Another Thinking Animal, a short story

Daulton Dickey.

26169523_533387417028677_3406170926569762977_n—So tell me why you’re here.

—I’m tired. Not exhausted, but … just, I don’t know, tired. Sarah’s wearing that gray face sad people wear, that mask with dead eyes looks like an unpainted statue.

—Can you describe it? “Tired” is so …

—Not clear?

—Mmm Hmm.

—I didn’t want no attention, she says. —Some people, I think, will think I did it for attention. But it wasn’t attention I wanted.

—What did you want? What did you hope to achieve?

—Shit. What you think?

—And that seemed like a solution?

—No, she says. —Not a solution. An escape.

—But an escape’s not a solution.

—Didn’t say I was looking for no solution. Escape sounded fine by me.

The doctor glances at his notes. He spins his pen between his fingers and clicks his tongue. Seems like there’s some place he’d rather be, like maybe drinking martinis on his yacht or whatever it is doctors do when they ain’t talking to suicides.

—It says here you’re on LexiPro and Wellbutrin, he says. —Were you taking them when you attempted …

—Hell yes I was, Sarah says. —They numbed things, but they didn’t stop the thoughts, the bad thoughts flying through my head. They didn’t make me feel full when all I feel is empty all the time. (more…)

Our Ten Most Popular Articles of the Year

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In a Psych Ward on Suicide Watch: A True Story



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img_3797 (more…)

How to Fail at Crowdfunding and Get Tanked by an Old Celebrity

Daulton Dickey.

25552118_528693620831390_7355383202780091910_nFew things are worse than poverty. Struggling to make ends meet from week to week, month to month takes a toll on you, both mentally and physically. Stress and anxiety corrupt your mind, deprives you of sleep, destroys your appetite. Stomach pains are common with me. Sometimes excruciating pain prevents me from doing—or even wanting to do—anything. Toss bipolar disorder and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) into the picture and you’ve got a mess on your hands. Even on Klonopin and Prozac, I’m a mess. My anxiety slices through the mellowing effects of the drugs and locks me in a sort of stasis and I fight to overcome my anxiety and live a somewhat effective life.

Poverty spikes my anxiety, especially when bills pile up and rent is due and we don’t have enough money to cover everything. The stress sometimes paralyzes me, as it does now: currently, we’re behind on rent—we were short last month, we don’t have enough to cover next month’s rent, and no way of generating that money in such a short amount of time. In addition, my car tires are in rough shape. I have to fill them every day. It’s only a matter of time before I step outside to go to work and find four flat, dead tires. (more…)

Notes of a Poor Bastard: Of Poverty and Parasites

Daulton Dickey.

(Note: This is the latest installment of an ongoing column. Click here to the index for previous installments.)

24852600_522175624816523_6155051481049473096_nI was working the counter when some old knucklehead sashayed through the doors and wanted a thermostat for his car. His complexion told you he had money: he was in his 60s and his face was smooth and more or less wrinkle free. Meat on people who don’t worry year in and year out about food and housing tend to maintain a youthful elegance. His face wasn’t taut or shiny, which ruled out plastic surgery. He was simply a man whose concerned lay outside the sphere of struggling to make ends meet.

Like most people with money who found their way into the part store, he was clueless. He knew the year and the model but not the make or the engine size or the OE thermostat temperature. He somehow knew he needed a thermostat and expected me to procure it for him. (more…)

Flesh Made World—an excerpt from an upcoming novel

Daulton Dickey.

art-2324030_960_720It confused her whenever it happened. And it was at least partly confusing because she couldn’t always anticipate when it would happen.

Sometimes a chill curled her spine, sometimes her temples throbbed, sometimes her knees ached—and then sometimes the world blinked off and on without warning or the slightest provocation, at least as far as she could tell. (more…)

Notes of a Poor Bastard: Fear and Anxiety

Daulton Dickey.

(Note: This is the latest installment of an ongoing column. Click here to the index for previous installments.)

img_4397So I’m sitting in my car outside the emergency room, windows down, smoking a cigarette. Signs every ten feet or so declare this property smoke free, but for the amount these swine charge me for a visit here, they can lick my sphincter if they think I’m going to haul ass across the street to choke down a square. To be honest, I don’t even know why I’m sitting here. I just got out, after more than two hours. Two long hours. And nothing accomplished.

It’s a few minutes before ten in the morning. I woke up at ten ’til seven, anticipating my alarm, and felt strange: lightheaded, hollow-boned my heart racing. I bolted up and checked my pulse. 130 bpm. How the fuck do you wake up with a heart rate that goddam high? Sweet Jesus, I’m fucked. This is how I die, like my father—a fucking heart attack.

Fear twisted my head in a vice. Tension behind my eyeballs threatened to jettison them from my skull. Every muscle in my body tensed. No, “tensed” isn’t the right word; they seized. And every nerve in my body, every axon in my brain, seemed to fray then scorch. (more…)

Notes of a Poor Bastard: My Adventures in Unemployment, Underemployment, and Bipolar Disorder, Part 6

Daulton Dickey.

(Note: This is the latest installment of an ongoing column. Click here to the index for previous installments.)


ddickeyBenzo withdrawal sucks. I wouldn’t recommend it.

In my zeal to wean myself off Lamictal, it didn’t occur to me to taper off the Xanax. Instead, I took the remaining pills over the course of a few days and disposed of the bottle. That I could or would experience withdrawal didn’t occur to me until the symptoms descended on me.

I wasn’t quick to recognize the strangeness as withdrawal, which stoked my anxiety as I experienced topsy-turvy perceptions of reality—that’s the best way to describe it: “topsy-turvy.” Everything felt off-kilter, somehow. Even my visual perception shifted. Imagine consuming thirty cappuccinos loaded with espresso. Too much caffeine made “reality” appear as if I were experiencing it through a camera with a foggy lens and the gain cranked too high. (more…)

Confessions of a Depressed Failure


Daulton Dickey.

Karl Persson

I’m depressed. I don’t want to get out of bed. When I do, I sometimes have to persuade myself that life’s worth living. I have a wife and kids—they’re also central to my internal arguments.

I am a failure. Every month is a struggle to scrape enough money to pay the bills, and it gets harder every single month. I’m a failure as a writer and as an artist. No one reads me and no one cares what I have to say. I’m a failure as a husband, a father, a son, and a brother. I ignore my family and I’m not sure why. I just don’t want to interact with people on some days. On the flip side to this, I want to interact with everyone on other days, but almost everyone—with the exception of my family—dismisses or ignores me. I try to reach out to talk to people, most ignore me, and this fires me into a spiral of self-loathing and feelings of worthlessness. On most days, I feel like an unknown or unwanted person. I’m persona non grata personified. (more…)

Notes of a Poor Bastard: My Adventures in Unemployment, Underemployment, and Bipolar Disorder, part 5

Daulton Dickey.

(Note: this is the latest installment of an ongoing column. Click here for the index to previous installments.)



The author and his wife, Alice

My wife had two kids from a previous relationship. I helped raise them since they were toddlers. I consider them my children—I never use the word “step kids.” As far as I’m concerned, they’re mine, even though their father’s in the picture and picks them up every other weekend. They’re good kids—innocent and naïve—but a bit too obsessed with video games and YouTube, as with most kids their age. As a child, I couldn’t imagine choosing to sit indoors all day. But we live in a different time, I suppose.

They’re good kids. They don’t ask for much because they know we can’t afford much, but they do want things every now and then and it’s hard to look them in the eyes and tell them why they can’t get it. We’re broke. We can’t afford it. We’re poor. I’m a worthless bastard who’s failing you guys and your mother. Although they understand we can’t afford much, they still feel the pinch, the pain. You can see it in their eyes on occasion: disappointment—and it hurts. (more…)

In a Psych Ward on Suicide Watch: a True Story

Daulton Dickey.

“My passion was dead. For years it had rolled over and submerged me[…]” –Jean-Paul Sartre, Nausea


23472755_508313162869436_3148584393869646739_nSuicides aren’t always dissatisfied with life. They’re certainly not cowards. Few people who consider themselves brave could commit the ultimate act. In the aftermath of suicide, those left behind search for answers or meaning. Sometimes they can find answers, sometimes meaning doesn’t exist, sometimes the suicide is the result of a brain wired differently and given free rein to act on its impulses.

If you reduce the physical universe to its most basic components, you’ll find most of the building blocks are comprised of empty space. When I experienced suicidal depression, I experienced the sensation of the emptiness of the physical universe. Every second of every day. Every atom contains emptiness. Since I was composed of atoms, I was mostly empty–physically and emotionally.

And that emptiness weighed on me. It strangled me. It assumed a three-dimensional form and embraced me, suffocated me, asphyxiated me. I was never more informed or aware of the emptiness of the universe than when anxiety and suicidal depression descended on me. (more…)