It's remarkable how fast you sober up when someone calls the police.
<img src="https://i.ibb.co/CMKPb9v/loft.jpg" alt="loft" border="0" height="420" width="720">
You know they'll be asking a lot of questions when [[they arrive]].I didn't even notice them enter the flat. I'd been so lost in thought about what had just occurred, and what would happen next. I suppose my girlfriend told them that I'd tried to kill myself.
I know the cops have a certain way they handle this sort of thing. I'm pretty sure they'll [[take me to the hospital]].Actually these two cops are pretty friendly. We're driving down the highway toward the hospital now. They probably realise that I'm just another sad person who is all out of hope and [[completely despairing]].If I think back to how I got to be in this condition, I'd have to consider [[my life]], [[my dreams]] and [[the last few months]]. All of them have contributed to me ending up like this. Like anything to do with deep despair, it's pretty complicated.To be honest, I've always been confused about where I fit in this world. About what my role in life is meant to be.
People always say "you don't need to have a role, just be!" but that doesn't take into account notions of belonging, of having a group of people who care for you and where you just fit.
I suppose I'm taking about a family. But because of the separation and my adoption, I've always struggled with that. The parents I grew up with were [[very different to me]]I've spent the last three years writing a novel. A lot of people had encouraged me to do it. I suppose because I'd written some interesting scraps of things they liked. Also because of some of the stories about my own life I told them.
My book was pretty personal. It featured a main character, the protagonist, who I realise now is a pretty flimsy disguise for me. I know a lot of first novels are like that. I really couldn't write about anything except myself. I wanted the writing to be sincere and have a lot of depth to it.
Anyway, because I did take such a long time to write it, and because it was all about me, when it failed so spectacularly I was devvo. It really felt like a rejection of me.
I wrote specifically for a certain prize. One of the biggest prizes in Ausralia for Indigenous writers. I wasn't expecting to win, but I dreamt of making the shortlist. Imagine people actually seeking out something I wrote, being interested in my stories. It was an exciting thought.
The announcement of the shortlist was [[one of the most shocking days of my life]]I was supposed to be having the time of my life this year. I got accepted into my Master's degree course. I did quite well this year as well, but there was just this nagging doubt. I've always had chronic doubt. If anything goes well in my life, I always think "this can't last, soon it'll all blow up in my face". But lately things have got worse. I'm having a kind of mid-life crisis.
I never wanted to have children, so the idea that I'm living my life to provide for some type of succession, or because I have these defenceless young creatures who can't fend for themselves who I'm responsible for isn't true (nothing could be less interesting to me, to be honest).
So when I see psychologists about my lack of motivation and low mood, they usually begin by asking "do you have kids?" I suppose because they are trying to appeal to some kind of parental impulse within me. When I reply that I don't, they pause. They feel they need to appeal to something I have a lot of control over.
That's [[where the big problem lies]]Of course, no kid knows that they don't really belong. It wasn't like my parents were mean to me or anything. They had their problems, but I know they did the best they could.
The problem was that as I got older I became more numb. I had a sense that I didn't fit in and that I belonged somewhere else. Maybe not belonged as such, but there was a lot more to my story than I knew.
But for the first 25 or so years of my life there was no practical way I could find out about who I was.
That was when I had my first [[nervous breakdown]].I realise that I've avoided a lot of important stuff in my life. But it always struck me as strange that I *could* avoid the important stuff in the first place. I mean, you can't avoid school, right. You can't avoid work. Well, you can, but you shouldn't be able to. How are people eant to live?
Shouldn't life just kind of flow naturally?
Do other people have to constantly stop and change direction because they are doing things "wrong" in their life?
I remember the Pink Floyd lines,
*And then one day you find*
*Ten years have got behind you*
*No one told you when to run*
*You missed the starting gun*
I think about them a lot because I feel similar right now. I feel like, after trying my best to react the best way I can to the various difficulties life gives me, to set up positive things when the difficulties pause long enugh to give me the time to focus on stuff, that I make poor choices.
But who knew what [[choices to make?]]I hadn't heard anything up to the day itself. Then at around midday I got an email asking if I'd like to get some 'mentoring' for my novel. I was confused as to [[what that actually meant]].It turned out that no-one had made the shortlist. In the 30 year history of the award there had always been a shortlist. If I'm honest, I was expecting *not* to make the shortlist. Because I thought that other people would have better manuscripts.
I wasn't expecting to miss out because no-one made the shortlist.
*What that meant was that the judges essentially thought that every entry into the award that year had sucked.*
I had the horrible realisation that all that work I'd put in was for nothing. And that maybe all the writing I had done to that point had sucked. And that perhaps all my writing after that would suck, too.
I felt pretty despairing. It took me months to [[get over that]].<img src="https://i.ibb.co/4NMyWDX/detention.jpg" alt="detention" border="0">
<span style="font-size: 150%">A VISUAL NOVEL FRAGMENT BY GREG PAGE</span>
MADE IN 2020/21
<span style="font-size: 70%">*On most browsers like Google Chrome if you press F11 now you'll get a nicer full-screen experience*</span>
<span style="font-size: 60%">(text-colour:"red")[*Trigger Warning -- References to depression and suicide*]</span>
<span style="font-size: 130%">[[START|Loft]]</span>I'll never forget the moment when the first big crack appeared, the first "fissure in the dam wall" so to speak.
I was working at a store in Penrith. It was a busy day at the plaza and customers kept coming at me. Rushing almost. All of a sudden their presence became lind of menacing. I had to excuse myself to [[go to the bathroom]].I held my nerve together until I got inside a cubicle. I sat down, put my head in my hands and tried to work out what the fuck had just occurred.
It was the first of many [[panic attacks]] I've had in my life.
Congratulations Penrith, you'll be an important part of my personal zeitgeist forever, lol.Panic attacks are so common in society these days that sometimes I forget that there are many people who *haven't* had one.
Although most people know what they are, to give my personal perspective on them I would describe them as...
*When feelings of dread and fear become so real that the sufferer can't distinguish between their reality ("everthing is fine") and their feelings ("oh my god, I am going to die/go crazy").*
The terror is real, trust me.
Although panic attacks still haunt me, I've had so many in my life that nowadays I kind of get over them relatively quickly. But being [[unable to fully rely on my sanity]] is something that has affected me deeply over the years.<img src="https://i.ibb.co/WvbZfG7/deadfish2.jpg" alt="deadfish2" border="0">
The thought that at any time your grip on reality can rush out like the tide has serious ramifications for your confidence and [[self belief]].So much is said about describing each individual person's identity. But I have given up on definitions really. Or, perhaps the identity I have is completely *unsatisfactory*.
That makes it difficult when so much of what constitutes cultural practice, perhaps even human *life itself* these days is wrapped up around notions of identity.
For example, if I went to a job interview, they might say
*"Tell us a little bit about yourself?"*
You can't really reply
*"What do you mean by 'pass'"*
And I might reply
*"I prefer to avoid my past, and therefore my identity"*
There just isn't the space to explain how nuanced trauma and damage is. And that would be fine if you didn't need to make money to survive. But that's another story. The point is, what if you've done your best to survive life in whatever form you could manage but you'd like to [[forget all about that struggle once it is done?]]I went to a rehab once. For six months. The vast majority of people in there who had addiction issues were just trying to cope with less than ideal childhoods. It's hard to skip over the emotional crap you had to endure if that's all you knew.
That might sound like I'm complaining. I'm not. I'm just saying that to have an identity isn't great for many people. You want to avoid what has shaped you. Or avoid the struggle to even get to what the fuck has gone on to get you to the present day.
I suppose it has led me to my [[completely despairing]] present...The truth was that I didn't really have a "Plan B". In fact, it took me decades to get to my writing. My writing then became "Plan A".
When the realisation about the award finally sank in, I sent the worthless manuscript off to an Indigenous-only publishing house. They eventually got back to me with a "no".
(They didn't include any comments with the "no" either which is apparently a bad sign. It's king of the literary equivalent of "get fucked").
The people at the award didn't know what to do with the $15000 prize money for the award, so they asked me if I wanted an appraisal of my manuscript. I thought that sounded like a great idea because I really had no idea *why* everyone had thought my work sucked so badly.
They got "right onto it" and six months later I got a three page report back which [[wasn't much help]].It looked like I was a side project for some person at the award foundation and I felt like that person didn't really understand what I was trying to say. In the end, they thought that my book was too negative and bleak.
I suppose it was a little negative, a little bleak and quite pained. But that was just what poured out of me.
And besides... I love reading negative and bleak stuff. I find it [[strangely comforting]].
Suffice to say, I'd exhausted all my options with *Welcome To Country*. I couldn't go back to it, no matter how much they said it needed working on. I'd spent three years of my life pouring my soul into it. If they couldn't see much merit in what I had to say then I'll just accept my failure.
Why spend more time on something which is finished for you but which everyone else hates? There was really no guarantee anyone would like it if I had done a mass load of tweaking anyway.Some of my favourite book are by authors such as George Orwell, Sylvia Plath, and Franz Kafka. I like them because they are bleak and offer little salvation.
I know that the world has a lot of joy and everything, but I also love it when someone has the courage to communicate in an intimate way how bleak they are feeling.
That's how I'm feeling right now. Bleak.
Mainly because I really have no idea what I'm supposed to be doing with my life. My ambition has collapsed and now I'm wondering why I should bother putting any effort into anything.
I just hope these cops [[keep being nice to me]]As an Koori man in Australia, I know that cops are a constant threat.
I've been locked up for minor things before. Even though my skin colour is pretty light, they still seem to pick that I'm Aboriginal.
It's just so unfair that white people get so much power over us. They've never earnt it, as far as I'm concerned.
Anyway, we're nearly at the hospital. I've just got to hold it all together until the cops fuck off. They pretend that it's all for my safety, but actually it's about keeping everyone else safe from me.
Knowing that fact is [[completely despairing]], and one of the worst parts about being "crazy" like I am. Having to put up with the "system" they've designed for mental health.So I've hit this kind of "enough is enough" wall where I'm fresh out of ideas or motivation toward what the fuck to do next.
It must have made me depressed because they are saying that I have tried to kill myself.
I can't say it even feels like that. It feels like everything has blurred. That the line between what matters and doesn't matter has vanished. Because it's all pointless. It's almost amusing (hilarious really) that other people are spending so much time putting earnest effort into whetever the hell that are doing.
*Stop it you fools... don't you realise that nothing possibly matters?*
Anyway, the cops have shown me into this very small white room. There's a bed here. The nurse put me on one of those electronic machines that does all your blood pressure and that.
I've been in these types of rooms before. A lot. And when they put you in here, it takes them *forever* to come and [[check on you]].Sometimes when I have a really bad panic attack I have to come to hospital just to be near these same type of machines. I suppose it’s that trick of the mind that if you are close to these type of life saving machines that you’ll be ok.
I’m not sure why I get so worked up about dying anyway. I mean, we’ve all got to go sometime right?
But I just hate the feeling of not being able to breathe. It’s a terrible feeling, and my anxiety brings that constriction on a lot with reflux, chest tightness and other stuff like that.
But right now I feel quite calm. The most worrying thing now is that I’m just sitting here waiting for some stranger to tell me that I’m ok. What if I don’t like that person? What if that person is wrong? We know from the past that psychiatry can attract a lot of cruel people who enjoy wielding sadistic power over people. People that are just trying to [[cope with feelings]].My problem right now is to sit here, try to relax, and put my trust in a stranger who I don’t know. It’s quite natural to feel a lot of anxiety at this stage, and you just know that these people don’t take kindly to being told that you know better than them what is best for you.
This is where the power of authority and the state really intersects with ordinary people’s lives. Like, who made this guy the boss of me if I didn’t?
Anyway, I can feel myself getting worked up, so I’ll just relax a bit. Breathe and look like I’m calm. That’s half the trick with these institutions. Centrelink is the same… just look like you aren’t desparate. Look like you are in control. It’s not easy because it’s the aim of these [[very institutions]] to put you in this subjugated state to begin with.I can hear someone laughing outside. It’s a big joke to these cunts. A terrifying situation for me and a big game to these people. Best try and take my mind off things.
The door is opening. A nurse comes in.
“Born 4th November 1970?”
“Are you warm? Do you need a bleanket?”
“Nah, I’m ok”
Then she just walks out. As long as her boxes are ticked, [[she don’t give a fuck]].Great body though.
I wonder if she giggles about us lunatics when she’s all cosy at home with her lover? She might be one of these people that divides the world up into winners and losers. I’ve suffered under the stigma of those judgements all my life. I know it’s judgemental on my behalf. But this whole system is set up as judgemental. I’m being detained here because of someone’s judgement of whether I’m “safe” or not.
The machine just made a kind of pinging sound because my herat rate went below 60 bpm. I wonder if that’s bad? If it is, I can’t afford to care about it. The last thing I need right now is a full blown anxiety attack.
[[CLICK HERE]](This is where i'm up to in the VN so far)