Journal/Diary type posts; generally ‘true’ stories

Today is to recognise that mental health affects everyone and it doesn’t discriminate. Remember that it’s a serious issue that can lead to drastic measures, but by asking someone a simple question like “are you okay?” you can help someone in need.

My life as a young adult was in a constant battle with the many burdens of my mind. It was a constant spiral of sorrow, remorse, ecstasy and an unremarkable amount of self-loathing. The only thing that got me away was a bottle and more. Having succumbed to depression, I consistently turned to substances that got me shit faced four days of the week and hated myself for the other three.

I started a blog, The Mind & The Milky Way, which became a series of poems & stories that reflected the monotony of modern life. It was to express the juxtaposition of it all; the promised life of a man (and woman) and the reality of. Each written piece was like a band-aid that made things feel a little better… but after publishing each post a ball of anxiety would flurry over me. I tried my best to move along, giving myself a break between each post to manage the anxiety. It seemed that I found a place where I can be true to myself. Everyone thought of me as the happiest man they’d ever meet. But beneath all the intoxicated surface, was a man who was intoxicating himself because he couldn’t give two shits anymore.

During 2016’s New Year’s Eve, anxiety got the best of me. So, I sat home with a bottle of wine, numbing my thoughts in peace. I only went outside to watch the fireworks and came back home to stare at a blank sheet of paper. I touched my pen to the paper and started drawing. This was the new beginning.

I drew something every day, and not long after, I did the same with the guitar. My heart started to feel warmer, and soon I was smiling. It was unforced and pure. The overall effect it had on me and my mentality was rejuvenating. There are relapses, sure. I self-criticised myself to oblivion, telling myself that I was an incompetent prick like; “Why is your art so shit. Look at this art piece on Instagram. Why can’t you be like that? You are so shit.”

As the days went by, I continued to spiral from feeling self-accomplished to self-doubt. But as my skills developed so did my perception of the things around me, like art. At some point it just hit me, and I realised I was thinking different. My thoughts were no longer questions but aspirations; “This art piece… is amazing… I’m going to make something this good one day”.

I started admiring the process. I saw things in a positive light to aspire rather than compare. I started feeling okay. I am what I am, and that is okay. I can only make something out of what I have currently, and that is okay. If I want to achieve something greater, I have to work for it. If today I’m shit, tomorrow I could be better. If someone exceeds me, remember that they might have worked three times longer and harder than I have currently. But always remember that progress is still something to look forward to. So smile.

It’s cliche and is as obvious as Trump is an idiot, but experiencing this ‘revelation’ first hand is what gets me up every day. I get up and look forward to be creative. For some strange reason, art had triggered a more positive mentality. A better state of mind.

This year, 2020, has been a piece of shit for everyone. But it did give more time to reflect. To be honest, the COVID-19 pandemic has given me so much inspiration; it has been a cruel reminder that no individual has control over what happens in this universe. It’s both depressing and refreshing. Juxtaposed in nature, this crisis is a destructive virus yet also a medicinal healer for the world. We are merely humans, animals and living organisms in a single fucking Milky Way. We control only one individual in a whole eco-system. No single person can cause a change, but as a community, great waves are formed.

Mental health has deteriorated exponentially during the pandemic, and so I am motivated to help those in a way that holds true to me, through art. I know that everyone is different, but I have experienced the positive effect of practising art first-hand and want to provide the opportunity for others to do so.

If you managed to read through this whole passage, I would like to thank you for staying with me. Having gone through, and dealing with, depression and various mental issues, I am passionate about helping others with their mental health. I hope this can shine a light as to why I’m doing what I’m doing and how we can work together as individuals, artists and art enthusiasts to form a community to promote and support better mental health.

Please visit @mindthemilkyway and our website: www.mindthemilkyway.com

Sign up for a free membership and get discounts on your Milky Way Products – we are currently working with Black Dog Institute to raise funds [read more].

Much love,

@jatney

It’s a new year and although I spent most of the transition from 2019 to 2020 with family, I spent the rest alone. After facing the reality of losing two beloved ones within the last 6 months of last year, I felt an imbalance within me. I just felt like I needed to get away. Somewhere, just anywhere.

As I drifted, weightless, under the ocean I felt a sense of serenity. I was far away from almost everything that I wanted to leave behind, and yet it felt like I was encapsulated by all of it…

Inhale… exhale… inhale… exhale…

It truly was blissful. To recapture that sense of balance amongst the chaos. Just floating… weightless and without effort. I realise as I enter this decade that I have nothing to lose and yet I have everything to lose.

It’s January 1 2020. I’m sitting here in a hospital room in the province of the Philippines with no power but to watch and wait for an ending… In the very first hours of my waking life in this decade I was hit with reality, the honest truth.

This made me realise that I should also continue to be more honest to myself and continue in a path that I’ve chosen to get ‘better’ than who I was. To make my time worth every second, in suffering, release and every essence of what it means to live pleasurably.

Here is my first honest statement of the decade:

I hate everyone equally and therefore I love everyone equally. I can only truly know and care for a small group relative to, those who I can show true adoration to, so I’m sorry but I’m not sorry. I say that with utmost love and sincerity.

Fuck You 2019 and here I come 2020s, give me your best fucking shot!

A puff to blow the worries away. A sip of giggles to help waste the night away. Have another puff, then repeat. The night started early; so we roll another, pop-off some caps and repeat. As the air filled with smoke, I notice my body and my mind finally feel at ease after the day’s toil. Oh, how I longed for this moment, every day.

Porter is sitting on the edge of the couch, twiddling his fingers, legs shaking and eyes swaying from side to side.

“Yo Porter. You alright?”

“I… um.. I think… I… I will… walk… I will walk home now.”

He jumps and walks straight out of the door.

“What was that about?”

I look at Dennis, puzzled. I guess that’s that. What else is there to say? The guy wasn’t enjoying our company, huh. The man went straight on home. It’s pretty early though, the night had only just begun. Porter woudl usually be up for a big one.

*black out*

Waking up, I am to exist once again… nursing a drought in my head. I get out of my cradle, and roll one. Inhale… exhale… much better, and just in time for sundown. I always hate myself for doing this every weekend. But I just have to accept it, this is me. My weekend-being. Inhale… Exhale… A sack of shit who never sees the damn daylight. I stare out into the horizon as dusk slowly blanketed the city. You piece of shi-

~BRANGGGG BRANNNGGGG~

Fucksakes. Who is it? I just wanted to enjoy this before I do anything. Inhale… Exhale… Sigh…

Me: “Hello-“

Tash:”Can you come over?! RIGHT NOW! I NEED HELP! It’s Porter!”

Damn it! That sounded urgent. Shit. I sprint to my room and grab any clothing that isn’t my robe. Straight down to Porter’s place. He’s not too far away.

As I get there, I jump the fence and notice the glass sliding door was slightly open. I let myself in only to find a horror scene. The white walls are covered in holes, a knife in one.

Me: “He-Hello? Porter?! Tash?!”

No response. What the fuck is happening?! I scramble around the house, trying to find any other clues. The place is a mess. The positive? No sign of blood. Thank God. 

I walk out to the street, trying to get a hold of Tash. I roll one. Inhale… Exhale… I look down the street, phone cusping my ear, and I see Tash walking towards me. As she got closer, I see her wearing a face of despair, and yet she seems oddly calm. The fuck?

Me: “Tash! What’s happening? Where’s Porter?”

Tash: “Ah… yeah… you know… Porter just had a bit of an episode, so I just got out of there to get away for a bit. He does this. If he’s not home, then he’s probably out somewhere. Sorry I called, it just gets a bit scary when he’s like this… I know you guys hang out a lot.”

A bit of an episode? He does this? So this has happened before? Or rather it happens more often than you’d like. Despite her calm demeanor, I can’t help but think of horrific scenarios in my head. Inhale… exhale… I take my phone out to call Porter. He sounds drunk.

Porter: “Hey dood~ What’s up?”

Me: “Hey, where are you?”

Porter: “Whaat? I ca-“

Me: “Where… ARRR–“

Porter: “I can’t hear you! I’m out right n-“

Me: “I’ll just text you.”

I send him a message and he invites me out to get drunk. I accept his offer, BUT… not to get drunk, only to clear things up and make sure he is okay. He wants me to go to a bar, so I went. I get there and its packed as usual. I see him in the crowd standing alone with a beer in each hand and just observing. I take two steps and I already start feeling a little queasy… I’ve never felt so uncomfortable approaching him. So I nod at him, he nods back. I go to the bar… one drink, two drinks, three, four… I lose count…

What is happening? Where am I? 

I suddenly feel a numbness in my nose and a lump in my throat. I start to feel brand new. Wow! What a great night this is panning out to be! Damn, this is exactly why Porter is such a wildcard.

I didn’t notice before but the sun is coming up. Holy shit. Where did the night go? Seriously, I swear I was just there for a couple of hours. So here we are, Porter and I walking back home… we didn’t say a single word.

We get back to his house and Porter sits on his chair on the front porch. I roll one; inhale… exhale… pass it on, repeat. I look up… knife. Ah, shit. I forgot about that…

Porter: “… Yeah… I can get REALLY nasty when my medication don’t arrive…”

I guess he noticed me staring at it. He continued his story. How his parents turned to feeding him medication at a young kid as a means of not having to deal with him. For as long as he remembers, he’s been given all sorts of medication for his ‘disabilities’. This explains why he has such a high tolerance. Disability though? He seems… dare I say, normal? But then again, when he doesn’t get his medication he gets fueled with rage. It’s strange… ever since I’ve known him, I felt like he was a very decent person and completely competent. People did describe him as a bit of an oddball, I never thought of him in that way at all. But then again, I think every single person I meet is weird, never in a bad way, but that’s what makes everyone ‘normal’. People are just weird.

Porter passes me the last toke, “hey… I’m sorry I left so suddenly the other night. I just… Sometimes… I get a weird feeling and I can’t focus… I get these images in my head… It’s… it’s hard to describe.”

I told him, “It’s okay man. You don’t need to apologise for leaving early at all, if you have to go you have to go.” 

A family walks pass the front porch.

“Ah fuck…“, I sighed.

Inhale… exhale….

“…that’s my cue to go home.”

That night has continued to mark a stain on my mind. I don’t even want to imagine what he’s going through. All I can say is that this experience was the door to a world that I knew existed, but never truely understood. The days go by, and weeks past. I’d roll one, sometimes two after each day to relax and feel at ease. I started to notice my habits and addictions. Were any of them ever necessary? What would happen if I were to take one of them away? Thinking back, I was an alcoholic. Giving excuses like “I just party a lot”, while I numb myself down with almost anything and everything. Completely dependent. I had to start confronting that person, that coward that I see every morning pissing in the toilet bowl. It’s time to stop, feel everything, embrace what the world has to offer. Cold turkey.

I remember that final weekend. The weekend of a new beginning. I was going to get everything out of my system. So, I rolled one; inhale… exhale… take a swig… inhale exhale… repeat. Once everything is blurry, I numbed my face until I felt like a king. Then, lights out. I passed out.

I woke up again, with a drought in my head. Nothingness. That was what filled my head. I got up and rolled one. Hold on. I wasn’t supposed to do this. So I placed it back on the table and just sat on the balcony. I watched people below me. My vision blurred. My legs started to shake uncontrollably. My fingers twiddled around in circular motions as my jaw tightened. My eyes started… rolling… rolling… rolling…

Everyday you see new construction sites building high rise concrete complexes.  Creating more homes for our ever growing population. Or tourist spots that are making so much bank that the government continues to develop these destinations. Creating louder noises like faster cars that roar through the concrete landscapes. That loud high pitch pedestrian crossing light constantly ringing, breaking the silence of the night. All these things are suppose to help run our community. But something tells me that we’re doing it wrong. Not completely, but fairly wrong.

The growth of our communities are of two main components; structures and inhabitants. These structures are rapidly replacing our environment, and most of us are born and raised in artificial surroundings. These physical structures create a subconscious recognition of physical boundaries for our territories. There’s no wonder that humans are an ever growing depressed species. Nothing around us fully satisfies us. We have these subliminal needs and desires that are constantly being ignored, and one of them is the ache for freedom. Walls only define a form of imprisonment.There’s no wonder why there have been studies that show an increasing number of mentally impaired people, cause we’re driving ourselves mad. More and more people are becoming stressed, anxious and unwilling to participate to living in our communities – living in the sense that they are physically participating day to day, interacting with one another; playing basketball, or just chilling on the roof watching the streets and talking to one another. We’re all becoming so boring. Living such sedentary lifestyles, staring at screens and constantly checking our Facebook statuses to see how many likes we get. It’s pathetic. But that’s our life today. It’s fucked. We built technology for our convenience, and this convenience is turning out to becoming more of a nuisance than doing good.

Now that I think about it, why do you think that holiday destinations are always so… natural. Beaches, countrysides, sky diving. They all seem to act as an escape. An escape from our stressful city lives. Freedom from all the regulations and physical confinements that are constantly imposed upon us. That intrinsic yearn to be free finally being satisfied. Freedom from the laws of physics as you free-fall from kilometers high and not face inevitable death. Why is it that we’re so much happier, and more relaxed when we’re gathered around a tree on a park than when watching TV in the living room? Or even that major hype of getting drunk in the park, so much more fun than being drunk at home. There’s something special about it. These sensations that we feel are a form of communication between our subliminal consciousness and consciousness.  It’s a way for our intrinsic self to tell us what is good and what is bad for us, and it shouldn’t be ignored.

Remember that first time you tried alcohol? And you felt like puking straight after? It’s a protective reflex in protecting your body from consuming something that is harmful to it. But after time, you get used to it, and sometimes, worst comes to worst you end up needing it. But it’s killing you. Faster and faster with each sip that travels down your throat… into your liver. It’s killing you subtly, and makes you feel great for a little while, until one day… your body fails. Isn’t this the same?

Maybe it’s why some people have mental breakdowns. No, rather it is the reason. There’s too much stress in our lives. Even if you exclude all that over-crowdedness, and heavy traffic. There’s still so much stress and pressure from society.

We’ve been brainwashed to believe this commercialized definition of a ‘home’… and yet many continue to search for one despite our ability to satisfy our basic needs for survival. ‘Home’ is something more than our physical external surroundings because somehow this idea of a home only causes our stress, anxiety and other non-infectious mental illnesses. Every year the population with a label of ‘mentally ill’ increase. Every year we battle not only our physical survival but also our mental sustenance.

Can we not see it with our eyes?
Can we not hear it with our ears?
Can we not feel it with every touch?
Can we not sense it with every breath?

The environment is a place where an individual is able to express their external bonds of existence, bridging to their internal being, as well as the depths of their freedom and reality. Urban consolidation is unnatural, so our bodies are rejecting it, just as we prevent bacteria from damaging our bodies. Our spiritual minds are becoming less and less able to connect to the physical reality that we have created for ourselves, leading to these anxieties and disorders.

We can see it with our eyes… how we yearn for luscious green fields, sapphire blue ocean water and peaceful white beaches. Beauty.

We can hear it with our ears… the tantalizing horns of cars and traffic. Agony.

We can feel it with every touch… the tingling sensation you get when you walk barefoot on grass, sand or mud. Nostalgic. Even if you’ve never done it before, you feel this arising excitement and happiness.

We can sense it with every breath… that sick mucky feeling of inhaling intoxicated fumes of cars and trucks. Suffocating.

Despite all of what we can see and all of what we can feel, we continue to pride ourselves of our superior intellect. How ignorant. That’s what most of us are. Ignorant and indenial. The funniest part of this, the fucking ‘cherry on top’ of our societal muffin, is that we separate ourselves from those labelled as mentally ill, mentally incapable, and lock them away in isolation. Asylums. Cages, essentially. Further inhibiting their ability to connect to their reality, to connect to their existence, to connect.

Who are we to decide who is mentally ill? Who is in the right mind to even suggest that disconnecting someone, who was born in this already deranged world, help them in any way to connect? Are we not human? Are they any less? Even through science we look at our progress of evolution, so are they not just the offspring of our chaotic urban settlements? Lastly, why do those with power continue to label these people as abnormal whilst they continue to create the abnormality within our natural environment, and why do we let them do so?

The whole scenario is so overly ironic that sometimes I feel like we can’t claim our title of being smart. Not by a long shot. Sure we’ve been able to create technology, things that still amaze me of course, I too am just a human with a greedy instinct to make things easier for me, but still… none of us have a clue with what we’re doing here. None of us know how we’re suppose to be, and definitely none of us have the right to label someone as mentally wrong. So here’s a thought for everyone, including myself;

You’re mad.  You’re weird. You’re ignorant. You’re  mental.

“Science has not yet taught us if madness is or is not the sublimity of intelligence…”  

                                          – Sir Edgar Allan Poe

Dreams…

Reality…

What are they?

They both seem so real, or rather, they are real. Every night I wake up to my dreams, and every day I wake up to this reality. At times I lose track, where am I? Conjuring all kinds of emotions and images, they affect every aspect of my perception… changing the way I see things… changing… always changing.

Lately, I’ve wondered, “how does one prove that they are currently awake and not dreaming?”. Is it physical pain? The logical time frames? The limitations of science and the laws of physics? Somehow it makes sense and yet the concept of everything feels a little out of whack.

It’s been over a year now since I’ve taken this, almost, obsession with dreams and dreaming. I don’t have nightmares anymore, well, I don’t consider them as nightmares. They’re just mishaps and misfortunes. I just learn to let go and let the darkness fill me until I shiver and sweat in my wake. In most cases there’s nothing you can do, you have no control over your (sub)consciousness. I just let it show me what I need to see and what I need to feel.

Every so often you hear, experience or knowledge of; bloodshed, rape, outright torment and torture. Many consider this a nightmare, but to the victims, it’s their reality. Sometimes denial may convince them it didn’t happen. Would you then think that it is right to let them acknowledge the reality of their tormented lives which then causes psychological unrest for the rest of their days? Or is it better for them to think of it as a hellish nightmare that they soon will wake from and move on?

That’s the thing… reality can have so many complexities at every given moment, simultaneously haunting your mind and your body. Some can go crazy from all the pressure and stress. So, if you think about it, is this not a giant continuous nightmare? There’s no denying that there are moments of relief, moments of ecstasy, moments of enchantment and fascination. But don’t dreams display the same perplex pool of emotions and physical distress?

Dreams, to me, are less complicated than reality. Although we experience them in a jumbled and random order… they show everything in broken down clips, a montage illustrating a larger concept of my (sub)consciousness. Is this why dreams cannot be considered reality? The fact that there is no order. No control.

So what if we flipped it around, our dream world is our reality? A chaotic realm lacking order and any form of control. A world where not a single one of us holds any control or structure in our lives? What if we never had the keys to our own fate? What if this reality, our ‘reality’, is our dream? A realm with control and order, where we are able to mould our own destiny and not given to us. We are able to tell our own story and try to have some form of control with what we experience and what we don’t. What if all of these are the things that we’ve longed for our whole lives? So we escape by dreaming of this ‘reality’. And sometimes we wake up and forget what happened because sometimes, it’s a gift to forget, especially painful ones.

So we choose to believe that this is our reality and choose to base our knowledge and perception through the experiences of this reality. Is that why there are stories and beliefs of a higher being, able to control our destinies, holding our fate? Do some of us go about living our lives disproving the existence of a higher being due to their desire to forsake relations to the ‘dream reality’ where we aren’t the determinants of our life? Is this why we crave control and power? To rid of the notion that we live in a chaotic nonsensical world.

I’m not saying that I believe that our dream world is our real world. But I’m just fascinated by the complex manner of trying to disprove the theories regarding each side. I do find it a little funny how so many people are arguing about what reality is when there is no ‘truth’.

It’s gone too fast. The time. How do we adapt? The time has come and gone. And now, it’s just memories of our reality. I still remember clearly, well, vividly, turning 18 and rampaging through the streets of this new city.

But now I sit and ponder the questions of what could be, of what could have been. Whether or not the path I had taken, the days I spent, were worth it in the end.

Because in the end, I’m left with fabricated emotions and notions that attempt to satisfy my inner desires. What do I desire? Am I even satisfied? Will I ever be satisfied?

Everyday I wake up to my mirror. Everyday I wake up and watch myself decay as I age, in this cage that we call an apartment. Pissing into the toilet bowl.

I guess this is the life of a young man, and I’m sure, close to the life of a young woman. We’re all trying catch a breath, that small break to have some time to breathe that fresh air. We’re all longing for something to feel. Joy, sorrow, or anything in between as it’s the only thing that can reassure that we’re real and  still living.

All we really know is that we’re all stuck here as souls, in containers that someday will get old. In containers that are so vulnerable. In a container that is so complex that it goes beyond our own understanding, and yet will gradually dissipate back to the simple cycle of the Earth.

That’s how it goes. I guess that’s what makes this life so worthwhile. That smidgen of time that we can all call an experience. That smidgen of light we perceive into our very own eyes, and into our very own hearts. And as this stream of consciousness enter the thoughts, I realise the value of my life. The value of life, of any life.

The most bizarre thing about this is that we’ve always known and experienced the relentlessness of time throughout our lives. When your favourite cartoon show ends and you have to wait a week for the next episode. When your parents insist on you to go to bed cause it’s too late. Those curfews that consistently cut your fun short. Or even that annual celebration of your birthday, a constant reminder that you’re one year closer. Despite all that, we turn a blind eye to the truth. Rather, we choose to ignore the truth. I know I used to. Going about my days, spending money and not giving the slightest fuck about what else was happening around me. Intoxicate ourselves until our sweat and tears drip of only chemicals, not entirely sure why. Just following.

Then this day comes. When you realise and acknowledge everything that you do. You have your reasons, well, that’s what I’ve converted to. But these reasons are always seeking for a purpose. While that purpose is always seeking for a solution. But the bitter truth is, that most answers, most solutions are never really satisfying. They leave you, at best, content.

What piece is missing? It’s strange but realising that I have some dissatisfaction feels oddly rewarding. The irony is beautiful in its own twisted way… don’t you think?