Pawed-at-4-Life: Hallucination

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Some things aren’t meant to be explained. A face peeking at you through a fence on a rainy morning, the rhythmic thumping of a headboard on an adjoining wall, grim face at a Dog Funeral. These things might all have come into my life in one form or another in the recent past, but I learn quickly. I don’t ask questions when the answer could be something I don’t want to hear.

My CPN didn’t turn up the other day. I cursed her slack ways. She rang the next morning to offer an explanation about admin workers, cut-backs, and the world being full of people with Borderline Personality Disorder. In fact, that was the theme of this week. In an argument with my Psychologist I said ‘Well, I’ve got BPD…..that means I can say what I like, eh?’

‘So has everybody right now,’ she replied with a sigh.

This might be true, I don’t know, I never check the facts about anything. Gut instinct – that’s where the future of Mankind lies. The unscientific, unpredictable, untrustworthy method preferred by most people with BPD. The thing that has kept me from being eaten by a shark, mauled by a bear, or beaten to a pile of bloody pulp and rags in prison. Sneer all you want about gut instinct, but when a hundred pissed off prisoners are corralled in a room and you’re the only member of staff in there, you learn to trust the sudden psychic shift in the ether. And your gut responds by sending messages of preparation for extreme violence – to meter out, or to be on the receiving end of – or to run. Sometimes it will tell you that all will be well. It never failed me. People thought I was tough, but it was all simply down to the precognition of gut instinct.

I guess this is the only benefit of BPD, apart from the compulsion to create stuff, hatred of humans, and getting to spend lots of time in windowless rooms with Psychiatrists. I can’t think of any others. We’re supposed to be more passionate about life, generally, and easier to hurt, but I don’t know if that’s true or just a cop-out. Stops us facing facts.

But back to the face at the fence. It wasn’t my eighty-five year old neighbour. And it wasn’t the other neighbour who masturbates drunk most nights, headboard pounding on our shared wall for a good thirty seconds until he reaches his climax. I sometimes wonder who he thinks of. And why?

The face outside was hairy. Female, I think. Kinda looked a bit like a big dog. Yeah, that’s a good description. Out of place in the rain of the morning. Gently popped up to peer over at me, blinked a couple of times, smiled, then ducked back down.

For the first couple of seconds these things are shocking. Like seeing a tiger leaping out of an enclosure right at you. Then you realise you are crazy; none of it is real. That’s when the vision leaves. Mostly. I still don’t know why I see Bigfoot. A Psychiatrist said it’s a metaphor for when I was in uncontrolled states of terror at the hands of a powerful adult when I was little. Returning again and again when I feel stressed, scared, or mixed up. And they could be right. I guess I don’t really ever want to know the truth. The truth would take the edge off. Make it worse.

Some people see Aliens, some see men with enormous chins wearing long leather coats and chrome-toed cowboy boots. I should be thankful for small mercies. Regardless of the explanation.

The Midnight Monster

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It had been a bad night again. Not down to the meds this time. I think I’d fallen asleep around 11pm, laptop still on next to the bed. The air was hot from a day in the heatwave. The stone house had retained the warmth and was releasing it slowly, cooking me. A dog barked, waking me up. I kicked the duvet off and lay there on my back, naked, the dog barking and barking out the back somewhere. The thing wasn’t happy, wherever it was. There was aggression in its voice.

Behind my house is just miles of countryside. Probably ten miles in a straight line from my back door to the nearest house in that direction. It’s quiet, and sometimes you can see the Milky Way up there, and those fools in the Space Station. Noise around here means you should be alert. Noise doesn’t herald anything of any good out here. You learn to take notice of sounds when the nights are usually deep silence.

From over the hill the sound of Sheep baaaaaa baaaaaa, bleating and concerned. I got up and looked out of the window expecting to see a flock of loose sheep behind my house, or the pack of Wolverines chasing them. Nothing. I scanned around but the place looked still. Getting back into bed, I grabbed my Mag-Light torch, and wondered if it was worth going downstairs to get my axe – kept by the back door in case of emergencies – but I reckoned I needed more evidence and reason before I introduced a large sharp steel blade to the night. I turned off the laptop and fell asleep.

3am – I was woken hideously from a dream about riding Bill Gates around a Horse Track. Something had let out a yell outside. The dog barked again, scared, yelping. Silence, then a terrifying scream, something so cutting and bizarre that I reached for the torch without thinking. No animal I’d ever heard could make a noise like that. There it was again. A high pitched, blood-curdling shriek that sounded like it ended in a laugh. I lay there, heart beating faster, waiting for it to yell again so I could judge how far it was from my home and, more importantly, my open windows.

I thought of Bigfoot. Shit, he’d be able to climb into my upstairs windows without much effort. I imagined myself being dragged outside like the Skyscraper scene from King Kong, naked, flailing weakly as I was carried off into the night. No point worrying, I told myself, things will take their course as they always do. I waited until it was starting to get light. Nothing. No more screams, no more barking. I sensed a change outside. Birds were starting to sing, the darkness ushered out by the promise of another fine day. I got up and drew back the curtains knowing whatever had been terrorising me had gone. I was right. A beautiful dawn, orange sky, green trees, dewy grass, monster-less. I had survived another attack. In calm, rational, early morning serenity I made my way downstairs chuckling to myself at how stupid I’d been. Light makes even the worst coward braver than he was when he couldn’t see what was coming. Was any of it even real? When you have a psychotic mental illness that question is one you ask yourself a lot. And you learn to appreciate how much of a target you are. There are many monsters out to get us, real or imagined. In the dark there is no difference between the two.

 

Open the Gates

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Let’s go.

Time to sit at the keyboard and type out something. It’s cathartic, ok. This is purely for my self-indulgent benefit. Isn’t it always: everything we do. I mean, even Mother Theresa got a kick out of the happy faces in her hospitals. Yeah, I know, Theresa had some supposedly dodgy financial dealings and some say she lived in luxury most nights when the Nuns robe got tossed on the marble floor. What’s that saying about power corrupting? But you can’t deny she felt good saving a life. Who wouldn’t?

OK. This is jumbled up again – don’t know the reason. I’m starting my first Trauma Therapy session in two hours. This is process I’ve not really been looking forward to, and it’ll last at least a year. My Clinical Psychologist has warned me that we may fall out, I might start to hate on her, and that I may feel more suicidal than usual. I guess I’ll cross those bridges when I come to them. I don’t have many other choices if I want to get well/normal/stay alive.

Yesterday I got drunk again; kind of crept up on me like one of those imaginary Big Cats people believe they see in British Woodland. Nobody expects to see a panther around here, and those that do are mocked. I join in with the laughter even though I sometimes see Bigfoot. One person’s cryptozoology is another’s psychiatric diagnosis, I guess.

But enough about terrifying animals lurking in the shadows. Talk like that will get us nowhere on this fine morning. It is the start of spring, the wild garlic is beginning to scent up the riverbank and the change in heat is palpable outside. There is a new feel to the dawn today.

Trauma therapy is moments away and it is possible the process will change how I feel about today/tomorrow/yesteryear. The whole thing could feel like being attacked by something large and unfriendly; I know the mind has a way of keeping dark beings behind close doors. Where they should be – or where I’ve learned to zookeep the worst of them. I try not to feed them but now they might actually be released from their cages to wander freely over my psyche, biting, shitting, roaring. Who knows?

When the gates open I won’t be ready, but I’ll be waiting anyway. What choice do I have.

Brain Blown

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One thing about belief in Aliens and UFOs is that it relinquishes a certain amount of energy you should be directing to more important things. I mean, how many of you have sat, like me, and watched three hours of YouTube videos showing unwell farmers and the remnants of the 1960’s American acid culture gibbering about lights in the sky? You have? Good. I am not alone (hoho). How many of you don’t know what buttons to click next?

I think I saw a UFO twenty years ago – see my blog post number somethingorother – and it does still play on my mind when the nights close in and I’m all alone here in my old stone cottage up on a hill. It’s sometimes a question of when, not if, I get to see one again.

None of this, of course, makes sense. I don’t make sense today. There is not enough to do, and too little time to not do it in. My brain is working in terms my Psychologist would say were ‘skewed’. I can’t understand why. Trains of thought aren’t reaching destinations, or even staying on the tracks. One minute it’s aliens, the next it’s good old Bigfoot, or the secret I know about my neighbours being part of an organisation sent to spy on me. The usual, really. It all makes me want to be able to speak German, or Polish. For some reason there is….something.

I can’t imagine that all this will end well, even if I am entering the realms of metaphysics. Today is a failure of freakishly messed proportions. Brain is blown.

(picture by Me)

Back for more

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He’s out there again. Don’t ask me how I know, I just know. Bigfoot. I haven’t seen him yet this time but he’s up there in the treeline heading up into the nature reserve. He’s keeping hidden and he’s watching me as I sit at my large desk by a small window at the back of my home. This is interesting for a number of reasons –

  1. I live in the UK, where there just isn’t any Bigfoot legend to speak of.
  2. I don’t believe in Bigfoot.
  3. I am mentally ill.

With those points in mind it’s kind of uber crazy that I’m sitting here typing, watching up at the tangled mass of trees a hundred meters away, seeing nothing at all, but having the completely nailed on feeling Bigfoot is up there right now…right now. I’m watching for branches moving, something to be out of place, birds to fly up shrieking or, god forbid, he actually crashes out of the treeline and makes for me. Insane, eh?

I have seen him a few times in my life. He’s been a portent of doom or terror, usually hanging around when the going got bad as a kid. And he never really left. He’s a harbinger of bad things – except that one time where he just stood and kind of held up his hand to me, waving; friendly monster.

It’s ludicrous. I mean, intellectually, the whole thing makes no sense at all. And I’d like to hang all my thoughts on that statement right now, except I know he’s up there. I can’t explain it. I’ve not taken any LSD, or anything at all apart from the usual and some Earl Grey tea. You know how ridiculous this all sounds? Imagine typing it.

I can’t take my eyes off the treeline.

No birds around – is that a good thing?

Have I done something wrong? Am I being punished for it?

Something could live up there unseen, I mean it’s a big uninhabited place, the Derbyshire Dales.

Sometimes it’s a friendly feeling, having him around, but I don’t get that today.

What kind of effort would it take for me to go up there right now? Seek him out. I guess what I’ll do is have another cup of tea and let this pass, as it always does. There’s nothing to worry about. Calm is called for. This is a trick. A brain-screw. I’m safe and he’s not real. Like a malfunctioning brain or a Donald Trump speech, many things can fool you.

Peace

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“In a world as weird and cruel as this one we have made for ourselves, I figure anybody who can find peace and personal happiness without ripping off somebody else deserves to be left alone. They will not inherit the earth, but then neither will I… And I have learned to live, as it were, with the idea that I will never find peace and happiness, either. But as long as I know there’s a pretty good chance I can get my hands on either one of them every once in a while, I do the best I can between high spots.”

–  Hunter S Thompson

 

A mantra to live by if ever I read one. And, yeah, I read a lot. But I also run amok from time to time in BPD-fuelled periods of terror far from the overarching ethos of the above statement. Peace…. it’s all I dream about.

My Psychologist asked me about peace and happiness once – a prerequisite of the simple gauges for human well-being. I thought about it and got concerned about not offending her, so tried to say the right things in case the hammer dropped, then came to the conclusion that I’ve touched on happiness in spells but peace has always alluded me. I guess it’s hard to feel truly peaceful when you’ve tried to kill yourself…..and failed. It’s a bit like taking a wonky photo, then realising you’ve got the Delirium Tremens in perpetuity. Not that I’ve ever had the Tremens in its truest form, you understand, despite hitting the booze from time to time. You get the point, I hope, even if I don’t.

“My ideals have got me on the run, towards my connections with everyone,” sings Bill Callahan from the Bose speaker on my desk right now. It’s an August evening. The rain has stopped and the air is still. It’s just getting dark. It’s a peaceful time, or would be for anyone who wasn’t feeling full of the same oily bag of emotional rags in their head. People underestimate peace; the feeling of being truly alone and happy with that feeling, or of being with people and feeling an empathetic warmth which covers you better than heroin ever did. Of never being afraid of the next second. Peace is all I want.

I have no reason to be out of bed – I live alone, it’s getting late, I’m out of ideas, and sleep is a relief – but I suppose there must be something driving me out in the ether to type this, try to convey something, or even just take another breath. There will be no self harm tonight despite the urge, and the clock will not tick further toward an end nobody close to me wants to see.. No. It’s not tonight.

Tomorrow I’ll get up, tap at this keyboard, and regret being alive again, while I try to find my own personal high spot to distract me from the truth of it all. I will dodge Bigfoot, the paranoid thoughts, the self loathing, and the confusion. I will pray to something for help, and listen for any answer. I’m not religious, but I’ll hedge my bets with any deity I can put my finger on; never discount the happy smiles on the faces of people with true faith. They may appear dumb, or easily led, but they know a little about tranquility and happiness. For that, they have my respect.

Peace to all of you.

 

 

Pseudo-Hallucinations et al.

Rule #1 – NEVER tell your Clinical Psychologist that you think you’ve met Jesus.

 

It’s raining again. Been raining for two weeks almost without stop. Nah, before there’s any talk of a depression cliche, I’m not feeling depressed. Just weird. Pseudo-Hallucinations apparently, again.

When my CPN told me that what I saw was ‘Pseudo’ I got angry: shit….you mean to say I’m making this awful stuff up or, worse, it’s not quite weird enough for you? I was wrong. Of course, as was explained to me over and over by my Clinical Psychologist, they are hallucinations which appear during moments of stress. I suppose I’ve been under some unholy stress recently.

And I don’t see hallucinations of Jesus – never have, despite asking for him several times when the tablets have been lined up, or the noose completed and tied. He never showed, and I think it’s safe to conclude now that I’m not religious. For me, the pseudo weirdness is mainly Bigfoot. That great hairy man-face staring at me from the treeline, or just a knowing [KNOWING] that he’s out there watching, waiting. But I covered all that in a previous blog post. And I don’t want to stoke that fire this morning. Anyhow, Built to Spill are on loud in the background and I am not expecting to have any drama today – gate is locked, doors are locked, curtains may get closed soon. The world is far away.

I had told my Psychologist that I thought the guy I met the other day was Spiritual. If someone had told me he was an Angel I’d have believed them, but they didn’t. All people said was “Thank god you didn’t invite him into your home and feed him.” Tough, hard sentiments from the world towards this Pilgrim I’d met in the meadow behind my house who’d spent 43 days living wild with no money, just to explore what Freedom meant. Inspirational stuff in the sunshine, but even now as the rain is coming down….yeah…I get it; you either ‘get it’ or you don’t.

“Take the blue pill,” I told my Psychologist. “And I don’t mean Viagra.”

She laughed.

“Take a look at it all: what everything is about. Then you’ll know why I thought he was Jesus..and why people disgust me.”

“Ben, are you telling me you met Jesus?”

“Maybe. Just don’t lock me up.”

She stared for a few seconds. Outside the bushes moved…

 

 

Black Birds

Black birds – Jackdaws – in my garden right now. Huge, menacing, with clear-cut eyes and intense purpose. All of six feet from the window against where my desk sits in jumbled keyboards and empty pill packets and random scribbled notes to self – a tower of hope in all of this.

My eighty five year old neighbour keeps peeking across the gaps in my high fence from time to time because I shouted, no…screamed, abuse at a guy down the road with a barking dog the other day. I feel so ashamed now because the only thing that’s changed is my reluctance to confront anyone to say my piece, or apologise. And I should really apologise.

But I am currently unwell. My Psychotherapist is worried and has tipped off my CPN and Psychiatrist. They are the triumvirate who oversee the current state of play around here in the wet garden where these fucking black birds are eating everything and making the little birds shriek in terror.

Terror is not far away right now. I saw Bigfoot again two evenings ago, peering guardedly through the low trees at the back of my home. Anyone with half an idea of what that means is listening now. He is a guide – a warning sign of my current state. Bigfoot: Paranoia herald, busted up and dirty bringer of symptomatic realisation. We’re not close, but he knows when this is going to happen every time. Morbid curiousity brings him out in dappled sunlight where the others can’t see him and where his eyes can’t be caught by the unwary. He is friend and enemy.

The black birds hover and gather. Enemy agents or unfriendly spirits. They have come to watch the show through the two hundred year old glass in my windows. They have always been around, waiting. Scaly clawed. Pulling the strings out there in the thick atmosphere.

The morning sun is up. All will be well. Trust me.

Woof

It began simply enough – a barking dog. My neighbour breeds dogs. At the time he had about ten in a concrete kennel block out the back. It was early summer.

I left the back door open a lot – I like to sit at my desk downstairs and listen to the birds and smell the air while I work. The barking started out of no-where and it quickly ground me down. Two minutes at a time, ten minutes, half an hour. Bark Bark Bark Bark. Always just one dog.

I tried shouting at it. Then throwing stuff at the kennel block – shattering a plastic panel my neighbour had put up to keep the worst weather out. And I played music inside to drown out the noise.

Day after day, between the hours of nine til four, that lone dog shattered my peace every single week day. I never caught it in the act, it was too savvy. Days turned into weeks. I started to get weird. The dog was doing it on purpose and my neighbour knew all about it. In fact, he was allowing it to happen to get at me for something maybe I’d done in a past life, maybe something I was yet to do.

I started playing music LOUD in the early hours. I’d ratchet up the speaker to full and pump some Sonic Youth out hoping my neighbour would come outside and we could argue, shout, then fight. I’d wait til I saw him sometimes, then go out to my garden and scream “Those FUCKING DOGS!!!!” Then I’d punch stuff, or smash things to bits like a male Gorilla. But I couldn’t confront him directly, composed, about the dog. He’d be too clever and I’d end up saying something which could be used against me in a Psychiatrist’s office. This was no time to talk, it was a time for action.

knew there were others in on it. The whole thing was part of a bigger plot. The Police were probably behind it: they’d been after me since I got diagnosed, especially when I got weird. Funny that. The Postman…..Meter Man….all of them, they all knew. The dog was the tip of a nasty iceberg. But I was wise to them. I shut my curtains for months, didn’t answer the phone or the door either, and accumulated a three month pile of unopened mail. I stopped talking about things I thought were ‘important’ in my house, because it was bugged. My Neighbour was an agent and he had drilled into the wall, which only meant microphones. The final piece of the puzzle was when Bigfoot came back – leering at me from the cover of some trees on the hillside above my home. Perfect sense….all of it. I needed to protect myself. A Fiskar axe, some bolt cutters (for close in work), and a heavy stick, ended up near my desk.

I was drinking one Saturday afternoon. The barking from that one dog was full-on. I stood at the back door with the bottle, ready to go out and throw it at the kennel block, but something caught my eye further down the hill in a row of gardens stretching up towards a low cliff edge. It was a man and a dog at a house which had been sold six months previously; right about the same time as….

BARK. Unmistakable. I walked to my Neighbour’s kennel block. Every animal inside it was asleep. Carpe Diem, so they say. So I did. I went over to where I knew my voice would travel along the hillside to the guy down the road. “SHUT THAT FUCKING DOG UP YOU MOTHERFUCKER!”

He turned his head in my direction but I couldn’t see his face to guage a reaction. Then he led his dog inside.

I couldn’t bring myself to apologise to my Neighbour. I mean, how do you begin to tell someone that you suffer from Paranoid delusions from time to time? That kind of talk goes nowhere fast around here. Today’s Weirdo is tomorrow’s Witch.

But the coast today is clear. Tomorrow..?

 

 

‘The old ones who run at night’

The letter ‘Y’.

I found the drawing of the Yeti in a children’s encyclopedia I was bought for a present one Christmas. The picture took up about a quarter of a page. It was a simple line drawing with no colour and no real detail apart from the shaggy hair and the ape-like face looking out from the page towards me. He (was it a he?) was expressionless; just huge and menacing. The words in the entry told me that he lived in the Himalayas but had cousins all around the world.

Some were called Bigfoot.

They were Everywhere!? That’s what the book said. There could be a Bigfoot living on my tiny island, down by the beach. I was sure of it. He’d be able to eat left over chips and melted ice cream. There were probably a whole load of them living on the island, especially in Summer when all the tourists turned up and food was all over the sand and the pavements. Books don’t lie, especially ones that purport to be about FACTS. Bigfoot was here.

In that children’s encyclopedia, at eight years old, the letter Y was best thumbed past as generously as you could, but sometimes I’d sneak a look just to re-horrify myself the way kids do.  Sometimes he’d appear in nightmares, crashing through the woods, or tearing something to pieces, or chasing fast until I couldn’t run any more. I thought about him when I was exploring the island with friends. The stupid grown-ups were too consumed with their parties, and jobs, and with smashing things, that they’d never see him. Bigfoot was too clever for them.

Through my teenage years I caught half-glimpses of him, roaming around the country lanes of Axholme, half-hidden in trees, always at the corner of my vision. He kept the ghosts company in times of stress, when the hallucinations of a blossoming mental illness were flitting in and out of sight. He would stand outside my nighttime bedroom window and listen to me whispering to the things that all the others couldn’t see; the things they would never know I sometimes saw.

He was as real to me as everything else that appeared when my mind got overburdened in my teens.

In my early twenties he didn’t visit me as much. Sometimes I’d search the internet – I saw the plaster casts of his feet, watched wild hillbillies jabbering about how fast he could run, and heard recordings of his screams. And he was safe. No-one had caught him.

When I started to get ill again in my late twenties he came back to me – standing in the pitch black at the end of the garden one night, hand up in greeting, I think he even smiled; it’s hard to tell with that face.

He came home, and decided to stay. Mostly he’s happy to visit me in periphery, calm and watchful, distant, natural. Other times he’s mad, screaming and vengeful and angry at me again, a perpetual threat. He hides well and frightens even better…

Yeti. Bigfoot. Bunyip. Sasquatch. Barmanu.

The American First Nation tribes know the truth, for them he is “The old one who runs at night.”

It’s the greatest metaphor I know.