One of the side “benefits” of having diabetes is that it often comes with an extra helping of diabetic depression. I had the blues really bad this week. I am not the only member of my family suffering.
So, what do you do about it?
Or, rather, what does a goofy idiot like me do about it?
Especially on a windy day when the air is saturated with pollen and other lovely things that I am absolutely, toxically allergic to?
Well, for one thing, I used the word toxically in this post because it is a funny-sounding adverb that I love to use even though the spell-checker hates it, no matter how I spell or misspell it.
And I bought a kite.
Yes, it is a cheap Walmart kite that has a picture of Superman on it that looks more like Superboy after taking too much kryptonite-based cough syrup for his own super allergies.
But I used to buy or make paper diamond kites just like this one when I was a boy in Iowa to battle the blues in windy spring weather. One time I got one so high in the sky at my uncle’s east pasture that it was nothing more than a speck in the sky using two spools of string and one borrowed ball of yarn from my mother’s knitting basket. It is a way of battling blue meanies.
And I bought more chocolate-covered peanuts. The chocolate brings you up, and the peanut protein keeps you from crashing your blood sugar. I have weathered more than one Blue Meanie attack with m&m’s peanuts.
And I used the 1957 Pink and White Mercury of Imagination to bring my novel, The Baby Werewolf,home. I wrote the last chapter Monday night in the grip of dark depression, and writing something, and writing it well, makes me a little bit happier.
And I have collected a lot of naked pictures of nudists off Twitter. Who knew that you could find and communicate with such a large number of naked-in-the-sunshine nuts on social media? It is nice to find other nude-minded naturists in a place that I thought only had naked porn until I started blogging on naturist social media. Being naked in mind and body makes me happier than I ever thought it would.
And besides being bare, I also like butterflies and books and baseball and birds, (the Cardinals have started baseball season remember) and the end of winter. “I just remember of few of my favorite things, and then I don’t feel so bad!” Oh, and I like musical movies like The Sound of Music too.
The monsters of deep, dark depression are being defeated as we speak.
My sister called last night to tell me that this time, when she went into the hospital for her chronic heart problem, she would not be coming out again.
She is 87 years old, just half a year younger than when we lost her mother at 88. And at almost 65 it is not unreasonable to believe that I have to expect to lose my mother sooner rather than later. But I am still not ready to lose my mother.
See this ugly little hairy mushroom-guy? This is Murky Deepends. I started drawing him as a teenager. I needed to see him face to face… because I was a survivor of a sexual assault. I started drawing him after the phone call that kept me from killing myself.
And this picture of him that I drew today is the only picture of him that I still have. I may have drawn hundreds over the years. I drew him to tear up the picture, or burn the picture, or soak it in water and flush it down the toilet.
Murky is my depression.
And before I could use him as an illustration for this piece, I had to make sure I put a black box around him. No way can I ever let him escape again to grow and take over my life one more time. I cannot let him win.
I know he looks kind of sad and pitiful. But don’t feel sorry for him. He’s a stone cold killer. And if you look at him carefully enough, you may detect a smile on his face.
I am sad now about my mother. But it is okay to be sad. I lost my father less than a year ago. During the pandemic lockdown. I did not get to see him before he died. I did not get to attend his funeral.
My fear is that the same thing will happen now with Mom. I have no way to safely get to Iowa again. The pandemic is raging again in both Texas and Iowa with the Delta variant. My sister is the only one who can get into see her and be with her according to hospital Covid rules. (Mom does not have Covid. Only a weak and failing heart.)
And it is okay to feel sad. I have earned the right to be sad through 63 and three quarters years of love and devotion.
And Murky has no place in my sadness. Murky is depression. Not a feeling like sadness, but an absence of feeling, a numbness and incapacitation. So, I will keep him in a box or destroy him completely. I will get through this with the rest of my family, and Murky will not have any power over me.
On a quiet back street in Toonerville there is a haunted house. Obviously four meddling kids and their talking dog are looking around inside, but they won’t find anything. It is my dark place. I am the only one that can go inside and discover what truly is there, for the dark things inside are all a part of the dark side of Mickey.
But Mickey doesn’t have a dark side, you try and argue. Micky is all goofy giggles and nerdy Dungeons and Dragons jokes. Mickey is all cartoons and silly stories and he makes us all guffaw.
But I can assure you, everyone has a dark side. Without darkness, how can anyone recognize the light?
So, I have to go inside the old Ghost House every now and then and take stock of all the furniture, and make note of everyone… and every thing that has been living there. I go in there now because I am starting to rewrite a very dark story that I really have to get down on paper in novel form. It isn’t a true story. Ghost stories never are. But it is full of true things… old hurts, old fears, panics, and ghosts of Christmases Past.
There was the night I was stalked by a large black dog when I was nine and walking home from choir practice at the Methodist Church. We are talking Hound of the Baskervilles sort of big damn dog. I knew every dog that lived in town in those days, but I didn’t know that one. Maybe it wasn’t actually hunting me, but I ran the last two blocks to my house that night faster than I ever knew I could run before.
There was that cool autumn afternoon when he grabbed me and pushed me down behind a pile of tractor tires in the neighbor’s yard. He forcibly got my pants down… and what he did to me… It has taken more than forty years to be able to talk about what happened. I wasn’t able to talk about it until after I learned that he had died.
There were the nights spent in the emergency room. Severe potassium depletion… chest pains that could’ve been heart trouble but weren’t… The morning when my blood pressure was so high I thought I was going to die in front of my second period seventh grade English class. And the terrible waits in the emergency room when someone I loved was serious about suicide… that was the most terrible of all.
I am not frightened by the grim reaper in the same way that Shaggy and Scooby are. I have spent time in his company too many times for that. I do not fear him. In some ways he brings welcome relief. And I do believe I can beat him in chess and at least tie him in checkers.
So, yeah, the dark resources are all still there… still in place at the bottom of a deep, dark well. Bad things do wait in the future… but they are in the present and the past also. I am not a slave to fear and evil has no power over me. So, I think I can safely write a horror story. And I admit I am not Steven King. But I don’t want to be him. I want to be Mickey. And that is certainly scary enough for me.
I might be going blind. With a year and a half to go to finish paying off my Chapter 13 bankruptcy, I don’t have the money to pay off the eye specialist the ophthalmologist referred me to in order to get my glaucoma treated.
Odin traded one eye to gain wisdom.
What do you suppose I can get for two?
If you look someone in the eye, you can see revealed the light and the darkness that person carries within. You can tell if someone is thoughtful and intelligent or reckless and stupid by gauging it in their eyes.
Look at these eyes above. What do you see?
One has warm, brown eyes, looking directly at me… evaluating, pondering, imagining me.
The other has chilly blue eyes, looking past me… probably seeing only what’s in his head… not actually me.
If I go blind, I will no longer be able to see that, appreciate that, or even draw that anymore.
Of course, the power of that depends more upon the mind doing the looking then the eyes that take in the light and the details.
I have a chance to be okay on that second score, the mind behind the eyes. I have a good one that has had a lot of practice interpreting the world I see. And I have learned more than a few things that I can still teach and pass on to those I leave behind me.
Thirty-one years as a public school teacher means I have already taught a lot of things to a lot of people.
And I now have 19 books published, with two more I may be able to finish and publish before May of 2021 is through.
Those represent things that I can do to continue to teach the world even after my eyes are no longer working… or even if my light has entirely left the world in the near future. Of course, a lot depends on people reading what I wrote. Still, I feel good about that. I got a five-star review on Amazon from my book The Baby Werewolf just today. And the comments prove the reader actually read the book and liked it for its good qualities.
Wisdom, of course, has little value if it is never passed on. How much have you benefitted from the wisdom of Soren Kierkegaard? Do you even know who he is? Notice too, the students of Chiron in the picture, do not seem to be paying any attention at all to the lecture from the scroll of ancient wisdom. Heracles is practicing with his bow. Theseus is grinning to himself about wrestling. And Jason and Achilles are telling each other jokes about guys that have a horse’s butt instead of a man’s. ( Teaching, of course, is always like that.)
But the man with one white eye, one blinded eye, Odin, has earned his wisdom. And he gives it freely as a gift.
So, just think what wonderful gifts I might be able to provide by next Christmas if I lose both eyes. (Of course, I am not suggesting I am secretly Santa Claus… And if you can prove that I am, well… that puts you on the Naughty List.)
I am not Richard the Third. But I did do that soliloquy in college for my class in oral interpretation and got an “A” for it. I can channel those who think they have been wronged. I know whereof they speak… forsooth.
If you are not happy with the former President’s handling of the pandemic and economic crisis, (and if you are happy, I hope your recent lobotomy is giving you some peace and rest) you are not alone. The former Sun of York has not been the right answer. Hopefully the new ruler will do better, but only time will tell.
I am not, however, a dissembler like Richard. I have no evil plot to remedy the discontent. I can only tell the truth. I will probably die of the virus before this pandemic passes. I honestly do not fear death. I do fear for loved ones who are also at risk. But while I do not welcome death, it will not find me with any sort of burden of regret. I have been an honorable man. I have taught children, and acquitted myself well of the task. I have been a passable husband and father. I have committed serious acts of art… as well as numerous less-than-serious ones. This is not a suicide note. This is simply me declaring myself at peace with the universe.
And this is also me declaring that I once again am unwell. I’m pretty sure it is not the virus. I have been extremely careful. But this one stalks more successfully than the H1N1 and various bird flus that I have previously survived. It has mutated in an effort to be more virulent. And I always seem to get whatever serious virus is passing around.
Still, it is not the Coronavirus that currently has me sick and in bed. No fever. Only back pain, sinus headaches, and the blues. I also have a variety of other pains, mostly psoriasis in nature, but also some other internal ones. I could be suffering from prostate cancer, heart disease, or mini-strokes brought on by diabetes. My eyes are going bad. And I am not going to any doctors because of the risk of infection in the doctor’s office and the expenses that health insurance expects me to pay for myself. (I hope this pandemic eats all of Aetna’s lunches for the rest of the year. I have finally gotten away from them to Blue Cross and Blue Shield, but still…) There are plenty of ways that this current health crisis can do me in. I will endeavor to die at home on my own terms. And I stayed alive long enough to vote the bast***s out of office.
I apologize that Mickey wasn’t funny today. Sometimes he needs to complain a little. Even Richard the Third was down and blue in between villainies. And he ended on one really bad day at Bosworth Field. I kinda hope that Trumpalump still has his Bosworth Field ahead of him even though he cannot be impeached no matter what he does.
Many things are coming to an end. My father’s life is almost over. He’s in hospice care sleeping most of his remaining hours away. I myself don’t feel so well. I may have escaped Covid 19, at least for now, but I am still at risk for heart and brain trouble, possible heart attack or stroke. And the whole world may be ending in one of several ways.
The climatologists watching the release of methane gas from the Siberian permafrost are now reporting a massive release of gas over the summer, as much as 500% higher than predicted by climate change models. That cuts years off the time we have left to mitigate the disaster, if it is not already too late.
And the pumpkinhead dictator that refuses to admit he lost the election is continuing to make dealing with the environmental issues and the current pandemic harder and harder as he wastes more time on petulance and greed and treasonous actions.
I am not going to say I believe the world is ending. My world is ending, no matter what is probably going to happen to yours.
I am going to say I believe the only time that is relevant to me is right now. And I am ill. It only matters how I do what I can still do to live a good life and make the world a little better for having allowed me to live in it
I am not suicidal. I have two books I am working on at the moment, and two more books I hope to do after that. My family still needs me for as long as I can hang on. But I am not going out of my way to try to extend my own life. If I have the option, I’d rather die at home in bed than in an expensive hospital. And if my heart gives out before this day is over so be it. I’m satisfied with the life I have had.
There are those who believe I will suffer an eternity in Hell for what I believe… or don’t believe. Some of those are in my own family. But if Hell is real, well, the people there are all the really interesting ones. Heaven and harp-playing is boring unless God is more of a liberal than he seems in the Old Testament.
Anyway, I softly, slowly make this promise. I will not give up. I will continue to do and be precisely what I should be doing and being. And you can take that promise to the bank. Of course, they will laugh at you. I am bankrupt and literally have no money. But you have my word. And my word is more golden by far than the word of that Cheeto in the White House.
My name is Michael Beyer. That’s not a pen name. It’s my real name. And I was a victim of sexual assault on a child in 1966. I know that makes this essay hard to read in an awful lot of ways, but it is something I have to talk about. You see, I wasn’t merely seduced into having a sexual experience. I was tackled, dragged out of sight, warned not to yell for help, and then tortured. He got pleasure from hurting me in my private parts. He made me believe it was how I was going to die.
But I did not die.
In fact, now, almost 54 years later, I can honestly say I am healed. But it took a long time. My terrible secret almost killed me more than once, as trauma like that can cause suicidal depression. It messes up your ability to have intimate relationships. And the hardest thing about it is, you can never really be healed until you can tell someone. I mean, not merely say the words, but have someone hear the words… and empathize.
If you regularly read my blog or my books, and there honestly are a few who actually do that, you know I have written about this topic before. And you know that I have told people before. I told a girlfriend in 1985. I told a former student who needed to hear somebody else confess something painful that needed to be talked about in a moment of crisis. My two sisters both learned about it when I was able to write about it after the death of the perpetrator. And, of course, I found the courage to tell my wife about it before my marriage and we have told all three of our children. You need to be able to speak about these things after the fact to reassure and protect others in an increasingly dangerous world.
But, recently, my blog told somebody else whom I never really expected to hear it. Because I mentioned the incident in Saturday’s blog post called Every Picture Has a Story, and then I posted that post on Facebook, a classmate that I went to school with from kindergarten all the way through high school graduation found out about it and expressed empathy in a way that touched my heart.
The young lady in question was the one I gave a free copy of my novel Snow Babies to because I named the main character, Valerie Clarke, after her. She is a very kind and gentle soul. She has children and grandchildren of her own, and is well connected on Facebook.
Soon I was getting sympathetic comments from other people I went to high school with. One of them was a guy I played football and basketball with in high school. He was an excellent athlete. And he has admitted to me over Facebook that he too suffered from abuse as a child, though not the same kind of abuse I am talking about. Ironically, he too is at least partially the inspiration for one of my novel characters used in a number of different novels.
He was the model for the character of Brent Clarke, Valerie’s cousin and leader of the Norwall Pirates in novels like Superchicken, The Baby Werewolf, The Boy… Forever, and my most recently published novel, The Wizard in His Keep.
When someone like that, a good friend and comrade, says he knows what the pain is like, and he wishes I had told him back then… well, it means a lot.
But, for so many valid reasons, I couldn’t possibly have told any of my classmates back then. My high school guidance counsellor had a long talk with me about it, but I was unable to tell even him who it was or what they did to me. He only knew that I was suffering from something traumatic.
I was suffering from a kind of traumatic amnesia that often sets in with young victims. I could not tell anybody what was wrong because I didn’t clearly know myself. It is a defense mechanism children sometimes resort to in order to preserve their sanity. And though I couldn’t tell you why, it was the reason I wet my pants in 7th grade Science Class because I simply could not go into the boys’ restroom alone during class. It was the reason I called a friend in Goodell, Iowa from the pay phone on Rowan’s Main Street one Saturday Afternoon and tricked him into talking me out of cutting my wrists with a kitchen knife. He saved my life that night without ever learning that that’s what he was doing. God bless people who not only listen, but hear it in their heart.
And another high school friend on Facebook reminded me that I went on to pay it forward, making a difference for students… sometimes even helping them get over trauma as bad as, or worse, than mine.
Facebook is a very mixed blessing. It helps you make reconnections with people whom you haven’t seen or talked to in a long, long time. Yet it makes it hard for you to keep anything secret. Even terrible secrets. God knows, you can’t hide your political opinions on Facebook, or even the fact that you might be a nudist at heart. But if you have been brave enough to read all the way to the end of this very difficult essay to write, some terrible secrets need to be told. And the trauma doesn’t heal fully until somebody has heard it. So, thank you, and God bless you, for hearing me.
I know I am mixing metaphors again. It is supposed to be blueBIRDS of happiness. But not only am I starting this essay with a berry theme, I happen to be allergic to blueberries, thus solidly symbolizing my somewhat complicated relationship to the state of being truly happy.
You see, blueberries are full of antioxidants that are beneficial in so many ways that I really need that it seems absolutely a bitter irony that they make me sick to my stomach and constrict my lungs. I used to love eating blueberry muffins and blueberry pancakes, as well as fresh, cold ripe berries. They are good for my strained urinary tract and my glaucoma-plagued eyes. They help stave off cancer and help circulation to prevent heart disease. They are good for your blood pressure. But I also learned the hard way that they can stop me from breathing, a habit I really don’t wish to give up.
It is, unfortunately, a universal fact that no human life ever ran on one-hundred percent happiness. It is not possible to be a living, breathing, feeling human bean without knowing a little sadness… a little tragedy… a fair share of sorrow. In fact, I think it must be a rule that the happiest people you know have faced some of the hardest things you can imagine. My Great Uncle Harry was never able to talk about his experiences in Normandy during World War II. But I never knew a man who appreciated a good joke and a laugh more. My Grandpa Aldrich, my mother’s father, was probably the happiest man I ever knew, but his childhood was made difficult because of his mother’s dark secret, and how his father handled the truth about his birth. I too am a generally happy person. Did you know I have been in a psychiatric hospital after midnight admitting someone I love to the suicide-prevention ward? And I have had serious discussions on more than one occasion with more than one other person who was seriously discussing self-harm with me. I think there is probably no one in this life who truly appreciates happiness that hasn’t stared at least once into the dark eyes of despair.
It goes a long way towards explaining why I included a picture of Blueberry Bates in this essay. She’s a character in more than one of my novels, The Bicycle-Wheel Genius, Magical Miss Morgan, and Kingdoms Under the Earth.
Blueberry blames herself for the death of her mother. She was born a cyanotic, or blue, baby at the same time that her mother went into cardiac arrest during childbirth. The tragedy of her birth broke her father’s relationship to reality. He rejected the little boy who had been born to him because the mother, his beloved wife had died in the process. It fell to Blueberry’s two older sisters to take the baby, care for it, and give it a name.
You’ve probably figured out by now that Blueberry was raised as a girl even though she had a penis because her father would never have accepted the son whose birth killed his wife. He secretly blamed himself because the only reason they had a third child was because he so desperately wanted a son. So, he ended up with three daughters, the youngest one with a terrible secret that she really didn’t understand. And Mr. Bates never really came around to accepting that third daughter either. She was raised by her sisters Becky and Carla, and her Aunt Wilma, her father’s unmarried sister. And it took years of therapy and visits to the specialist in Minnesota who became the expert on gender dysphoria to reach the determination that Blueberry was going to be a girl and would transition when she was old enough. You are probably aware that this is a hard thing to deal with, especially when you don’t have any actual parents to help you deal with it.
But Blueberry is one of the happiest characters I have created in my fiction so far. She loves to draw, especially with colored pencil. She loves her boyfriend, Mike Murphy, to whom she revealed the truth, and in spite of Mike’s struggles with it, he eventually came to accept her not only as a girl, but as a girl he was in love with. That was a choice that didn’t sit well with Mike’s best friend, Tim Kellogg. Tim would have to come to terms with either accepting Blue as a girl, or losing his best friend. And that took more than one novel to decide.
Happiness is like that. The higher your kite flies in the April breeze, the harder it crashes to the ground. And if it is not destroyed in the fall, it longs to fly high again.
Happiness is a blueberry. And I like the taste very much. But I am also allergic to blueberries.
I am not Richard the Third. But I did do that soliloquy in college for my class in oral interpretation and got an “A” for it. I can channel those who think they have been wronged. I know whereof they speak… forsooth.
If you are not happy with the President’s handling of the pandemic and economic crisis, (and if you are happy, I hope your recent lobotomy is giving you some peace and rest) you are not alone. The Sun of York has not been the right answer.
I am not, however, a dissembler like Richard. I have no plot to remedy the discontent. I can only tell the truth. I will probably die of the virus before this pandemic passes. I honestly do not fear death. I do fear for loved ones who are also at risk. But while I do not welcome death, it will not find me with any sort of burden of regret. I have been an honorable man. I have taught children, and acquitted myself well of the task. I have been a passable husband and father. I have committed serious acts of art… as well as numerous less-than-serious ones. This is not a suicide note. This is simply me declaring myself at peace with the universe.
And this is also me declaring that I once again am unwell. I don’t think it is the virus. I have been extremely careful. But this one stalks more successfully than the H1N1 and various bird flus that I have previously survived. And I always seem to get whatever serious virus is passing around.
Still, it is probably not the Coronavirus that currently has me sick and in bed. No fever. Only chest pain, headaches, and nausea. I also have a variety of other pains, mostly psoriasis in nature, but also some other internal ones. I could be suffering from prostate cancer, heart disease, or mini-strokes brought on by diabetes. My eyes are going bad. And I am not going to any doctors because of the risk of infection in the doctor’s office and the expenses that health insurance expects me to pay for myself. (I hope this pandemic eats all of Aetna’s lunches for the rest of the year.) There are plenty of ways that this current health crisis can do me in. I will endeavor to die at home on my own terms. And I will try to stay alive long enough to vote the bast***s out of office.
I apologize that Mickey wasn’t funny today. Sometimes he needs to complain a little. Even Richard the Third was down and blue in between villainies. And he ended on one really bad day at Bosworth Field.