Living Dead Girl -Chapter 1

“Hello, my name’s Patsy,” I spoke, mostly to the floor.

“Hello, Patsy”, disembodied voices echoed back at me from the circle I sat in. I refused to look up…there was no point.

“Did you have anything else to tell us today, Patsy? Why you’re here, maybe?” The cool, soft voice of Dr. Tellman (yeah, irony there, am I right?) cut through the gloom of the purposely-dimmed room from my right. She kept us in a semi-darkened state to “free our inhibitions and allow us to speak easier”, or something like that.

“I’m here because the State thinks I’m nuts, that’s why I’m here, Dr. Tellman”.

“And what did you say to them to give them that impression, Patsy?” Still, with that same easy, coaxing voice. God! She could sell milk to cows, which would be difficult, because of the whole lack of communic-

“Patsy?”

“Oh, sorry, Doc, woolgathering. I told the State’s doc the truth, is all. And he marked up my sheet like a game of tic-tac-toe. Next thing I know, here I am with the rest of the Cranks, Tanks & Yanks.”

Creaks, whines and rustling met with that statement, & I knew I touched nerves, and got some of them curious. 

Off to me left, I heard 

“Whatzat? Whatchoo said? Cranks, Tanks & Yanks? Zat some kind of insult or sumpthin?”

“No, not an insult, Tommy, it’s just my own way of describing this place.  You see…Cranks are real crazies, through no fault of their own. Something’s wrong upstairs, & they can’t help it. I feel bad for them. 

Tanks are the ones gone crazy because of drugs, alcohol, or both. They did it to themselves, so they get no sympathy from me.

And Yanks, well…those are the poor ones that been through hell so bad, abuse, war, rape, you name it, they’ve suffered & seen it, and they can’t contain it inside their brains by themselves. They get yanked all over by others, put through torture so horrible, ain’t no one should have to go through that shit, specially not alone.”

“And where would you put yourself in that labeling system, Patsy?” Dr. Tellman attempted to get us back on track, but I could hear in her voice that I had her interest.

“Nowhere, Dr. Tellman. I’m not in any of those categories, because I’m not crazy. But the truth sounds an awful lot like crazy, these days, so I might as well have a vacation, hmm?”

I could hear her pen scritching against her clipboard as she wrote notes, quick & efficient, just like her. If I concentrated, I could probably envision her wrinkling her nose as her ash-blonde hair fell over her eyes while she wrote, and her tucking it neatly back behind her ear, sliding her pen atop her ear to wait for the next thought.

“And what is this ‘crazy truth’, Patsy?”

“Well, that I’m a Reaper, and that I’m a living dead girl.”

Shadow #FamChallenge

I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder and High-Functioning Depression.

This has cast a large and looming Shadow over a good portion of my life, and it’s not something that a lot of people understand.

GAD isn’t just feeling anxious over stressful things in your life…it’s feeling stressed all the time about everything. It’s a sense of dread, of tight anticipation that something bad is coming, right around the corner, every second of every day. 

It’s illogical and it’s irrational. 

It’s a chemical imbalance that requires meds, balanced nutrition & exercise to mitigate & treat – but there is no “cure”. No magic pill, & no ultimate therapy that makes it go away forever.

And it’s not something you can “fix” by saying “Just don’t worry about it, it’ll all work out. Let it go, why don’t you?” 

I take my meds, & get along pretty well most of the time, anymore, as far as that’s concerned. I still have panic attacks every now and again, but they’re fewer and farther between now, since I started taking better control of my meds & managing my stress in other ways with music, exercise, reading, writing, & my other coping techniques.

My depression, on the other hand…

It’s a sneaky bastard.

High functioning depression is hard to spot in a lot of cases, because the people who live with it are just that good at hiding it.

Here are some of the warning signs that go along with HFD:

1.Difficulty experiencing joy: I know how this will probably sound…but…while I can be happy from time to time, laughing & smiling, going on about my day, I can’t remember the last time I Experienced Joy. True moments where I actually let go of myself and just relished in the joy of a moment? Nope, couldn’t say – it’s been that long. It’s always tinged with the dread of “knowing” that it’s not real.

2. Relentless criticality — of self and others: For me, this is moreso about being self-critical. I know that I do a lot of self a deprecating humor. This is not always healthy. 

3. Constant self-doubt: Yep. 

4. Diminished energy: Mass yep. I’m tired all the time. I try to push through it, because I have to…but there are days I – just crash.

5. Irritability or excessive anger: I try to keep this in check, but yes. I know this is there. There is a well of anger inside of me, that, sometimes, spills to the surface.

6. Small things feel like huge things: And they build up…

7. Feelings of guilt and worry over the past and the future: oh god, remembering things I did from years ago, overanalyzing conversations inside my head, rereading texts and emails to catch “hidden” meanings & subtext…

8. Relying on your coping strategies more and more: I constantly shift my strategies to try to find something that will work, because after a while…they stop working.

9. Generalized sadness: It doesn’t ever go away completely. Not ever.

10. Seeking perfection: In myself, not so much in others. I am my own worst critic in many ways, I know this. 

11. Inability to rest and slow down: My brain never stops. Even in my sleep, obviously, because I’ve been dealing with insomnia for years now. I can fall asleep, but can’t stay asleep, waking 3 and 4 times a night, often from nightmares. And “crash days” don’t seem to garner much in the way of recuperation, it’s more just getting to a point where I can cling by my fingernails again for the next few days.

If you met me for the first time on the street, you’d probably never guess these things about me. 

That’s the nature of High Functioning Depression. “High” being the operative word there, because I do get out of bed every day, go to work, make small talk, handle my life…for the most part…

The depression just sits in the shadow, patient, waiting…

Until I’m alone, usually on the weekends, or at night, when I’m really tired but can’t sleep. 

When my defenses are down.

GAD AND HFD are companions, they mesh well together, and can get so tangled up in each other that they often get misdiagnosed. And the stigma that goes with them is not fun, either.

My ex used to call people with mental disorders like GAD & Depression “weak-minded”.

There’s more than one reason why we’re divorced.

But it’not a weakness of the mind.

It’s a chemical imbalance. And in me, it’s a combination of chemical imbalances & past traumas that cause my issues. I take meds for the one. I work through the other.

Blogging is a help with that.

But the Shadow of GAD and HFD still holds steady over my head, & I know it’s something I’ll live with my whole life. 

As long as I have to sit in the Shadow… maybe I can start trying to think of it as Shade instead…

And at least welcome the fact that it keeps me out of the direct, and damaging UV rays that cause skin cancer?

Well, hell…it’s a theory…

Light #FamChallenge

And the light streamed in the window

As I lay, curled on the floor

Broken, just like the day before

Left behind, always left…wanting more…

And the light streamed in the window

Dust dancing in the air

Landing softly in my hair

Building up, slowly, everywhere

And the light streamed in the window

Softer now than before

Angled more towards the door

Knocking louder, the policemen swore

Flashing lights streamed in the window

Whisper #FamChallenge #flashfiction

I can hear the whispering again…

For the last 2 years… On every full moon…the voices call to me…

Shiya…come…come to us…Shiya…the moon rises…come…

Every month, for the 2 years since I’d turned 18, I’d heard this soft, insistent voice, pushing, pulling, tugging at me. 

Come…Shiya…come now…come to the circle…

“Shiya. Shiya! What the hell?! Are you listening?”

Shaking my head, I look up at Brenda, her staring, puzzled, back at me. My friend perched on her chair across the table from me, our coffees between us at the small town bakery we met at every other week for brunch. I knew she wanted to hear me tell her that everything was normal, that I was fine…but that was so not the truth.

“Sorry, Bren, I was…just – ah hell. I don’t know.”

I scrubbed my fingers through my hair, raking it back over my head, knowing it would be an unholy mess, and totally not caring. 

“Shit, Shiya, it’s the voices again, isn’t it?”

“Shhhh!” I hushed quickly, glancing around the room to see who was looking. Last thing I wanted was for the local gossips to hear that I was hearing voices, for gods’ sake! Oh, that’d set the biddies up for a lifetime supply of stories over their fence lines, and my family would send me packing with the men driving the padded truck.

“I don’t want to talk about that here. Not now.”

“Ok, fine. But you know this is nuts, right?”

“I know.”

That night, the moon rose, silver and full.

And the whisper rose with it, filling my head.

And then, just in that moment as the moon shone overhead, I knew I had to get out, and I knew where to go.

To the trees…the whisper was coming from the trees…

Fearless #FamChallenge

Beloved Nephew and I are doing a writing challenge for a little while, to get the creative forces moving. This is my first installment.

*******************†********************

I’ve found myself wishing lately that I could live my life fearlessly, as I used to be able to…

To not have to worry about things constantly, to feel the constriction of anxiety wrapping itself around my chest and throat.

To be able to simply get up and go when I want to, where I want to, without fretting about how I’m going to get there, is it going to be crowded and dangerous, will I get lost, what if something does happen, then what?

I used to be able to live like that.

I sit here, shaking my head and ruefully laughing under my breath, remembering how crazy it seems now…

On a whim, I would pack up my daughters, toss overnight bags in my car, and we would drive 12 hours to Iowa.

Yes, on a whim.

We would make pit stops at the various “scenic stops” along the way, play, take pictures, get out of the car for a few minutes, chase each other around like hooligans…then back into the car, and down the road we’d go.

We always stayed with family at the other end, even if it was on a couch, or in a sleeping bag on the floor, but it didn’t matter to me, or to the girls, we all loved the away time, & getting to see Gramma, the aunts, uncles & cousins.

Visiting, I called it.

Escaping…is a little more accurate.

Luckily, gas was much cheaper back then, & my girls were happy little travelers, loving our “road trips”.  They ate healthy food from relatives with as much gusto as the junk food from gas stations. And would help clean up any mess they made with our stay before we left again.

Irresponsible, some would call it.

Free-spirited, others would say.

Young…is the terminology I use.

But, I’m not so young, anymore.

Still… I live alone now… And my weekends belong to just me once again. 

Maybe I need to “plan” a Fearless Weekend… And get the Hell out of Dodge.

Get in my pickup, pack an overnight bag, and drive…somewhere…other than here.

Hmm…

*wanders off humming to self and grinning from ear to ear*

Opposable #FlashFiction

“You’ll write what I want you to write, and that’s that, goddammit!”

Moira flinched as a meaty hand slammed the table in front of her, punctuating the sentence with a slap.

“No,” she breathed firmly, “I won’t. I’m not a smut writer, and I won’t start just because you’re threatening me. I write what I want, and kidnapping me won’t matter, you fucktard. You’ll never get what you want from me. Sick bastard.”

Moira could hear him grinding his teeth as he growled under his breath at her refusal, but she refused to cave in to his sicko demands.

She’d been here for just over 3 nights now, or 4 days…she couldn’t really tell. She knew she was underground in some kind of bomb shelter, since she could smell the musty, mildewy smell of old water on concrete, but he’d fixed the place up…almost nice.

Creepily so.

The walls were covered with faux wood panels, that had pictures and paintings hanging from them, to add some semblance of “windows”, even to having curtains hung around a few. It was – homey – and macabre, all at the same time.

The table at which she was now seated was real wood, a deep butcher’s block kitchen- style surface, ready to seat at least 6 people, but currently only holding her and an old manual typewriter, a fresh ream of paper, & a cup full of freshly sharpened Number 2 pencils.

Exactly like she’d told Author’s Gazette last month when she’d done that article about her writing habits, & her quirks about liking to have pencils on hand for the odd note-taking, twirling, putting up her hair in a bun when really getting serious, & chewing on the erasers when she got stuck on plot points.

“Alright. Well, you’ll stay here until you write what I want, then.”

************

“Are you going to write it yet?”

“No, go to hell, asshole.”

“Supper’s on the table.”

“Carrots and cheese sticks again?”

“Bologna tomorrow. You know you get meat once a week.”

“Fuck off”

“Write it.”

“Die.”

****************

“Maybe…maybe if I just… No, I can’t.  But…then he’d let me leave, right? Yeah, sure, after all this time…he’d just let me go. What, it’s been how long? How many weeks, months…ohh…god…so long…he’s never going to let me go…”

***********************

“Write it”

“Never”

“WRITE IT!! I’LL FUCKING KILL YOU!”

“THEN JUST DO IT ALREADY!”

“no”

“Then die”

“You first”

*************************

“Crunch…crunch….crunch…..”

“carrots all gone…hehe hehe…”

********

“OH GOD! What did you do!!”

The blood dripped from the table, smeared along the walls, spelling out “Never” before slumping into an indecipherable scrawl near the bed where the dead woman lay. All her fingers bitten off, strewn about on the floor and tabletop.

“No, dammit! I never got my story!”

He flipped her over onto her back, furious, noticing as he did so, that she was smiling, with her own thumb, firmly wedged in her own mouth and throat.

Well…it was an opposable thumb, after all.