my friend,

how the fuck are you so fucking gorgeous? It’s one of those days where I have a little bit of a mad crush on you. these happen occasionally. it’s not your fault. you’ve done and said nothing; I just possess the innate ability to fall head over heels in love with people with very little provocation, if left unchecked, and you’ve unfortunately stood yourself in the path of that hurricane tendency. and when I say stood yourself I mean you appeared in my dream which happens to everyone eventually, and I remembered you were distractingly attractive. again: not your fault. mine. sorry.

you really are remarkably good-looking, though, and I’ve had on-and-off crushes on you for as long as I’ve known you, which is annoying; it’s hard not looking people in the eye when making conversation. I find crushes to be generally inconvenient things; life is far easier when you’re not fancying everyone, or anyone, or someone different every month, or the same person for a handful of months until the weather shifts. it’s why I often cauterise that entire aspect of myself. I was functionally aromantic and asexual until two days ago, and comfortable with it.

oh well. these things just happen, capricious and ridiculous as rainstorms. it should blow over quickly; I’ve gotten good at keeping my sky clear of debris. but while I’m here: I like your nature and your complicated wit, I like your smile, I like your shoulders and your lovely mouth and your hands, your perceptiveness and creativity, your reserve, your opinions on books and your clever, thoughtful eyes. you’re a gorgeous human being and I’ll get over it. don’t take my declarations of attraction as declarations of intention; they’re not. they’re just observations from a place of resignation, while I wait out the weather.

this, after all, changes nothing. I’m not a farmer. my life has never been dependent on meteorological conditions.

much love-

your friend.

rage (also hitting people)

February 11, 2015

one of my friends hits people for fun, three days out of every week, at a place where people teach you to hit people with parts of your body for fun and also maybe defense. she’s offered to take me.

I like the idea of being able to hit people.

I’ve been wanting to fight since I was little. my parents disagreed. they probably thought I was violent enough, particularly since one of their anecdotes of me as a baby involves me full on growling (this related in horrified tones because babies apparently don’t ever demonstrate aggression or something), but growing up I saw my friends doing taekwondo and wondered, in between the piano and Chinese classes and swimming lessons, why I couldn’t do that instead. or ballet. or gymnastics. or something that involved deliberate control of my body. I’m only now realising how much that might’ve helped, during that instinctual retreat into myself where I lost any sense of what my body was and became a brain in a jar. a flesh jar.

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I have dreams, sometimes, where I’m trying really hard to punch someone and I can’t. my punch doesn’t connect, my fist lurches feebly through dream-space, and in my dream I am incandescently furious at being so helpless. at being so horribly ineffectual at protecting myself. that sucks.

I also have dreams where I wake up because I’ve punched the wall really damn hard, and my hand hurts and rage is consuming my body, but it’s a triumphant rage because I punched that fucker, whoever they happened to be. that sucks much less.

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most of my childhood instincts were physical. My younger brother accordingly developed the art of the verbal taunt in ways I never did, particularly when I began to understand the negative effect words had on me and decided never to use them like weapons. it meant, though, that childhood fights with my brother sometimes ended up with him physically hurt. I kicked him in the stomach once, an instinctive reaction to his moving into my space, to being intimidated.

it wasn’t okay. I was five, or seven, but he was littler than me, so I was taught early how not to use my body in response. how not to fight. I wish now, though, that my parents had taught me not just when it was wrong to fight, but when it was right.

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now, as an adult woman with what are basically complex trauma and captivity survival mechanisms hardwired into me, I freeze. I go still, I abandon my body, I use my words, I placate, I defuse, I distract. while these have their place, these are all very submissive, stereotypically ‘female’ coded things to do, and none of them are good for when you are boiling over with rage, or shaking with fear, or when you can feel anger burning through your muscles and eating at your lungs like acid. none of those help. there are days when I’m so angry with the universe or myself, with casually sexist classmates or stories of sexism in general that I can’t sleep because of the suppressed rage, when I twitch in bed with the suppressed physical need to break something. there are days I’m so restless that nothing soothes and nothing can get me to stability again. there are days where I curl my hands around two invisible knives, a mental defense mechanism to keep me safe. and there are so many things about anxiety and depression that involve being detached from one’s body. one of the best things I discovered while taking dance lessons, several years ago, was that dancing put me back into my body.

I’d like to feel efficient. capable. at home in my skin, and capable of disembowelling somebody if necessary. I’d like to not be physically afraid of somebody bigger than me. I’ve felt that before, and I would like to know how it feels to have hardwired into your body the ways to react to that, to take advantage of that size and weight differential, to come back from that. to never be trapped, not physically. to have the means to survive.

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I think I might like fighting. I mean, you never know until you try, and I’ll let you know once I do try, but I think I’m not fazed by pain. from what I’ve seen, my body takes it, adjusts to it. I don’t bruise easily, either. and for such a sedentary person, there’s a certain aspect of me that is entirely unafraid of getting stuck into a physical activity, honed by years of theatre where the prevailing atmosphere is to throw yourself into whatever you’re given without holding back, an attitude which tends to lead to a lot of sweat, aching muscles, increased flexibility, physical unashamedness and significant intimacy with the floor and also maybe your classmates’ limbs.

I will also admit to being in possession of the desire to gleefully boot someone in the nadgers and think it delightful fun. there’s a streak of cheerful brutality in me alongside a great big void of caring, and both are aspects of my personality which I try to cushion with carefully cultivated empathy and social conditioning. Both are there nonetheless, persisting underneath the learned patience. Social conditioning holds in most situations, but other times- well, the field in which I grow my fucks is barren, my douche-meter is ringing and I am done with tolerance.

In those circumstances, I very, very much want to stab people in both eyesockets and then blitz them off the face of the universe and never have to deal with them again, or possibly just rage quit existence. However, because I am an adult human and have learned to use my words, I tell the person they are being a dick in no uncertain terms, and then tell them why (for example, that I’ve already indicated several times that I don’t appreciate the incredibly sexist undercurrent of the jokes they make and they need to stop now, and that no, it is not okay to bait the feminist. I’m just waiting to see this guy next to see if I need to repeat the message more clearly). And then I either avoid that person completely so I don’t feel like stabbing them every time I see them, or- no, really, that’s it. I’d still like to blitz them off the face of the universe, though. Look. I’m still furious (then again, I was reading a discussion about some of the problem areas in Fifty Shades of Unsafe Sexual Practices and Emotional Abuse this morning, which could contribute to the simmering feeling of rage currently at a stockpot-low in my lungs).

Nonetheless. Demonstrable self-control, yes? Learning to hurt people and defend myself doesn’t mean I’m going to use those skills in conversation, regardless of my desire to. I am perfectly capable of using words to communicate. Simply for my own private reassurance, however, it would be nice to know that if somebody continues to be a dick, I have the ability to remove theirs.

there’s a little voice in my head that dances around saying I don’t know why I thought I’d be good at this. I don’t know why I thought I’d be good at anything.

underneath it are uglier, quiet words about failure and expectations of, based on a thread of despair of knowing I’m unfixable and will fuck everything up by blundering around being sick. which I cannot truly help. it translates, generally, to I fuck my life up by existing.

and despair.

capture that miraculous little death-butterfly, love, and pinion it into a squashy armchair in your comfortable mind-parlour, drop a lap-blanket over it and push a mug of tea into its hands. perch on the arm of the chair, on both arms, and feed it biscuits. shortbread. jammy tarts. say soothing things. top up its tea. make it feel loved.

threads of despair are for comforting.

the sick and the dead

February 6, 2015

I just filled in a Tumblr Googledocs survey about mental illness and the university experience. Here’s the answer I gave to a question about things universities and professors might do to help support students who are undergoing A Fun Experience of Mental Funhood while they attempt to Gain An Education.

“For universities in general, I think educating academic staff and lecturers about the challenges that students with mental illness face is incredibly important- people don’t always understand the cognitive aspects of depression, for instance!- as well as providing really good, up-to-date support services for students who need help.

The best way for professors to help is by being very, very patient and gracious, and also offering as much support as possible- directing someone to counselling and other such student support is of great benefit. Dealing with mental illness is a full time job in itself, and it really helps if your lecturer knows and understand this, and communicates that. The grad school I’m currently attending is incredible; they’ve been incredibly kind about everything, and incredibly gracious, and very supportive.

Also, I think it helps a hell of a lot to be offered reassurance from your academic authorities that it’s okay, that they know you’re doing the best you can and they have faith in your abilities. Most of the time, I’m already beating myself up for not performing the way I know I should; I don’t need more reminders that I’m failing at functioning. I feel so guilty about my inability to function that I’m often terrified of talking to my lecturers or my dean, even though I know they’re incredibly understanding and they’ve been kind before. I already live with their perceived disappointment in my head; it’s nice to be reassured occasionally that those are just my own perceptions, and that my lecturers actually have a lot of faith in my abilities, even when I don’t.”

waiting room

January 25, 2015

today I am drinking tea and eating biscuits and contemplating the universe. one day I will understand how to hold all the pieces of my mind together without letting any bits crumble away, but that’s not today. today I am somewhere between infuriated and resigned at the mind I’ve been left with, the spotty, inconstant, failing, stuttering piece of machinery I am.

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I’m not contemplating the universe. I’m attempting to do my assignment, my very overdue, but due-in-five-days-by-the-grace-of-God assignment, and wrestling with the rising tide of anxiety that swells up every time I start reading about coding or narrative analysis or validity or qualitatative data or whatever. I don’t know how to make myself stop, or tranquilise myself into necessary placidity so I can let my rational data-pushing brain do the work it’s supposed to, or compartmentalise myself into little boxes, locks and tidewalls and sandbanks and levees so the busy cities of my mind aren’t drowning every few sentences in these waves of unceasing inability, this blindness, this skipping of the brain, this fucking fear. I can’t keep doing this. I am wroth with myself. I am wroth with my inability to build a proper fucking sandbank.

I am wroth with my inability to be anything but broken machinery. somewhere underneath the tranquilisers I’ve wrestled in, the biscuits I’m eating, the focused breathing I’m doing, I am very unhappy with my inability to be anything but myself, my malfunctioning, cogs-missing, ticking-and-skipping cracked machine of a self. if I were a dog I’d drag myself out the back and put me down. if I were a robot I’d take myself apart for parts to be reused in toasters and espresso machines. if I were a car I would send myself to a scrapheap, some bits to be melted down to slag, others to be left to rust in a yard somewhere, a hollow awning for birds and rats and stray green daisies to nest in. dead flies. cats seeking relief from the midday sun. I would sing when the wind blew through me, rattling with long-gone life. Jesus, if I were any of these other things I would have been disassembled so very long ago but unfortunately for me, unfortunately for me I am human and so consigned to living in all my inevitable failure at glory.

I cannot live properly, I cannot do anything but fail and fail and fail again at living because I am a smashed pot on the tiles, and the curved shards of me hold only enough water to catch the light in on a good day. and I cannot die properly, because it would injure others, and I would not injure others. so here I am, suspended between death and life, attempting to forget I exist. I am getting so sick of this state. I am so sick of being broken and not being able to do a thing about it except try to pretend I’m dead without actually doing the deed. it’s a fucking miserable way to not go anywhere, slowly and as vegetatively as possible, drugged to your eyeballs in whatever renders you insensate. it’s ridiculous. there have to be other ways out of this insanity. there will be. there will be if I have to drag them out of the immanent Trinity myself.

… thank a threefold God I won’t have to. it’s been done for me. but bloody hell, waiting for damned restoration and transformation and the nigh-invisible work of the Holy Spirit is pissing me off no end. one day, Jesus, I will have words with you. I will be in that queue right behind Habakkuk and Job and Hopkins and Qohelet and you won’t be able to hear yourself for all the royally pissed shouting.

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I’ve thought of a way to kill myself. it’s a long-term multi-year plan involving increasing societal withdrawal, insulting people until they avoid me and becoming more and more isolated and unreachable and eccentric a la Dickinson until almost everyone has forgotten I exist for long stretches of time and my absence bothers nobody. and then it’s a jaunt to a foreign country, removal of all forms of identification, finding software to put up the occasional Facebook and blog post for a few years postmortem and- well, I’m still tossing up between dying behind a police station or in a morgue for most convenient, least irresponsible location to be discovered.

it’s good to be considerate to whoever finds one’s corpse, you know? and yes, I know it’s a plan that requires a lot of effort and many years and much relational discipline to complete, but I like it. It’s responsible, it deals with the ‘injuring people’ aspect of my protests, and it amuses me greatly. It’s also comforting to have options. If you’ve never visited suicide country, then I’ll translate that for those of us who live here, plans for death often aren’t so much a threat as they are a comfort, an escape route to hold on to, that last ace up your sleeve in a terrifying game you’re losing heavily in. they’re the hope of an option out of a situation that is nearly unbearable, and that’s sometimes enough to keep you going through it for another day. bonus points if it makes you gleeful every time you think of it.

God it’s a good plan. I forgot how much it amused me. I’m going to go away now and drink tepid tea and stare at my data for five minutes before my broken brain starts shrieking at me again.

dead people houses

January 12, 2015

DSC_2933

It’s the most peaceful I’ve been in fucking forever.

I still felt like death because when do I not feel like death? but it was quiet and the wind was riffling gently at my skin and it was that perfect temperature for what I was wearing, neither too hot nor too cold. there was open space in all directions and birdsong in the trees. stray light fell in the shadows like someone had dropped bits of sun. the grass was damp and I sat myself down between two aisles of gravestones, a little way from where the grass swooped into a neat green bowl lined with markers, arranged like an orchestra. it wasn’t quite eight in the morning. in the distance, between two trees, I could see water.

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I went for a walk at six. the air smelled good outside and I have a thing for very early mornings and late afternoons, when light makes itself visible as more than just that thing that helps you see other things. picked up some sustenance at a nearby bakery and followed the gold light down a road, blinded and glad of it, glad for the smell of morning and wishing I’d left earlier, before the sun had properly come along. light made itself known everywhere, in every shadow, every hedge. I kept heading towards the sun, walking through the blocks of industrial lots, crossing train lines twice, stopping to look at whatever came my way- plastic garden chairs flung carelessly across a table, drenched in pohutakawa red; the reflection of clouds and houses in glass, blackbirds perched on white blocks, that everywhere brightness turning the smooth limbs of trees into paintings of themselves. lichen, grey-green and rough against a branch smooth as an arm.

it was hard to look. it hurt. the beauty of it genuinely distressed me. I’ve never had that happen before, genuinely hurting and unable to look too long because something is lovely. being distressed by loveliness. I’m not happy with this. I see beauty everywhere, notice it the way I notice the crookedness of fonts, the way I notice mispellings without trying; I see beauty because it is there to see, and I usually enjoy looking for it. but today it hurt me and I spent the next little while trying to figure out why as I wandered, peering through factory windows, thinking about how one lives with chronic pain, chatting with God and getting slowly worse.

by the time I reached the crossing, I was feeling horrible as fuck and my swearing had scaled up significantly, but I saw the sign that said cemetery and was immensely cheered. the morbid symbolism of hanging out in a cemetery apparently amuses me when I feel like death, and so I waded my way through new-mown grass and across a vast expanse of field, at one at the same time in very sweary pain and enjoying the warmth of the sun and the quietness of the park. a man jogged by with a dog. the lines of the pitch were faded. I made use of many convenient you-are-here maps and found an old stone building with 1948 on a crest, sun-warmed and silent. there were beheaded dandelion leaves on the pitch making odd and jumbled patterns in the grass, and a great big stone fucker of a wall rose in the far distance. when I headed towards it I saw a glimpse of green in a gap.

the cemetery was quiet and lovely. the clouds were too. I’m not afraid of dead people; envious, maybe. cemeteries are restful places. so after some uncertain wandering and the discovery that reading the tombstones made me feel worse, I found a long stretch of grass that probably didn’t have bodies underneath it, discovered the grass was wet by sitting on it, and rested.

I didn’t want to leave. I felt like death, but it was also the most peaceful place I’ve been in forever. the light wind reminded me of the presence of God. I sang a little. decided that the most convenient place to kill oneself would be a police station or a morgue, not a cemetery, unless you climbed into an occupied coffin first. rested my head on my knees and breathed. never wanted to leave.

next time I’m bringing a picnic blanket and taking a nap there. nobody’s gonna disturb me at a military cemetery.

hey guys, guess what? I just discovered a wrong question and a right question to ask when I’m faced with choices.

‘am I capable of doing this?’ is the wrong question.

‘will this encourage and assist in my mental and emotional recovery, or will it halt or derail it?’ is the right one.

I’ve been thinking about my baseline for what I consider to be okay, and I’ve realised that said baseline may possibly be a tad warped by trauma and depression and all the minor mental adjustments both those situations tend to lead to. when I am okay, I am not howling in agony, trying to empty my lungs of sound and pressure and feelings of death. when I am okay, I am not so terrified I cannot think straight. when I am okay, I do not feel like my life is going to end in a catastrophe of armageddonic proportions. everything else from those emotions on up is okay. generalized, constant anxiety is fine. grey endless weariness is normal. exhaustion is standard. I’m capable of handling minor panicking and ubiquitious feelings of awful and months and months of shitty days and the inability to think and all my coping mechanisms dancing about playing merry havoc in my head. all these things are not Fucking Awful Feelings of Death, or the howling, or the blinding terror, and so all these things are okay.

there’s more. I’ve been thinking too that my baseline for what I believe I am capable of is possibly skewed. When someone asks me whether I think I’m capable of doing something, or I ask myself this, my automatic response is highly likely to be yes. I’m a trauma survivor. I can survive and endure anything until I can’t. After more than a decade of learning how, my whole skillset is geared towards surviving and enduring and constantly pushing my breaking point further out regardless of the long-term cost.

Imagine a war veteran who’s been repeatedly shot in both feet. Their shins and knees are constantly fractured by stumbling into things, but they’ve had to keep going, because this is a perpetual war zone and it’s move or die. so they’ve used crutches, and splints, and occasionally enough painkillers and morphine until they didn’t remember their own name, but because they’ve never gotten to sit down and rest and heal properly, those feet are constantly setting wrong and breaking again and leaking with gangrene as the vet staggers through the mud, shaking with infection and fever.

in this scenario, your imaginary vet has kept on walking and crawling and fighting through the mud and muck for ten years with these broken feet. if you then proceed to pluck him or her out of that warzone and ask if they can keep walking on their two smashed legs, if you ask them after these ten years whether they’re capable of walking even if they’re drugged high as a kite, bleeding with every step and oozing gently, they will tell you yes. because they’ve had to. and so they know they can.

this is why ‘are you capable of doing this?’ is a stupid question. if your only options have been walk or die for ten years, then yes you are capable of walking, regardless of pain and long term injury, until you are a completely incapacitated torso wriggling about on the ground, and even then you can probably chin your way onwards. that’s it. that’s all.

‘is this going to jeopardise or derail your recovery, or is this going to assist and enable it?’ is a much better question, because clearly asking someone to keep dragging themselves forward on raw and pulverised bags of bone-splinters is a fucking terrible idea with regards to their long term health.

so there’s a thought. maybe the thing that’s more important here is my health, and not my ability to function capably. maybe this entails evaluating myself based less on whether I think I can do something (because of course I fucking can until I’m dead), and more on the basis of whether I think it’ll jeopardise my recovery or assist it. Because the point of recovery and looking after my mental health isn’t so I can achieve adequate functioning capacity again. Adequate functioning isn’t the point of my existence, isn’t the yardstick by which I measure whether I’ve achieved my human potential. The point of recovery and looking after my mental health is wellness for the sake of my wellness and wholeness and flourishing, is joy and completion, is no sin and sickness and death. life, life to the full.

… aaaaand it appears I’ve just connected the mental health recovery arc to the new heavens and new earth, to what we were made for as humans and will come to know, the shalom, the eudaimonia, the true wholeness and flourishing of creation restored and healed and drawn into the overflowing love of a threefold God. but shouldn’t that be where it always goes? isn’t that, after all, the point of everything?

I forget I’m unwell, quite often, simply because I’m either too deeply immersed in unhealthy behaviours to have the perspective to remember a history of infection and systematic damage, or I’m too busy doing work and deeply submerged in the daily pleasure of breathing and drinking tea and sitting in the sunshine to remember I’m anything but fine right at this moment, right now.

I don’t remember I exist on a long-term basis, most days. I have very little sense of continuity. Most of the time, I only ever pay attention to how I am right now. And so when the sun’s out and I’m not immediately in the grip of some intense emotional wringer, I’m happy, and I don’t think to question that. I don’t pay attention to whether or not the small things don’t add up correctly- the cognitive disjointedness, the nocturnal sleeping patterns, the social anxiety, the avoidance tactics, the overwhelming desire for sleep, the inability to concentrate, the hyperactive too-bright emotional discomfort that makes me tic from sentence to sentence, the inability to be around other people for too long. I just do them; sometimes I note them, if I’ve taught myself to, but even then they’re wallpaper in the house of my head. It’s only when the wallpaper leans out and bites me in the face that I realise that something’s wrong.

Usually when I notice is when my body gets involved; fine tremors of the hands, tightness in the chest, death in the lungs. Emotional pain, bearing upwards, or unreasoning panic, eating me up from the inside. These are all visceral things. Even then, I rarely ascribe any real significance or reason to it, because: wallpaper. It may be biting me, but it’s still wallpaper. It’s my house. It’s what it does. My wallpaper bites me occasionally.

It’s when I’m recalled to my history that the wallpaper starts to look less like wallpaper and more like a demonoid fungus that has grown up these walls because of reasons, and I recall where things were planted and why, and I start to realise how invaded I am by things beyond my control. It’s when I remember that I exist in more than just the present moment, right now, this handful of waking hours, that I recall that actually, my house is infested and I am sick, and that the thing with the huge teeth probably shouldn’t be growing over there.

I don’t know how to handle myself when I recall I’m hosting a demonoid fungus in my living room. Usually I read up a whole lot about it, in order to figure it out, to learn its weaknesses, uses and cures; I dig through the plaster and the flooring of my head to try and expose the roots, to try and work out where it comes from and how I can neutralise it. I do a lot of construction work. Or possibly destruction work. That means, though, that I get plaster and broken flooring and bits of pipe and wiring all over my house, and my living room becomes a shattered mess, and you can’t walk anywhere because there are clumps of fungus attempting to masticate your ankles from the floor. It’s a little like when you’re having a really thorough clean, your house needs to get messier before it gets cleaner. Except that the things you’re cleaning keep attacking you.

… and then for some reason life takes over, something changes and I forget, and it begins to look a whole lot like wallpaper again. I can’t recall how I get there, because usually the process involves a lack of mindfulness, which isn’t the best state to notice or recall things in. I’m often reminded again about the state of my house when things go dramatically wrong, or look like they’re about to go dramatically wrong, but even then, mostly it’s a vague recollection that I have demonoid fungus for wallpaper and I should do something about it or let other people know so that they understand why bits of me or the work I’m doing keep arriving in chewed pieces, or not at all.

I’m really not sure where this metaphor is going anymore. I’m really not sure what I’m doing with the inside of my head, or with my infested living room. I’m not really sure what’s going on. I just live here.

I am afraid. I don’t know what it is I am afraid of, only that I am afraid, and that fear is in every breath I take. I have ten tabs open on my browser bar and I have been skimming idly through news articles and feminist blogs and discussions about gender and sexuality and tv shows and I am sick with fear. I have been wearing this all day. I am sick with fear.

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I wake at seven, climbing in and out of dreams where I am chased through a shopping mall into a changing room for mothers with babies. When my alarm goes off at eight thirty, Sufjan Stevens, Seven Swans, I reset it. Reset it again at nine, and then lie in bed suspended between sleep and wakefulness, weighing up the pros and cons of going in to school.

Pros: free lunch. Routine. Daylight. I might get some work done. Cons: the thought of having to deal with other people saps me of energy; the thought of trying to find somewhere to study grates at my nerves; the thought of being outside tires and scares me. I’m tired from the inside out from small group yesterday, an overexposure of people late at night; much as I enjoyed it, the thought of being near more people scrapes me raw. Small group isn’t something I should go to, really, as it continually wipes out my Wednesdays- but, but, but. This is the closest I get to being connected to a church, something regular, something unthreatening, and it’s a sop to convention, to my flatmate who frowns on my absence of churching, and an easy socialising fix. I swear I never used to be like this, overtired by people. I am exhausted with thinking through all this.

The cons win. I text my ride and thank her for offering, but I’m not feeling well and won’t head in; I tell myself I’ll do work in the daytime and roll over. Bed is deeply comforting; sleep even more so. I drift back into dreaming. Daylight slips in and out of dreams of staged plays and swimming pools. When I wake it is nearly seven in the evening. I’ve slept for eighteen hours, on and off.

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This is happening more often. I have little desire to be awake, and sleep is comforting and comfortable. If I stay conscious long enough, my mind traces the tangled knots of itself into the future, and I know myself as fundamentally unable, and fundamentally broken, and the world as a terrifying morass of possibilities that lead nowhere, that end in every kind of death possible that doesn’t involve actual dying. I wear fear as a fundamental tenet of my personality, as ubiquitous as atoms; every step I trace leads to nothing, every thought I have tangles itself into an overwhelming fear of a world of present and future existence in which I cannot cope or succeed or proceed, in which everything is simply much too much for me, and I have no reason to fight against it all.

I can see no benefit to being awake, and there is no kindness in it. Even the small good things- hot tea, cake, sunlight, birdsong, friends- mean nothing in the long run, up against the face of this massive onslaught of complex, diluted nothingness, this too-complicated insanity of corruption and mindlessness and dying as omnipresent as the air. Small things are not enough to build a life on, and I am sick with this fear of this everywhere-presence of everything, too massive and too much. I am tired of thinking of it, of tracing each twist with a finger, and it makes no difference. It eats at me, a physical sensation in my ribcage, and exhausts me. I read to forget it, until I grow overtired and nocturnal, and sleep to drown myself in comfort. I do not know what I am doing or where this will end, but while I am asleep, I do not care.

.

I thought this afternoon, this evening, of just- being someone different for a while, for the summer. Packing up my things and finding some adventure somewhere, in some other part of New Zealand; leaving this flat and this life and these books and this chained-to-my-bed existence and being someone wholly different for three or four months until study comes back again. Picking kiwifruit, or waitressing on some tiny island down south, or disappearing into some small rural town somewhere, with nobody I know and nothing from my present to mark me as me. The freedom to be an entirely different person, where nobody knows me at all; the freedom to reinvent myself entirely, to be someone different, something completely new, mysterious, an unproven quantity. To shake off this old me and become someone new. To be different, with a range of unknown possibilities ahead.

I know some of this urge. I run away from things. I run away from stages of myself, trying to shed myself like skins. I don’t think it works; I always catch up in the end. The corruption is me. The damage is me. I am the horror I keep in my basement. I can’t run away from the death I am. I carry my life around like a corpse, and the rot of it invades the furniture.

.

O wretched creature that I am. Who can save me from this body of death?

I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship lately. About the people I care about, who care about me. in fact, I’ve been thinking about romantic relationships too, and how often in life it feels like romance and friendship are set next to each other and friendship is found to be significantly the lesser (see: friendzone, a concept I find repugnant); how friendship is found to be lighter, or- or weaker or simply shallower, and I don’t believe that, I don’t believe that at all. I don’t believe people understand what friendship is, in those circumstances. the people who are my friends- I would not be alive without them, I would not be sane if they were not part of my life; they constitute part of my self, and they are inseparable from my wellbeing. there is no me without my friends.

perhaps it’s that when your life often feels like it’s on the edge of crisis, you are absolutely dependent on other people for survival, emotional and sometimes physical, and in turn learn to offer the same kind of quality of relationship, that same kind of action. perhaps that’s what living with depression and anxiety- and living with others with depression and anxiety- has taught me. friendship for me is going to people’s houses and talking with them during anxiety attacks, is walking people home doggedly despite arguments and insults because you know they’re not safe to be left alone, is calling the ambulance or the crisis team for them; friendship is sitting in hospitals or holding them down while someone else wrestles a lightbulb or a razor out of their hands (I would like that not to happen ever again, please; I am too small to hold people down). friendship is picking someone up at two in the morning when they’re running away from home, and letting them live in your house for a week; friendship is letting that same friend stay many, many, many nights over the course of a couple of years on your floor, or your couch, or in your living room, even when she tries to paint your steps blue in a fit of well-intentioned insanity (even I don’t know what the hell I was thinking; I recall my thought processes and I am still horrified that at the time it seemed like a perfectly logical decision).

friendship is making someone cups of tea in the morning; is cooking them dinner, is texting them every few days to find out how they are, is writing them a letter or drawing them a picture; friendship is buying someone a book because it made you think of them, or some soap because it smelled good and you thought it would brighten their day. friendship is baking with and for; friendship is hugging them at one in the morning when they bawl over your floor, or talking them back into equilibrium at four in the morning and reminding them of hope. friendship is staying up all night with someone who is going through hell and needs to talk about it; friendship is the phone beginning to hurt your ear because it’s been glued there for hours. friendship is space and silence, and pottering around a house, drinking cups of tea and reading in the same room; friendship is being held and sat with, or sat on.

friendship is being sensible at people, and reminding them of perspective; friendship is talking them through their fears and being available to listen and ask questions on Facebook chat when they’re having a bad day. friendship is dumplings and deep-fried mussels and staying the night; is emails into the silence and staying present, staying there even when life takes people sideways for a little. friendship is lingering with, is staying with, is living with, through the difficult and the everyday. Faithfulness. And for me, and for a lot of people I know, a lot of days are difficult, and I have had the best of friends throughout it. I have learned and I am learning from them how to be faithful and how to be a friend who listens and who cares and who stays, and I have been shown this over and over again in the people they are, in the faithful everyday. this is why I love my friends so fiercely. they have blessed me with who they are. God, I have been blessed. there are few other things in life that make me happier than my friends.

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