All at once, I have so much energy. I’m excited and hopeful, but I’m also irritable and angry. My head is flooded with ideas. I’m on my soapbox telling joke after joke, getting mad if someone doesn’t understand me and then laughing hysterically thirty seconds later.
I go through all my old papers, trying to sort writing and quotes and articles I’ve read for books I’ll probably never write. I go through my closet, finding old shirts to cut the sleeves off of and read old letters from years ago. I paint and glue and glitter and cut and it’s all pretty much crap, but it looks amazing when I’m manic. Everything sounds beautiful when I’m manic. Or everything sounds like nails on a chalkboard when I’m manic. It’s never one or the other. My senses are heightened. Maybe I should get into running again. Right now. I decide to run around my neighborhood at two in the morning.
A song is playing. One, two, three, four–I’m doing cartwheels and running in place. I’m taping up more things on the walls and writing my ideas down in page after page. I’m breathless and excited and ambitious, and I run around the block again because I’m destined to be a runner even though I haven’t been in any races since 5th grade. The lights are dim, and the people are following me around town as I run, trying to catch my cold breath in my fists. Christmas lights hang off the trees, and it looks like the most honest, beautiful, special thing I’ve ever seen. The world feels so good. The air feels light and sweet on my tongue. Where have I been for so long?
Hey! Don’t touch me. I don’t want to talk anymore. I don’t want to dance. I don’t want to paint. Everything is disappointing and uninteresting. I hate you, but more than anything I hate me. I comb my short hair until it feels just right, and then check my teeth for cavities instead of just brushing them. The world is falling apart. What is everyone doing? I can’t save the world all by myself. Death is inescapable. So is pain. What is the point? It’s all so frustrating. Who is that following me?
Hours later, a day later, or a week later, and I come to, accessing the damage. Everything sort of just slows down. The music skips and then stops. The house is a mess. I no longer feel strong and unbreakable or righteously angry. Words hurt and I look in the mirror at the girl who remains a mystery to me, even after 21 years with her. I’m embarrassed of the things she’s said, of the things she’s done.
There are so many things I want to do, like finish school, marry, have a career. But the main task has and will always be to figure out this beast behind my cold nose and dry eyes. She is the one calling the shots. I scroll through my Facebook memories for the day and lick my lips, finding her beneath violent words, profanity, and sentences that just don’t make sense. There she is, swooping in and out to call the shots since 2009, making me post weird, cryptic statuses that disturb me seven years later. It is different from just being embarrassed. It’s looking back and knowing that even then, my mind was splitting in half, fragmented.
I catch my reflection and see the cogs turning behind my eyes. I know the beast never sleeps. What will she do now? How will I keep the bad thoughts out or the dead people inside or the bad decisions at bay?
I can taste my bad breath. The dancing poinsettias that were keeping in time with the music wilt and fall to the floor. I notice the pile of dirty dishes in the sink, run my hands through my greasy hair, and look at the mess I’ve made.
What has she done now? What have I? What have we?
August Blair is the founder of Survival is a Talent. She is a freelance writer, blogger, and social media manager. She studies creative writing at Georgia State University. She loves reading, sweets, and warm weather. A story about her life with a mental illness has been published in the next volume of The i’Mpossible Project. It is available for pre-order and will be in stores November 2017. You can connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.