Thirteen years ago, a series of events big and small lead me to cower in my closet maybe once or twice a week for about six months. I went to sleep around 5am every morning, woke at 1 or 2 in the afternoon, and spent the majority of my awake time in my bedroom. I left the house so infrequently that my eyes burned in the sun on the short walk to the mailbox. I left a few times – once or twice to go to the grocery store with my mother, once to go to the record store to order the latest from Kill Rock Stars, and once to shop at a used book store down the street.
I timed my day so that I only had to leave my room when my family was away or sleeping. I learned every crack in the floor so that I could tiptoe through the house without making a noise. I developed a hyper-vigilance that allowed me to hear the tiniest turn of a key, click of a lock, feet slipping into or out of shoes, so that I could slip away before anyone entered the apartment or the room.
My room was the safest place in the world, but there were times when those four walls weren’t safe enough, when I was overwhelmed by depression and anxiety. There were nights when I felt as though my body was coming apart, floating away, space between every cell with electricity shooting between. It hurt. It physically hurt. I felt raw, exposed, and most of all, scared. On those nights, I went into my tiny closet, took all of the fabric out of my sewing box, and piled it on top of me to make my body stop floating away. I sat there under pounds of velvet, flannel, and cotton and waited patiently with my eyes closed for the feelings to be drowned.
That’s where I was when I wrote and posted my last entry, and it’s why it’s been so long in between. I had no safe place, no closet to hide in, I didn’t have the luxury of irresponsibility, I had a baby (now a toddler!) and a boyfriend (now a husband!) and I had to be there. I had to put raising our child first and in the process, I had to let my body float away, feel that electricity, get overwhelmed by that fear.
There were a few times when I didn’t want to be alive anymore. I didn’t want to kill myself – that would take too much effort – I just wanted to be gone. To go to sleep and not wake up or to wake up numb or, I don’t know, something. Anything but waking up to literal and figurative open wounds.
There’s a pretty big gap between how I felt then and where I am now, and I don’t know how to narrate that. There wasn’t really a solution, no defining moment of clarity, just me very slowly trying to climb up from the bottom of a very deep hole without a whole lot of places to turn. I know I’m leaving a lot out, but I just want to put something here to bridge the gap between January and tomorrow.
So, that’s it. That’s what I’ve not been saying for eight months. I’m mostly better now. There are residual physical and mental quirks here and there – adhesions that pull, a dimple in my scar, an occasional moment of anxiety – but it’s all in check. I feel safe and happy and capable again.