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459 Fitzgerald Street
North Perth, WA, 6006
Australia

Sometimes My Brain Doesn't Want to Help Me

Tahlia Palmer: Steady Eye

Sometimes My Brain Doesn't Want to Help Me

Andrew Ryan

The above image is a selfportrait, created in 2011.

Tonight I am sitting on a single bed in my mother’s studio. My legs are dotted with mosquito bites, and I am not expecting to sleep. Last night I dreamt of an old friend who isn’t a friend anymore, and I woke up feeling sad. I also woke up with a Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds song she sang at a party years ago stuck in my head, so I listened to Nick Cave all morning as I tried to build up the courage to sit down and concentrate on something for more than 15 minutes. I couldn’t concentrate for longer than 15 minutes. I couldn’t sit up straight, I couldn’t stay still, and I kept feeling a sad confusion because I think I might have missed her, and I have never really missed her before. Then I was confused and angry because I spent about an hour trying to deal with Centrelink. I kept yelling and scaring the dog. And then I started thinking about my inadequacies as an adult and that was it. Productivity for the day over. Brain, totally shut down.

The other day I set up a facebook page for this column. Despite me knowing logically that it’s a good idea- it’s a way to externally fill in the gaps left by this website in terms of online social interaction- I have ended up sliding slowly in to an anxiety spiral, which lead to this bullshit shitty day, because it forced me to think about what I do with my time, with my life, and what I actually want from it.

See, since I got back to Perth, I haven’t often thought about what I do. I generally just do it, and then maybe write about it later, maybe, and then I don’t think about it again. Next day, wake up, it’s something new. I edit the photos I’ve taken of whatever gig/event/place I was at, put them up on my blog, maybe share it on facebook, and then I don’t think about it again. Every day, stuff happens, and I document it somehow; or I create situations from which I can take creative inspiration/capture/indulge in, and I rarely allow myself to sit down and think about where it’s all leading to and what the hell is going to happen to me. I just like making stuff. I don’t know how to sell stuff. It’s expensive to live in a city.

The lifestyle I have here is not one that is particularly healthy, though it can be a hell of a lot of fun, and creatively fairly immediately satisfying… but when I really think about it, the way that the creation of that facebook page made me think about it, all the fun and the youthful idealism goes away, and I am left with a pretty solid addiction to cigarettes, a reliance on booze in certain situations, and a bank account so empty that you can hear it when I walk. The walk has gotten worse since I went off anti-depressants, I am sure of it. My crooked spine is screaming louder at me every day. My skin is not at its natural glowy best, and my heart, to put it simply, often aches. I think I am lonely in the city. The city drains me, especially when I don’t have the time or energy to get to a piece of nature from which I can see no signs of humanity.

I am living like a tourist in my birthplace. It happens every time I’m here, but it’s more intense now, because, this time, I’ve been here a while. It’s too expensive for my money-acquiring skill level to be any good here. The only regular work I have been able to find is almost two hours travel away from home on public transport, and the public transport to home stops before I finish this work. I am half-homeless, more homeless than I ever wanted to be again; a home is something to be fucking cherished and utilised to the fullest when you’re prone to attacks of depression.
Building up the courage to get your learner’s permit to finally get your stupid drivers license is hard when you’re prone to attacks of depression.
Keeping up-to-the-fucking-second on national political issues that you’re interested in writing about is hard when you’re prone to attacks of depression.
Figuring out centrelink is hard when you’re prone to attacks of depression.
Continuing work on the novel you started when you were on anti-depressants, about being prone to attacks of depression, is really hard when you’re prone to attacks of depression.
Getting to a doctor to get a psych appointment to treat your attacks of depression is probably the most fucking hard when you’re prone to attacks of depression.

At least I’m not the constantly confused, libido free, hyperactive, unfocused ball of energy with a thousand un-finishable projects on the go that I was when I was on anti-depressants.

I am thankful to be constantly afforded the opportunity to continue experiencing the cultural aspects of this city that keep me and the other people who work within it alive. But man, I need to get that car soon, and I need to drive out to red dirt, and keep driving until I meet the ocean again, and I need to meet as many people as possible who don’t like to live in cities either, and take their photographs, write their stories, and keep driving and listening until I can’t do it anymore. Then, maybe, I will quit all my bitching and want to live in a city again. I wonder if I’ll still be writing this column then, and if you’ll still be reading it.