Cover Photo: Pain... by Richard Walker

Pain...

The day to day adventures of a husband and father with borderline personality disorder.

When you suffer from mental health, you often experiment with ways to escape the thousands of thoughts rolling through your head. When you attempt to focus on something, those demons keep talking. They tell you not to bother trying because you are just going to fail. You don't fail. You never do. You are borderline and failure is not a word we know. The demons know that, so they plant seeds in your brain to remind you that your spiraling downfall into a hate filled low is right around the corner. 

"Don't get your hopes up, it is all going to come crashing down around you..."

You MUST find  way to shut them up. You must find a way to silence them. The demons yell, scream, bite, and distract you 24-hours a day. There is no such thing as relaxing, relaxing gives those bastards a clear line to shout in your ears. Borderlines have a difficult time just sitting and relaxing, because we know that is when we are at the mercy of the thoughts that crawl through the deep recesses of our brains, down into our bodies, out through our fingers and toes. I would give anything for 30-minutes of just relaxing on the couch and not feeling my heart race, my mind wander, anger building up in my like watching a firework streak across the night sky, awaiting the loud explosion and colors that are sure to follow. Your eyes start to dart as the demons play their games, so you need to get moving, get busy, do something to quiet them. They never shut up. The bites never stop, the hole never closes, but you can silence them.

I found some healthy ways to silence this disease, if only for a few hours at a time. I love to workout. I have been lifting weights since I was 11-years old and I continue to do so in my 40s. But, unlike most who go to the gym and do  an hour long workout, talk to friends, check out the juice bar, and head home, my gym is stacks and stacks of free weights in my basement/garage. I go down there in the dark, crank the loudest death metal I can, and do heavy movements like squats, deadlifts, bent-over rows, bench presses, overhead presses, etc. I continue to do reps until the  world turns grey and my body aches. Pools of sweat cover the floor, and I trudge on. Sometimes for hours on end, consuming five or six bottles of water and continuing until I have to literally crawl my way out of the basement and lay on the cold kitchen floor. I can feel my heart jumping out of my chest, my muscles twitching in pure exhaustion, and the demons keep their fucking mouths shut. The pain has silenced them. The endorphins flood in and my brain eats the hormones like candy. My brain is scrambled and I cannot focus on anything but the ache through my body, the pounding of my chest, the quivering of my legs. Often, I will fall asleep on the hard kitchen floor because I have, for the time being, beat the living hell out of those demons and no matter how loud they scream, they cannot work their way into the forefront. It has taken it's toll. I have two bad knees, two bad shoulders, torn pecs, torn rotator cuff muscles, bad hips and elbows, but my back is solid! I live off of cortisone shots and Mobic to keep me pieced together as I continue to go down those steps every single day and commence in beating the hell out of myself only to quiet my mind. The end result has been a phenomenal gain in muscular size and strength, but I know I will be crippled in my 60s. But I have to do it. 

As I stated in my intro, I am a human canvas. I began getting tattooed when I was age 18 and now, at age 40, I continue to get my skin inked. I pick all the sensitive places like my ribs, spine, close to my ass, my hands, wrists, etc. The release of being under the tattoo gun for seven-hours is amazing. My artist always comments how I sit so well and never move. He doesn't know that the pain of the needle entering my skin hundreds of thousands of times pales in comparison to what the demons have in store for me. The entire time that tattoo gun is running and going into my skin, not only am I getting beautiful, meaningful art, but I am also getting a release that I find no where else. As a teen I used to cut. I could still be a cutter today, but I find tattooing to be better as it doesn't leave scars, but instead paints a portrait of the war inside of my head. When I look at my tattoos, I am reminded that I can beat this shit. I can win. I can dive in and destroy these demons. I can do it. It is just a matter of when.

The last thing that brings me reprieve is riding my motorcycles. I would like to say this is healthy, but I am not satisfied and I cannot shut these fucking demons up unless I am running 90 mph down the highway, leaning into corners until my pedals spark off the pavement. But riding puts blinders on you, and you sense and feel everything. My brain shuts the demons up because if I mess up, I am road kill. I know this will potentially leave my wife a widow and my children without a father, but it is a need, and every time I sell a bike and swear off of it, six-months later I have another one and away I go.  And I cannot ride like a responsible adult, not even at 40. It is ALWAYS throttle down and let the road take me where it wants.

All I know is pain. And some of the pain stops the bite and sticks a plug in the hole. It doesn't last. A three-hour ride averaging 90-100 mph, a seven-hour tattoo, a five-hour training session. It quiets the demons. It pushes them back. But as soon as the endorphins wear off and my brain wants to relax, they creep back up the ladder and begin to whisper until they are shouting. YOU ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH. YOU WILL NEVER BE GOOD ENOUGH. YOU ARE A GODDAMN LOSER. THE ONLY ESCAPE IS DEATH YOU BASTARD, SO JUST DO IT. So away I go, to silence them again. And again.

All I know is pain. And pain has become my greatest friend and greatest enemy.

I am a 40-year old husband and father of four. I am a Master's student, an avid fisherman, motorcyclist, beardsmith, human canvas, powerbuilder (cross between bodybuilding and powerlifting) who loves to write.  I also struggle with borderline personality disorder. Come along on the wild ride as I fight to reach the shores and not let this disease win!