“Sometimes I wonder whether the inability to broadcast your suffering is what separates the mentally ill from the sane.”
At twilight hour on the balcony, faces on bodies seem strange down below. Are they people? Oh, I can feel a dreadful rush coming on. I look to Ryan and wonder whether he feels the energy, but his book is still placed in front of him and he seems oblivious. My eyes dart from the outlet that holds the power for christmas lights wrapped ‘round the railing, to stale coffee, to Ryan, and then pull my vision inward. Those moments make nothing of comfort. The chair wobbles and exasperates spine in my back and I can’t stand being looked at. “Please, Please look elsewhere. But wait! Wait, I can’t stand being ignored!” I wanted to tell him that. Christ, there’s nothing in the world that could give my soul peace.
“I can’t tell whether or not I’m alive.” I say out loud, accidentally.
“How can you not tell that you’re alive? That seems absurd, and if I may say, unnecessarily dramatic.” Ryan responded with a tone that made my heart cringe, and when my heart cringes I cannot control myself any longer.
“Why do I bother to talk to you? Sometimes I wonder if you are capable of developing a single coherent thought. I didn’t think it was so painfully obvious as to what is reality and unreality, but oh how kind of you to clear that up!”
“Ok, Jesus, Calm down Brittany. I truly am amazed how I manage to subject myself to this by choice. What do you mean? Why do you feel uncertain as to whether or not you are alive? I mean, you’re breathing and you seem to be much angrier than any dead person I’ve seen,” he replied.
“Well I just feel awfully funny. I know it’s obnoxious but listen, I REALLY feel like I’m not all that well. Do you remember how I had that episode last summer and I saw evil in everyone’s eyes at the grocery store? I felt like I was in a nightmare and everyone was watching me, but they weren’t regular people- they seemed like aliens or something inside human flesh. Well that’s the sensation I have at this moment. Like people aren’t real and I’ve never lived this life. Do you see those people down there playing by the pond? I see them looking at me, and I feel like they know something. Listen, I knew it wasn’t real then, and I know it’s not real now. But that doesn’t count for a lot because it still makes me sick.”
“Yes, you don’t look well; you’re face is flush and you’re voice sounds frightened. It will be okay, Brittany. Just remember that you ARE real and these feelings are not. You have such an imagination and intensity about you. I think you must remember that, otherwise you truly will lose your mind,” he calmly responded.
“You make it sound like I’m not at all aware of the hazards of my own insanity! You see, I’ve always heard that insanity is a lack of awareness, but I think the whole world is wrong! I think that to be sane one must have no awareness of reality. Oh, I’m so tired of teetering between the two. There is no honor in this. None. I’ve accepted that. But to go around and feel like a beggar of so little mercy! THIS is misery.”
“You were the one that decided to get off the medicine and I supported you. But I’m not so sure you can manage without it. Little by little I am watching you fade away, and I don’t know that I can be a silent spectator forever. I want you to be well. I want you to be happy, because you are so beautiful when you’re happy,” Ryan smiled probingly, in the way that someone would nudge with their elbow to force a fake grin in reciprocity.
At this point, I am pinching my leg repeatedly under the table so as not to give my face a chance to let out it’s true feelings. I feel this gives the emotions another place to escape. My mouth smiles, but the lips stay pursed, and I try to make the face of a happy woman. See me smiling? I am fine. Everything is okay, and I can manage myself. With that, I stand up gently and declare my retreat to the bedroom.
The balcony door nearly will not open for my shaking arms, but it did oblige with some mental cursing. My feet step one after the other through my barren living room and down the dark hallway. I’ve spent the last eight months in self imposed exile in my bedroom, and by examining the handmade posters of timelines, charts, and graphs, I’d say it’s quite obvious. I haven’t found another place to be, yet so I try to keep my time honest by learning something. As I shut the door my body quickly becomes slouchier with each step, as if I had some physical ailment as well. The only thing I can do right now is lay my body on my bed and try to get my wits about me.
Please brain, please give me sixty seconds of silence! As it turns out, it does NOT do favors and tortures me with rumination. I can’t help but feel angry at Ryan, but I know he is trying to help. Every time I’m honest with my state and I try to explain myself, I so quickly become bitter because I cannot seem to find someone who understands. Oh, but what is there to understand even? I find myself in these explosive states and doing irrational things, but they never seem so crazy to me in retrospect. I am in constant contradiction with my sanity. How many hats have I put on in my life? Too many to count. I once thought I would have “it” together, but now I’m just trying to keep “it” at all. This is bastardized realism. Goodnight, cruel world, I am putting the sleep mask over my eyes and will not return till morning.
*Featured Image “Old Tower in the Fields” by Vincent Van Gogh