My hands tremble again as I try to open a prescription. More Valium.
It’s the same as it always happens—the complete fear, the loose-jointed-hanging by a thread over a large hole. And then the sweat, the racing heart, the distorted perception of my peripheral, and I can no longer feel. Self-mutilating is often the cure for this, but I’m becoming too heavy in the drugs. I shake more as suicide creeps into the back of my mind again. My psychiatrist calls this dissociating. I call it Thursday.
Another day in these rooms, pacing (lots of pacing). I spend most of my time alone. I say it’s because of this and that, and this, but the truth is I’m afraid—afraid I’ll bump into someone who once knew me and they’ll wonder what the fuck happened, and the rumors are or are not out there anyway. I may be paranoid, but I’ve seen their faces. Really, I didn’t want to see myself mirrored in their eyes—the same look of uncomfortable politeness, pity maybe, because maybe they’d already heard—and beneath that layer, the look of loss. As if seeing someone that never really came back.
So here I shake in my shelter I’ve patched together and I make tea. I pace more and more, waiting for something to end, because I can’t accept quite yet that madness happens on a continuum. I debate going to the hospital again, but really what else can they do for me. What else can they possibly do except tie down my wrists so I don’t do it (metaphorically), secure the over-the-counters and scripts, keep me away from glass and others. But I have a shred left in me that will allow me to do this myself—this tiny fucking thread that is my bridge
between despair and hope. And ‘hope’ isn’t that pretty-looking either. Hope is believing you won’t lose control and take that little pink razor. Hope is knowing you’re not quite that insane yet, so you have to stay at home alone, and pray to the god of Time to make haste and speed you along through the dark–through the carnival tunnel of the stuff nightmares are made on. Hope knows no faith, it is merely the least dark of the shadowed corners where the voices in your head are coming from. It’s like being in Limbo, where heaven is the speed getting turned down a notch so you can rest your spinning head, knowing you just made it another day. Hell is the cracking inside your skull, the matter of the brain no longer signaling right from wrong, pain and comfort. There is no God, there is nothing that can comfort you, and you have to give up, essentially, and hand over your own keys to yourself because you can no longer protect that self. Love yourself? Shit, that’s a delicacy.
And so it goes, like this, every day, for three years. I lived like that for three years. With a young child to bear witness. And I’ll forever wonder how I damaged her.
I make it up to her every day, I try, when I’m not slipping across the moods and concentrations. But I can’t make this about her. Not this one. I’m not ready. It hurts too much.
There weren’t too many days I didn’t cry, but on those rare days, it only allowed for clarity to reveal to myself what I had become. I don’t know how to put into words what I was. I
imagine my family would say I was the walking dead. A time bomb. A starved child. Who knows. I can at least say I made it through three years of the Dead Zone. That’s something. Yet it only means something to me. I want it to mean something to others. I feel like I wanted to wave my victory banner and scream and spit and punch yelling “Hey I made it!” Madness is the loneliest place in the human race. The loneliest place.
Images by Heather Jacobson