Smoke and Mirrors
I felt the familiar numbing seep through my body yesterday as the last of my tears fell from my cheeks. I remember this feeling quite well. I remember the fuzz that glazes itself over your vision. Nothing is clear - everything is like a worn out old photograph. Nothing is tangible or real, everything just floats in an out of my vision as if I'm being shown a slide show that isn't in focus.
I felt something similar to this 5 years ago during a nasty bout of depression that nearly did me in. I was admitted to a hospital on the pretense that I had attempted to kill myself. Except that wasn't true at all. I never tried - I merely said that I would appreciate it if I could get some sleep. In fact I thought it would have been very nice if I could have simply fallen asleep and never awoke again. That's what I said, not that I wanted to DO anything about it. Only that it would have been nice.
The little group of intern women taking my case smiled painfully at me in my hospital bed. I looked at them through my hazy vision and couldn't make out any of their features. Just soft blurry images in white coats. They asked several questions that I don't remember answering or what they were. Just that I was happy SOMEone was finally listening to me and validating my pain.
24 hours later they brought a wheelchair into my room and I got in thinking I was going somewhere nicer where there would be a kind grandfatherly like counselor there that would nod and smile and smell like ginger cookies. With a crackling fire because - GOD I could not get warm for some reason. They wheeled me away and I just looked into my lap at my tattered stuffed teddy that my father had purchased for me the year before. Although I was 21 (almost 22) it seemed perfectly normal to me that I would have such a keepsake with me. To protect me - from what... who knows - for my demons were within me.
I remember the sound of the door locking behind me. It almost sparked me awake from my hazy stuper. I looked behind me when it happened and I remember feeling the panic flood through my veins. It was the most alive I had felt since that day on the front stoop of my friend's house when the ambulance was called. I looked into my father's eyes with pure dread - tried to form coherent sentences and seem very in control. When I probably just seemed like a mad woman - yes this is where she belongs. I begged and pleaded - NO NO NO this is not what is supposed to happen! I'm not going to hurt myself I just needed some rest. REST! That's all I needed - those girls yesterday must have misunderstood me. I don't belong here, please!
The door closed behind my father with such permanence it ripped through my heart and I felt as if I was being sucked out of reality. As if I was a few inches away from the front of my face. My eyes blinking - my heart beating - as if they were external and not controlled by me. Then numb is all I felt. Nurses would speak to me and I wouldn't understand their words. I would try to speak to them and it came out confused and jumbled. I began to go silent, which for me was something I had never done. I had never been silent for more than an hour or two. I was silent for 24 hours. Just nods and refusals - no words. Reading the last entry from my diary that day was like seeing myself lose my mind. I saw the neat cursive swooping letters dimish into child-like scribbles with no coherent message accept a large swear word here and there.
People called the ward and I wouldn't pick up the phone. I wouldn't speak to anyone.
When I was released less than 24 hours later. After the Dr. met with me and apologized for the mis-understanding, stating that the young interns must have jumped the gun on their assessment of my case. My mother came to pick me up and I was merely a shadow of myself. Weighing in at 120 lbs I was down to my lowest weight since highschool. My eyes were sunken in, dark circles holding them in place, my hair pulled back into a ponytail that hadn't been removed or washed in days. My clothes didn't fit and I didn't fit.
I emerged into the daylight in a sun dress that belonged to my mother. She had brought it knowing that none of my clothes were going to fit. I felt weak and misplaced.
Week by week I got better. Slowly learning to eat again and rediscovering my usually healthy appetite. My hair got it's curl back and my face it's glow. Everything external went back to normal. Except the inside... it was healing a deep and permanent scar.
This scar has remained inside me and I constantly fear that i'm moments away from it being ripped open. I dread that the next time I am to feel that familiar pain that I will not survive it. I will not emerge into the sunshine. I will be swallowed by the darkness. That darkness started to sneak into the corner of my vision yesterday. It was like welcoming home an abusive husband - un-escapable, yet comforting and terrifying all at once.
Today I sit at my desk and I am a shell of my previous self. The familiar signs are there. I couldn't sleep last night, I've lost my appetite, my internal clock is off and pushing me to sleep all day and watch the blue glow of a TV all night. Food looks like plastic, nothing I would want to eat - people are speaking to me and around me and all I hear is jibberish mixed with words that I recognize here and there. Numb, it's safer that way.