Stream of Consciousness
I bought an electric blanket a few weeks ago. It was during the polar vortex, when my apartment was averaging somewhere-in-the-upper-50s degrees and I was wearing a hat and multiple layers to bed like I was on a camping trip and I stole a space heater from work just so I could have a little extra warmth on my toes while I ate dinner. This is the winter I discovered that the dial on the thermostat on the wall near my entryway truly does nothing. It was a long January.
I once had a boyfriend who decided my anxiety and depression were laziness, and I believed him. I didn’t have much context at the time, because my awareness of those terms as they related to me was fresh, and I was still figuring out how they affected my experiences, my lens on life. I still am. One thing I do know, after over a decade of confronting my mental circus, is that it never really ends. And while I now have a box of tools I can dig through when I feel my brain spinning, or lethargy setting in, sometimes those tools aren’t enough, so I sink into my feelings, and then float. I float and wait, whispering this too shall pass, because it always does.
These floating phases contain a lot of guilt and fear. I stop responding to text messages and reaching out to friends. I hear that old boyfriend berating me for lying on the couch all day and not doing the dishes again. I’m late to work because I barely got out of bed in the first place. I freeze up and numb myself with television and booze, and when I successfully cut out 90% of my alcohol consumption (no easy feat), I replace it with cheese, because hot damn if I don’t need something to look forward to at the end of another long day of being awake.
Writing about mental health is hard. The responses are often a mix of pity and quick fix suggestions. People want to make it better. It’s hard to be comfortable with darkness, especially when the darkness belongs to someone else. And when it doesn’t end - when it goes away and then comes back time and time again - the frustration mounts. I remember my guilt from someone who loved me getting tired of me, and I get tired of myself. I wonder when my friends will get sick of my broken record and quit. I worry about the consequences of being vulnerable and tossing my bruised-ness out into the world, where light is the only acceptable way of being. I didn’t used to worry so much about that. The truth is, I love my darkness. I’m just afraid that it will always be the reason others end up not loving me.
I will continue to know and say this: my life is really good right now. I feel it in my bones, the goodness of it. I am lying on the futon of my cozy as fuck apartment as I write this, and I smile as I look around, because I love my little home so much. Pure hopelessness rarely visits me any more. I have a lot of dreams, and the belief that I can make them happen. It’s a matter of pushing through stagnancy; of not allowing the paralyzing fear of my own perfectionism to overcome me in such a way that I don’t take action. Knowing I can do the things I want to do, but not knowing if I can do them perfectly, so then not doing them at all. My very own self-made sticky wicket. This may be the most frustrating song of all on my broken record.
I used to want someone to save me from myself. I believed that another person could rescue me and compel me to change, to be a different person, to guide me on my journey to enlightenment and perfection. I was the reason they created Disney princes and chick flicks. Part of the reason I have adored my alone time so much these past couple of years is that all of that has changed. I know now that I am the only person can save me, which is equal parts empowering and terrifying. I can do, and be, whatever I want, as long as it’s not, like, an Olympic figure skater or an award-winning actress, because let’s be real, when it comes to those things, my time has passed. There are days that that kind of thinking makes me want to fly, and then there are the days where I lie under my electric blanket and drink more whiskey than I should because I can’t even write blog posts consistently any more, so how the hell am I going to do anything else?
Sometimes the only way to unblock is to let a stream of consciousness flow. I need to be okay with the imperfect. I need to be okay with the mess. And I need to be okay with cracking open the door to the darkness, instead of hoarding it all to myself. How else will others see it, and know that their darkness is okay too; that they’re not alone? It’s so heavy to carry these feelings within ourselves, to never let them out. The burden is too great. So this is my shout out to all of you soul people who Get It, who feel things and want things and then get stuck, and then do it all over again. Who wonder what the point is but keep on dreaming anyway. I need to read this kind of shit more often in my life, so I’m writing it. Whoever you are out there, I love ya.