an extended metaphor about wallpaper

November 8, 2014

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.


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