Tag: mental health

This is the Worst Tea Party Ever

This is the Worst Tea Party Ever

fuzzygalore yamaha fz-07

Anyone in my life is probably aware that I am not a very good friend. That isn’t to say that I don’t love people, or their friendship doesn’t have a deep meaning or lasting value for me. It’s more like, I don’t know how to participate in their lives.

I think about them, find them fascinating, appreciate their courage, wit, wisdom, and tenacity. But there is some barrier that I’ve created that won’t seem to allow me to give myself over to the process of partaking in a two-way relationship. Nearly everything is done from a distance.

Maybe I’ve talked about it before, but I feel most safe, confident and able to move freely through the world when I am on my motorcycle, dressed in my gear, wearing my helmet. Those are the moments when I am breathing in the life around me and am open enough to connect. It’s when I feel the safety of not being laid bare and I will let you come closer. It’s when I feel that we are friends in both directions.

Yes, I realize that probably makes no sense – saying that I am open and engaged when I am encased in protective clothing. You see me, but not all of me; you happily consume the pre-programmed narrative. And because the costume is so specific, rarely does the dialog veer away from the bubble of this perfect activity and it’s trappings. And while the conversation is often metaphorically something beyond motorcycling itself, that ruse makes the conversation possible.


When did I become so closed off, so fearful of being seen? I can’t quite put my finger on it. I suppose it doesn’t really matter. These examples of the things that make me withdraw in person sound crazy but what the hell, I’ve already burned that bridge:

I’m at the point where it is a struggle for me to expose my arms above the elbow. The thought of someone seeing both of my naked shoulders or upper arms makes me squirm. Oh, and it is cringeworthy for you to see my face from less than 2 feet away, especially in daylight. Add to that the fact that I’m fixated on the idea that I smell horrible at all times. And I obsessively pick at my face, sometimes for like for 45 minutes at a clip until whatever imperfection I was picking at is now really something to look at. Shitty admission: I’ve been late to work because of that in particular. In short, I feel like if I freely deliver up just how gross I am, you will reject me and I don’t want that kind of anguish.

What the fuck is all that? It’s nuts! But, it’s my truth. And no external well wishes, sympathy, compliments or anything changes these things.

These… quirks… must’ve been bubbling, generating steam for a long time. Then last year, the pressure became too much to bear and I fucking cracked. I wish it weren’t true but I’m still dealing with the fallout. These unwanted guests at my tea party won’t take the hint and hit the road. Day in, day out I try to find a way to throw their asses out to seemingly no avail.

There is nothing for me to gain by telling whoever you are these things. In fact, I’m sure it makes people think I’m a psycho. And while they may, in fact, be right, tattling on myself just feels like the right thing to do.

I’m broken but trying.

Motorcycles are my refuge. Each ride, each time I open myself up to a wider circle, each time I tiptoe outside of my comfort zone, I am shown by example that my fears never culminate to my worst case scenario. It happens over and over again. And yet for now… well, you know.

Where the Hell’s the Map to Find Yourself?

Where the Hell’s the Map to Find Yourself?

My riding buddies.

It’s been a year now that I’ve been a stranger to myself. Through these twelve months, there was progress made, backslides, torment, self-loathing and a complete lack of understanding about the things I thought I was certain about.

That’s the funny thing about understanding. When you get too confident, too cocky, the bottom can drop out. Complacency is where I fall apart. If I don’t keep moving like a shark, if I don’t stay alert, failure comes stealthily creeping, low like a fog. It expands to embrace me and squeeze out the light.

This week I realized that I’ve completely lost sight of any personal power that I might’ve possessed. I am a ghost to myself. I don’t know who I am, what I like, my worth, the things I value or appreciate about myself, or even what I’m good at.

Those things must all be in here somewhere. I just can’t locate them in the murk right now.

A year in therapy and I’m more mysterious to myself than ever. My goal, in the beginning, was survival. That’s probably not a surprise if you read any of my posts during the past year. What you might not realize is that I had a complete mental breakdown. It was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever experienced.

Things reached a catastrophic boiling point where the pain inside my mind was too much to bear. I existed in a state where I knew that I would never feel any better. My existence would be trapped inside a brain that would never stop making destructive words and images at the speed of light. My confused thoughts were, the best way I can describe it is, an unrelenting tornado of fragments. Around and round and round in circles, they’d race and I couldn’t hold on to anything. I’d reach the point where I was babbling 100 miles an hour, talking in loops and repeating myself time and again. My memory was shot, I couldn’t sleep, my stomach was a wreck, I was plagued with panic attacks and I would not stop crying. And this cycle of torment was incessant for a long time. It was terrifying to know that I would never feel anything but this loss of control, that I would have to exist in this mania forever. It was too much to handle. I thought that dying would be the only way to make everything stop. That’s a terrible state to be in. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

So here I am now with the absolute worst year of my life at a close. Am I better? Yes. No. Sometimes.

It seems unlikely that I will ever be the same as when I was “normal.” Something irreparably broke inside of me, taking whatever silliness, laughter and sparkle I had with it. I can’t really tell if I’m numbed out because of the meds I’m on or if I’m still depressed or this is really who I am now. The reason probably doesn’t matter so much. This is where I am regardless of the source.

Everything still hurts. Particularly the feeling of having lost myself and being replaced by an imposter who is much less fun.

I wrote this post on my phone while sitting on a bench in Port Jefferson a couple of Sundays ago. All around me, the world was in motion but I was not partaking. Instead, I closed off and began to type away about being trapped in my self-examination/pity. As my thumbs furiously moved across the screen, the store behind pumped Explosions in the Sky on their radio. In my self-centered view of the world, it felt like it was just for me since they’re a not-so-popular band that I listen to all the time. It became the soundtrack to what I was writing.

That morning when I set out for a ride, I kept repeating to myself “find your power,” over and over in my mind like some kind of mantra. As if I could think it into reality. I’m not really sure where the phrase even came from. Maybe I’m developing another personality. If it turned out to be my cheerleader, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad.

As I sat on the bench, I glanced up between sentences and watched people walking in the sunshine, smiling. I was plagued with the thought that they knew something about how to be a successful human that I didn’t, and was curious to know how they were able to do it.

I was snapped out of my reverie with the irritated voice of a mother shouting “Dante! Get your mouth OFF the wall!” I heard Dante’s name about 100 more times in a 5-minute span. Maybe no one really has their shit together. Maybe we’re all just yelling and not actually doing fuck-all about anything.

What does all this mean? I haven’t the slightest idea. Maybe I’m not supposed to. Or maybe I do know and I’m just not listening. Maybe I’m Dante.

You Never See A Motorcycle Parked Outside of a Psychiatrist’s Office and Other Tall Tales

You Never See A Motorcycle Parked Outside of a Psychiatrist’s Office and Other Tall Tales

You’ve probably come across the popular adage, “you never see a motorcycle parked outside of a psychiatrist’s office.” Well, in my cases? Not so much.

It is true that motorcycling is like a form of therapy for many people. The nature of it forces you to be in the moment, which can be a relief for people who obsessively dwell on the past or feel anxious about the future. When you are only focused on now, your perspective shifts.

My struggles with mental health are something I choose not to be secretive about. For reasons unknown to me, it took me far too long to be willing to help myself. My hope is that someone out there who feels like they might need help too but are scared, embarrassed, or any of the millions of other feelings that keep us from being good to ourselves, sees that there is nothing wrong with getting help with your brain. Nothing.

When I first started working with my therapist, he zeroed in right away on the passion I feel for motorcycles and traveling. It is often used as a discussion tool for examining the positive aspects of my life and the attainment of goals. Though not a rider himself, he seems curious about it and what it does for me.

We have what I would call a good rapport. I feel very comfortable talking with him. He seems at ease with me, too. Though that’s his job, I guess. This is my first experience with talk therapy so I don’t really know, I’m just going with my gut.

Occasionally he will breezily offer some anecdote or detail about his own existence. It might be something innocuous such as a quip about a movie he likes that relates to what we’re discussing. Or, when talking about how my eyesight changed seemingly overnight, he mentioned he had a similar abrupt onset experience with Crohn’s disease.

My appointments are usually in the evenings. It isn’t uncommon for me to see my therapist who sits across from me, struggle to stifle a yawn or two behind a clenched fist covering his mouth. He excuses himself each time it happens.

Over time this yawn suppression has become rather funny to me. You know how screwed up a face looks when trying to stop a yawn. You’re not actually hiding it, you’re calling attention to the struggle to keep it from happening. Might as well let ‘er rip.

The fantasy that I’m putting this guy to sleep with my talking amuses me to no end. The story I write in my mind is one of a poor, tired therapist who had a long day of listening to crackpots on the couch talking about their anxieties. His inner monologue is filled with sarcasm, thoughts about stuff he needs to pickup at Target on the way home, and a lot of Jesus Christ, shut up, alreadies.

This week we shared a new experience. Forty five minutes into my session, my therapist gets an uncomfortable look on his face and stands up. He apologetically excuses himself and walks down the hall to the restroom. Apparently I’ve graduated from putting him to sleep to giving him diarrhea.

Now that, my friends is what you call progress!