train cliff


It was the serotonin boosters that got me, I think.

Sometime over the summer, I heard this incredibly fast and upbeat song that I had never heard before. Ironically upbeat…it was about horrible time in life. In singer Frank Turner’s case, it was a painful break-up.

But, man. He was singing so hard and so fast, and I had zoned out on a good chunk of the song, trying to decide if I liked it [I suspected I did], I had not grasped the content yet.

Then. One line nailed me in the gut. Then across the face. Finally, up under the chin. Just for good fucking measure.

So I’ve been pounding on the floor and I’ve been crawling up the walls/And I’ve been dipping in my darkness for serotonin boosters/Cider and some kind of smelling salts.


Yup. Serotonin boosters. Those.

People had been at me for so long to deal with this, hmm, what exactly? I guess what Brené Brown would call a breakdown spiritual awakening. But to everyone around me, it just looked like I was losing my mind. And I was. Happily. Wait. That’s not right. Not doing it happily. Fuck no. But happily as a completed project…as in, on this other side, I am happy to have shed my broken thinking. Still, in the middle of it all, it looked like I was *for sure* going crazy. It felt like I was reaping a long-held-off inevitability. With a family history of both addiction and mental illness, I have always ridden two high risk trains. Heading toward each other. On the edge of a cliff.

It was not a fun time.

So this Dear Brit, Mr. Frank Turner, put into words almost exactly what I was feeling. Like, in the moment, right then in my car on the way back to my house from the grocery. Not oh, I *recognize* that feeling. What I was experiencing, inside the actual experience. He was talking about a break-up, and while that wasn’t relevant to my story…wait. It kind of was.

Those cliff-hugging, collision-bound trains were moving crazy fast, yes, but it was a looooong journey. My marriage? Close call, is all. With more Anna Karenina moments than I care to remember. And not the sexy cavorting-with-Vronsky moments. More the desperate-date-with-a-train pages. But that’s a story for another day.

I talk about the ‘other side’ but I am still very much in the middle. It is *still* a long way to recovery. Dammit. Recovery from questioning your own sanity. From the judgement and fear of others. Recovery from walking around, emotionally bare-footed, tearing flesh on broken pieces of your old mind. You know, before you have it together enough to go get the goddamn broom.

Recovery-relapse-recovery. It’s the pattern of addicts – and HUMANS – everywhere. People who coast aren’t really living. I don’t mean to say that the good, satisfied times that last for a long spell are false. Just that if you are truly showing up in your life, there will always be times of growth and change. And it will be painful. But then there is this:

and the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.


So true. So happily* true.


patti carlyle

Writer, feminist and activist in Cleveland, Ohio. I curate a collectic blog of quotes, links, images and long form writing. Learn more or find me on Facebook, Twitter, .

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  1. Errol

    Today, I went to the beach with my kids. I found a sea shell and gave it to my
    4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She put the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is entirely off topic but I had to tell someone!

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