Ethereal Shadows

Anxiety runs rampantly, off of it’s leash, and unchecked.  It envelops me, trapping me in this fully contained, semi-translucent bubble.  The oxygen runs thin and the overabundance of carbon dioxide fogs my mind.  I am suffocating and immobilized, encased in thick, unyielding plastic.  I can see the world through clouded lenses all around me, but I am unable to touch it, to reach it.

The thoughts race faster than the stock cars in my mind, polluting my air within the dome.  “What if…?”  “How can I possibly…?”  “What can’t I…?”  My confidence dissolves in the thick, poisonous soup it creates.  I begin to disappear, becoming thinner within the wash.

And eventually, the cars come to a grinding halt, gears moaning and crunching at the sudden termination of everything and anything.  For a moment, the entire world, the whole existence goes blank, as plain as a clean sheet of paper.  Then, suddenly, I am propelled into pitch darkness, fumbling around for the scattered remnants that are not my own cognition.

In this blackness, there is a certain emptiness abound.  A void of mind and feeling transforms me into an ethereal creature containing the absence of any trace of matter.  I drift aimlessly upon streams of thin air, shivering as currents pass clean through me.

My soul liquifies and pours like a thick, black ribbon into a clear mason jar.  Now, it is preserved like blackberry jam, shifting and wiggling with its gelatinous quality.  My hands caress the glass longingly, for it has become as unreal as I have become.  I may look upon it, however, I may not touch.  It is now a forbidden fruit that will spoil long before I am prepared to reclaim it as my own.

Abysmal sheets of icy rain obscure my vision now.  A thick fog rolls in as dense, leaf bare woods encompass me.  Severed from me, my own emotions are carried back in with the fog, high above my head as it rolls on.  I reach, stretching my entire being high in the air above my head, attempting to get just a little bit closer toward them.  But they are not my own.

Are they?

Indistinguishable.  Everything becomes questionable in this parareality.  Wispy words come out in airless breaths within this vacuum of time and space.  Questions come rolling into reality with no discernable answer.  “Where am I?”  “Who am I?”  “What am I?”  All concepts float away, vibrating with each anxious blink.

Each push of the fog shoves me flat on my back against a frozen, unforgiving, unyielding earth.  Each successive tumble knocks even more wind from my lungs.  I squeeze my eyes shut and resign myself to this fate.  Paralyzed, I am defeated against this awesome force.

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BPD and Me

A post by Angel, concerning Avoidant Personality Disorder, had me thinking again about the possibility of me having Borderline Personality Disorder.  This is a suspicion that has plagued me throughout the course of my treatment within the last year or so.  Instead of going straight to the Borderline Screenings, I went to a personality disorder screening to see the possibilities of what I may be dealing with.

Disorder Rating
Paranoid Personality Disorder: High
Schizoid Personality Disorder: Low
Schizotypal Personality Disorder: Moderate
Antisocial Personality Disorder: Low
Borderline Personality Disorder: Very High
Histrionic Personality Disorder: High
Narcissistic Personality Disorder: High
Avoidant Personality Disorder: High
Dependent Personality Disorder: High
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: High
Take the Personality Disorder Test
Personality Disorder Info

I really never imagined that I would be symptomatic of multiple disorders in Axis II.  Since BPD still remained the highest, I decided to take a specific screening.

Results of Your
Borderline Personality Test

You scored a total of 43.
Severe Borderline Personality Disorder Likely
You answered this self-report test in a way that’s consistent with people who have been diagnosed with severe Borderline Personality Disorder. This suggests that these concerns may be an issue for you as well, and something that you should seek out further assistance with this issue from a trained mental health professional immediately. Borderline Personality Disorder is characterized by a pattern of unstable and intense relationships, as well as frantic efforts to avoid abandonment — even if it’s not real.

I thought about the entire year and the instability of my own marriage – the most solid thing I can think of.  I had all of these paranoid delusions that my husband was cheating on me, although in the back of my mind, I knew it was not a possibility.  I sabotaged myself at work with the line of thinking that everyone was against me.  I started severing ties with coworkers and hiding in my classroom.  I had always thought that was characteristic of bipolar psychosis, but now, I’m not so sure.

Using the same site that Angel used, I discovered something kind of shocking:

You may be at risk for developing BPD if:

  • you have a family member who has BPD
  • you felt emotionally unstable or emotionally vulnerable as a child
  • people in your household were impulsive when you were a child
  • you were emotionally abused as a child

And all of those were true.  My mother does not have a confirmed case of Borderline Personality Disorder, but it seems she is symptomatic.  When she was a very young child, she was put into foster care.  She has absolutely no memory of this, and none of her family members will detail what happened.  My mother married her first husband on a whim, because his draft number came up to go to Vietnam.  She had an extremely turbulent relationships with him, and he mostly left her alone all of the time.  That’s how she met and fell in love with my father.

Their marriage isn’t much better.  In private, she has gone on and on about my father’s faults.  They have had a rocky relationships, where I recall them throwing around the word “divorce” probably far more often than they should have.  She binge drinks and sometimes takes too much medication.  Medication that isn’t even hers to begin with.  She is as impulsive as she can be in her restrictive environment and goes through so much emotional turbulence.  But, she will never leave my father, no matter what.

I was an emotionally unstable child, and I wasn’t the one to immediately notice.  My preschool teacher had mentioned to my mother that I needed to “toughen up”.  That one little phrase was enough to spark years of tough love and general emotional abuse and neglect.  It gave them a free pass to call it “good parenting”.  As a result, I developed this need for achievement as a means of recognition.  I was designed to people please.  Regardless, another comment came from a teacher stating, “Doesn’t take constructive criticism”.  And the idea that criticism was encouraged compounded what I was already going through.

Impulsiveness!  My father used to just go drive off in his car without telling my mother where he was going.  He’d be gone for hours, and she’d be a wreck.  One time, he went through the house waving a gun, terrorizing us with suicidal gestures.  Honestly, I can never get that scene out of my head as hard as I could ever try.  My parents have both run their credit into the dirt over impulsive shopping sprees.

Now, here’s where things get tricky.  Friends and family in the past have suggested that I may be suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder.  An ex used those weaknesses against me.  So the presentation is convoluted because my actions are purposefully deceiving.

frantic efforts to avoid real or perceived abandonment

I self-sabotage in this area.  When I perceive abandonment, I start to shut that person out of my life.  I have this funny idealization that person will perceive my own emotional abandonment and come running back.  It’s what my parents and my ex did to me, and I seemed to have picked it up.

I’ll also become more sexual and start having defensive sex or performing certain sexual acts to peak someone’s interest and entice them into staying with me.

I also have this habit of changing everything about myself to appease my partner.  This is an effort to avoid abandonment.  And it’s one that’s been preyed on before.

pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships, characterized by alternating between idealization and devaluation (“love-hate” relationships)

People that are close to me are also subjected to this regularly.  Honestly, this is a major reason why I don’t let people get too close to me.  At first, I idealize someone and pick out the best of their characteristics.  Then, I start to idealize how the relationship with them will go.  Soon, I will become disillusioned at the first sign of trouble.  And it is at that point that I begin to demonize someone.  Everything about them is bad, and I have ever right to be suspicious at their deceptive behavior.  Except, it wasn’t deceptive.  I perceived them to be something that they weren’t and assigned them to the task of living up to my unrealistic expectations.

extreme, persistently unstable self-image and sense of self

I’d like to paraphrase the way I perceive myself.  I have lived a dozen lives, and each time, with every death, I’ve risen like the phoenix out of the ashes.  In my life, I have been a dozen different people and will be dozens more, each with their own birth, life, and death, only to start once more.

I take one aspect of my life and characterize myself through it.  I’ve been a baker, a mother, a wild child, a caretaker, a housewife, a teacher, a crazy woman, a bipolar woman, etc.  And for some reason, I can’t seem to integrate all of those periods of my life into the same entity.  They are just all separate from one another, as if I were living so many different characters in the same skin.

impulsive behavior in at least two areas (such as spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating)

It is well known that I have a substance abuse problem with alcohol. But, here are a few facts that are the most difficult things for me to admit. I am guilty of day drinking every now and again. It is never when I’m alone with my child, for the record.  I am also guilty of taking too many benzodiazepines to escape reality from time to time.  Yes, I abuse my medication every now and again.  But, it’s not a dependence kind of thing.  I don’t find that it’s necessary, until I get into a frenzy of hysteria that produces so much distress that it’s unbearable.  The drugs quiet my mind.

And the other one is very difficult to admit as well, and I’m not sure if I can spell it out in detail.  I have a difficult relationship with food, dieting, and exercise.  I am guilty of binge eating.  I am also guilty of purging if I am distressed.  Especially if it’s about my weight.

And lastly, I recently made a confession of my sexual exploits in my youth in Promiscuously Yours, in the series The Friday Confessional.  I had multiple reasons for cheating on my ex, which is something I wouldn’t normally do.  I have a better moral compass than that.  Sometimes, I was so distressed that I just wanted to feel some kind of love.  Sometimes, I was trying to prove to myself that I was something special.  And other times, I did it out of spite.  Any which way you look at it, I did it in highly emotional moments.  And I always regretted it later.

recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or recurring acts of self-mutilation (such as cutting or burning oneself)

My cutting has been well documented in the past.  Unless I make a mindful effort not to self-harm, I will engage in the behavior.  I’ve written posts about the whys and wherefores in Why Self-Injurious Behavior?.  It’s complicated.

unstable mood caused by brief but intense episodes of depression, irritability, or anxiety

The mood episodes aren’t brief, so it leads me to believe that I may have a co-morbid diagnosis instead of a misdiagnosis.  However, I’ve always said this, and people have disagreed with me.  The only two constants for me and my disorder are reactivity and irritability.  I was under the impression that everyone with bipolar disorder is reactive and generally irritable most of the time.  Apparently, I was wrong.

I always have this underlying anxiety.  It’s made worse by social interaction, certain phobias I’ve developed, and worst of all, having to make decisions on my own.  It’s difficult for me to take care of my personal affairs, because I am always waiting on another person’s approval.  I get anxious when I make a decision by myself, because I often second guess myself.  I am constantly seeking reassurance about my decisions and guidance from others.

chronic feelings of emptiness

This one is complicated.  I don’t often feel empty.  I often feel lonely or distant.  Sometimes, I feel invisible, rejected, or ignored.  Most of the time, I actually feel too full.  I’m too full of emotion, noise, and stimuli.  I often have several voices and personas that follow me and make commentary on my life.  It’s too much.  But when medicine gets rid of them, though I am relieved by the lack of conflict, I am lonelier.  It feels like a piece of me is absent.

inappropriate and intense anger, or difficulty controlling anger displayed through temper outbursts, physical fights, and/or sarcasm

I recently wrote a post called, “I Want My Yellow Dress” using the analogy of a little girl in a movie in the most epic temper tantrum ever known to describe my own inner child.  My anger is often out of proportion for a given situation.  I have a bad temper, and I know it.  It’s something I’ve tried to deny for a long time.

In Love the Way You Lie, I described a mutually abusive relationship.  It was the only time in my life I have ever lashed out physically, but the point is that I did.  Whether a person could classify that as self-defense is questionable.  There were times I did it because I wanted to inflict pain on him.  I felt like he needed to know my own pain.

stress-related paranoia that passes fairly quickly and/or severe dissociative symptoms— feeling disconnected from one’s self, as if one is an observer of one’s own actions

I’ve written scores of blog posts and theories about this.  I am prone to paranoia, and I experience it rather frequently.  With my recent medication change, I can say that I usually only go through it once weekly.  Prior to the medication change, it was much more frequent than that.

The dissociative symptoms have been documented in Conscious, Subconscious, and Extraconscious, where I described a theory of multiple personas rather than full blown personalities residing in a place between the conscious and subconscious mind.  It’s complicated to get into, but it’s worth a read honestly.  It would give you a better idea of what I’m talking about in terms of dissociative symptoms.

When I’m doing something out of character, I often feel like I’m not the one who is doing it.  I feel like I’m trapped inside myself, or even completely outside of my own body, as a helpless observer.  When everything is said and done, sometimes I don’t quite remember the details of what happened.

It’s something I’m going to have to talk to my doctor about, because as I get older, it seems to get worse, rather than better.  Sure, I am not self-injuring in the sense that I’m not cutting.  But, I am still engaging in impulsive behaviors, and I can’t tolerate distress or disappointment.  My anger is out of control most of the time.  And that’s not when I feel too doped up to do anything.  Sometimes, I have symptoms regardless of the medication.  When I relapse, it’s usually very bad, and feels like it’s worse than the one prior.  I don’t just have a blip of an episode, but a full blown, complicated one.

Vitamin L : Medication Adventures

Lamictal.  The one drug that I can say that we’ve all been on at one point or another in our adventures with medication.

Pardon me, my aphasia is showing with a little dash of emotional flattening.

I’m having difficultly remembering how to spell things.  You wouldn’t know it, because there is a such thing as spell check just for this purpose (but not solely).  My emotions are at such a level that I don’t actually feel.  It’s closer to a favorite pair of jeans where the dye has just completely washed out.  The jeans still look good, but they are faded and muted.  That’s me.  Faded and muted.

I can’t write intelligently like I did before.  Everything just comes pouring out like word vomit, because I can’t hang on to a thought for longer than a moment.  It’s a miracle that I can put anything coherent together.

The landscape of my technicolor world washed away into an old movie reel.  It’s so surreal.  Once, I was the flowing turquoise waters of the seas, ever changing, always in motion.  Now, I am the cracked earth, immobile and silent.  And ever so slowly, I am drying up and eroding, existing without life rooted in me.  Only the empty air whistles in my mind, catching a faint tune here and there, only to carry it away.

Moments come in flashes.  I am engrossed and deeply engaged for just a few seconds before I am distracted by something nonsensical.

Stop.  Sip of coffee.  What was I doing again?  I reread my last passage, and I am stumped, because it seems futile to even continue.  What is the point I am trying to convey with such vague and poorly worded imagery?

That was my world for the last month, prior to the last couple of weeks.  That is my life today, a translucent figure shrouded by shadows, discontent with such a shackled self.

That was not my life over the past couple of days.  That is how I narrowed down what medicine was doing this to me.  I was starting to run out of Lamictal, my Vitamin L as it’s commonly called in the mental health community (not to be confused with the Vitamin L of Lithium).  I lowered my dose from 300 mg to 200 mg in order to make it through successfully.

Except, there was no success to be had.  I went straight back into the same mixed episode I’ve been a slave to for more than nine months.  It was almost as bad as before, sans the psychosis.  I referred to it as Energetically Sad.  The story of my life.  I went into several crying fits a day, panicked and shouting the same phrase again and again,

“I can’t do this!!!  I can’t do this!!!”

Not again.  Not again.  Not again.

I can’t do this again.

Ultimately, I grabbed my precious medicine and dosed. The distress was immeasurable. I needed relief from that hell, the one I had endured for far too long.

But, I realized I’m not experiencing relief. I’m experiencing escape. My mind goes into a state of partial shutdown, leaving me no real clarity in any aspect. My consciousness is jagged, disjointed, and blurry, at best.

I experience slow motion waves of hollow, but shallow depression. Futility is found at every turn. The shadows seem deeper and more defined, like menacing sillouttes in the distance. I can’t shake them, but they can’t seem to touch me. They nip at my heels, and send ripples of darkness through me, infecting every molecule. And in a few moments, it passes, the poison having been purged.

At first, I thought it was just me. It felt like a new state altogether, like anxiety masked by a tight cloth, rustling, deperately seeking an outlet. It had the face of depression, leaving me dispondent and uninspired. But no true symptoms existed. Not in the desperate, deep dark places I’ve been. I stood in a parellel existence unlike anything I’ve ever known.

And then I thought, “Is this what it’s like to be better?” Dullness and mild discontent.

It’s not.

It’s the medication.

So, that leaves me with two very undesirable states. Perpetual distress or muted depression and anxiety. One zaps my everything, making me too medicated to function. The other disrupts my life with meltdowns, only making me partially functional.

One little pill is what makes the world of difference. My vitamin L.

Everything is (not) Wonderful Now

“I just don’t understand how you can smile with all those tears in your eyes and tell me everything is wonderful now.” – Everclear – Wonderful

I feel as if I have been robbed of something.  Most of the time, I’m blank with these vague floating emotions.  Sometimes, I can tap into them, but it is more akin to breaking open the Pandora’s box.  These emotions suddenly intensify and flood over me, consuming me like a tsunami.  A thief crept in the window to my mind and stole my translator for emotion to cognition.

I am inclined to speculate as to whether this is just a side effect of losing those internal monologues / dialogues.  On occasion, I catch myself attempting to recreate them, especially in the moments of severe, agonizing distress.  However, there seems to have been some kind of role reversal.  Instead of my dominant persona being confused by multiple personas in my head, those lesser personas being the ones who generated the intrusive thoughts and discord in the chambers of my mind, there remains one persona.  This persona is new.  She’s the therapist.  What do people call it?  Maybe the voice of reason?

Blank slate.  I am seemingly an empty canvas.  I never cared much for empty things, because they require filling.  There are always these second thoughts and doubts; Am I doing it right?  What if I mess up?  It highlights the cracks.  I float around in my life without immediate purpose, without the constant noise that colored my life.

One would think the riddance of such garbage background noise and a wide spectrum of ever fluctuating emotions would be a positive improvement.  There remains this empty container where thoughts and emotion would overflow out of, the tap of which being always open.  The source has dried up, and it seems an IOU is tightly fastened to the bottom without a named perpetrator.

One would suspect that another would be at peace without such distressful experiences such as psychosis.  Instead, I find that I cannot seem to associate myself with this state.  I don’t belong here.  This doesn’t feel right. Something is wrong.  It’s all wrong.

One would think that all of this freedom would be so wonderful.

Everything is not wonderful now.  The tears of mourning still come to my eyes as if I were somehow missing a piece.  Colors seem to be dimmer and the whole world feels washed out.  It is distressing in itself.  The absence of myself.  The crazy, emotional, outrageous, always interesting, talkative woman has become muted, grasping at straws for conversation and content.

Is this what it feels like to be normal?

The Seeds of Doubt

Amnesiac.

That might be a painfully accurate depiction of a large part of me. My memories prior to eleven are largely fragmented, save for a few vague impressions, recurring themes, and a traumatic experience that has recently resurfaced to rear it’s ugly head at me. Regardless of how often I attempted recalls, those calls went unanswered. A flicker, like a spark, would come alive, but leave existence as quickly as it came.

I often find myself in a unfocused world of disjointed memories and alternate realities. The vast fields of fog are sewn with seeds of doubt, spouting fears and obsessions. In those fields and shadows, monsters have plentiful cover to prowl for their prey – me.

They often say that when a lie is repeated so many times, it starts to embed itself as a portion of factual memory. Basically, if a person believes in something strongly enough, it becomes real. It becomes enough to rewrite someone’s entire history. The lines between reality and fantasy start to blur in a place where fiction and fact can coexist, even potentially peacefully.

Unfortunately, I have not once before been a person who can successfully smudge the details of my own personal past. Not to myself, anyway. I can report being guilty of deception by omission. But, something distressful stirs and blinks with any instance I even remotely consider telling a blatant lie.

This is not say I am immune to deception and coercion into accepting an outright lie. My psyche is malleable in the way where I am susceptible to manipulation. Why? Because it’s been the very basis of which I have been raised.  My father once told me, “Believe none of what you hear, and only half of what you see.”  Then, was it his intent to distort my world in such a way that I will one day have difficulty trusting myself?

There are so many clinical words for this.  DissociationDepersonalizationDerealization.  Psychosis.  Delusion.  HallucinationDissociative Fugue.  Splitting.  Repression.  Coping.  So many clinical terms that overlap in their definitions, and yet, not one quite captures the true essence of being within it’s grip.

For me, my repression has a proximity sensor.  Clinically, it’s called Dissociative Amnesia or Dissociative Fugue.  In the past, I have always called it throwing a block or throwing up a wall.  I am figuratively walking along in my own mind, through wild, overgrown fields and forests of my own memories to suddenly smash into a concrete wall.  Suddenly, the whole landscape shifts, and I am boxed in this nondescript, blank white room.  White walls, white floors, no windows.  It is me and a dining room chair.  This is my mental waiting room, where I am being isolated until the memory of the memory passes.

I call it, “The Eraser”.  When it’s all said and done, I come back to consciousness in my own familiar surroundings, in my own waking life.  But, is it?

This is the direct result of the seeds of doubt being sewn into a person so carelessly in the impressionable youthful brain.  The concept of an active consciousness is disturbed, and the development is stunted and contorted.  It must be so easy to manipulate someone with such a frail sense of reality, a blank canvas of self, and stunted emotional maturity.  And that’s why abusers do it.

I slip in and out of streams of consciousness, alternate, yet simultaneous realities, and find skips and pauses that disarrange an incomplete chronology of life.  I start to get the belief that I am, in fact, a time traveler, as my external self as my own ship, however I have no use of my own controls.  Somehow, somewhere along the way, I have been damaged.  It mimics human ailments.

But I know none of that is true.  I am just as human as the next person, with cognitive dysfunctions resulting from mental illness and latent trauma.

Or faulty wiring.

I doubt everything.  My experiences often seem surreal.  My memories, unless attached to a particularly powerful moment, are vague.  My short term memory is shot, so it becomes unreliable.  I doubt everything I feel, all of the conclusions that I come to, and some of what is right in front of my face.  I doubt right down to self.  Is this me?  Am I me?  Am I here?
How did I get to such a place where I have to question everything?

 

Antipsychosis

I find that I’m sifting through every corner and combing every shelf.  Typically, this is how the search for my marbles goes.  I have a bulging pouch, a testament to my . . . (I cannot find the word.  This is aphasia at it’s finest.)  To my bounty of sanity that I contain.  No, instead, I am frantically . . . hunting for my inspiration.

Is this dry spell the direct result of my lack of “a certain something”?  Certainly.  Am I what I would consider sane and stable?  Certainly not.  I am muted and docile.  No gusto.  No fire.

No original thoughts of my own, apparently.

There is a certain amount of pressure mounting the a point of bursting.  Unfortunately, I cannot seem to even see my own hand in front of my face.  That is how lacking in vision and perspective I am.  I am unaware if this . . . tension is a dam walling the roaring waters of content.  Silently, I pray it is.

Instead, I feel this tightness in my psyche so strongly it becomes somatic.  What lies beneath, within?  What could possibly be of such importance that it has created a friction that produces no heat?  In all honesty, what could I possibly say about anything?  There is a complete absence of thought.  It has all become a runny stew, too brothy to hold the meat and potatoes intact.

Brain Goop Soup.

. . .

And more nothingness.  Annoyingly silent, echos of almost, faintly mocking me in nondescript whispers.

. . .

I suppose that sometimes, a disconnect develops.  This disconnect . . . well, it is just as indescribable and inexplicable as the nonsense prior.  I find the disjointed nature of these thoughts to be the severing of one underdeveloped conscious thought to the next.  Reality has become too real, and I have become evicted from my own headspace.  Expelled into the real world, where time is near frozen.  Days are detached entities, and moments have no . . . a lack of continuity.

I have found that this is the polar opposite of psychosis.  This is the state of antipsychosis, where reality is overly dominant, and abstract thought . . . is a concept in which I have to make a concerted effort.  Never before in my life have I been so uninspired, so dried up.  My home was in my head, a comfy nest in which I resided.  Where do I make a home in reality?

My bullshit radar is going off.

I find the discovery that instead of tapping into something original, I am going through the motions.

I am needy.

Extroversion has become a monster that requires feeding.  I cannot find the willpower to stop myself from desperately searching outside myself for intellectual stimulation, self-affirmation, and creativity.  I do so with the intent to stir my own soup, but I instead crumple that little page of notebook in my mind and immediately discard.  Irrelevant, my brain determines.  It does not sustain my basic needs.  It is superfluous.

Just pet me and tell me that I’m wonderful.

Not because I need the validation.  I have enough evidence to convince myself of that truth.  (Mania, maybe?)  It just feels nice to be acknowledged in the real world.  Because in the real world, I feel as if I am a wandering, translucent ghost.  Are you listening?  Can you see me?  Do my words count for anything?

Is there something wrong?

Is the theory of antipsychosis actually a manifestation of psychosis?  Are my ideas of eviction from my brain, but an absence of presence in reality a problem?  It is not distressing.  Okay, I find a tiny drop of distress, only at the idea that I may never have another unique idea again.  That this blankness, this . . . blockage will be my doomed fate.

Is my intense desire to be thought of actually neediness?  It is a tad distressing.  It is watered down.  I can live with it.  I find extreme boredom in everything.  Worse, I find myself to be the most boring of all.  I have not once before experience such severe boredom.

How do I reach out and make a connection when I have nothing funny, witty, inspiring, or provocative to say?