It’s now been two months since my psyche broke with reality, on Christmas morning. I started feeling better about three, four weeks ago; at least, I started functioning again. My family and I know this pattern all too well, one that began when I turned seventeen, almost forty years ago. In my first journal, in 1977, I wrote, It’s turning winter again. I love fall, but I hate winter. I’m scared of it. I get this feeling over me that I want to die. Already, as a teenager, I was chronicling, without knowing it, the movement of the Villatoro genetic illness.
It pisses me off to no end that I lose over a month of life every year. The rattle of paranoia, the inexplicable horror that swallows me in a yawn, the constant mantra I’ve got to get out of this, the pills, the hiding of the blades. Six weeks, every single year, just, gone.
Each breakdown does just that: it breaks down the mind. It’s become more clear to me, how dangerous this illness is. Manic depression can shave off somewhere between nine to twenty-one years off one’s life, depending on its severity. Bipolar people don’t usually live into old age, especially if they’ve a history of childhood trauma, as have I. The brain, after so many psychotic blows, just, gives out.
I’ve thought about this a lot. I think about death, a lot. Well, more than most. Most people I know do everything in their power to avoid considering their own death, which is a stupid act, a full-out denial of what’s coming, and a lost opportunity: meditating upon your own demise is a good way of living more fully.
As an atheist, I consider my death regularly. It makes life more enriching. I have no thoughts for an afterlife; as a mentally ill man, I try to keep delusions to a minimum. Death is not simply a blip for me; I see it for what it is—it is an end. And I’m fine with that.
The illness forces me into this rugged meditation. The years shaved off a sick man’s life, for instance—yeah, that pisses me off too. But, when I think of my death, one thought always comes along, Well, I won’t have to deal with this shit in my head anymore.
But I hate, I hate, wasting time. As I get older, and this illness becomes more difficult, I do everything in my power to live existentially. Because there will come the time that I can’t live existentially; for to live that way means to have an intact, vivacious mind, one that wills me into sucking on the marrow of life. That will, someday, end. Until then, I’ll keep doing it, even when it means the risk of choking on the bone.
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