“I am terrified by this dark thing
That sleeps in me;
All day I feel its soft, feathery turnings, its malignity.”
-- Sylvia Plath
The brightness outside is paralyzing. I got a block and half and had to turn around and come home. I’m currently a prisoner in my home. I’d only just taken my morning Ativan minutes before leaving. Maybe if I wait for it to kick in I can try again. Maybe I’ll take a second one. It’s okay to take two in a day. If I take two and still can’t venture out then I’m in trouble. I suppose I’m in trouble as it is.
I have no such problems when it’s cloudy or at night. No panic attacks then. But bright sunlight, sometimes even when I’m indoors, can trigger whatever it is that makes me feel the grip of terror. That horrible, awful feeling of not belonging in my own skin. The surety of pending madness, the total death of reality and the fall into the abyss.
The odd thing is that one of my stops was going to be the pharmacy where refills on some of the medications I take await me. You think I like being a slave to pills? Trust me, it’s not my idea, not my choice. I bristle every time a doctor prescribes something. But I’m fighting desperate battles against acute panic disorder and depression. I’m bi-polar. Going to war without meds is like fighting a well-armed enemy without weapons. Yes I go to therapy as well. In fact I have an appointment this afternoon. I’m worried about making it there. But I know I have to so one way or the other I will.
Sometimes my life is a living hell. Fortunately I have so much love and beauty and warmth and kindness surrounding me that I can still push on. Yesterday was my birthday and the love and well wishes I received filled me with strength enough to carry on for another year. But right now I’m scared and worried and sad. I can’t take a normal walk on a normal day on normal errands.
Normal, what a concept. What the hell is “normal” anyway? I don’t feel like I’ve ever had the benefit of normality. I’ve also never really understood it. Does it exist? Do I even want it? I see people who seem normal and are in seemingly normal situations and their lives appear so empty, so dull, so uninspired, a walking death. Of course I can’t possibly know all the triumphs and all the tragedies that make up their lives, just as they can’t know mine. We really know so little about one another, even the people we encounter on a daily basis. What do they really think? What turns them on? What scares them? What are their hopes, dreams, foibles, fears, idiosyncrasies?
We all put on public faces. There are ways in which we want others to perceive us. For one thing we want to be seen as normal, we want to fit in, be liked. Some of us want more attention than others, some of want less. I know for my part I want both. I want to be left alone but at the same time noted for what makes me interesting.
In putting on public masks people obviously want to show themselves at their best. This often requires exaggeration and the glossing over of weaknesses. Our public face is like a resume that highlights our accomplishments — stretching the truth as necessary — and ignores our failures.
In fitting in we try to find common ground. This is often easiest when recounting everyday experiences. We share stories and feelings about naturally occurring experiences. The vagaries of commuting, the common cold, minor mishaps, meals, the weather, weekends, sleep are all typical fodder to relating to one another without over sharing and without risk.
There is also a common language used by each generation. For example I work with a lot of people who are many years my junior. They constantly say things like: “totally” “no worries” “right on” “so…..” “awesome.” None of these words are extraordinary in anyway but it is their particular usage and the frequency with which they are employed that is different from people of my generation.
End of first part. After writing it I successfully ran my errands, returned home, watched a movie, cleaned the house, went to my appointment and returned home again. This second part is written seven hours later.
I am, according to my psychiatrist, a puzzler. My depression is erratic and neither seems biological nor caused by external factors. I do not consider this to be good news. My panic attacks are another matter and not so pressing as, today aside, they haven’t been a problem for the past eight months or so. Barring a repeat of this afternoon’s trouble, we can steady our focus on the mystery of my bouts of depression, one of which has made its way into my consciousness in the past half hour. Great. Fantastic. Wonderful. Super. Once again I’m enveloped by sorrow and the pain of living no matter that all in my life is both hunky dory and peachy keen.
At least I’m so far able to write. The depression has sometimes makes the very idea of creating sentences seem like climbing up a sheer cliff. Already now I find it hard to finish a sentence and very difficult indeed to start a new one. The dull all encompassing mental ache is starting to take over. I’m trying mightily to push through it and create.
…………………………….. Harder and….harder. I probe I push I pull I pulverize I ponder I peak I perambulate I prevaricate I passssssssssssss.
Dinner is cooking. I can smell it. Tamales. Refried beans (why were they fried again?). There will be cool water. There will be desert. There will be reading if the depression doesn’t tighten its grip and if it does I will resort to the television and I will sigh. So these are my days. Sometimes. Unless they are not. Never know what’s coming. At least I can count on surprises.
Oh god I feel soooooooooooo bad. Totally. Not awesome. Many worries. Right on and off. World without end, the whirling dervish and the captive brain cells and the hells bells and turtle shells and smells of —