Why do I feel like some entity is tearing into my mind, wreaking havoc on my thoughts and tearing my brain to shreds? I feel like there is a battle going on within my skull—a battle between myself and the part of me that I have never been able to control—a battle between myself and these demons that destroy me any chance they get.
There is no subtle defeat of these obstacles; the demons own no white flag of surrender. Sometimes they rest someplace deep within my consciousness, just beneath the surface. I feel them pacing—looking for any weakness within the shell that I have placed around them, waiting for their opportunity to pounce. “I’m fine,” I say, as I urge these demons to go up in flames and cease existing. “I’ll be okay,” I claim, though I fear the day that my strength is entirely depleted and I accept the iron chains of that which I cannot control.
Some people believe in God, and pray that he will heal their ailments. I used to believe—no, I earnestly tried to believe. I wanted to be able to look at myself and feel that there is a deity who supports me. I clung to the thought of this omnipotent presence that was able to erase the parts of me that I despise the most.
This deity never showed; he never was able to smother my demons. Some would say that I needed faith—they would tell me that my inability to blindly believe is a direct path to the fiery depths of Hell. But they would be wrong. I tried to believe—I yearned to believe. My attempts at faith have yielded no fruit; I have lunged forth with my white flag and since abandoned my religious efforts. But how do I stop my mind, if the supposed author of existence has provided no assistance?
I call this my sine curve of emotions—I used to think that this was some clever label that meant that I at least partially understood trig. I now realize that this description is painfully accurate. I ride a wave that is in perpetual motion—from highs to immediate lows, with the occasional stop at the numbness that is my equilibrium. The amplitude of this curve varies, but never to my favor. No, my highs are not manic, nor do they exist for sufficient amounts of time. I do not experience moments of grandeur, or delusions of my own perfection. I sometimes feel happy, and at peace. I look forward to the future. I feel the warmth of life course through my veins as I become intoxicated with the beauty of that which is existence.
But my lows… my lows destroy anything that the highs create. I suppose that these lows have some sort of twisted humor—through them, I am able to truly value the joy of my highs; I know how precious it is to feel truly content. When I am at my own scheduled euphoria, I realize how incredible the feeling is. This joy, however, comes at a price; the demon is not benevolent without a price. That price is, of course, the tyrant of my lows—the part of me that I wish I could tear away and smother under the weight of the pain that it has caused me.
The labels of high and low—the image that these words imprint on the mind of one who reads them– is trivial. Even as I type, I realize that such small words do my demons injustice. No, my demons are not petty or mundane; they are cunning and powerful. They allow the creation of beauty: euphoric thoughts that allow me to feel as if I transcend beyond who I am, a love of the maze of consciousness, a yearning to discover what the essence of humanity is. But then—when I feel most in tune with who I am—they destroy it. They take blades to my mind and cut away those parts of my life. I feel the force of hammers bludgeoning my soul and weakening my resolve to intellectually explore. The world moves from bright and vivid to grey and dim. I despise this transition; my euphoria is abruptly halted as the lights turn on and the scene closes. “Go home,” the director says, “your time here is finished.”
These periods of low amplitude are not always manifested clearly. Sometimes—when they are particularly horrendous—they result in physical breakdown. I cry, want nothing to do with the world, and feel high. This is not a good high—I mean the type of high that results in utter disorientation and confusion; it is the high of one who has never smoked weed and is now terrified of how strange the world feels. The senses are either heightened or hindered. Pain and a general unsteadiness courses through my body and I want nothing more than to just fall into a slumber and never wake up.
There are also the lows that are completely mental. To be clear, I usually have some combination of these different lows; they rarely are isolated from each other. The mental warfare, however, pains me the most. Why? I cannot escape my own mind. I can take a handful of ibuprofen for pain. I can cry until I lose the ability to create tears. But can I stop the thoughts that are pounding within my brain, clamoring to take control of every neuron and sabotage any reasoning that is attempting to break through? No. My prison is made of glass; I can see the outside but am incapable of shattering the walls. Those walls… they are, in themselves, torture. I press against them and feel the coolness on my skin, invading my pores. The invasion does not stop with my pores—it creeps into every cell and every atom, slowly freezing as I lose the sense of who I am. This is equilibrium.
This sine curve of emotions repeats on an endless loop. In the center of the glass prison, I am content—these are my highs. I can see the outside, I can marvel over my 360 degree view of the universe that I am a manifestation of. When I get closer to the glass the cold starts to set in; my energy begins to deplete, and my mood slowly descends. When I touch the glass, I freeze—but only for a moment. As I start to unfreeze I am consumed by flames; my mind is on fire and I can’t control it; the demons are here and they are tyrants that can’t be beaten; why do I exist why do I feel this way why do I go through with existing like this is there an end can I please die I hate myself I hate this pleasestopplease I CAN’T TAKE HATING MYSELF ANYMORE I AM WORTHLESS I WANT TO CEASE EXISTING PLEASE LET ME—silence. Back at equilibrium, where my mind is numb… where I am not happy but at least I am not screaming in pain. I meander back, towards the center. Towards happiness.Towards those mental highs that are to me an addiction; the moments that I crave and can never have enough of, the ones that I go through Hell thinking of and hoping for their arrival.
The demons, you see, are never silent. Sometimes they whisper just beneath the surface of my cognition—they whisper just enough for me to feel like I am not doing well enough or that people do not like me. They provide me with a general sense of anxiety—just enough so that I know they are still there. Sometimes they talk; they loudly proclaim that I am a failure and that I shouldn’t bother wasting everyone’s time. They say “You can’t do this, because you have no talent. Anything you enjoy—drumming, speaking, writing—you will never be good enough. Those around you are watching and laughing at your pitiful attempts to function.” Sometimes, though, they scream. This scream surpasses my comprehension of volume; it is powerful and forceful and impossible to block. When the demons scream, they tear at my brain and tell me that I am a miserable excuse for a human and that anything good I see about myself is false. When the demons scream, I am at my lowest point on the sine curve, the point at which I cannot get any lower without ceasing my existence. When the demons scream, I want nothing more than the ability to stop them from fucking with my head.
I write this not to bemoan my existence, or complain about my circumstances. The reality is that I have a wonderful life. I understand this– but that does not make my internal struggles any less painful.