T.A. Barnhart

carpe bucko

my brain's stupid decisions

Last week was the big eclipse, the so-called Great American Eclipse. It was not a surprise event, either. We knew it was coming for years, or at least the scientists did. The rest of us started paying more attention somewhere around the Fourth of July.

I knew it was coming; I pay attention to that kind of thing. But if I needed a reminder, Fred Meyers put out displays of eclipse glasses two months ago, $1.99 a pair. Less then the cost of two of my favorite Coco’s donuts.

So, did I think, Oh yea; the full eclipse is coming; I should grab a pair? Yes, yes I did. Did I then grab a pair so as to be ready for the big day? No, no I did not. My brain would see the displays and register nothing beyond “eclipse glasses cheap”.

At least, that’s what my conscious brain did, or the part of my brain that gives me instructions on how to fuck up, I mean, live my life. Under that noisy, bossy, and idiotic part of my brain, I heard another voice trying to give me better advice. I hear that voice a lot, but I usually do what I did regarding eclipse glasses for the time leading up to the eclipse: 

I ignored it.

So the big day came last week, and there I was, without eclipse glasses. Why did I live in a city that got 99% of totality and refuse to buy eclipse glasses despite having had so many chances to spend a measly two bucks for a pair?

Because that’s how my my mental illness works.

I frequently ignore what I know is the smart thing to do and, even worse, what I know I want to do. I wanted a pair of those glasses from the first time I saw them. I wanted to see the eclipse just like everyone else.

My mental illness made sure I didn’t.

Just to add to my desire to keep myself from experiencing this amazing event, I totally refused to do anything to see the eclipse in totality, even though it was only forty miles away or so. I could have gone down to Salem, where my son lives, or Corvallis, where I have lots of friends in. If I had asked, I’m sure someone would have let me crashed a night or two. 

If I had asked. I did not ask. It’s almost as if I could not ask. My mental illness does a variety of things to stop me from enjoying my life and fulfilling my potential as a human being. In this case, it did two things in particular, two things it has been doing to me for most of my life. Two things I still allow it to do to undermine my life even though you would think, by now, I would recognize them and respond better.

I do not. And I do not.

First, my brain responded to the thought of asking to stay with someone overnight with pure terror. I literally am terrified to ask favors of this kind. The sort of favor most people would easily ask of a friend or family member – the kind of favor to which, were I asked, I would say Yes in an instant.  Second, my mind refused to let me buy the cheap eclipse glasses at all because my mind doesn’t think I deserve to enjoy life the way other people do.

If I had any kind of delusion I was getting healthier on these points, I was mistaken. I missed the big eclipse because I am still such a long way from being healthy. I have taken some tiny steps of late, and they are important steps, but I am so far from mental healthiness.

But I do have more regret and sadness with which to hammer myself. That, I am good at.

T.A. Barnhart