TW: Lots of dark humor, an American Psycho clip (featuring man butt), some swears and the term “man butt”
I’ve been thinking about American Psycho a lot lately. It may be my mind’s way of reminding me to re-watch it to see if it still holds up. While I have the entire movie memorized from constant viewings in my early-twenties, one scene keeps nagging at me. The opening.
If you’ve spent time on the internet, I’m sure you’ve probably seen it–either in a clip pulled from YouTube or in gif form– it’s Patrick Bateman’s morning routine. Christian Bale in tighty-whities doing stretches showing off all of the effort Patrick puts into maintaining appearances. It’s narrated in great detail. Patrick telling us about his skincare routine and the products he uses to appear human, even though according to him, he’s not.
For some reason this scene has popped up in my mind a lot lately. Not because of the man butt that appears here and there as he gets ready for the day to go on about his life as a generic Wall Street dude, but because of his process of becoming human. I am not a monster. I have no desire to harm others or feed a stray cat to a hungry ATM. But I identify with Patrick Bateman’s long process to become human (this is a statement I never thought I’d say).
I suffer from migraines. I’ve talked about them on this blog before. I’ve had them since I was 13 (thanks puberty!) and have been dealing with them ever since. Things were really bad when I was first diagnosed with them–a lot of doctor’s visits and missed school days– but things tapered off into my teens and early-to-mid twenties. I’d get one whenever I’d accidentally stumble across a trigger and I knew how to deal with them (tons of water, pain meds and sleep).
But something changed in my late twenties. After seeing a new neurologist in hopes of finding a different medication that didn’t make me drowsy so I could function at work, things spiraled out of control. The frequency and intensity of my migraines escalated and were accompanied with new symptoms like light sensitivity, sensitivity to different smells and vomiting.
At one point, I had some form of headache for nine months straight. Nine months of seemingly endless, unrelenting pain. I went to various doctors in hopes of trying to find something that would help. I was prescribed medications used to treat epilepsy*. As a result of the anticonvulsants, I developed a shiny new symptom! I have difficulty expressing myself verbally. Either I slur or stutter or have difficulty getting out my thoughts. As someone who loves to talk, it’s embarrassing. I have been dealing with this for nearly four years and bruh, I’m tired.
This brings me back to Patrick Bateman. Much like him, I put a lot of effort into appearing human. An enormous amount of effort is put into pretending I’m the thirty, flirty, and thriving woman I’m supposed to be instead of the thirty, flirty and (possibly) dying woman that I am. I take great care of my skin, my makeup is on point and I dress like the world’s oldest (and cutest) teenager. All of this is done to mask the physical pain I wake up with often. With migraines, you can never tell what kind of day you’re going to have. You can spend an entire day avoiding known triggers only to have a secret one spring up and have you spending the next two days in bed in a dark room. [INSERT APPLICABLE FORREST GUMP QUOTE HERE].
For a while things were getting better, I only had to deal with the speech issues but lately, my migraines are back and they’ve come to fuck shit up. They’re interfering with work to a point where I was asked if I had considered a “desk job” that would lack the physical demands of the retail. This person meant no harm and asked the question out of genuine concern but I couldn’t help but to laugh sadly to myself at the irony. Once upon a time, I had a “desk job.” A desk job with benefits that could’ve become a career.
My migraines took it from me.
Why would a company keep an unhealthy person when you could just hire a healthy replacement? This recent exchange at my current job has me asking this question again. While I hope my health doesn’t cost me yet another position I enjoy doing, I know it may be a reality. I’ve been looking into work-from-home jobs just in case I begin to start having more bad days than good (which is honestly terrifying) only to realize, many may require customer service-esque tasks that I wouldn’t be able to complete if I’m having trouble speaking. I’m at a loss for what to do next but I know one thing that’s been a constant through all of this: writing.
I wrote the first draft of the Dia of the Dead sequel while practically bedridden back in summer 2014. I’m currently revising with hopes of publishing it in August or September. I’m also working on other projects that I hope turn out to be something good. If I can pretend to be a pain-free human, then I for-damn-sure can pretend to be a pain-free writer.
*Anticonvulsants can be used to treat migraines. It’s not uncommon.