Then I must be the least knowledgeable person on the face of this little blueberry.
Soft feathery lashes lay low over down peering eyes, glowing screen reflects in small dazzling patterns across their shimmering surfaces. Careful aiming such sharp gazes at the walls, we can’t hang pictures on holes.
Maybe it was being home schooled, maybe it was the isolation from a young age, maybe it was the way my parents treated me, maybe it is just the way I am. As long as I can remember I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression, with emotions so tumultuous and powerful I could never stand up to them. Memories like 3 year old me crying, feeling like the world was crumbling around me, and no one could understand why.
Maybe it was the way that as I grew older and was told over and over that my excuses wouldn’t fly with those all-knowing savvy adults who could see right through me. Maybe it was how it made me feel about myself, to be told every word I said was an excuse to try to get out of hard work and dedication.
They say mental illness cannot be attributed to just one factor, it is not just your brain chemistry or the way you were raised; it’s all of the above. I can’t imagine how much worse it must be for those who develop mental illness later on in life. I’m experienced; from the moment I could assess my self to now, every minute has been a battle between my emotions and my logic.
What a devastating blow to take, in your 20’s or 30’s, to be told you are suffering depression. Seeing new depths to the darkness that threatens to completely suck you in, with no experience to fall back on.
It is not about the image. Slow and gentle I press my brush into the edges of the remaining white canvas that are still exposed. Even the simplest of shapes would do, the therapy is in the act, the image is merely a side effect. I could rework the same canvas a hundred times and it would not change the way it makes me feel.
Dip the brush, fill it with paint, load the bristles. Pull it across the course texture of the canvas, watch how the fibers take on the creamy pigment, soak it up.
I want to be like that.
“You are so destructive!” my mother would often remind me as a child, it became a part of my identity after only hearing it a few times. Her exasperated tone expressed further distress at the way that I was, the way that I still am.
It defines me as a person. Sometimes I wonder if my subconscious is careless and casually violent on purpose. I identify as broken, and I want everything around me to reflect that somehow. To feel less broken I find others like myself, who also seem convinced that they are damaged. If I cannot find enough damage around me, I make some.
So, when accidents happen, regret and guilt swim my blood like they have always lived there. Cannot help but ask myself, was it *really* an accident? Why would I be so careless? What’s wrong with me?
What’s wrong with you? A question my mother asked me often during my developing years. She would be downright suspicious of me, even though I never gave her a reason to be. Perhaps the villain I see in myself are just echoes from the past.
It is still hard to ignore.
The world swims, as if I see it through a large body of water. Buildings in the distance waiver against the story horizon. Gravity pulls me down the steep road, so I stretch my arms out to each side and let it take me. BBbbrbrrrrrrrrrrr nnnnnnnnneeeerrrrrrrrr, I make airplane noises as I zigzag my way to the bottom. Hands are ice and I have left my company behind.
I have left everything behind as I embrace my drunken inner child.
Minds that can breathe fire are a hazard and a virtue. Fire burns me down and raises me up. Though I writhe at its touch, I cannot deny that what drives me away, has the power to retrieve me with the same force. Crushed by the weight of my own turbulence, the trigger snaps the door shut.
Instead of breaking, falling apart, something in me springs to life. To rebel against the crushing waves that push me into the deep. To drive away all threats. A show of power in a desperate moment.
How many times have I watched the sun slowly begin it’s crawl across the sky? How many times has the darkest night turned into a hopeful day?
It smacks me like a dead, slimy, wet fish to the face. The understanding causes only more anxiety to rise in my belly. Every attempt to steady shaky breaths seems weaker than the last, but I still try. Finally, I reach a place where I can recognize that I do not want to be angry. The answers are always within, even if the problems lie outside of ourselves; I have a firm belief in this. Powerful minds we have been given, for just such a task.
Pushing aside that I feel invaded upon by the rumbling bass from the neighbor’s entertainment system. Completely detaching myself from any past experiences with neighbors or sounds, outside of the context of this place; couch, room, apartment, building. Here I find the core of my trouble.
I can’t help but remember, I cannot manipulate these emotions, instead they shove me to the ground. Waking up in the hospital was terrifying, it was like a nightmare except it started when I woke up. How weak my legs were, I couldn’t even walk. How sick my stomach was. How my heart kind of sputtered like a dying engine.
I am safe. There is nothing to be scared of. Feel the soft bed under your body, take in a breath and smell the familiar smells of your room. Breathe steady. Center yourself. Let the memories and pain wash over you. Let it all wash itself away into the depths of the ocean. Soon the panic subsides, and I can realign myself with reality.
I feel like I’ve just stepped inside after being out in a cold rain. The warmth kind of stings at first, but soon my body adjusts to normalcy again. Every time I am faced with this memory and it breaks me, afterward, I feel a little lighter.
Turn my eyes to the floor so I don’t have to see the news on the way out of the gym at 4am. The state of the world has me already barely holding on, to overdose on it would be unwise, I know. Loathing fills me as I see from the corner of my eye screens filled with people who hate me, people who would rather I die, people filled with hate, people who make the big decisions, people who terrify me. Government officials.
It seems like so many I care about ride the same ride with me, we hold hands and look over the edge of a cliff together. Doing our best to pull each other from the grips of gravity, to not let anyone fall in the ravine beyond the living.
I’ve heard it called selfish. For me, my suicidal thoughts are just the opposite, they tell me that living is the selfish choice. That I stay alive because it is easier. Thoughts that come to me every single day of my waking life.
– w a k i n g –
Tear open my eyes, free myself from the nightmare. My limbs feel heavy, tired from running along the scare scape. Being held down, locked up, tackled, and drugged. The hazy, unformed oppression that hounded my dreams hangs with me as I struggle to find clothing in the dark, feeling along the floor with half numb fingers. Shaky breaths remind me that I’m free now. As free as one gets in this world.
I remember to look up and catch my gaze in the sun streaked mirror. Green, curious eyes stare at me, it takes a breath before I realize it’s me, and not a stranger. At least I’m awake now.