the rantings and opinions of JA Kruger

The Rantings


JA Kruger

typewriter

I love new-year’s resolutions. Come new-year’s day and, as if convinced my hangover would not be the same without them, my self-doubt and regret make their way from my fuzzed brain, through my burning eyes and down my shaking hand, where they are crudely manifested on an empty page in my journal.

You are now 25 years old, they remind me, and you are not a rock star like you promised you would be. You are now 27 years old and you are a father. What do you know about being a father? You are now 29 years old and you are not a rock star, you are not rich, you don’t own a home and you work too much and spend too little time with your family. You are now a 30 year old; 31 year old; 32 year old – failure.

It’s a self-loathing that stems from a hangover and an over-critical imagination. On January the 1st, I am not a person, I am the sum of all the failed dreams I had. And every year, on January the 2nd – because I spent the 1st in a miserable mood – I sit down and write down my plan for making this year a better one that the others.

I didn’t do that this year. Instead of feeling sorry for myself I had another beer. Then I had ice-cream for breakfast and cold pizza for dessert. I spent the day talking about superheroes with my son, chasing my two-year old daughter around the house and every now and again just giving my wife a hug and a kiss. I realised that I was good enough for them, and that was enough. But it wasn’t.

I knew the insecurity was still somewhere in my head and I knew it was going to come out so I did the most sane and rational thing I could think of. I decided to try my best and, since everyone should have a role-model and something to aspire towards, I decided that my best would be Batman. Yes. This year I made no resolutions to myself, but instead I will be applying myself to be more like Batman.

So I thought more about Batman and, while the deep and philosophical epiphanies were there, it was the perceivably more mundane that got to me. Understand me well though, there is nothing mundane about the Dark Knight, but the things I list are not necessarily the stuff of powers.

1. Batman has a genius-level intellect: which I probably do not. But I definitely can do with reading more and learning new things, thereby developing my mind.

2. Batman is in peak human physical condition: which I am not (see the pattern forming?). So therefore, to be like Batman, I need to exercise more and adopt a healthier diet.

3. He is a skilled martial artist and expert hand-to-hand combatant. Which, surprisingly, would not be the most difficult skill to learn and which could be quite useful. I decided I could resume the Karate lessons I had had when I was seven, or, and this is after consideration of the accompanying “Bad-Ass” points, I would subject myself to Krav Maga.

4. Batman is an expert detective: which is ideal for me as I had finally acquired the last piece of motivation I had needed to become a Certified Fraud Examiner.

5. The Dark Knight utilises high-tech equipment and weapons. This was difficult, as I am not a gun-enthusiast and I had never actually fired a weapon before. However, after enrolling, I can say now that I am nearly done with my firearm competency programme – and it turns out – I know how to shoot.

6. Batman is an expert in criminology, forensics, engineering, mechanics and many more disciplines of which I am simply aware and in no way adept, but that’s the whole point. Learn a new skill.

And the final point (of the more mundane if you choose to view it that way):

7. Batman is wealthy. Actually, Bruce Wayne is, but he is not who I am aspiring to be so Batman will be rich instead. This has made me start to think further than I would’ve normally thought. Every year I had worked out a Financial Plan, with clear steps and a colour-coded spreadsheet footprint, but that has never worked and, for me, I don’t think it will ever. Now I am thinking bigger. Now I am aiming at doing something more!

Even though my interpretation might seem skewed in some areas, or conveniently applied in others, I am not bothered, because whenever I am criticised or berated or even when that unease starts up in my head, I just reply in my hoarsest voice: “I’m Batman”.

I nearly forgot! There are the other Batman lessons I should also mention, such as:

1. Know your ethics

2. Live by a code

3. Value mentorship and be a mentor

4. Make a difference

5. Fight for truth and justice

6. …and even though you might not like other people, try to work as part of a team.

How do you deal with loss without losing yourself in hoping to get back what you have lost? How do you deal with the loss of a mother? How do you carry on when you lose the one friend that could understand you without having to hear a single word? How do you deal with losing a father that has decided to lose himself without even thinking of what it would do to you?

You cannot. It’s impossible to keep on to yourself when you are losing the things that made you the person you were. It’s impossible to stop hoping that it was all just a bad dream and that the people will be by your side to wake you up and hold you as a mother would hold a crying child waking from a nightmare. It’s your nightmare and even if you try you cannot wake yourself from a sleep that’s not real. You cannot wake yourself up when you find yourself unable to sleep; when you lie awake in the night reliving the moments when you had to say goodbye.

There are those that will tell you it’ll pass. They will hold you when you cry and they will hope you make it out alive. They will continue loving you no matter what but it’s not the same. Someone who hasn’t lost what you have lost will never understand the desperation of having prayers unanswered; of doubting whether anyone is actually listening when you pray.

Someone who hasn’t been down the path you are on will never be able to hold your hand the whole time. When you lie awake they will sleep because they do not know this haunting. They will carry on, because their steps aren’t as heavy as yours. They will tell you it will pass but you know as well as they don’t that this kind of pain never disappears. There are no plasters for a heartache. There’s no medicine that can repair a broken soul and what’s more; they can’t pick up the pieces that have fallen from you, because they don’t know which parts are gone.

How do you deal with loss without losing yourself in hoping to get back what you have lost?

The answer is that you don’t. You will always lose yourself and it’s only you that can find a way out. But remember; even if it’s a small pin that sticks in the back of your mind, that the people who cannot feel what you do; they are still looking to find you as much as you are looking to get yourself back.

I am bipolar and I have always been pretty open and honest about it. I am NOT one of those: “I/he/she MUST also be bipolar because I/they have so many mood-swings and sometimes do things that I/they mustn’t do.” Sometimes people feel down and sometimes they feel happy. Sometimes people get angry and unreasonable and sometimes they are just being assholes. Some things are just mood-swings and some things people do are just plain stupid and wrong and they feel too scared to take accountability for it.

I am the other kind of Bipolar. I am that type that has justified suicide in the same week as one where I had spent two months’ salary in one day with nothing to show for it and did some things that are pretty damn illegal which I still do not recall actually doing or being of sane mind when I did them. Note that I was sober the entire time.

Once I had reached the point where I was facing disciplinary action at work, a lot of problems seemingly beyond fixing in my personal relationships and suicidal thoughts that lead me to actually justify the action without feeling any remorse or guilt – I planned the event and even made sure all my affairs were in order just in case.

But what I did then astounded so many people. I actually went and got help!

This is the catch – many people claim to be Bipolar or depressed and many people use this excuse as something to explain things such as mood swings, depression or doing stuff they know they shouldn’t be doing and most of these people I have met have never gotten help for it; simply because someone might tell them they are full of shit.

Now don’t get me wrong; if you really feel depressed and feel that there is a serious problem, do not be too scared or proud to seek professional help. The people I refer to in here know exactly who they are.

Here are some things to note:

  1. I have to drink medication daily for the rest of my life to make sure I don’t do shit I should not and to keep me balanced so that I don’t assault someone or slit my wrists;
  2. I have to live with the fact that my son might most probably be diagnosed as bipolar later in life as I know that my condition is genetically inherited;
  3. I have to make sure that I keep myself in check at all times to ensure a relapse doesn’t occur; and
  4. I have to consistently see psychologists and psychiatrists to make sure I am still on the right medication and using the right dosage and that my mental state is how it should be.

I am one of those people that joke about it simply because that is one way I cope with it and I have no issues with anyone else joking about it either. But there is a limit!

And now for the actual reason I write this:

Dear people who use the condition of Bipolar Personality Disorder as excuses to justify shit you do such as:

  • slacking off at work;
  • taking drugs;
  • coming late at work;
  • drinking excessively;
  • cheating on your spouses; and
  • overall just making bad decisions – CUT IT OUT!

You are sending the wrong message about something you have no knowledge of.

It is hard enough to live with this disorder and we don’t need people stimulating and feeding a stigma that we are trying our arses off to break.

If you genuinely suffer from this condition and feel that it justifies everything you do then have the guts to also take the steps to manage it. With the right medication and the right counselling it is a manageable condition – which is something the rest of us try to do every day to make sure that we are not discriminated against and seen as f#cked in the head.

I ask this in the nicest way I can think of and hope that you will pay attention to my plea.

Sincerely

Someone actually trying to be Bipolar in peace

Like vampires a few years back and zombies an even fewer back, the newest obsession seems to be Dystopian Fiction. I can understand the fascination, having been a fan of this genre since I could read really big words, but the bigger fascination for me, what wonders me the most is the need for this to be a new obsession, even if not really so new (look at a Brave New World by Huxley or Orwell’s 1984, hell just look at these themed movies like Hunger Games and Divergent).

The question is simply whether we are becoming scared or are just as unsure as to what the future holds that anything, any story that can possibly give us an idea, becomes both an escape and an example. What seems clear from all these stories is that:

  1. One small faction of people control the populous;
  2. All people not part of the small faction accept the order of things without question (apart from the heroine or hero – obviously);
  3. People are kept oblivious to the concept of freedom; and
  4. It is realistic enough to be reality even within a time frame as short as the next forty to fifty years.

And what these stories awaken in us is even more exciting as every person who watches or reads them feel that if they were in that situation they would rebel and rise up just as the heroine or hero does. We all want to believe that we would not be a part of the accepting populous.

Here’s the catch! – We already are!

Not to make this political in any way, but the people these days accept more and more, even if only out of a sheer loss of will to fight it; people accept the order of things to be what they are told it is. Complacency is a normal response now and in the Dystopia we find so fascinating, nearly all of us would not rise up like the protagonists, in fact we would even want to stand by and watch them fail.

Is this human nature?

No, I don’t think it is, but it is on its way! The fact that we still feel we would fight for our beliefs even if we don’t do it now, tells me that we still hold on to some shred of pride and hope. But for how long will this still be applicable? When the media is being controlled and the money we give to help build a better life for everyone, especially for the poor, is used without shame by those in power to enrich themselves. We stand by and watch people get away with heinous crimes and with blatant lies and we accept it and bring it up in conversations with a knowing, “but that’s life, what can you do?” ending all of our discontented statements.

Today we will argue over the issues, but no one really steps up and enforces what we all feel. We incite but never deliver on our threats.

We “share” stories on social networks so that everyone can know we care, but when asked to contribute something (and I don’t mean money) to the cause we find excuses and divert our intentions to something else to “share”.

If Vampires were real – we wouldn’t fall in love with them, we would be sh#t scared of having our necks bitten;

If the Zombie Apocalypse happens – most of us would be Zombies within the first week; and

If the Dystopian Fiction becomes reality – we would possibly not be as cool and rebelliously awesome as we all secretly think we would, we’d probably be the oblivious naïve populous…

…because we’re already most of the way there!

There are relatively few people in my life that I like and fewer that I trust (you can add your own interpretation of relatively few). I am not enough of a cynic to refuse to meet people or give them time or thought, but I have been hurt and mistreated often enough to be careful of whom I let into my life and whom I consider as part of my life.

But then there are the unexpected strangers; people you walk past every day for months or years and never notice for what they are. These are the people you consider strangers simply for your own lack of ever attempting to see them as more than that.

It’s with a sincerity I reserve for only those moments you can’t lie or argue with yourself, those moments when you have to admit your own folly and thank the universe for its persistence that I address these people, more specifically, this person.

Thank you. I want to thank you for the faith you have in me even though I never thought of asking for it. Because you gave it to me unconditionally you made me want to continue working to deserve it! I want to thank you for the kind words you send me and how, without knowing it, these come from you at moments when I really need them. It’s the meaningful pictures, the encouraging messages and moments when you just get me. It’s the friendship I never expected that came as if it had always been meant to be.

It’s been a long time now that I have wanted to give you this message and even though I am usually good with words, these words have taken some time to fall into the right order. These words have been lying in my mind since the first moment I saw what you had done for what it was, and what it was is simple – it was the kindness of no stranger.

Today I find myself lost again. I’m getting lost in my mind and I get tangled up in the hundreds of things that float there, things usually undisturbed by my worrying. I’m losing myself in those non-trivial things I normally replace with the trivial. Today my thoughts are not about ‘what if I was rich?’ but rather, ‘what have I done so far with my life?’ My mind does not set me up to daydream today, no, it’s asking me questions like whether or not I am a good father and whether or not I am a good husband. Today my worries manifest themselves and I wonder whether I am, if you get down to the most important question; I wonder if I am a good person.

Am I doing all the things I am supposed to be doing? Am I the kind of man I was supposed to be already? Do I love my job? Am I doing my job? Is that whole, ‘more to life’-thing that I hang on to with so much vigour, really there? Is there more to life or do I just say it to myself to keep my sanity?

Today I find myself lost again. I try to think my way out of it, try to resolve each question in turn and hope that the questions get less, but they don’t. Every answer I can think of is added to the question as an additional doubt, a ‘yeah-right’ to my attempts at making sense of it. Today, I know, is going to be a long day and every minute that goes by brings me closer to the luxury of sleep where I will, hopefully, be able to escape all of this thinking. But as I know by now, after days like today, tonight I will find myself lost again. And you can’t try and think your way out of a nightmare.