I often wonder when it all started. Could it have been that very same moment in the subway when I started shaking for no apparent reason, or the relationship that sucked away all my energy and feelings and left me totally empty and insecure? I remember that soon after I wasn’t sure of anything anymore and step by step I learned not to care. Little did I know that a life without passion — an orthoscopic existence, would soon leave me with a baggage of dreadful fears and every-day anxieties. The terror was unlike anything I had experienced up to that point, for the enemy had no glaze, no touch, no scream. A soundless creature, a peculiar draft that you get to feel to the core, a feverish tickling sensation that hardly, or never, goes away.
After that, everything changed. A different adventure was about to start: the quest for the self. “What?”, “When?”, “Why?” were everyday interrogations that turned out to be just another road towards my own decay. I began having these dreams, those that leave one with a feeling of lowliness, a sort of disgust towards oneself. I couldn’t figure out whether life was either too long or too short. I was desperately trying to get rid of the obsession of the self, but then I found myself obsessing over my body’s reactions. It wasn’t letting me sleep. I felt that burning sensation in my throat, how my bowels were being strangled, and I couldn’t breathe. Afterwards I began my visits to the doctors. Endless appointments and multiple check-ups. No one seem to find anything, but my symptoms weren’t going away and I was convinced I had a mysterious illness they didn’t know about. Final stop: psychiatry.
Mixed anxiety-depressive disorder. I was finally, clinically, reclaimable MADD. I was immediately put on medication, was prescribed a mild anti-depressive, that “mild” one you hear about in the movies, just to get you back on your feet so that you can afterwards be able to sit on a freudian couch at least once a weak. The idea made me think of a retreat. If only.
The first two weeks of medication were tough. I was anxious about the side effects, anxious I might experience all of them. Turns out I was just a bit nauseous and agitated. I guess that was normal. As for my encounter with the therapist, he insisted on calling our sessions “interventions”. I had to write and keep on writing even when I didn’t feel like it, “no metaphors, no embellishments!”, he said. I told him I think in metaphors.
The worst days were those when I couldn’t get out of bed. After all, what for? You open the window, you breathe in, you think about throwing yourself out the window, but you don’t, then you breathe out. You go back to bed.
And when I did get out of bed it was because I was out of food. I still had some hope left and, weak as I was, I still managed to eat, even have three meals a day, no meat, all vegetarian and I could still taste the food and enjoy the flavours. Must have been the pills, those capsules that promised to heal the body and stabilise the serotonin levels. Having to deal with supermarkets and the trip to the store was still a thought that instantly activated the panic mood. I would never linger in the store, I only focused on buying what I needed and removing myself from the closed area. It was an in and out movement with great precision.
In order to avoid a panic attack, I started resorting to fantasies. All the people in my stories were in vulnerable situations, probably to compensate my incapacities. By using reason, I was minimizing fear, contemplating humanity helped me avoid thinking of myself.
There were the men I was talking to, guilty flirtation; with some I was just holding hands, perhaps slowly guiding them towards the outlines of my body. I was trying to guess their bewilderment whenever I would propose anything, to anticipate their reactions. Sex, even the idea of an intercourse, distracts you, it makes you forget about yourself, and you let yourself into the game. A game of corporal teasings, of abstinence, or better, of the ability to refrain yourself, as there was nothing more arousing than a man refraining himself. Other times we were facing each other while being naked, I was watching him work, the way he was swallowing, how he was looking through the files, or how he was always able to have a serious conversation.
I couldn’t finish anything. Half-assed work, half-assed reading. My entire existence was part-time. Silence was unsettling. I would spend my time staring at the same spot for hours, remembering events from childhood, the way the air smelled when I was in school, or peculiar experiences.
My gynaecologist is a man. All gynaecologist women I’ve met were aggressive; yelling, always barking at you, making you feel like shit for not doing the ‘right’ things: “Why did you wash down there? Don’t you know you are not suppose to do that before check up? Soap shouldn’t get in your vagina”. Us women obsessed with cleaning, we were each lowering our heads, as in a Pasolini movie, a smeared room with shrivelled walls, women staying in line to be deflowered with a surgical glove.
It is summer. And warm. I wake up in the middle of the night and turn on the air conditioning. I live in an apartment, a different one each year. Can’t seem to be able to settle down, don’t want to settle down. My room is temporary improvisation. I have a table made out of books; my clothes are still in the suitcase. Without knowing, my life, with its errors and success, will become libration between casual spaces. I turn off the air, open the windows wide, the night’s breeze stumbles into the room, exhaust gases, wet insecticide, and metallic emanations tickle my nostrils; cars racing, endless rows of wheels with their dull and heavy noise, a remedy for some. I lay down in bed with a cold pillow between my legs, somewhere in a corner you can hear someone singing: “It’s four in the morning, the end of December…”