If you use the expression TMI or “too much information,” this blog post probably isn’t for you. Put yourself in my shoes for a second. You had a long and difficult recovery from a significant mental health disorder. For years, I was isolated from schizophrenia. I was far too disordered to enjoy myself at social events or even take adequate care of myself. After hard work and lots of strength invested into my health, I started to recover. It was the holiday season, and NYC was about to enter into what we all thought would be a new roaring twenties. I was beginning to feel a bit better and ready to take on the world again. Pretty much the last ten years of recovery, I spent single—relatively no intimacy. Certainly no intercourse. I was taking back the reigns of my life. What an exciting time, I thought!
“Oh, this is bad,” my mom said to me on the phone, referring to a virus outbreak in China. My life was beginning to finally gell. I certainly wasn’t ready for the Pandemic. The first few days of the Pandemic, I was still attending work meetings. We had no idea the world was sinking deeper and deeper around us and would swallow our lives whole. As I said, it was the holiday season. I was chipper, upbeat, and styling with my favorite jacket strutting up Manhattan to what we advocate call a RAC meeting. These are meetings for people who have survived a mental health disorder like myself.
That’s where I met Felecia. She was young, dark, and seemingly in charge. I thought she was building staff and was co-facilitating the meeting. Each time I snuck away for coffee, she followed. We talked a bit, and then some more. As I left the meeting, it struck me that I gave her my number, and she gave me hers. “Ok, Max,” smirking to myself and thinking about significant changes ahead if I could keep up my positive attitude and health. So many significant changes would come my way, I believed, were just around the corner. Changes were happening everywhere. Around the corner and the next, people were dropping like flies from my home to Istanbul. So here we are in the early days of a pandemic, and I find myself falling for someone. The news and stay-at-home orders weren’t in effect just yet. I was dating someone attractive for the first time. Could my life be finally falling into place? I still remember picking her up in her building Bronx Heights. I watched her get in my car, legs first. Those legs, I thought, she is gorgeous.
In the early days, she seemed like she was somewhat in control of herself unless she was drinking, of course.
When she was drinking, it got messy. But back then, a little messy didn’t bother me in the least.
After all, it was a pandemic. We weren’t working. None of what we were doing mattered. The only thing that was important to me then was moving into a relationship. The timing could not be any better because, by the time the two of us were ready to lock ourselves in my studio, lockdown had begun.
I began to form a delusion the end of days was here. Quite frankly, I thought the world was ending. I haven’t seen my parents for months. I usually saw them once or twice a day. No friends were in contact face to face with each other, none at all. No one wants to be around anyone anymore. The world as we know it is over. So here are Felecia and myself in my studio. I was always bad at reading signals from women. She was not hard to read. She kept using foul sexual language and wasn’t casual about it. That first night she told long-winded stories and inserted language like ‘tits’ and ‘fuck’ to talk about her past experiences with men. She spoke so explicitly that it wasn’t long before I realized I was extraordinarily erect and was ready to make my move.
It did not seem to bother me she had just disclosed several troubling stories of abuse and a HEP C diagnosis. The sex was otherworldly. Let’s say now I know what sex is supposed to be. So too much information yet? She was troubled. I wasn’t going anywhere, I thought. I was older, wiser, and had resources. I could offer guidance and process her trauma with her. She had quite a bit of trauma. A bit more than I thought or suspected or surmised anyone could go through and be at a healthy place.
I was right. She wasn’t stable. That didn’t stop me from enjoying myself those first few months of the Pandemic. It was a never-ending parade of delicious in-home cooking and wild, passionate sex that I believed could only be furthered without using condoms. If the world was genuinely ending, I wanted to experience the best sex high imaginable. I wanted to feel life on life’s terms before my ride in this universe was over. In my eyes, then, I figured COVID was a pretty awful death. I also figured, given how at risk I was and my lifelong relationship with unfortunate turns, it was probably only a matter of time until I got sick and was on a ventilator. With that thinking, is it all shocking I wasn’t worried about contracting HEP C?
All of a sudden, people started talking about a vaccine. That’s precisely when I began getting nervous about my future and health if this relationship continued moving forward. Felicia and I began to argue with each other and get into these silly little fights that became so outrageously out of hand I was worried about my safety. The stupid little arguments made me think about her insight. Did she have the same lack of sense when it came to taking her HEP C meds and adhering to treatment? After all, mentally ill people have a habit of stopping the medication a lot. Even if they are just medical meds, can I trust her, I thought? Can I trust her for the long term?
And then people started talking about coming out of lockdown. That’s when I knew if the Pandemic didn’t kill me, HEP C would. My mistake was giving up on life. Never give up! The world might seem like it is over.
This life ends the moment you give υp.