The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.
— F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
I lost the most glorious Sydney day to a combination of medication and waiting for a mandatory follow-up visit from the acute mental health team that didn’t eventuate. I wanted to swim in the ocean today, to feel the salt water and sunshine. ‘The surf fixes everything’, my Dad always says. Today, he would have been so right, I know. Instead I waited. And waited. And nobody came. A nurse from the PECC called and asked me to come down and pick up some of my own medication they forgot to give me when I was discharged. Unfortunately that included a benzo. I’ve missed two doses. No wonder I feel angsty. ‘It might be easier to do your follow up here instead of at home’. I agree because I am cooperating in this get well business. So I waited in the ward I left yesterday. I waited. And waited. And nobody came.
‘Never write’ has become the new ‘never tweet’: you heard it here first. Why do people think they know what’s best for me, and feel free to tell me what to do? Would they feel qualified or offer opinions if I’d ruptured my Achilles tendon instead of my brain? ‘Stop writing’. ‘Stop giving away so much detail’. You might as well tell me to stop breathing. Writing is inextricably linked to who I am and I am sorry, but I cannot verbalise this. ‘Stop thinking about the US Democratic primaries’. ‘Stop using social media’. The kicker is that this last message is mostly delivered via social media or text — not in person or a phone call initiated by someone who is not me. I feel like my full-time job right now is making other people feel better about me, so I post giant ‘thank you’ messages and tell you how loved and supported I feel. True fact: I can’t feel anything because thinking and feeling are my enemies right now. So many people have tried reaching me; offered to visit or sent me their numbers and I hate this, and it is all me, not you: I can’t pick up the phone and invite you into my home because the last person who did that fucked up royally — and I was golden! I am sorry, believe me, but I cannot trust you to see the hot tears spill. I cannot even trust that you will not hurt me as well.
The terrible truth of the last few days is that it was ugly and horrible and it is not over. There is a certain degree of narcissism in that; I’m lucid, not wandering around drooling or rocking back and forth in an ecstasy of self-soothing. But I am not your shining girl anymore; I am a ball of hurt, tormented, weak. What I need I can’t have. What I can’t have, I can’t allow myself to want. I can’t allow myself to need, want or have intimacy; instead I beat myself to a pulp for being so stupid to think I deserve it. Intimacy is not love; do not think for one second that I am dying of love for you. It is a level of trust I don’t normally experience. I dropped my guard while I was golden. I really did believe you wanted to be my friend. Either you were lying, which is wicked; or you got scared and terror made you cruel. Either way, you moved on to your next Catherine Earnshaw, and I am left unable to speak.
Acute mental health team calls: ‘no, we’re not coming to see you. I don’t know what you were told in the PECC, but that isn’t happening. What are you feeling?’ Me: ‘Angst’. Her: ‘Anxious?’ Me: ‘No, angst. Existential fear’. Yesterday, I discovered there is something worse than voluntarily admitting yourself to psychiatric hospital: discharging yourself to no one and nothing.
Seriously, this is all a bit too Samuel Beckett for my liking. I do need to speak with someone face-to-face, someone who is not going to buckle when the hot tears spill, run when I can no longer control the angst. Someone who is not going to let me down. I haven’t eaten and I don’t want to, but I will because I just said I would and I am cooperating in this whole get well business. My life is then doled out to me in half-hour blocks: eat something; have a shower; read a book; take a pill, feel nothing. Just get to the taking the pill part. It is a fairly ordinary thing to be told, ‘just make it to 10 o’clock’.
There are 75 half-hours left before the hot tears can spill. Seventy-five half-hours of angst. Seventy-five half-hours of being with this. Seventy-five half-hours with no relief pitcher. Seventy-five half-hours to remember to breathe.