I’ve spent so long honing my together persona that I don’t know how to stop. I’ve been getting up to create clean, swishy hair and careful eyeliner. I think carefully about what I wear and I’m definitely over dressed for this ward.
I watch myself and wonder what the hell I’m doing.
Who am I trying to convince? Why am I trying to persuade the world I’m absolutely fine when we all know I’m here because I had a detailed plan to die?
I’ve always thought it served no purpose to sit motionless up a corner with my back to the wall. I do do that, but only when I’m alone and I just can’t keep the mask in place anymore. The walls hold me. And I can always see what’s coming. I feel a tiny bit safer.
Everything in my upbringing has taught me that weeping and wailing achieves nothing. In fact, it brings harsh and negative consequences. Smiley faces get rewarded; visibly negative emotions get punished.
And when I do fight that conditioning and share my true feelings, it’s in the knowledge that no one can really help. I am alone with this. I’m on the nightmare side of the Upside Down and no one can reach me to pull me through to life. Trying to communicate how I feel is frustrating and exhausting and it eats energy that I just don’t have to spare. And, deep down, I don’t believe anything can help.
So I seem together. I’m a bit thin, and people wonder (and comment) about that. But I’m careful about my body language. I make eye contact. I smile. I’m so conscious that I’m trying to be a good patient. Not cause any trouble or inconvenience. And when I finally get up, I’m often mistaken for a member of staff. All I need is a lanyard weighed down with keys, and I’d be good to go. I was thinking my Legoland driving licence and a collection of clanky teaspoons should do it.
When I first arrived here I wept for pretty much a solid night and day. And when I thought I was hallucinating the ants I was terrified and couldn’t control the hysterical tears. Plus, any suggestion of getting on the scales, as well as every time they bring the fortisips out I get incredibly scared and jittery. And I do lose my grip on the rational.
But, apart from that, I’ve done more than a week of quietly getting on with it. Twitter has been a lifeline and I’ve watched a lot of TV. Tried colouring in. Given origami a go. Painted my nails. Tried to read a book.
I’ve done everything I can to convince the staff I’m okay to go home. That this was a blip and that I don’t belong here. I even painted a pebble to show willing, ffs.
Then some things happened and I hit a wall. I stopped. I stayed in my pyjamas and looked like a vacant, desiccated body with a seriously bad fringe. This ghost that looks like me varies leaking tears with quiet sobbing. It sits in a blanket, hugging a cushion that smells of home, staring at the TV. Sometimes it droops and dozes. I watch it happening from above.
It’s not me. But it is me.
A nurse with excellent taste in boots asked me how I felt, and I was too tired not to tell her. I betrayed myself. And now no one thinks going home is a good idea.
I’m in the Upside Down and I can’t see a way out.