The Valium and the Suzie Q’s don’t help anymore. I need one of those blow darts full of elephant tranquilizer handlers they keep on hand in case they get rowdy. Just shoot it into my ass and watch me drop to the floor, like that kid who inevitably faints at school presentation nights under the hot lights. That’s all I want these days. To be completely comatosed where feelings cease to exist and where the time passes without my acknowledgement or presence.
Mental illness, however on trend these days, is not romantic or cool. It’s not something you can try on for a few hours, then pull it off over your head when it becomes too constricting like Spanx. It is a waiting game for death. An arduous hourly existence that hopes to be extinguished, snuffed out like a candle. It is every hangover you’ve ever had, magnified by a thousand. It is every freezing cold morning that makes you want to dive back under the warmth of the covers and never leave your bed again. It is watching your pet of twenty years be put to sleep. It is every torturous break up with someone you’re still in love with. It is drowning in sorrow and solitude, regardless of how many people you surround yourself with and how many comedies you watch. It is a shopping bag full of rattling boxes of pills and containers of capsules that allow you to go on just one more day. A few days without them could be fatal for some, for me atleast.  These are the pains of poor brain chemistry.
It is grey carpet up the corridor and numbered doors. Polaroid portraits pinned to a chart that’s ticked and crossed and scratched out and adjusted with different dosages and brand names. It is tiny plastic shot glasses and slippers at 7pm. It’s the comforting sound of the phrase ‘PRN’ and lights out at 11.30. It is being willing to sacrifice your memory for sanity. Your comfort for a clear mind. It’s a desperation you’ll try anything to resolve. It’s expensive and the cost is more than you can carry in your purse. It’s mortification.  It’s medication morning and night. It’s having to be away from your friends and family, as they carry on their lives while yours halts in the Bubble. There is no glamour in this life of having to use sticky notes on your wall to remember to shower and brush your hair, or the look of pity on someone’s face when they hear your diagnoses.
For some, it’s Tubi-Grip from the wrist to elbow or delicate tattoos to camouflage the reminders of the times you’d do anything to cope. For others, it’s drowning in liquor or numbing oneself with narcotics. It’s not a club you want to belong to, but it’s by no means exclusive. It is not something that can be willed away with positive affirmations, no matter how much Eckhart Tolle you read. It’s commitment. It’s bravery and fear all at once. It’s exhaustion from wearing the mask all day. Some days, there’s just too much to feel, too many emotions that weigh you down like a sinker on a fishing line. It’s having to convince people of something they’re unable to see. Some sort of magic act or slight of hand that beggars belief, as if one would chose this existence loosely called life. It’s cocktails of chemicals and crossed fingers. There are no promises of wellness. There is vague hope on good days. On bad days, there’s thoughts of disappearing permanently, slipping into the void that seems so welcoming. And then are the days that feel completely numb. An apathy, that feels like those moments that you sit on your bed after a shower and just stare into the abyss, yet longer. It’s mind numbing, like sex with someone you feel ambivalent about. It’s feeling an itch you’d love to scratch but your hands are bound. It’s stepping on stage and forgetting your lines, scrambling for a word that’s just out of reach. It’s embarrassing yourself for the sake of awareness. Admitting your most vulnerable confidences in public to give solace to the one person who’ll take comfort in it.