I can feel it coming, although I’m dealing with it well this time. I’d like to think it’ll disappear if I close my eyes long enough, but it hasn’t yet. I am a carriage turning back into a pumpkin at midnight and it’s always very dark at midnight. All of this vigor, all of those smiles, all of that discipline is disintegrating. But isn’t there something to be said for a laborer that works very heard within his means? What a romantic notion! Doing what one can manage when one cannot manage a lot seems nearly heroic. Sometimes that sentiment propels me when I feel like I have no business in moving. Maybe there’s a sense of stubborn empowerment in working through fatigue, illness, or futility.
Today, however, was no day to fight the good fight, and I sat hopelessly on the floor of my empty living room. We have not had the money to get any living room furniture, so I sometimes sprawl out on my stomach and imagine I am a child again. I did not sit in class today; I found myself physically weak in the thought. I napped in my car in the parking lot of the college and read “The Voyage Out” while Ryan went to French.
In the living room, a conversation happened that I did not intend, and it felt awfully jagged to endure. I had been denying my mental state in hopes that it would find home elsewhere, but that kind of persistence I cannot match. On occasion however, conversation can be enlightening since it seems as though most of my thoughts are vague and shapeless without some verbal acknowledgment on my part of their existence. My eyes began to fill with tears as I looked at my lap. “I am sad.” No need to speak of it; my face is faster than my mouth most of the time. (I’ll admit, it’s taken my nearly 30 minutes to write the last three sentences. My mind is cloudy and I seem exceptionally affected by the urge to pick my skin and gather the loose strands falling from my hair. I do believe I am losing my hair, but I can never be sure of those things; too often my anxiety fabricates an illness in me.) Anyway, my mood has been increasingly less manageable although I am truly trying. I do not drink, and I keep myself from becoming hysterical, I avoid things that instigate the melancholy, and I try to remember not to be so hard on myself.
I suppose I thought it would be easier. I had such momentum this summer. By the end of July, I had learned to keep myself under control, although my behavior was quite excessive. Feverishly, I’d read through science books and take notes that would later be continually associated with the markings of a schizophrenic. I would sometimes read for 12 hours straight; I think my record was 18. I was quite aggressive when interrupted with my work, but nothing so serious as to take up temporary residence in the hospital. The instability that April, May, and June had brought seemed as though it would be the death of me. I felt fearful each minute as I never knew when I was going find myself smashed against a sensation that I do not have a word for. My emotional energy was seeping through my skin as there was no room for it in my body. I truly hate how dramatic that sounds, but I suppose it is dramatic when one starts to fear the ground crumbling beneath their feet. That was a test of endurance that I did not sign up for and I’d say it was the worst time of my life, but I think those states always seem worst than the last.
So I reached a point that I felt I had but two options: I could stay and risk killing myself or I could escape. So I packed up my car and asked an old boss if I could drive my car to Portland with him. My state reached a climax on that trip; I was running on euphoric fume through all of the flatlands that eventually turned to mountains. God I adored that drive. The sun was as intense as I was and we made for excellent travel companions. What bliss it is in feeling a deep gratitude for every ordinary thing in the world. Only when I felt this awe, I did not see a single ordinary thing. The trees became magnificent, an old lady’s smile was inspirational, and the breath in my lungs moved me to tears. What fortune, I realize. But even as I gazed at the mountains and lakes and sobbed from the awareness of beauty that I still feel unworthy of, I felt in my chest the ephemeral reality of such an awareness. This only brought on more crying since it is human nature to appreciate something that does not last with much more fervor. All of the world seemed harmonious and I did not feel an inch of emptiness in my soul, if one can even have a soul.
This mystical madness followed me intimately thereafter, and I found god in a Khalil Gibran book and a hallucination. While I did truly enjoy it’s company, I wouldn’t suggest anyone else get acquainted. I sat on a park bench in downtown Portland and could not remember my family’s face. Or the date for that matter or my activity the hour before. The passing of time eluded my perception and I felt myself hurled into an Alternate. I could not sleep and had no desire for social interaction, leaving me mute around my new friends. I was not miserable, I just enjoyed silence on my lips too much to speak. It is quite satisfying when I allow myself to stare at uninhabited space in peace. This kind of emptiness makes people uncomfortable though, so I much preferred a seat in Powell’s bookstore. Sometimes I just sat and watched people live, and that gave me more appreciation for others. In a loud room filled with tables and bodies, the indistinct chatter can sound like a melody. I also spent hours browsing the books, reading every name on the shelf. This can be quite rewarding at first, but an anxiety typically sets in after while. I could not read or write at the time; words looked very unfamiliar to me and I could never be sure I knew them. To even remember a word as simple as “have” at times seemed peculiar and I became uncertain of its definition.
The hallucinations were more worrisome, although I was inquisitive since I’d never been so out of touch. Some were more frightening than others; faces in the shadows and an octopus crawling onto my bed did disturb me. I am well aware that one can let their mind get lost at sea when exploring the depths of insanity, so I made sure to keep mine anchored close to shore. “You are not crazy because you know this isn’t really happening” I’d tell myself compulsively. For a few days, the hallucination did not let up and my concern was no longer subdued self-comfort. They became more vivid and more intrusive as the days passed.
One technique that seemed to make situations bearable was to exile my emotions. I learned how to stow them away and forget they existed. I attempted to rest my mind by reading the biographies of Gertrude Stein and F. Scott Fitzgerald, although I’ve hardly read any of their work. An album was playing while I read, and I have yet to hear it again without feeling the eeriness of that very late night. Suicide lingered in my presence and I felt it had a stranglehold on me that I didn’t think I’d be able to escape this time. I stumbled upon the biography of Hemingway and how peculiar he was! He had such an insanity that kept recklessly forging ahead with blinders obstructing all foresight, it seemed. He seemed so afflicted and aware of how harsh perseverance can be. So I lay on the floor in the closet of my borrowed room and discovered that Hemingway abandoned his suffering with his gun on July 2nd of 1961. Now, suicide was pervasive before, but it was smothering me as the early hours poured into my own July 2nd. I thought it to be a cruel joke on God’s part and I realized how pitiful it would be if I killed myself then, since I was not Earnest Hemingway. My journals would be discovered and I imagined people thinking about how I was not Hemingway, either. I googled the suicide hotline for safekeeping and tried to escape my precarious state with a slumber. As I began to drift, I was startled by what felt like an electric jolt and I looked out my window to see rifts in the sky as a finger tapped the surface of a pool of water. I allowed myself to feel at peace and went to sleep