Wednesday, December 9, 2015

KILL ME Props: Twitter, Jessica Jones, and a Thursday with Chronic Pain and Depression

It could be worse.

This is what it's like when it's bad.

Thursday is one of those nights. I intended to push four miles on the elliptical, but by dusk it feels like my spine is being pummeled whenever I sit up, and lying down makes it worse. The medication is definitely failing, so I can't even walk downstairs. My mind is thick with the fog of pain regulation, by all these alarms telling me to escape my own skin. I can't write or edit. I can barely make it through a couple paragraphs of anyone else's work. My friend's story beta will have to wait.

Twitter is something I shouldn't check when the pain is like this. Most often when people are happy, they enjoy the moment and neglect social media. You have more time for wifi when you're bored or angry. It shows.

Tonight people are outraged about anti-Muslim sentiments in America and Europe. Islamophobia will kill more innocents by the end of the year than all the terrorists attacks of the last month, but I can't get my brain to form cogent comments on it. Tweets cluster around the House's bigoted bill to prevent more Syrians from taking refuge here, but most tweets are just pissed in general. I want to support them because this could landslide, but am tag-teamed by the mental exhaustion of the pain, and the sense of worthlessness that depression always uses to dissolve good intentions.

Twitter is mad about other things, too, clogging my whole feed. Some musician allegedly sucks too much to be as popular as she is, and snark is metastasizing around something Peter Jackson said about his Hobbit movies. It's apparently #InternationalMensDay. Meninists have said awful things, though all I find in the current hashtag feed is derision for them.

A searing hot knife slips between my ribs. Not a physical one, but the sensation, pain so sharp it triggers a coughing fit, which triggers back spasms. It's a temporary delirium that, in the moment, feels like a biological Twitter feed. A constant stream of angry updates.

Why am I still on this hashtag? Some people tweet about the high rate of male suicide. Others tweet about how men aren't oppressed just because they are men. Both messages have something to teach, and it hurts to know the people espousing them could never have a meaningful exchange and expand each other's compassion. I keep forming ideas and feeling words slip through the cracks of my brain, the distractions of physical crap. Maybe there's nothing I could say, sincere or joke, that wouldn't draw hateful responses. Depression strangles even momentary clarity of mind.

Giving up on human contact for now, I load up Netflix. I've been looking forward to Marvel's Jessica Jones, and watch three episodes in a row, out of equal parts interest and the inability to stand up.

It's a show with some important ideas, mixed acting, and the weakest action direction Marvel has rolled out. I love Mike Colter as Luke. I wish the powers were written consistently.

In the third episode we meet a man who was mind-controlled by the villain into donating both of his kidneys. He lives on a dialysis machine and is presented as helpless, joyless, and possibly brain dead. He's the victim of the same villain that once abused Jessica. She shares a brief moment of empathy with him as he struggles to scrawl a note to her. In his brief moment on the show, what does the hapless man write to her?


Jessica gets sad and walks out, leaving him staring, forlorn and disabled, as his mother prays to a god that will not help.

I swear at the television and close Netflix. I struggle to get up and leave, and the pain in my spine and hamstrings is so excruciating that I fall back into my chair.

Bullshit like that "KILL ME" is easy to dwell on in times like this. It's apropos that I'm stranded in a chair after some garbage TV writing blasted the message into my face. That hard reminder that even celebrated destination television sees chronic illness as a prop to support the narratives of the tragically attractive. There's an urge to complain about it on Twitter. But my fingers aren't working so well, and does Twitter really need more discontent tonight?

I know my feelings and can't form them into words. It'd be awful if my life experience only turned into more angry noise. And because I couldn't contribute to anyone else's experience tonight, why does anyone care what I have to say? Why would anyone care about my night? Maybe I'll write about it tomorrow.

I'm writing about it now, weeks later. I tried to write about it the next day and couldn't dig the necessary self-esteem or focus out of the pit of depression. Now I'm cannier, and sharing it because I've met multiple other people stuck in such hiding holes in the last couple weeks. Such holes are why I'm sometimes quiet when the pain and depression get too intense. I'd be furious if people defined me by this, or if they reduced me to another "KILL ME" prop.

There are more of you out there than you know. You take the time you need, but we'll be happy to see you outside when you're comfortable. I won't go into platitudes about hidden strength and patience, but it felt worth finishing this just to say that you're not a prop. You're not your pain.


  1. Thank you. A powerful piece which speaks loudly to me. Chronic pain is a soul sucker. My memory is too suspect to allow me to stay depressed (I can't remember why I am down). A perverse blessing.
    Gentle cyber hugs your way.
    And I am thankful I avoid twitter and FB. They could just tip me over that edge.

  2. Jessica Jones is not a show to watch when you're depressed.
    You won't be that prop. Yes, the world's a mess, but we can rise above it and we can make a difference in our own way.

  3. Sending you so much love. You may not always feel like it, but you are a light in the dark of this world. Take care.

  4. I'm sorry you are having such a rough go of it, John. I hope things ease up for you. I really liked, " narratives of the tragically attractive" Might make a good title for a future monologue. Hang in there!

  5. Not really sure what to say here. I'm just glad your out of your depression hole and hope you're feeling better. I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again, I look forward to your posts and glad to know you.

  6. I'm so sorry. My thoughts are with you.

  7. So, so sorry for the pain. It's weird stuff...feeds itself. I am so very blessed to have medicines that work well to relieve physical pain -- but wonder why, when pain wakes me, it is difficult for me to get to the medications? The pain taunts me with thoughts like "What if THIS TIME it doesn't work?" I guess that's the slide into the psychological side of it.


Counter est. March 2, 2008