Sharpies, St. Augustine, & My Sanity

This morning, I woke to find the words “KILL ME” and “RAPE MEAT” written in Sharpie on my chest.

I stumbled into my bathroom, looked in the mirror, and saw the words written backwards so they were readable in the mirror. Demons, I thought. The Bad Men did this. They’re coming for me. I need to protect myself. I swallowed the necessary pills for the morning, careful not to make yesterday’s mistake and take my night medicines in the morning. (No wonder I was so tired yesterday.)  I noticed a Sharpie next to my hairdryer. Hmm… 

I have no idea what to do with myself most days. I’m on an unpaid leave from work for the rest of this week, so my days yawn out before me, vast and unstructured. Sometimes I’ll wander into a room of my house and just stand there, muttering, “I don’t have enough eyes… I don’t have enough eyes…” I don’t know what I’d do with extra eyes, but Someone is putting thoughts in my head, telling me I need them to see danger so I can protect the children who need me.

The truth is, I can’t protect anyone from anything in the state I’m in. If I’m safe from myself, that’s a blessing and a half. I’ve been trying to get my bedroom straightened up so that I don’t keep breaking important things by stepping on them. I once stepped on my old laptop and cracked the screen, and I don’t want a repeat of that. Clothes, camera equipment, my laptop, my collection of notebooks… none of those belong on the floor. Despite the fact that I am a lifelong slob, I do like to clean up when I’m feeling this way. Cleaning gives me something to do, a purpose, and a sense of accomplishment.

But there’s only so much laundry, scrubbing of surfaces, and general tidying up I can do before it’s time to find a better task, but what better task is there? I’ve been making schedules for myself. It keeps me on track, and I find it very satisfying to check everything off my list.

Still, it’s a struggle to find things to put on the list. Mornings are my most unstructured time, so it helps to make a more detailed section for that portion of the day. If I don’t make it a point to get out of my pajamas, I probably won’t leave the house. There has to be more to fill my days than just an endless cycle of making and completing lists. Right?

Last night Rebecca and I went to St. Augustine to see the Christmas lights. We ate dinner at a Florida-style restaurant and got quite lost as we roamed the ancient city looking for the carriage rides, only to discover their exorbitant price, so we settled for some ice cream.

She got lavender ice cream, mine was pumpkin.

We’ve been together for a year now, a year that has had more than its fair share of challenges. But we’ve stood by each other through it all, and I have to say, it’s been for the better. Once we were home and I started to fall apart, (“Do you think you have enough eyes?” “Do you think Tim knows where I live?”) she was there for me with her non-judgmental love and gentle touch. 

I don’t want to forever be the sick one in every relationship (romantic or otherwise) I’m in. I want to be on equal footing with Rebecca, not have to have her take care of me or protect me from danger–real or perceived. I have learned that I don’t have to be guarded with her, and while this is largely a positive aspect of our relationship and one of the reasons we’ve been able to make things work despite other challenges, it can also be a drawback. Things come out of my mouth that don’t make sense around her. My paranoia manifests in half-baked scenarios that involve unfaithfulness or drug abuse on her part. When there is silence, I imagine that I’ve done something to upset her, that she is seething at me, that our demise is just around the corner. I am the perpetual victim, the only role it seems I know how to play at times. 

While we were in St. Augustine, we saw a woman hunched over a trash can with a lid on the top, keeping a list not unlike mine on a sheet of paper. “Is she in charge of the carriage rides, or is she just a crazy lady?” Rebecca asked me.

Anyone who knows me knows better than to call me crazy. It is a word I have all but eliminated from my vocabulary. When it accidentally slips through my lips, I feel guilty, like I’ve betrayed myself. To me, it’s up there with “retarded” “faggot” or the N-word.

As it happened, the woman was in charge of carriage rides and the trash can was functioning as a makeshift desk. But Rebecca’s eyes widened and she started frantically apologizing. “It’s fine,” I said, because really, it was. I knew Rebecca didn’t mean anything by it, and I’d been wondering the same thing, albeit in different terms.

We opted not to ride in the carriages, and I listened to a brown and white horse’s thoughts. The horse told me that he hated being tied to a carriage with a sack of his own feces trailing behind him, that he was old and in pain. Maybe I should cut off your ear and eat it, I thought to the horse.

Perhaps not, he replied.

My sanity is starting to return to me. I drove to the supermarket tonight, the one a little farther away from my house so I wouldn’t bump into any nosy coworkers wondering where I’ve been, and the lights stayed in their places. I drove the speed limit, changed lanes without feeling like I was jockeying for first place in a race for my life, and actually cooked a meal for myself when I got home.

I still worry about the fate of all the little girls in the world, but it feels less like a personal mission or the calling of God and more like a cause that pulls at my heartstrings because of a personal tie to it. My roommate’s cat is no longer Lucifer reincarnated; he’s just a cantankerous fatty. 

I have yet to start Clozaril, the drug that will supposedly rid me of these episodes for good. My most recent blood work was done on Friday, and my next doctor’s appointment isn’t until Wednesday. I wish my doctor could see me living my day-to-day life. I wish he could get in my head for a day and feel what it’s like to live in a dreamscape that turns into a nightmare so quickly. Maybe then I wouldn’t have to wait so long for the slow wheels of progress to begin to turn. All I can do for now is have patience.

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