The Tower IRL

So I can read books again. 

Towards the beginning of this newsletter, I wrote about re-learning how to read and watch stuff after I lost a ton of memory, concentration, abstract thinking, verbal processing, and the ability to make connections a few years ago. This is pretty typical of PTSD and bipolar. It is called brain fog and it sucks. A lot. Mine happened very fast. I knew what thinking felt like and then, I didn’t. Sometimes, it was better, sometimes it was worse, but it was always there. I got used to it. Or, not used to it, but okay with it. Or, not okay with it, but accepting of it. This was my life, and I could spend it in mourning or not. I re-formed my sense of self. 

But it wasn’t the PTSD, and it wasn’t the bipolar. It was a medication. No one thought to guess, because not only is brain fog common for PTSD/bipolar, almost no brain fog components are side effects of this med. I decided to go off the med for unrelated reasons, but about two weeks into tapering down, things suddenly started seeming sharper. For days, I couldn’t figure out what was I was feeling. Until eventually I recognized it— I was feeling like myself. I didn’t try to confirm with anyone for a while, but when I did, my sister, who had clearly been holding back on saying something, told me that the change was dramatic. I spent 26 months on that drug.

Big The Tower hours over here in Queens.

This is all dovetailing with my ever-increasing obsession with The Untamed (which I pinky promise I will not write about again until I finish it). It’s interesting to try to describe this style of obsession to people who haven’t experienced it. It is consumptive. It is like living in capital letters. My time is spent analyzing. It has become difficult to explain my thoughts and feelings to other people because I am understanding them predominantly in reference to the show. I have made many playlists. We’re not even halfway through. A tiny bit of what obsession looks like for me:

We don’t talk much about what you gain when The Tower falls. We talk a lot about The Star, and how the fall might be necessary, but it’s not something to look forward to. As I’m struck by horror-waves about the amount of time I was on that drug, I’m also having the intense joy of recognizing myself more and more. (To be clear, I’m still hella mentally ill and lose time and have regular brain fog and have in fact been low level out of it for a few days and some stuff is gone forever, but that’s just how my brain works [or maybe it’s connected to a different, necessary medication] so I do not conceive of it as horrifying.) Thinking and talking about The Untamed is one of the ways that I’m poking at the rubble of The Tower, kicking bricks to see what flips over, playing king of the hill in the ruins. I am seeing metaphors and drawing connections, building off my friends’ ideas, even goofing off about it in ways that I just couldn’t two months ago. It’s a distraction from dealing with The Tower falling at the same time as it’s proof that it did. 

A thing about The Tower, though, is that it’s also a threat. Part of why it’s such a scary card is that what’s falling is usually something you didn’t realize could. And once it falls, you’ll never forget that what you build in its place is fragile. Because of the way this drug works, I might not actually know the bipolar-specific effects of being off it until months from now, and once they happen, I might decide that they are unmanageable. I’ll try a different med if I do, but it’s very frightening. It makes the The Untamed obsession have a sort of bubbling freneticism— what if this is the last time I’ll get to do this with a show on this level? What if I never get to understand the intricacies of a show again? I’d be obsessed regardless, but there’s something different about an obsession tinged with The Tower, something deep and frantic and fun. 

I do not have a nice wrap-up for this, or even a not-nice wrap-up. It’s just. Y’know. Been on my mind.


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