“Stanley, why aren’t you doing your homework?”

And so another era of radio silence. This particular site may have lost whatever blood was going to it, but I still feel the need for some kind of outlet. Something broader, something I can throw out there, regardless of anyone everything actually seeing it.

Today, I need it’s help to figure some things out.

I resigned from my job in July. There were many reasons and I share some of those with others. Ultimately I’ve come to realise that I’ve never taken any risks, and I feel like I’m stagnating. I have a little money, so I’ve decide to take some time and figure out what I’m actually doing.

I’ve pursued  two main approaches. My original focus has been on a teaching English diploma; with an eye towards finding work while travelling abroad. A very logical and ambitious goal for me. Early on I maintained a huge amount of enthusiasm for this project, and I’ve been taking it very seriously. However, over time the process has become more and more of a drudge.

The qualification is earned through completion of two online courses and 20 hours of practical classroom experience. I managed to negotiate six months to complete everything – I’ve passed the practical component and completed 60% of Course A. The online parts involve units followed by ‘Progress Checks’ followed by a handful of ‘Checkpoints’ (essentially exams/coursework for the relevant units). I’ve halted at Checkpoint 2. Yes, they are challenging and require you to knuckle down a little more, but everything you need to pass them is in the unit materials. I just cannot motivate myself to push on.

You can plow through the units themselves very quickly, but I’ve increasingly found the process more and more unsatisfying. Yes all this work could lead to something amazing, but one problem I’ve always had is pursuing things that could take me away from where I am rather than work on who I am. Even on the other side of the world, I’d still be carrying me, and this realisation is unsettling.

I’m in my third decade (or Ryan 4.0 as I pretentiously consider it) and I’m yet to figure out what I want. All I know is I struggle with ties – good or bad, everything is shackles. Right now I want to play by my own rules, I want to focus on what I want and only satisfy obligations to myself. I’ve done a great deal of work the last few years: learned a lot, tested myself, achieved many things I would never previously believed possible. But I can no longer ignore that the enduring thread has been, for longer than I care to dwell on, that I am miserable and feel empty inside.

At the risk of turning this into a therapy session, I’ve been through some pretty fucked up shit. There are many many people who have it way worse, but for my part I don’t feel it’s unreasonable to note that I’ve had more than my fair share. For so long now I feel like I’ve been bleeding out; head up, marching on but increasingly limp.

The second approach has involved film. For the longest time after university, I did nothing related to film-making. Eventually I began writing CD/gig/book/film reviews for a sadly defunct magazine called Nocturnal. Recently, thanks to contacts made during that period, I’ve become typing for a website called Filmwerk. Unpaid work but well worth it. I get to see movies for free, at home and at screenings, many in advance of their theatre releases. I’m making contacts and it’s exciting to see where this could lead.

Alongside this, I’m involved with a film podcast, the first episode of which will be released soon. I also want to make my own videos/podcasts/features, for which I’ve created my own site (Violet Cause). This all ties into the conundrum of my life right now – I previously had a stable job, a career, one which I was pretty good at. I was making a living but increasingly felt like I was imploding. I could pursue a career taking me abroad but to do a job I’m not especially energised by. Then I could pursue things which tap into what I love but offer little or no security.

This isn’t an uncommon puzzle, but I have to be conscious of the fact that I tend to detonate when things feel far beyond my control. Basically I need to find reasons to keep this thing going on my own terms, because I want to keep going.

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‘We’

One of my worst memories, one of many, was the look on my brother’s face when he came home and found me bleeding on the bedroom floor. I’d had what you would call a manic episode – possibly a mixed state – and pursued a resolution with a razor blade. I was in shock and my arms were entirely red, and I don’t think I’ll ever recover from his expression.

During my frenzy I’d done what any respectable maniac would. I daubed “We are 1” on the desk in our room. “We” is a critical word in my universe: you’ll hear it slipping in while talking to me, especially during moments of pressure or acceleration. I have used it consciously in the past,  as a way of aggravating or unsettling people; but for the most part it is an involuntary response.

Its increasingly common as I get older. Paradoxically this may run in line with my increasing confidence and sense of self. I often mention how I am the happiest I have ever been – the best even. Part of this maybe down to perspective. My capacity for objective thought has greatly increased over the last decade or so, and while this sometimes leaves me cold with diminished empathy, it means I’m no longer so in thrall to my emotions.

“We” these days has a stability to it bleeding little me couldn’t have imagined. It’s difficult to put into words. Its almost a quantum state: imagine turning your face away in reaction to something upsetting or disturbing (for me this is often a memory). You close your eyes and feel the pull for your skin as your head moves, but at the same time you’re conscious of still looking ahead, staring wide at the offending image. Sometimes I’ll cast a beady eye at something and feel like there’s another two faces mirroring my actions. I have back-up, reflections at a remove.

I described similar sensations in one of my earliest posts. More evocatively perhaps, though with some degree of failure. Many people from my offline life, couldn’t (or wouldn’t) acknowledge that I was being literal. These are physical sensations, psychosomatic manifestations running the length and breadth of the extreme states people “like us” experience.

I will acknowledge the possibility that is an experience familiar to everyone. If so, what’s telling is that I consider it a possibility, rather than knowing for sure, and that I’m writing about it so plainly.

The voices in my head follow a similar pattern. Invasive is the term I suppose – a detached comment or suggestion obviously born of my own subconscious, but also at a remove. When I get overrun it’s usually in bed as I’m crossing the Styx between waking and sleeping. I’ll thrash around, grimacing and contorting my body into all kinds of strange configurations. Just trying to get some fucking peace.

Often I’ll take on the voice itself. Again the experience is difficult to spell out. Sometimes I close my eyes and, opening them with a fiery intensity, I’ll hiss out a response to my thoughts or whatever is happening around me. I often hiss at people, especially if they’re irritating or offending me in some way. Confusion has been caused by my vocalising responses to something raised in my mind – I recently replied ‘Yes’ in answer to a suggestion which popped into my mind, during a conversation with one of my colleagues. ‘Yes’ wasn’t an answer to anything said in the “real” world conversation.

To my shame, what I’m hearing isn’t always pleasant. Refracted thoughts have been of a violent nature, usually directed towards people I feel have crossed me, for reasons dramatic or quite banal. These are contextual as opposed to state-specific: they’ve emerged under manic, depressed, mixed or neutral conditions.

Everyone has violent thoughts, especially centred upon retribution, but I can’t speak for others in terms of the psychological reinforcement they receive. ‘Do it’ pops up, ‘kill him’ is another; nothing too original. Sometimes its a whisper, sometimes a chorus crams every syllable into my cranium. Some in opposition to the others, which I take as a very encouraging sign.

Voices have helped reinforce altruistic behaviour. Countless times I’ve walked past a homeless person before ‘go back’ encourages just that. Sometimes I’ve been talking to someone and something will note a curious tick in the other person’s expression or voice. From here I’ll turn my attention to the other person’s well-being, many times unlocking and assisting them with some personal concern.

This is proving to be a very difficult post to write. Despite knowing that majority of people likely to read will be sympathetic to such experiences, we’re talking personal and pretty darn fucked up stuff. I’m compelled to note that I am not a slave to the voices I hear. They are not constants, rather they are amongst the most blatant manifestations of my complicated psyche.

Of course Darian Leader has something to say about all this. Describing a psychotic patient of French psychoanalyst Charles Melman, Leader writes:

But who, Melman asked, was speaking? The young man’s response was categorical: ‘It’s my neurones,’ he said. ‘It’s my brain, I know that it’s me,’ and then he asked, ‘Can the brain be divided?’ Even though he was admitting his self as the locus of the phenomena which had invaded his life, they were still designated as external, as coming from the outside, in the form of the split brain.

 At a push I tend to see myself as fractal, reflective, prismatic. That I ended up with a diagnosis of bipolar feels coincidental  almost to the point of orchestration. Since I was very young I’ve been fascinated by divisions, by altered states and either side of the coin. When I was 11 I loved the fairly dreadful Batman Forever, especially Tommy Lee Jones rendition of Two-Face.

Yum.

I was fascinated by split personalities – the idea of multiples within a single skull. To this day I have dysmorphic sensations – I often picture and feel deep scars running across my right eye. Scars I haven’t crafted snake across my right arm (always the right; I’m a working southpaw). I wonder, as I felt very isolated as a child, whether or not my aspects were gestated to alleviate my loneliness.

One figure I recall was Dark Ryan, or simply Dark. Back in 2001 he returned from my childhood; not as an adversary to my derivative superhero alter ego (Super Ryan – ha!), but as a fairly accusatory presence within my disintegrating mind. His was a label; if its one thing I do not have it is multiple personalities. Naming and distinguishing my complexes seems to be a psychotic function of healing for me. Engaging them as entities, even pale ones, makes them easier for me to comprehend.

Now that I’m older, I’m tempted to say that these distinctions have taken on a far more satisfactory bouquet. The positives are accentuated and the negatives seen as necessary shades. Is this not reflective of the Icarus principle of “dangerous gifts?”

There’s one thing you need to know about me:

I am obsessed with the X-Men.

Superheroes make use of their talents and typically possess  abilities beyond the scope of normal people. The best superhero stories reveal the conflicts inherent in these conditions, and few comics do it better than X-Men. The other fact is that X-Men is about finding your place in a world which doesn’t get you at best; and hates you for your differences at worst.

My brother and I created our own superhero pantheon when we were young, though I guess it percolated a lot deeper into me. That I am also Cause Catyljan is no accident – it is my identity but not; myself by design but not independent of my “true” self. ‘Catyljan’ has a very specific meaning for me (and nothing to do with Catalonia), which I rather relish keeping to myself. ‘Cause’ leans on its dictionary definitions – as a noun I focus on it as a basis, a foundation, a starting point, a root; as well as a principle, an ideal and a conviction.

In this moment my mind is clear and calm, focused on the words you’re reading now. One reason I refused to take the olanzapine Dr Sri prescribed (other than it melting my internal organs), was my fear of being without my delusions. These idiosyncratic characteristics without which I would not be me. A 29 year old lionising superheroes may be sketchy; a person philosophical about their madness may “abhorrent,” but this is curve I am on and We are not afraid.