The story so far

As promised, a state of address, so to speak.

Over the last year, I have changed residences, signed up for SNAP, received dialectical behavior therapy for my PTSD, and an alternative diagnosis for my APD. It’s the last that has shaken my life the most.

A couple of years ago when I revealed my initial antisocial personality disorder diagnosis to the Internet, someone suggested that my behavior was more consistent with someone on the autistic spectrum. I seem to recall granting that it was plausible, but ultimately dismissing the idea.

Since then, however, I’ve had more than one therapist suggest the same thing. What’s easy to dismiss when someone on the Internet says it is a lot harder to dismiss when more than one person whose profession is to make this diagnosis says it!

If I had the finances to seek consistent visitation with a single therapist, I could get a proper diagnosis instead of these one-off “you show consistent symptology with X” referrals , but I don’t. It leaves me in an uneasy position of wondering whether the way I’ve thought of myself for years now is truly accurate, and whether the way I could think of myself would “fit” better.

And I’m not sure. I don’t know what it’s like to have Aspergers because I don’t know what it’s like to be anyone but myself. My difficulty empathizing with and understanding others combined neatly with a troubled childhood (textbook case of conduct disorder) and teenage misanthropy to fit the diagnosis of someone with APD, but perhaps it fits just as well with someone on the autistic spectrum who has difficulty with social interaction.

It has only been recently that I’ve started to think of autism as a different way the brain can function, rather than a disorder to be treated and managed and prevented if at all possible. Now, just a few months after I began trying to change my attitude toward autism, I find out I may be on the spectrum myself. It’s an object lesson if I’ve ever had one, and one which has left me feeling drift and confused about my own identity.

This is an example of one of those times when I abruptly get self-conscious and end the post.

Slogging your way out of it

You know the worst thing about fighting depression? Having to pretend you care about feeling better when, really, you’re having such a hard time convincing yourself that there’s any point to trying, because it feels absurd to fight so hard to continue doing something you don’t enjoy. The terrible part is, maybe you would enjoy it if you weren’t depressed — but it messes with your mind. It sucks the joy out of memories. You can’t remember ever enjoying anything. It just seems like one big uphill slog for no good reason, but you’ve got to put on the brave front and pretend it’s all going to work out.

Being in the middle of it is the worst possible time to try and decide whether it’s worth fighting it. You’ll just have to take someone else’s word for it: It is. Whether life continues to suck or not, it’s still worth it. At least then you’ll know. You’ll have the choice, the perspective, the capacity to differentiate between outcomes.

Don’t take depression’s word for it. Depression is a lying jerk.

I used to have wings

About fifteen years ago, I was introduced to the Otherkin by a good friend from a collaborative writing community I frequented. I was young and slowly piecing together the fact that I wasn’t like most people. I was frequently uncomfortable to be in my own skin. I sometimes stood in the shower and stared at my body, loathing what I saw, every fiber of my being screaming “This isn’t mine! This looks nothing like me!” This was before I was formally educated in psychology and long before I found my way into the LGBT community, so I didn’t have the knowledge or vocabulary that I have today. It took a long time before I realized that I was genderfluid and even longer before someone gave me that word to describe myself.

I say this as a caveat, to make clear that I recognize the fact that I was already dissatisfied with my body before this friend then informed me that I was an Otherkin and that this could only have fed into my desire for an explanation. I was very conflicted over it. I felt like I stood apart from most people and this would have been a very good reason as to why. I still wrestled with the remains of my Christian faith, and this could have shed some light on why I seemed to have such an antagonistic relationship with God. It would have explained why I so often felt like I didn’t belong in this body at all.

The most important distinction with an Otherkin is probably whether or not they actually want to be one — that’s probably the crucial difference between spiritual beliefs and species dysphoria, as a psychological disorder can usually only be diagnosed in the presence of the four Ds: Distress, Danger, Dysfunction and Deviance. To believe one’s self to be (in spirit) another species might be deviant, but by itself won’t necessarily cause any distress or dysfunction, or pose a threat to one’s self or others. If the mind both cannot accept this belief or dismiss it, however, the person could suffer greatly or even become suicidal, satisfying the other categories.

That said, there are Otherkin of many different kinds: elves, fae, dragons, animal people and just plain animals, people of different worlds… and angels. Obviously, I was an angel. (I mean, what else would I be?)

I wish I could convey how much I struggled with the idea. There was a specific angel to which I was identified, and a lot of the lore surrounding that angel sat uncomfortably with me, but I couldn’t dismiss the idea. Whether it was because it fit so neatly with my yearning for an explanation for feeling so different from other people or because there was some merit to the claim remains unknown, but either could have been the reason why it clung to me (if you will forgive me, this scene comes to mind).

I compulsively researched this angel’s background, sifting through ancient scripture and folklore. I’m not sure whether I was looking for something to refute or something that would verify whether my feelings were true. I was disturbed by how often I sided with the angel, who frequently ran afoul of God and was punished in unspeakable ways. Although usually described as the antagonist who rebelled against God and other angels, I found him to be the more sympathetic figure. It was even worse when I came across quotations that seemed like they could have easily been things I might have said which had been distorted by time and translations.

Then there were the encounters.

One night, I reading in a public place to pass the time after an evening class, waiting for my ride home, when a young man I had never met before addressed me. He then asked, “Do you believe in reincarnation? You and I were once companions in another life.” He then gave me a name. This had the makings of a poor pickup attempt, but I recognized the name from my research. I looked it up again when I got home to be sure and confirmed it: this name was often associated with my angel as an alternate name or perhaps a companion occupying a similar sphere of mythology.

I never saw that person again, but there were other incidents which were sometimes just as unnerving.

People with whom I spoke exhibited bizarre, inexplicable behavior. Many would spontaneously begin speaking of things which appeared to shame them, “confessing their sins” as it were, without prompting or encouragement, apparently unaware of doing so. I often found myself able to locate lost items in places I was visiting for the first time. People would often overlook me and be surprised to know I had been there, even when there was no reason for them to have missed my presence in the room. Dogs with no history of wild behavior would bark and howl when they saw me, while cats known to be moody and aloof would purposefully seek out my attention. A hematite crucifix necklace literally fell out of the sky and landed in front of me one day. It survived the impact and I still have it. It has no markings to indicate its origin, although it is clearly man-made.

I seemed to be a magnet for strange activity, and as odd as some of the things I have listed are, there were other events which I hesitate to put into writing simply because they are that unbelievable. Lights turning on and off by themselves, faces which appeared in reflections, fire in the sky — all occurring in the presence of others, who verified that they had seen them happen as well.

At last, like conceding an argument, I had to admit that I was exhausted from wondering all the time while strange things constantly seemed to be happening in my life. I decided that the closest I would ever come to an answer was to be agnostic about it and so I made a kind of mental bargain. I said to myself, “Self, being an angel doesn’t have to mean anything at all. You can just be. So here’s what we’re going to do. You be an angel, and as long as that doesn’t change who you are, we won’t have any problems. Agreed?”

Or something like that.

Sometimes I wonder if there’s a point to bringing it up, which I don’t do often. The explanation is long and adequate. It makes people treat me differently, sometimes poorly. If I prefer my alleged angelic nature not to change anything about me, then why is it important enough to tell people about it in the first place?

Because it’s who I am. Sometimes that’s enough, whether anyone likes it or not.

And now for something completely different

I’ve been working on a post for awhile, but it’s been coming together slowly, hence my recent lack of activity. It’ll be about my experiences with and as an Otherkin. Hopefully it makes for intriguing reading.

At present, I had the notion that I ought to put together a post on a subject which, to my knowledge, almost no one ever talks about. I certainly have a bit of inspiration, being that it’s still ongoing: I’m having a drug trip. I imagine a lot of people have experiences with drugs and there are just as many who will abstain from all use altogether. I don’t want to pass judgment on anyone, as my experience, I suspect, is atypical. I’m writing this as somewhat of an educational piece, though perhaps it will offer some entertainment as well.

Oh, and for the record, I do live in a state where marijuana is legal.

Trigger warning: Drug use, description of hallucinations, complete dissociation from reality.

About a decade ago, I was hanging out with some friends, cruising around rural Michigan and enjoying the ambiance of jovial people laughing and joking amiably with each other, when one of them accidentally passed me a joint. I say “accidentally” because up to that point, I had never expressed any interest in smoking anything. My lungs have never much enjoyed breathing in smoke of any kind and marijuana in particular had a nauseating effect on me. At this time, though, I was feeling curious and a little emboldened, so I took it and had a few drags. The smoke reminded me of what a burning corn cob might smell and taste like. It was very dry and not particularly appealing. It didn’t take effect until well over an hour later when I was on my way home.

Suddenly I felt very disoriented. It seemed as though I were separated from my body by a barrier through which my thoughts and commands could perform osmosis, but not without an extra layer of dislocation being added to everything I thought and did. It was as if I were moving my body with a remote controller, and thinking through text messages. I had a hard time keeping track of where I was and what I was doing. I would have moments of just losing all comprehension of what was going on.

Fortunately, the effects wore off after about half an hour, leaving me none worse for wear. I realized that what I had experienced hadn’t been at all pleasant, certainly none of the things I had ever heard or seen someone else experience, so I decided it had interacted in some strange way with my body chemistry. If I wasn’t actually allergic to marijuana, it at least had effects which I would prefer to avoid. That was a decision I kept up until last night.

A few days ago, my roommate heard through the grapevine that a friend-of-a-friend-of-an-etc. had made cookies using pure hash oil and was giving them away to friends. Said roommate offered to acquire one for the two of us to split. Once again, I was curious, and my prior bad experience seemed long ago and possibly an anomaly. Moreover, I felt like I really needed relaxation. The night before last, I had caught a scent of wood smoke from one of the neighbors’ fireplaces and had a panic attack, which prompted a flashback in the middle of the night and caused me to wake up completely drenched in sweat. With the calming properties of marijuana on my mind, I thought, “Why not. I’ll just try it.”

While playing a puzzle game on the laptop, I ate a little piece of the cookie and settled in to see what would happen. I played for awhile longer, making some decent progress, and began to wonder after about half an hour whether I was actually going to feel anything or not. I didn’t feel particularly relaxed in any special way, but maybe that inability to feel it was part of the effects themselves? I kept playing, and began to realize that I wasn’t sure what I was seeing. It felt like I was having a conversation with someone, but I couldn’t remember having spoken out loud or having heard anything. I played a little more before it dawned on me that I wasn’t able to pay full attention to the game anymore. Instead, I kept imagining vivid scenes and seeing them before my eyes at the same time that I was watching the action on the screen.

It was at about that point that I called for my roommate and said, as clearly as I could, “I’m having a hallucination.” Only my mind insisted that I had actually said “Fragh spetz rillecudon.” And then I was in the bathroom having my very first drug trip.

The symptoms of this trip were highly unpleasant and akin to what I would think disorganized schizophrenia might be like. I will try to break them down and explain how I experienced each one separately.

I had no ability to recall time. From the explanations of my roommate, it seems like I was experiencing time compressed into smaller subjective spans than what objectively taking place, so what seemed like a few seconds to me was actually several minutes at a time. I couldn’t remember ever not having having a trip. I had severe déjà vu, and my attempts to communicate kept being thwarted by the sensation that I had already said it all before. Then, when my roommate would reply, my mind would insist that I had already heard her say such things before. To the best of my knowledge, we were not actually repeating ourselves; I was just unable to properly perceive time.

I was unable to perceive spatial relations properly. When I sat on my bed, it seemed to stretch in both directions for at least another five feet. When I walked down the hall, it felt like I had traversed miles. At one point, I remember looking up into the shower and seeing a wash cloth hanging above, and thinking it was impossible that I could ever hope to reach it. The thought of standing up triggered a fear of heights. Geometry seemed to follow no coherent rules that I could predict. If I closed my eyes, I felt like the world was tilting crazily.

I hallucinated vividly, both internally and externally. Overlapping with reality, things I remembered, imagined, or imagined remembering twisted together into visualizations and mental images which I was unable to distinguish between reality and fantasy. It felt as though I were seeing animations frame by frame, but only every third frame or so was related to reality. The rest was filled by worlds, images, entire histories which were completely alien to me. I was completely unable to concentrate on anything, utterly overloaded with stimuli, all of which insisted it was precisely the way it had always been.

My ability to comprehend language deteriorated significantly. Every thought I had, every way of comprehending what I was seeing and experiencing, was filtered through a now dysfunctional part of my brain which rendered everything into gibberish. Even now, I struggle to elucidate my experiences properly as that part of my psyche has yet to fully recover and renders words incomprehensible, or tries to supply me with words I know to be nonsensical. Combined with my other experiences, this mad gibbering in my mind made it even harder to comprehend what was happening.

I was terrified. Even now, the thought that this won’t stop (it is now almost 24 hours later, including having slept for eight hours) is incredibly disquieting. I was unable to remember a time when I wasn’t hallucinating like this, since any thought of previous experiences was subject to the same lack of temporal cognition and linguistic recognition — in other words, I couldn’t distinguish memories from an ongoing hallucination. Even now, I’m struggling to maintain a coherent thought pattern, although now it feels more like every tenth or so “frame” is missing instead of only getting every third “frame” as reality. At the time, I couldn’t imagine that it was truly ever going to end, or that it hadn’t been this way all along, and my inability to focus on anything enough to keep track of it between so many overlapping layers of nonsensical stimuli was enough to make me physically ill several times.

It’s hard to pick out what was the worst thing about it, but I think being unable to perceive time correctly was near the top. Any given moment felt like the way life had always been and yet also felt like something that had yet to happen. I had continuous, intense déjà vu and yet also had a sense of jamais vu, the state of not recognizing something one has already experienced. What I perceived, including the hallucinations, my mind insisted were happening in real time, had already happened and were being foretold as something I would experience moments before I did. When I tried to latch on to whether or not I was genuinely having precognition, however, I couldn’t identify predictions from things which had already been said — even things I was in the midst of saying.

Illustration of how disorganized my thoughts had become: At one point, I walked out of the bathroom to stand behind the couch in the living room. At the same time, I imagined myself to be a toddler with three eyes pushing its buggy car through a store window. My roommate said something; I heard it as “hruntz, sneh.” A coiled spring of red on a purple background darted around the room. This was the way it had always been. My roommate was going to say, “How are you feeling?” and I had already said “Not well. I can’t. The words aren’t right. I’m seeing two languages.” I couldn’t remember what my mother said. I was a toddler with three eyes. I pushed my buggy back to the bathroom and got sick some more.

Eventually enough of the symptoms subsided, allowing me to lay down without becoming ill again. I slept eight hours away and woke up feeling much more coherent. However, the symptoms hadn’t completely dissipated. Even now, nearly a full day later, I still feel detached from reality, not entirely sure whether my thoughts are real or not. I’m not sure if this is a sensation to which I could become acclimated, since every moment still has a tinge of feeling unique and never before experienced.

I realize I’ve probably repeated myself a few times throughout this rambling explanation, so I hope it turned out coherently enough for everyone to read. Again, I am not making judgment on anyone who has done these drugs, and I recognize that my experience is not what others usually do. It is enough of a unique experience, in fact, that all I want to do is share it.

And hope it ends.

Progress, spirituality and Dance Dance Revolution

I want to apologize for lapsing in my updates. When I wrote my last post, I was still in the process of getting moved into the new house (apartment, actually). I had a tickle in my lungs at the time which turned into a nasty cough, sore throat, thoroughly wrecked constitution and utter lack of energy the moment I finally sat down. I’m now taking lots of vitamins, fluids and exercise in an effort to build myself back up. The temp agency through which I am employed hasn’t yet placed me, so money is gradually becoming a concern again, but I hope for good news soon. In the meantime, as my concentration improves, I’ll be resuming Good News and I hope for that soon as well.

My exercise, for the curious, is Dance Dance Revolution. In the process of moving, I realized that the cement floors of the house and relatively thick walls would let me play it again, pulled it out and tried it — and promptly discovered that my recent experiences in Nebraska weren’t just the machines I was playing on. I’m terrible at it now. I’ve had to build my skills back up and I’m happy to say that I’m no longer failing songs on Light difficulty any longer, although there are many songs I can’t complete on Standard (despite having scores to prove that I once completed them on Heavy). It’s scary to see how I’ve lost coordination, balance, timing, reflexes and stamina over a short period of time and I am now trying to use the game to build these back up.

Meanwhile, my writing hit a stopping point which I think I can now scrabble over (in fact, I just added a little more to the story) and now I’ll be making progress again. Of all things, I was inspired by someone on Slacktivist challenging me on my faith. I once described an odd dream I’d had involving the Rapture and subsequent arrival in Paradise. Over time, this dream has grown to define a branch of my spirituality. As I unpacked more and more about it, I found that if there is a Heaven, then it must be like this. It must be a realm which changes to suit the needs of its people. It must be a realm in which anyone and everyone gains entry. To suggest otherwise isn’t to describe Paradise at all, much less a realm of perfection.

I have chosen to believe my dream was a valid experience representative of an actual place or state of being. It taught me certain things which I consider important, and I have been glad of their reassurance, because I’ve needed it. Between sickness and my uncertain living situation, I’ve spent a lot of time contemplating death and the unpleasant awareness that I will not live forever (although I fully intend to try). While I consider it vanishingly unlikely that I will wind up in any place resembling Hell, I quite certainly do not want to die, not even to return to Paradise. I suppose I could say I don’t want to go there for the same reason I don’t want to leave the United States for a country which treats its citizens better. That reason is difficult to describe adequately, save to say that this is where I am rooted. I will return to Paradise someday, but I’d like to accomplish what I’ve started here, first. Then… we’ll see.

{Preview mode}

The next post I’d like to write should either be about a substantial update on Good News or else finally explaining why it is I claim to be angelic in nature. I’m not sure which is the more intimidating prospect.

Can has home?

Sorry for having dropped off the face of the Earth. A short update- I now have a new home and a job with a temp agency. The Internet connection here is extremely unreliable and I’m still in the process of moving in all my belongings, so I haven’t been at the computer much to work on Good News, but it presently stands at 8059 words, pre-editing.

Update and a piece of bread

Progress on Good News continues. It’s easier to work on it outside than at home, so I haven’t been finishing it as quickly as I’d like, but it’s coming along. Presently, it stands at nine Word pages and 5113 words. I’m thinking it’s going to finish at around 8500 words and I’m planning to see about distributing it for $2.99 USD or thereabouts. The excerpts posted earlier are of the first draft and will not include changes and suggestions made by my editor(s).

Situation update: Going home-hunting Saturday. Things are going to be very tight and unpleasant, but somehow it’ll work out, or so I keep telling myself.

Meanwhile, here’s a song I think serves as a teaser for the larger story to which this serves as a prequel-sequel (possible trigger warning: Implied abuse): Within Temptation – Angels

Update

It’s been a couple of days and I thought I’d reassure everyone that all is as well as it was prior, which is to say, not much has improved, but it hasn’t gotten any worse either. I had a bad night that triggered my PTSD badly enough that I spent the evening under observation, but that’s over and done with and we shan’t speak of it again! Unfortunately, news came to me through the grapevine that a member of my family has fallen extremely ill, having apparently been diagnosed with lung cancer despite never having smoked a day in her life. Prognosis is relatively good.

Good News is progressing and currently stands at 7 pages, 4142 words. I estimate it to be perhaps 75% complete. My current plan is to try and sell it in eBook media as a teaser to the series — say, for $1.99 or so, depending on what kind of cut the publisher wants out of it. I might also try selling through PayPal transactions, if that won’t invalidate other publishing attempts. Will do the research.

Overwhelming response

I cannot understate this. Thank you so much to everyone who has responded to my request yesterday. I am humbled and awed by the generosity of people who may as well be complete strangers, and this makes me stare at my life, the culture in which I’ve grown up and the direction we’re being taken by corporate greed. Sometimes I feel like I have nothing in common with anyone else, but you still manage to shine a ray of light while I’m in my hole. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

My update for today: A section 8 development got back to me and they are so far looking like my best bet, if I qualify. I’ve thrown my résumé at two temp agencies and submitted an article to a freelance journalism site. Then I checked my PayPal account and wrote more tearful thank-you notes.

Per the request of themunck, here’s a shot of Mount Rainier!

I’ll get more pictures when the clouds pass — this was actually a crop of a self-portrait with me in the foreground. Mount Rainier is only visible on clear days (but the view in this picture is available mere blocks from my current home) and acts as a fairly reliable weather predictor: if clouds are visible surrounding the mountain, expect a nasty storm!

I’m going to start working on some short stories to post here, so I can give back a little in return for this wholly unexpected generosity. I’ve had a few in mind to write as sequels to the epic I’ve been in the process of writing for over a year now and I think I can get away with writing some of them under a Creative Commons license with enough details left vague that there’ll still be plenty of reason to read the big book coming later on. Then perhaps I can bind them all in one collection and sell them with some unpublished work as an anthology?