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Loud Silence

Drowning Out The Quiet

By J. Delaney-HowePublished about a month ago 3 min read
Top Story - June 2024
Loud Silence
Photo by Usman Yousaf on Unsplash

My life is somewhat stressful right now. Actually, my husband and I are somewhat stressed right now. With the usual stresses of work, finances, and life, my mother-in-law has terminal cancer and is fading fast. At the time of this writing, she is stable, and we have help from cousins to see her, spend time with her, and help with her care.

Since she is stable, and we do not know for how long, my husband and I took a small trip less than two hours away from home. We are staying in a beautiful cabin in the woods. It is a break my husband desperately needed. He communicated that he reached his breaking point a couple of weeks ago.

Since his mother’s diagnosis, we have had to empty her apartment, find a new home for her kitty that we could not take, deal with insurance and billing, endless calls and meetings with doctors, and her palliative care team, on top of facing the imminent loss of a parent. My husband, Mark, has been to see her just about every day since she was placed in a palliative care facility a month ago. He is her only child, and she has no siblings.

(Please don’t read this as complaining or whining. This is what anyone in our situation would be dealing with. This is just backstory.)

Yesterday afternoon, when we arrived at the cabin, I was agitated. There was no reason for my agitation; it was just a mood I was in. (I’m bipolar, and mood swings happen frequently).

We didn’t take long to unload the car, as we didn’t bring much. Before we were totally unpacked, I wanted to get the firestick up and running on the TV. One of the charms of this place is that it has wifi. I couldn’t get the firestick working, and it pissed me off. Here we were in this beautiful setting, the wonder of nature all around us, in a lovely cabin, and all I was worried about was making sure we got the firestick working. Here’s why.

By Lili Kovac on Unsplash

Nighttime is awful for me. Aside from being bipolar, I have racing thoughts. Night time, when the day is done, my phone is quiet, and Mark is long in bed, I am wide awake with anxiety and racing thoughts. The silence is sometimes so loud, and that is what triggers hours of racing thoughts and anxiety. It causes insomnia and messes with my sleep schedule. So, I have gotten used to drowning out the loud silences with media. Some of the thoughts I need to process. Like coming to terms with my mother’s death. Like coming to terms with my mother-in-law’s imminent death. They get drowned out by media as well. Disassociating is easiest, but that is not always the most healthy coping mechanism.

So, the thought of not having my coping mechanism available at night really got me twisted. When we first got to the cabin, we noticed the a/c was not working. Thankfully, the owner got it fixed by nine o’clock. That was another thing that had me in an agitated state. We ate dinner, hung out on the deck, and soaked in the hot tub. We had some wine and just enjoyed the surroundings. That helped calm me down and changed my mood. We went into the house and decided to try to get the firestick working again. Mark got it figured out, and I had my distraction. I didn’t feel good about it though. I feel like somehow I failed. Mark and I talked about it and agreed that I am using media as a coping mechanism.

By Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Both nights we were away, I went to my standby and used media to drown out the silence. I do believe this is something I want to talk to my therapist about. Hopefully, I will learn some different coping skills for racing thoughts and anxiety.

I would love to go to bed and fall asleep instead of tossing and turning. I want to learn how to just be in the loud silence and get used to not filling it with the noise in my head or with media.

Thank you for reading my work! I appreciate every read, heart, comment and tip.

Here is another piece I wrote about bipolar disorder.

If you would like to read more of my work, click below.

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About the Creator

J. Delaney-Howe

Bipolar poet. Father. Grandfather. Husband. Gay man. I write poetry, prose, some fiction and a good bit about family. Thank you for stopping by.

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Comments (16)

  • Oliver Millward17 days ago

    Thank you for sharing. Really relatable. Being present within the moment is something I struggle with. I search for distractions from my thoughts.

  • I relate to you and this story on so many levels. I lost my mom seven years ago after she battled liver failure for years on top of battle my own bipolar depression. Things can be so tumultuous at the least opportune time, but the thing that has gotten me through it is the wonderful people around me and you have a whole community of people here behind who love and adore you! Stay strong my friend and persevere and know that you’re never alone!

  • kp23 days ago

    love to you, jim. thank you for sharing this with us. i'm also bipolar and understand the sleepless nights and constantly running thoughts. here's to you and your beautiful family during this incredibly trying time.

  • Congratulations on having your story featured as a top story on Vocal! This is a remarkable achievement, and it's clear why your work has received such recognition. Your storytelling is truly exceptional. The narrative was not only compelling but also beautifully crafted, holding my attention from start to finish. The way you developed the characters and plot was masterful, making the story both engaging and thought-provoking. Your unique voice and perspective shine through, setting your work apart. It’s evident that you poured a lot of passion and effort into this piece, and it has certainly paid off. I look forward to reading more of your incredible stories in the future. Keep up the fantastic work! Best regards, Dr. Jay

  • Tiffany Gordon 29 days ago

    Hi Jim Sorry 2 hear of your current circumstances. Happy u were able to take a mini getaway. Praying 4 comfort 4 u and your hubby ...

  • Thanks for sharing such a personal and raw experience! 🩷 Not bipolar but completely understand the deal about drowning out the silence of nighttime.

  • I understand your frustration with sleeping. I had a similar experience with severe depression and anxiety a few years ago at night. I’d watch ASMR rain and train videos to calm down and see if I could sleep. I hope you and your husband got well rested. Great piece I resonated with you on this

  • Boy, life does have its way of bunching up. I am so sorry things are so pressing. Writing it down can be like a drug, releasing the toxins on paper. Please know you are in my thoughts. <3 Congrats on the top story

  • Steve L Abdullah30 days ago Thank you for sharing such an insightful post! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and found your perspective quite engaging. Feel free to visit Inforinn. It's a dedicated platform for global readers

  • Heather Zieffle about a month ago

    Thank you for sharing. Writing can be therapeutic so I hope that also helps to bring you peace.

  • Caroline Cravenabout a month ago

    Gosh that’s a lot to be going through. I’m so sorry your mother in law has had such a rubbish diagnosis. I cared for my grandmother when she was dying from cancer and it was tough. Please try to give yourself a break. I feel that as a society we’re supposed to be happy and look for the positives in everything. Sometimes that’s really hard and makes things so much worse. Wishing you all the best. Just take care.

  • Judey Kalchik about a month ago

    You and Mark are going through the fire together. Your narrative is NOT whining, just working through the facts and sharing. I’m glad you both got some time to yourselves and very glad the ac started working.

  • Jonathan Apolloabout a month ago

    So many of your actions and feelings mirrored my own when my mother was in the hospital fighting cancer. Since her passing, I started sleeping with rain sounds from YouTube. Like you, they seem to drown out my own racing thoughts - and they can be quite heavy if I allow them to be. I hope writing this brought you a moment of calm. You're doing what you can and that's more than enough. My thoughts go out to you and your husband. Thank you for posting this.

  • Oneg In The Arcticabout a month ago

    I love the honesty, because sometimes we're in the nicest coolest place- but we still carry our bag of shit. And sometimes it just gets in the damn way and it takes us time to diffuse our own minds. It happens. Its HUMAN. And I appreciate your honesty about it. Do what you need to do to get through the next bit.

  • Carol Townendabout a month ago

    Firstly, thank you for sharing your feelings, and you're not whining. It is a hard situation to be in, especially when you are dealing with high anxiety. I was in the same place both before and after my stepfather died. I know things are stressful for you, but your feelings are valid given the situation that you are both going through. Remember, talking about your feelings and looking after yourselves is important at this time in your lives, and never feel bad for sharing your feelings and thoughts with us.

J. Delaney-HoweWritten by J. Delaney-Howe

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