I am not well lately. I don’t know whether it’s my standard, wonky brain chemistry, or the winter: the general darkening of the world coinciding with the its constant entreaties to be of good cheer. I think there has generally in my life been a tradition of bad Novembers, and mine seems to have bled into December uninvited this year.
Everything has taken on an air of metaphor, in a way things only do when I’m too much in my head. I catch myself narrating my own actions to myself, in the jagged space between my ears, and reading too much in to rainfall and fire alarms. Pathetic fallacy, heavy on the pathetic. This morning I opened my door and the sun flooded in and I thought maybe everything will be okay. Last night, in the dark, when I felt cold and sharp and unhappy, the storm outside felt like undergraduate creative writing.
While I do tend to fluctuate – and am medicated to the tips of my ears on a rotating combination of pills and therapies for doing so – lately it has been much worse. There was a burst of mania towards Halloween, which is angrier and shakier than the joy people tend to think it is, which eventually came to a head when I exhausted my (prescribed and improvised) pharmaceutical resources, maxed out my credit card on a midweek late-night jaunt to London, and got a song stuck in my head so painfully that I found myself at the GP’s office on a Friday evening begging for sedatives. As I have found with most things, no height can be reached without an immediate and inevitable decline, like the moment in a cartoon when you realise you ran out of cliff beneath your feet several paces ago, and must now answer to gravity.
My own loneliness is something I find extremely embarrassing. I am luckier than most in that I have genuinely wonderful friends who are, every single one of them, kinder than I am, who will put up with my sudden bursts of sincerity as much as they will my ongoing mission to have each thing I say be more ridiculous than the last. We see each other regularly and text when we don’t, and my bedroom is plastered with photographs of parties and outings, like an incident room, constant and tangible evidence that there are people in the world who love me, even in the middle of the night with the rain hammering outside when I feel like the only person on the planet.
I also have a small but close family, who don’t always understand but do usually try to. It’s not a loneliness for a lack of people, or even a lack of love, and that’s what I think is embarrassing to me: the idea that for all my friendship and strength of character and carefully cultivated exterior hardness, it seems like I’m just mooning about, sad that I don’t have a boyfriend. It’s not quite that (and not that ‘boyness’ is at all a requirement for me anyway), it’s more that for all my friendships, there isn’t a single person in the world that I ever actually look in the eye and tell my secrets to.
I never articulate my feelings, or when I do they just burst out in fragments while I’m talking about something else, a little rush of madness and then nothing again. I downplay my mad behaviour and my sadsack, soggy feelings, turn them into the exact sort of joke that plays well on Twitter, because being wryly aware of your own madness is much more palatable than being hostage to its whims, comes with an air of detachment and self-awareness that seems saner. If you know you’re ridiculous, you’re sort of not ridiculous at all.
The fact is that everyone else in my life has a person – a partner or a housemate or both – who, when all the socialising is done, they can retire from the wider world with. Someone to confide in who has accepted the task of holding the weight of all their strangeness and history, the consensual and mutual burdening that comes with knowing and being known. And because, of course, I forget the mantra I repeat to myself in times like this – that I’m not special, not even in a bad way – I of course, sort of arrogantly, believe myself to be the only person too dark and tightly knotted and difficult to ever have this. There are so many people in this world who don’t come with as many disclaimers that it seems absolutely wild that I would ever be the better choice, and my self-imposed martyrdom has now reached the point where I believe that inflicting myself on another person would be an active act of cruelty, like feeding somebody a meal that I already know to be poisoned. The fact that I have managed to make this judgemental self-denial something noble is probably the most Catholic thing about me.
Reluctant as I am to add to the load of emotional and actual heavy lifting of those in my life, but having been told quite firmly that if I want anything to change I will have to eventually start unburdening myself to people who I’m not paying, I have settled for writing this as a sort of compromise. People can read it or not, acknowledge it or not, and we can all move on with our lives – me knowing that I’m not the sole bearer of whatever overblown extended-adolescence nonsense is clogging up my brain, and my friends not having to watch me guffaw and stammer through any sincere in-person attempt to actually Talk About My Feelings. Blogging’s back, baby, welcome to 2006!