Saturday, October 2, 2010

Fighting the Demons Again

"I sit up all night and think of evil things to do
And I've got something very special planned for you..."
-Stiv Bators, "Evil Boy" 

I'm about to take you to a very dark place.  I'm going to attempt to describe to you a facet of my personality that I don't care for very much; a version of me that I don't like showing to the world, but which, in certain given circumstances, flashes to the surface like a buoy being forcibly held under water and suddenly released. It's the part of me that drives people away, that sometimes scares people.  That sometimes scares me.

Nothing Is True

Monday night, I was thisclose to bringing this blog to an end, cutting my Twitter and Facebook ties, and retreating back into the hermit-like state I have fought for these past several years to escape from.  My obsessive, anxious demons sat on my shoulder all night like egging me on, double-dog-daring me to do it. "You don't owe anyone anything," the wheedling voice in my head told me, "and besides, none of them give a damn about you anyway..."

In a matter of moments that night, I went from the elation of watching my beloved Phillies clinch their fourth consecutive National League Eastern Division Championship to the depths of an OCD-fueled depression, over a broken link.  There are a number of outlets through which I advertise each new blog post, and whether it be Twitter or Facebook or wherever, I dutifully link to the newest post.  Mondays, of course, are NW4NW days, and I am grateful that so many folks have told me how they enjoy those posts and look forward to them. So yesterday, after publishing this week's installment, I posted links in all the usual places.

My workdays have been extra busy recently, so I did not have the opportunity throughout the day to check my stats to see how much traffic was coming in.  I usually repost the links in the afternoon to catch the crowd who isn't around to see them in the early morning, and this I did yesterday as well.  Then I settled in to watch the game, having not checked blog stats at all.  After the game, I checked the posted link, and saw that it reported 0 clicks.  "Hmm, that can't be right..." I thought, so I clicked the link myself - and was promptly met with a "Page Cannot Be Found" error. The link that I had been advertising all day was a bad link!

Embarrassed, I corrected the link and prepared an apology post, and that's when it struck me: No one had informed me the link was bad.  Even on the Fanpage and the blog's Twitter site, there was nothing.  Had no one even bothered to try to read my post? I pulled up my stats for the day, and there, mockingly, sat a great big zero. I did the math: 100 people follow the TWIWGTS Twitter site. 1400 follow my personal Twitter account. There are 200 on the Fanpage, and 500 on my personal Facebook page. Over 100 follow through Networked Blogs.  I've never claimed a humongous readership, but out of all those people, not one bothered to try to read my newly advertised blog post? What the fuck?

Here It Goes Again

Now, most normal, well-adjusted people would consider this what it was: an anomaly.  I can look back now, with some hindsight, and say to myself, "Well duh! If the link was broken and someone tried to click it, it wouldn't show up in your stats because they never even got to the site!"  And, I know from previous feedback that many of you who read regularly do access the site mainly through those links I put out there. 

(Psst - this would be a great time for me to recommend subscribing using the email form at the upper left of this page so that you never miss a post and never have to worry about bad links. Go, do it now, I'll wait...OK, great, let's continue.)

Sure, that all makes perfect sense now, but I've talked here before about my OCD and my constant anxious paranoia that everyone is secretly trying to set me up for embarrassment, and how cunning those beasts are as foes.  They grab onto any tiny shred of anything that could be twisted to validate their existence in my brain and go immediately to work.  This wasn't a simple, explainable anomaly that was really my fault to begin with for posting an incorrect link. No sir, this was an affront on me personally! An obvious attack, and clear evidence that those lying liars never read my blog! They don't think I'm a good writer! They don't care about the things I write about!

Then, the obsessive part builds upon that:  "Not even your friends who say they read your blog actually read it. They're lying to you! And if they lie about that, then they must be lying about everything! They're not really your friends! This is important to you and to them it's all a big joke!"  I found myself considering shutting the blog down completely. After all, why should I write if no one wants to read it?  And if these people aren't really my friends, why do I interact with them? I ought to just cut all ties - then they can't lie to me anymore.  Do you see how the insane spiral builds?  My mind starts making larger and larger leaps in logic until the thoughts become irrational, and inside I journey from offended to saddened to - if the spiral is left to continue unabated - anger.

And, if anyone happens to be around me or interact with me while this process is happening, they are met with that part of my personality I mentioned earlier - the part of me that I hate. As fate would have it, one person did interact with me right then, through Twitter.  Luckily, my obsessive thought-spiral hadn't spun out of control yet, and after a few somewhat coarse, chopped exchanges, I apologized for being "in a mood" and logged off.  Had she shown up a few minutes later, however, she would likely have encountered Evil Bryan.

My Evil Twin

Evil Bryan is a very dark version of myself, a personification of those OCD/anxiety demons. When I'm in that state, I revert to the behavior of cornered animal being attacked because inside that is how I feel.  In that state I have no concern whatsoever for other people's feelings, whoever they may be - I will simply lash out at them, trying - wanting - to make them feel as bad and hurt as I feel inside at that moment.  Most of the time, that attack or lashing out takes the form of words - loud, vile, cutting words.  On rare occasions, the lashing out has been physical, documented as early as the second grade version of me who threw chairs around a classroom in a rage against a teacher.  To say it is not a pretty sight is putting it mildly.

It is not pleasant to feel that out of control, and there has never been a time when, after the storm has passed, I haven't felt immensely remorseful and apologetic. Over the years, I have learned to recognize when that side of me is surfacing, and have learned to remove myself from other people. It has the same effect as starving a fire of oxygen: the flame tries to continue, but quickly sputters out.  If Evil Bryan is starved of people to lash out at, he sputters away to nothing relatively quickly.

And so it was Monday night. I logged off of Twitter and Facebook and went to bed, and Evil Bryan never showed up. I got up the next morning thinking the storm had passed and all was well, and went about my work day.  Pretty soon I noticed a shadow looming over me.  It was a shadow I hadn't seen in a long time.

I Just Can't Be Happy Today

As it turns out, what I thought was the end of the storm was really just the eye of the hurricane. Something more was coming, I could feel it - I know the feeling all to well, as anyone who has dealt with depression on any level does: it's not sadness, it's not anger, it's not anything that can be easily described.  It's sort of a feeling that something is very wrong, coupled with a complete lack of ability to put a finger on what that wrong thing is, multiplied by the frustration of knowing that you are powerless to fix it because you can't even define it.  It's an awful, awful feeling, and I usually respond to it by pushing everyone away and closing myself up in my own private cave - and so it has been this week.

I was excited because a group of us had planned to get together to create a local writers' group on Wednesday.  I've been trying to get past some rough writers' block recently, and I'm lucky to be in a city populated with excellent writers. Some interaction with them my have been just the thing to get the words flowing again. 

I didn't go.  I hid behind my standard "I don't drive so I can't get there" excuse - even though rides were available had I asked.  Truth was, I didn't want to be around anyone. I'm catching myself hermiting; I'm watching myself push people away; I'm feeling myself fight to fend off the demons. 

Every Day I Write The Book

I actually started writing this on Tuesday - and have been rewriting, editing, and adding to it all week.  If these demons have any redeeming value, it is that they have helped to break the dam holding back the words. Now the question begs - are the words making any sense? I don't know. I know it helps.  I have gone back and forth in my mind all week whether to even post this piece. Finally, I have decided that I should; I must.  I'm not crying out for help here; I'm not looking for anyone to give me the answers (not that anyone could - this is a thoroughly inner battle).  But when I posted the last introspective piece, there were some folks who emailed me or spoke to me and thanked me for writing it and sharing it, because they fully understood it and were somewhat relieved to know that at least one other person out there experienced what they did - they weren't alone and they weren't "crazy."  I, too, find solace in that idea that somewhere out there, at least one or two of you are reading this rambling jumble of words and thoughts and feelings and saying to yourself, "I know that. I've been there."  Even if I never hear from you, I know you're there, and I'm not alone.

So I suppose this post is, in addition to being a bit of "physician heal thyself," my way of saying to those of you who I have been pushing away, I'm sorry. And also saying to those of you who understand, thank you for being there.  As for the rest of you, I beg your indulgence when I need to post such things as this - don't worry, we'll be back to our regular programming in no time.


  1. Bryan, I appreciate your honesty and frankness about your inner demons. Sometimes the smallest thing can haunt us for such a long time. Writing about this could not have been easy, but very therapeutic once it was over.

    Hope is perhaps the greatest word after love in any language. I would like to present that to you now my friend without anything in return. This free gift is a gift of freedom from that internal demon that surfaces now and again.

    A new technique has been developed that requires no drugs and is safe and free to use. It's called PSTEC, also known as Percussive Suggestion Technology. Among the many problems addressed are phobias, PTSD, anxiety, resentment, compulsions, depression plus lots more.

    This is a challenge that presented to each and everyone that reads this post. Please tell everyone that you know about this. I speak from experience as too the profound change that it had in completely removing a traumatic emotional event which happened several years ago. In a matter of minutes the event no longer had power over me and has completely changed in a positive way. Words will not provide the proof that is required when talking about deep emotional change. Only by accepting this challenge will you know the true power of this process. I'm not selling anything, my wish is to tell as many people as possible. Now you know, use it, pass it on and let's change the world for the better.

    Here's the link.

    I'd like to read your experiences after trying it.


  2. Thank you for the suggestion and the link! I will try it, and I will share with you my thoughts and experiences in a future blog post.

  3. Hang in there, dude! You deserve a lot of credit for writing about this.

    And remember, you're still just a kid. (Of course, everybody is just a kid next to me.)