Genre: Magical Realism Fiction
Author: Vaishali Adwant
I wrote these short stories 7 years ago and they were rejected so I am posting here. My upcoming fiction The Bipolar Entrepreneur is an offshoot of these short stories I had written a few years ago with interesting twists and a lot to be inspired from in the magical realism genre. Because there is magic in everything you do with your heart and soul. The Bipolar Entrepreneur is the journey of a brilliant mind, living like an average joe, battling inner demons, but not giving up on his true calling. His journey is going inspire many of those who have unspoken struggles and are making it through.
Bipolar Diaries –
I have been through bouts of silent melancholy. Played Jackal and Hyde since more than a decade. Lost many relations and jobs. Tried my best to hold on to values and virtues that seem to frail into this spirit of darker side. I am Chris Barker. This is my life! A routine that is unspoken about. My obsessive compulsion with breathing five times before doing any task makes me feel exhausted. I cannot take these habits to work. I am therefore compelled to take jobs that do not give me bouts of anxiety and stress. I dig into people of lesser intelligence as it is not stressful to deal with them. At the same time, dissatisfaction lurks me that I don’t get to have my kind of people around me.
This duality of life, bogs me down to an extent that is unmentionable. I lead a double life. My social life seems alright. I used to be great in my days of yonder. Then something hit me. I started doing weed and addiction got to me. After years of addiction that seemed fun at first, I didn’t realise, it was also making me depressed and more and more dependent on a variety of tranquilizes apart from weed. I started binging on Valium and many other anti-depressants and mood stabilizers.
I didn’t realize how my brain started racing at times and gave me panic attacks. I didn’t see how my reactions got to me and how I started seeing things differently. One part of me was composed and sensible and the other was hyper and just burn out on any triggers. For a long time I didn’t not understand what was happening to me.
One day I’d feel great, the next moment depressed. The smoke that started as fun, turned into something I’d never expected. For a boy doing exceptionally well in academics, I never expected I would be so down in dumps and doing an ordinary job, living an ordinary life! I started slow and steady after years of struggle, with what I was diagnosed as bipolar. In simple terms, it is a manic depression with crazy moods. And if you thought, only girls get moody during their time, you are dead wrong! Bipolar manic disorder can do that to any one without them having to go through the monthly cycle.
Today I am twenty-eight. Have decent education, working as a sales agent. I sell dream catchers and do the retail online and offline. I also sell, many gift items that are crazy and original. It gives me a portal to soothe myself in meeting a variety of people. I have always been the average Joe when it comes to people. The boy next door, the easy-going guy.
There was a time when life was simple. I never knew I had to live this life selling dream catchers. I had dreamt of being an entrepreneur. I love living my life with freedom and doing what I love. I have travelled quite a bit. Now I am settled in New Jersey. The neighborhood next to the land of big dreams, New York.
The guitar strings on my guitar are rusting. It has been a week since I thought of getting it fixed. I have been a bassist. I can do rhythm and blues. It is not procrastination. I don’t even know silly what it is. It must be like I am living in some kind of a Riviera. Now and then, I slip back and forth into memories bygone. Those memories have been good, pretty decent actually, better than today. Today I am a mess. In the sense, I have this clouded thinking. I don’t know why? I don’t seem to figure it very well. I have been seeing a therapist. She is beautiful. It was my first session. She only kept asking me how I was feeling about any given situation.
I was tempted to say, I was feeling good to talk to someone so beautiful, but then I resisted. On a serious note, I was feeling sort of out of sorts. I was holding my calm, but inside of me there was storm from past traumas. The irony of this situation. Amidst calm and having been set to relax, I couldn’t. Something about the calm set me apart, made me uneasy, like it was something new and unfound. I couldn’t deal with calm, I started being fidgety. Her voice, as much as was deeply hypnotic, I was still feeling unsettled.
There is a time in life when you question every bit of melancholy, no matter how subtle, you have to find meaning. My newfound quest to find meaning makes me even more restless. I didn’t know what I was missing, but I knew I was missing something. All this time, I lived in the moment, not willing to think about future. But now, I had a senseless sense of direction. I was looking forward to having a direction though I had a dream, it was not concrete.
As I went home after the session. Had my regular doze of beer and macaroni. I was listless. I was pensive. I don’t like it. I had to calm myself down. I headed for Xanax. My addiction to pills was driving me nuts. It was a tug of war within to stop myself to take it. My anxiety and panic wouldn’t cease. I just popped a pill. I was still looking at the bottle. I tried to deviate myself. Switched on to 80’s Rock Show. Ah! Music! Such an elixir! Lucky for me, today they were playing Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, AC/DC, and now remembering about AC/DC, I remember what mom used to tell me about my music. 80’s Classics felt like nostalgia!
She used to tell me, how it’s going to screw my head and she never approved of my homies! Those homies are doing great, except for Dan, that guy is still my bitch. We hang out sometimes and it feels good. Now I remember, few things DO make me feel good! Dan is one of those things; apart from my beer and pills. I am not going to be a man who stares at goats, like the George Clooney variety in this movie.
I Expressed Myself Through Blogging
To me, blogging has become my Silver Linings Playbook. I play along with thoughts that translate emotions into words. A few days since I started writing this blog, it has been relieving. I never realized I could have a creative outlet. I never took arts in college, that side of me is unknown. But when I started writing and thoughts started pouring in, I found a sense of comfort. It was as if something good was awakening inside of me, slow and steady but well-founded. For a few days since my last blog, my interests have been bent more towards writing and thinking. For a salesman, selling creative items, I must be creative. I am still not sure about it. I never tried to explore this side of me. It’s like, at a subconscious level, I must be choosing everything creative without realizing it.
I have not been much into reading either. Used to read Rolling Stone magazine and some pretty darn novels by Robin Cook, ages back. I had to sell wine goblets and gnomes and other garden toys and home décor items to other retail stores and individual clients. I did better than last time. I have been quite expressive lately for an otherwise casual guy. I am not so much into deep conversations. I am more of a live-in-the-moment kind of a guy. I have been having deep conversations with clients describing the products I sell. My colleagues started thinking, I must be on crack. They said I behaved like I was psychedelic. Thinking of crack, well it’s legalized now, so don’t whine bitches!
Talking about deep conversations, now that I recall, I remember how I described the wine goblets to my clients. Here goes, “Hi, This is Chris Barker, we have an exotic variety of gifts items you would love to buy for anyone. Your favorite pieces of items could be, wine goblets with Templars symbology has an esoteric charm. Could be a unique gift item. Celebrate Christmas, with a glass of wine, in these wine goblets, especially if you are a Harry Potter fan, you might just love it.” You know something like that. I never spoke so much before when I used to sell. I was pretty much a techie and straightforward. I especially didn’t know why I was even talking about Templars. Thank goodness I never made any reference to Dan Brown. No wonder my colleagues were thinking I was high.
History? Who gives a shit about history? I mean how long can you dance about these facts which you don’t even know if they are the absolute truth. Taking about absolute truth, the only absolute truth I know of is, today, and today I feel good! I feel good that I don’t have to do anything extraordinary and way beyond my reach to prove a point. I really have nothing to prove. I live, that’s all I care about! I care about a few people. I care when they misunderstand my reactions. Sometimes, I can give crazy reactions. My people are like, dude, drink some cranberry juice, your period must be on. It’s become a stale joke, but it seems to be patented to me.
I feel suicidal in my inner thoughts. I am always wanting to die about something. I see people react so absurdly to my reactions. It’s like a doubly awkward situation. I then later realize, when I am calmed down, that I was expecting them to read into my inner thoughts, which is never ever a case with anyone. Nobody has that kind of patience to read into your inner thoughts. Sometimes even you don’t know yourself what memory of the past is triggering these reactions to certain situations.
For instance, office politics. Yes! The essential commodity without which it is impossible for any office to exist. Since I have been doing well for three continuous days, someone had to rain on my parade. I came across as a dark horse, showing a winning streak. Not that I was doing exceptionally well, but yes, I was picking up the pace at a good speed. Since I was the average Joe at work, nobody ever thought of me as a threat and everyone was usually nice to me. Since last two days, Derek, the star performer in the office, started taking potshots at me. I give people a poker face instead of a middle finger because I am that kind of a guy. I do not enjoy conflicts and drama. This guy, Derek, wanted some drama. So I gifted him a copy of Desperate Housewives and told him he could take a lot of tips from there if he really wanted to piss me.
I am a spontaneous guy. I don’t like to have a plan. I never reacted like that before, but yeah, he was offended. The last two days have been leaving me feeling a bit of this and that. I don’t know if my reaction was a little over the top, but sometimes people tell me I overreact. That goes against my basic nature of not wanting to react at all. So I am just pouring it out to see if you guys still think I overreacted. The equations have changed at work now and I am exhausted from thinking.
But yeah, life goes on. I love my rock music, my beer, and my homies. That is all is what is important to me at this point in time. I usually come home pretty late in the night after having a good time with Dan. We want to go road-tripping for a while, maybe to the Pacific, California, or the Florida Keys, or Vermont, a lot of places are on our bucket list for backpacking. Maybe in a month or two. Funny, all the while we have been talking about it, but never gave it a serious thought. Hmm, this could be good! This is a better tranquilizer. Gotto talks to him about it. Till then, have a great week, ya’ll.
P.S: Hoping next week gets even better.
Dilemma, Paradoxies, Contradictions, And the stigma
I have always been worried if my disorder will ever interfere with my image of being easygoing. Though people do tell me that they find me wacked out sometimes, I know why they do. But there is nothing I can do about it but cope. I just know that it is not a very positive frame of mind. The stigma, the shame, the guilt, the fear, everything bundles in the making of bipolar. Not just that, unless your force your mind to keep away from being paranoid and constantly fear the unknown, it is impossible to get through life.
Everyone likes to have happy people around them. For me, happiness has never been real. It has always been a mechanical process. I have only conditioned my mind to be happy like it were a tedious exercise. That is what bipolar does to you, every feeling, every emotion that wants to be positive and happy seems like a task. You constantly feel like there are demons inside your head, trying their best to rip apart every hope you feel. I do not know when and why I started to feel like this, it’s started in my teens.
This week was pretty normal. Nothing out of the ordinary, except, saw my therapist again. I was asked to maintain a diary, so I showed her my blog. She was amused. She was encouraging that I have been open about it, which she considers a good start. She said, by the end of the session, to continue to strive to have this frame of mind. The thing about bipolar is, you feel like it is a boomerang, it keeps coming back. You feel like your mind is constantly preoccupied with some kind of macrocosm.
It’s funny nobody in my office knows I blog, else I wonder if it will ever have any repercussions. I never told them I have a blog, and till I started blogging, I didn’t even know that I loved to write. It is so good to write about what you think, retrospect. I realized that as I started writing, I had better and newer thoughts. The older thoughts that have been published, get refreshed every week. I could say, this is better than Xanax. If you feel anxious about anything, known, unknown when you sit to write about it, you are thinking, and in the process of thinking, you forget all about your anxiety and pills. Thoughts are the best drug you could have.
I never blog from the office, I mean, who would do that? I am glad I am not that crazy. I have been listening to Bob Dylan’s Tambourine Man.
“Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me
I’m not sleepy and there is no place I’m going to
Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me
In the jingle jangle morning, I’ll come followin’ you.”
Love these lines. Talking about the golden rock music of the 60’s and 70’s, there’s not much of a competition for that kind of music today. Dan didn’t visit me for a week. Don’t know what he is doing. We have been planning this road trip. Maybe he’s rustling up the itinerary or maybe not. I have to call him sometime.
I had slept listening to the 60’s and 70’s rock. When I woke up on a Sunday morning I had a feeling of a strange kind of uneasiness. For a guy, talking about feelings is a strict taboo. But these feelings that I talk and write about are nothing like any chic would ever talk, or maybe they would, but this does not include talking about relationships, bags, and shoes. I woke up feeling bitter. I was happy yesterday. Today I am not, for no reason, and I am a little too exhausted exploring why I am feeling like this. I drag myself out of the bed, after almost two hours after I wake up. I turn on the tele, for whatever reason, some thoughts and dialogues of bullies from my school days are ringing in my head. My head seems to be spinning. “Get up you, deep sh**”! I don’t know why this keeps playing in my mind like a broken record. I browse through channels, I am not a huge sports aficionado, and it has always been me, my music, and my homies.
I had to reach for beer and Xanax, a bad combination on a Sunday morning. But yeah, I was feeling low. It was sunny, I was unable to handle myself. I was just losing it. Some corner of my mind was yelling to get a grip! I am a little too sick of this emotional see-saw. I just wanted to feel good. I called Dan a couple of times, my bitch was not responding.
I had to visit him. He got so sloshed last night, just sat at his home, and watched some TV. When I got back home, I felt alright. I just didn’t know why my mind kept hitting itself to some random memories and why was it scraping the ashes of the past so much. I don’t know for how long I cannot talk about this openly. The stigma, the discrimination that I imagine will begin, I don’t know who is going to be sensitive and who is going to be inconsiderate, and it’s only a matter of time. I have been taking an off from my work now and then. If this continues, I am afraid, I will lose my job. Though I have been doing all my duties well, it is only me taking an off constantly that I believe is going to piss my manager big time. He has already given me that snide look.
I am listless, I don’t know why this happens. I tried watching some cartoons, doing some random stuff. By evening I started to feel normal again. Tomorrow is Monday. I don’t want to have the blues. I started reading some positive quotes online about life, and motivation. I just keep reading them, till I felt better. I had to condition myself to feel better, and I did, finally.
Hoping next time you might read something new and untested gumption from me.