Okay, so it starts like this.
It’s 12:40 in the morning, and you’re awake in bed in a cold sweat in the dark and you are aware of three things:
a) you’re alone
b) it’s pitch black in the room
c) you don’t know when either of those conditions will change
So you lay there and you close your eyes because maybe the black behind your eyelids is better than the black of the room and you hope that the voice in your head, the one creeping in the back of your skull, is maybe going to tell you something different than what you think it will, but you’re pretty sure it’s going to come screaming at you like a freight train.
And it does. It comes blasting through the dark and your heart responds by turning beats to thunder, and that voice, man, that voice. It sounds like every bad teacher and every mean adult and every abuser and ever jerk and punk you ever encountered, and it just screams whatever chain of words in whatever order makes you feel like there’s nothing in all of creation except you and darkness and that’s all there will be forever. So you don’t know what to do because your brain is lost, like it’s wandering around some infinite- Tardis-sized mall trying to find a cashier, and you just lay there in that bed, on those sheets that are damp and you squeeze your eyes tight and feel your heart nearly achieve low earth orbit out from between your ribs.
While you’re squeezing you hope that maybe just maybe if you squeeze hard enough or try to breathe slow enough that your heart will escape and run away to go live and thrive in another, healthier body, because it deserves that, because no heart deserves such a shitty body wrapped around it. You can’t cry because you’re too busy trying not to collapse into sobs that will keep you awake for another hour, so all you can do, all that you feel like you’re good enough to do is lay there in the dark and in the sweat and alone and think about the stuff you haven’t done.
The book you haven’t finished. The game you haven’t finished. The job you haven’t found. The other job you haven’t heard a peep from. The wedding down the road. The rat race of work. The script you haven’t finished. The cartoon you don’t know how to start. The whatever you haven’t whatever’d.
The voice comes back. It’s louder. And it stomps through your mental field of failure in that blurry crabwalk, the way creepy kids and creepy parents do in horror movies, when they’re the things that shoot out of the closet, or claw their way out from under the bed. You become aware that you have a closet and a space under the bed, so you don’t move. You can’t move.
Now, it’s worth pointing out that somewhere in this sea of utter awful you become aware that you have people around you, though not in the room, but they’re in your life and you don’t want to make life hard for them, so maybe you shouldn’t tell them, because they’re good people, maybe they’re better than you, because you’re willing to bet large sums of invisible money that right now they’re not laying on sweaty sheets, minds racing a billion trillion miles an hour, worried about everything.
That happened to me last night. Got so bad I was debating driving myself to the ER, thinking I was having a heart attack. Of course, hospitals terrify me, that they’ll see I’m sick or crazy or unwell and never let me out, so I chose to lay in bed. At one point, I guess it was about an hour into this cycle of fucked-up-ness, I thought if I laid still enough, I could watch sunrise. I have a terrible sense of time, made worse when I’m paranoid and panicking.
It’s hard though. It’s hard to feel like your brain is going to tear itself apart. It’s hard to feel like you’ve got this ocean of creative ideas and some of them are even good, that you’ve got talent and can be successful, but all this seems jammed up behind some barrier, some dam that you both want to break, that the world can see how creative you are, and that you don’t want to break, because that makes you sound even crazier than you feel. So you spin your wheels and begin comparing yourself to other people.
Your other friends have better jobs. Your other friends make books and games. The people on the internet seem to be ten times, a thousand times more productive. You peruse store shelves and cinemas, and you know you can make better stuff than what’s out there (seriously, there’s a reality show about nearly everything except pooping). People raised money through crowdfunding, and you can’t even do more than a paragraph some days. People have jobs that seem way more fun than yours, people have kids and know how to do things like carpool and operate coffee machines and they probably know how to buy pants.
Like a terrible washing machine, this spins around and around in your head until you just don’t have enough energy to stay awake (and really, it’s frustrating to hear the same things for the thirtieth time), and you don’t remember more than just closing your eyes, and when you open them it’s morning. I guess it was sleep. Maybe it was just life’s pause feature.
This post doesn’t have a fancy title or a really happy ending. But I had to get the thoughts onto the screen so that they weren’t in my head. I’m in dire need of a hot shower and a nap.
May your day be better than this.