. I did everything I could (and now that I’m well, all that work is paying off). I would have tried for another ten years for my family’s and friends’ sake.

Torture victims want to survive as much as they want to die. I didn’t want to kill myself. I didn’t want to leave my family and friends, but I disappeared in other ways. I was alive, miserable, and still hurting my loved ones. I may have caused more harm living. I know I already have and here I am breathing and dealing with regrets and making amends.

Truth Bomb Alert: The suicide of anyone is about the survivors so keep your fucking “cop-out” and “coward” comments to yourself. Just because you wouldn’t die by your own hand doesn’t mean you get to steam roll everyone else who might commit the act or who are dealing with the aftermath. That smacks of psychopathy and if you don’t understand this concept, please Google psychopathy.

Anti-intellectualism is part of the problem. Shaming those who have a mental illness is another part of the problem. Who wants to identify herself with an illness on the mental health spectrum? Who wants to say a “little crazy” runs in his family? That would be social suicide in most scenarios.

Sure, there are selfish and destructive people who don’t care about others. Usually they kill others first and then commit suicide when they can’t escape capture. But most of us are just trying to get by in a modern world that confuses us, bombards us with unrealistic expectations, and is filled with people who tell us we’re worthless because misery loves company. I’ve been the reason some of my friends have NOT committed suicide—because I understand.

Repeat my mantra, the one I have my children repeat: IF YOU ARE CONSIDERING THE ACT OF SUICIDE, GET HELP.  If your doctor isn’t helping you, find another doctor. Be proactive in your journey to wellness. Illnesses run in families, just like heart disease or cystic fibrosis, and all of these illnesses can kill you, one way or another.

I’m not saying if you’ve already decided you want to commit suicide. Please don’t let it get to that level of insanity. My point is that if suicide becomes an act that you consider at least once a week, something’s wrong. You’ve been compromised by an illness. This is the time to get help.

The occasional, “What would happen if I just turned the wheel,” contemplation is not indicative of mental illness. Humans are curious by nature and death terrifies and fascinates us. Mental illness is when a reasonable behavior is magnified to an alarming and neurotic degree. Untreated, it could turn into psychosis.

Truth Bomb Alert: Suicide is a type of psychosis. Suicide is not an act anyone wants to commit. I will say this again: Suicide is not an act anyone wants to commit. 

Ask for help from someone you trust or a mental health provider. Get to it before you can’t help yourself. Children and adults can do research on the Internet and this allows them to participate in your journey to wellness. Knowledge is power. Empower your loved ones.

If you don’t understand suicide, then you are blessed. This does not negate your suffering and struggles or how well you cope with life. People like me want to be like you and proper treatment makes this possible. But if you try to understand (instead of making it about you), your efforts might save a life. Your compassion might save someone you love.

Be kind to each other. Please share if you feel this post would benefit others.

Peace.

P.s. Nasty posts will be destroyed. See WARNING above.

©2017 I.O. Kirkwood. All Rights Reserved.

#BeKindToEachOther #Suicide #SurvivorsGuilt #TruthBomb #NotaMoralWeakness #GetHelp #TreatmentIsBravery #StandProud #LiveWell #LoveHard

The Alchemist

 

stars

I traced your inked skin with my fingers,
studied the history of your hell,
plucked the piercings that recreated your pain,
that displayed your shame.

I could not protect you from
the Monster under the bed who,
on occasion, joined the family
at the breakfast table and sipped coffee.

Your anger poisoned the prana you breathed,
twisted into mistakes repeated.
As you free fell, you prayed the ground
would swallow you on impact.

Only you may forgive the child you were,
when the flower of emotion
became the ivy of self-loathing.
There is no outside source for self-love.

You are the Alchemist:
dross Calcinated to ash, anger Dissolved in tears,
truth Separated from belief, until
present and future Conjuncts in vision.

Allow your ego to Putrefy, Ferment
new wisdoms, vanquish old fears
that stalk you until the gold-eyed feather
grants context to your flights of horror.

Distill the lessons learned.
Coagulate a foundation upon which your
daughter will rise to peaks unexplored,
the gold of your soul reflected in her eyes.

Over seven years, seven stages of transformation
stripped you to your essence. You removed
the piercings, the ink that did not belong,
left the past behind, let your monsters rest.

©2017. I.O. Kirkwood. All Rights Reserved.

#fallingtoblack

 

Part One: How Untreated Bipolar II Presents to Those Who Love You

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One time, I thought I was clinically depressed and my mother cajoled me into driving an hour to her house. I hadn’t showered for several days, relying instead on a “European” bath of baby wipes and wet washcloths. I hadn’t spoken to her in weeks (!).

I stripped out of the sleep pants and tee-shirt I had worn in my bout of hiding. I showered and hated every minute of it. Even this small act exhausted me. I almost called her to cancel. Guilt and love motivated me. I couldn’t let her see me like this.

We went shopping. I spent money I didn’t have. I kept on a smiling face because her problems (cancer) were so much graver than mine. But it crumbled after lunch. I lay on her couch and watched TV (I despise TV). Like a zombie.

She called me the next day and asked me to get help. “I’ve never seen you like that before.” Oops. My mask had slipped. The one thing I didn’t want to do, worry my mother, had been done. I went to the doctor and was misdiagnosed. Again.

Your spouse might leave you. It’s a rare person who can tolerate the deleterious effect of Bipolar. A shout out to those who believe the idea of in-sickness-and-in-health. I have the utmost respect for the support and love you give to your Bipolar partner.

I know my illness helped destroy my marriage. Between financial pressures and strange bouts of activity in the middle of the night, my husband watched me become a shell of what I once was. When asked why he wouldn’t leave the woman who was “just a friend,” he told me that “she reminds me of you when we first started dating.” Ouch. They were married last December.

Your children watch as you shut yourself away in your bedroom and sleep. Chores go undone and discipline is sporadic. They are left to fend for themselves in school. They learn how to cook their own meals, do their own laundry, and nag until you do what they cannot.

Your friends expect to be disappointed. You make plans and most times, you don’t show. You make excuses. You outright lie about an emergency that came up so you can feel better about letting everyone down.

You show up for the important things like weddings, birthdays, holidays, and graduations and often are the life of the party (hypomania). Alcohol helps temporarily, but the next day you feel like complete and utter shit. Without a hangover(!).

At work, you might have outbursts of extreme irritability from time to time. Otherwise, you are perceived as bright and friendly. Every effort to appear normal is to make sure you don’t get fired. Not every sufferer is lucky enough to keep a job because it’s so damn exhausting to wear a happy face when you feel so miserable. Your employer might see a dip in productivity or a string of “no shows.”

Everything that you once enjoyed becomes a shadow that must be avoided. Your light is focused on whatever is most important to you and cannot be aimed at the reality of your illness. As I spiraled downward into the abyss, I stopped reading books(!). I stopped writing. I stopped listening to music (!). I stopped going to metal shows. All my efforts were directed to succeeding at work.

My world became so narrow and joyless that my goal was to see my children off into the world and force a sleep from which I would never wake. As I pondered this, I started arranging my affairs. I couldn’t let whatever monster was devouring me steal another joy from my life.

Antidepressants did not help completely. My anxiety disappeared but the cycling and mixed states became almost unbearable. I had a full-on mania in the middle of ritual and I was one of the lead officiants.

I scared the shit out of everyone. I was asked to leave the group with the accusation of: “You stopped taking your medication.” Which I hadn’t, but the anti-depressant made things worse instead of better.

I remember when one of the Senior Crew came to our daily coffee klatch to report that his son had committed suicide. His pain was so deep that he seemed defeated. How could he not have known that his son was so unhappy? I didn’t know what to tell him. The cause was unknown.

A few years later, a couple months after I had been diagnosed properly, I returned to the the daily coffee klatch after struggling with my own bout of illness. “I want to tell you something, but it may illuminate why your son committed suicide. You have the choice to hear it or request my silence.”

I watched him silently debate the offer but finally he nodded. “Go ahead.” Brave man.

As I explained my experience, my pain, his head lifted. His eyes widened. “That’s just like my son. He’d do great at work and then his housemates noticed he wouldn’t come up for dinner as much. When he came over for holidays, he’d lie around and watch TV. He used to be so full of life and before he left us, he was only a shell of who he had been.”

“You couldn’t have known.” I hated what I had to tell him. “Most doctors refuse to believe Bipolar is a spectrum. It wasn’t your fault. It wasn’t his fault.” I gave him a place to shift the blame with the hope that he advocates for those who suffered like his son.

I asked my sons, “Did you know I was ill?” Both nodded. “Why didn’t you tell me?” My older son shrugged. “How do you tell your mother something like that? I didn’t even know where to begin. I just knew that something was wrong because you faded over the years.”

This is what untreated Bipolar II looks like to your loved ones. They don’t understand what has happened to the person they knew. You become a stranger to them.

Mental illness is such a taboo subject that few people discuss the feelings that are trapped inside. The condition runs in families because it is a wiring in the brain, not a weakness. You can’t help this any more than someone who has a heart attack and discovers they have a disease. Sometimes it’s too late.

Don’t be ashamed. Don’t give up hope. Do the research when you have the energy. Find a doctor who specializes in mood disorders. Get help. If you need resources, hit me up in the comments or email me at iokirkwood@live.com.  Make sure to tell me where you’re from, and I’ll find possible matches with physicians.

Ultimately, it’s up to you. You can remain in hell or you can return to being the person you used to be. The people who love you will thank you for getting well.

Stay tuned for the next installment: How Treated Bipolar II Presents to Those Who Love You

©2017. I.O. Kirkwood. All Rights Reserved.

Memory

Prometheus

I dreamed your blood-stained flesh,
a wound of Promethean Shame.
The scythe of Janus haunted your days.

Dressed only in the skin
granted by the Furies,
you sought me, Mnemosyne,
the source of Redemption.

I am the whisper in your mind,
the sleep into which you fall
to escape the swallowing Dark.

I will see beyond your eyes,
the grooves that trace your mouth,
the Death that stalks closer
as we hold our breaths.

In this moment of yearning and Magic,
Remember we are born of stars.

©2017 I.O. Kirkwood. All Rights Reserved.

#fallingtoblack

Drink My Heart

Chalice-of-Magdalene

 

Take up the Grail, my Love, and drink.

A creature of stardust and broken glass,
You crawled under my skin.
You braved the labyrinth of my pain
To find the cavern of misery at the core.

The Yang of your flame conjures
a star in the Yin of my darkness,
Reveals the dormant jewel of my heart,
Reveals the sacred well no man has touched.

Take up the Grail, my Soul, and drink.

The elixir within will restore your wounded heart,
Will remove the barbs of faith denied.
If imbibed, the agony of your past will be cleansed.
You will emerge the Child lost in former years.

We will create the castle of our dreams,
Fortified against the misery of existence,
Gated iron against the jealousies of others,
Sieged not by those who stole our innocence.

In our sacred chamber, I will rend the veil
of shameful memories, bid you to gaze
into the flame of my soul, beg you to caress
the jewel of my love: virgin and pure.

Take up the Grail, my Heart, and drink.

 

©2017 I.O. Kirkwood. All Rights Reserved.

#fallingtoblack