“I can’t really words today, sorry” was what I eventually sent to my mum in response to the chain of unanswered messages I had been receiving throughout the day. I couldn’t reply to anybody, my brain shut down each time it read a message, it didn’t even know how to respond to a simple hello. I’ll try to tell you how much of a kind of… crisis… I was and have been in, but you won’t get it. You won’t get it because even I don’t get it and because clearly my ability to write words is enough to make people think that I can function. You won’t get it because words cannot possibly do this justice and I will pick the wrong ones and place them in an order that makes me sound like I can function, like I can human, like things are so much more ok than they are. And so the following words are pointless… Yet still present. Make of them what you will.
There was about four days of washing-up all over my bedroom floor – plates not even scraped, food slowly drying out (I am usually almost obsessively neat and clean, but the cleanliness of my room tends to reflect my mental state). There was rubbish everywhere – on the floor, on the bed, in the bed. I, like everything else in my room, was festering, degrading, rotting from the inside out. And I had no thought. I’d been able to act more normally, but I’d been masking an ever growing void that threw me right back to where I was. I sat, and nothing mattered, nothing mattered because no thoughts were being generated by my brain. Nothing. For no reason I was holding back the urge to cry – not just to cry, to sob, to fall from the bed to the floor and just let go. It was such an effort it almost hurt. I swung between that, still unable to think or feel anything other than a sudden desire to cry… And utter, utter emptiness. I’ve been emotionally numb before, but this wasn’t numbness. Numbness is heavy, numbness is suppressive and… there was no heaviness (other than when I was almost crying). There was nothing to suppress. I just sat there. And I didn’t know what to do, because I couldn’t work out how to function. My brain did not know how to function. It just knew how to hurt for no reason, so much that the pain was almost physical. With no emotion behind the emotional reaction.
Messages appeared on my phone. My mum asking if there was any particular food I wanted for Christmas day… And then what I was up to. Two friends, trying to have normal conversation. (No more Almost-brother-sixth-form-friend, because the night before I’d been mid-converastion and he kept asking me how my day was and I kept asking him to please not – because I couldn’t even deal with that question and had no thought – and he kept on and on until I buckled and just backed out of all human interaction). I couldn’t reply. My mind shut down and couldn’t figure out how to human, what it was supposed to say.
I went out and bought a bunch of cleaning stuff. I sat on my bed upon my return, and I couldn’t even. I just couldn’t even. I couldn’t function. I could not compute. And my mum messaged me again, and I finally replied after taking several minutes to figure out how to words. And she was different.
Message 1: ?
Message 2: You ok?
Message 3: Do you want us to come and pick you up?
She knew my dog was probably the only thing that could get through to me. She called me. And I couldn’t really talk. I sort of half talked and half groaned and mostly tried not to cry for no apparent reason.
I was picked up after standing out in the rain for ages. I went back to Kent. It rained the entire evening. It was my nephew’s birthday. My sister was there. My sister is always happy, and my nephew is always rude and obnoxious. I couldn’t deal with that. When I walked in the front door I was met with an “ooh look at the face on it!”
I was also met with what multiple people thought I needed. My dog ran at me and was so excited he threw himself onto my lap when I sat down, and sat with his butt on the floor and his paws on my shoulders and just nuzzled his head right under my neck. And for so long he just sat with me and demanded cuddles. And I just held him. My furry rock in a storm I didn’t understand. And he was there. And he didn’t try to talk to me, and he didn’t think he understood, and he didn’t care that I couldn’t words. Because dogs don’t need words. They read people so much better than other people do, probably because they don’t have to listen to the lies and the acts that people put on to hide their true state. He just wanted me. And he wouldn’t move. And nobody told me off for sitting on the floor (like they usually would) in fact, my mum took photos. And then my dog ran around and around the house because he was so excited he couldn’t stay still. But he came back, and he’d demand cuddles, and I just held him.
My nephew was sulking about his rubbish 17th birthday. He’s been spoilt rotten, but also been told off for lying and disobeying people again. If I’d been able to words, I’d have told him that on my 17th birthday I’d had surgery between my ribs two days before so was in pain and could hardly move. I was also still in hospital a few doors down from the room that gave me PTSD, and the three friends that turned up on my birthday sat talking about school (I’d been in hospital for over a year so had no idea about school gossip), which made me cry for about 15 minutes, and only one of them noticed while the other two just chatted away across the bed. And then one of them said they’d been forced to go by parents and were only there for free food. And I hardly saw my family. That isn’t too bad for a birthday, and his, as he was healthy, home, got a load of presents and money and cards and HIS MOTHER WHO HAD FLOWN FROM DUBAI TO SURPRISE HIM… wasn’t bad at all.
My dog isn’t allowed up on my bed, but when I got under the covers he put a face and his paw on the edge of the bed until I threw an old blanket over the top of the covers for him to lay on. He started off at the foot of the bed, but he’s so big he doesn’t fit on it width-ways, and he clambered up the bed so that he could use my stomach as a pillow. And he fell asleep just staring at my face and wagging his tail gently whenever I looked down at him. And I fell asleep holding him. Empty, but no longer adrift, no longer floating off so far that nobody would be able to pull me back. I couldn’t talk and I didn’t have to. He didn’t need to understand to be there. He could read me like a book just from my body language. He recognised a need for companionship and comfort and he provided both of those things. I couldn’t deal with humans, but my dog pulled through.
My mum was not unhelpful for once. She was careful. I was so bad that she acknowledged there was a serious issue. But she asked me why I was suddenly so bad. And it isn’t sudden. That isn’t sudden. I’ve been this bad since the day I listened to an old man die and it pushed me over an edge which I was already losing my grip on. I briefly started to feel things again, and then in the last few days I fell right back to where I was. And… I don’t think you’d understand how bad something has to be for my mum to notice it and not to just try to logic it out of me or shout or whatever. She tried to be sensitive. She kept asking if I was ok, and I couldn’t answer, because I didn’t know what to say. She went out to a Christmas party, but she messaged me to ask if I was in bed and if I was alright. I think she saw that in that moment I was dead inside. She asked if it was because of the new stuff with my heart. My brain just shut down again. Because no, it isn’t. I don’t have the capacity to feel about that yet.
It didn’t last. I woke up yesterday and could talk again so she just figured I was back to normal. At one point my mum was all “oh what now, you were happy a minute ago!” But no, not happy, no. She said she understood that (when I pointed it out), but she doesn’t. She started to expect me to care about normal things again, like where I left the saucepan to soak after I’d used it and how big the gap between the door and the doorframe was when I left the room and pushed it “to” behind me. Her misunderstanding and resulting accidental insensisitivty returned. She called me out on stuff and criticised tiny things tat don’t matter (but that were brought up multiple times and weren’t even things) and if I’d been able to feel I’d have felt so inadequate, but I didn’t, I just felt heavy. We went out as a family without my nephew and bought a Christmas tree. My mum and I went in one car, and my little brother and dad went in the other. Mum and I got there first, and I chose a tree. Nobody else really cared apart form Mum and I, and so we went with what was meant to be a 6-7 foot tree. It’s 8 foot at least (and his name is Gerald). There’s no room for an angel on top so she’s sort of balanced precariously on some branches. We decorated the tree and there was no magic for me like there normally is. I just sat and held my dog, and when he left the room I called him back and he ran at me tail wagging and sat right by me.
Then my cousin called me (Auntie-Godmother’s oldest child) and I could her that she was outside, and it turns out she’d melted down and “taken the dog for a walk” because it was the only way she could get out of the house. She didn’t really know what was overwhelming her; she had a few things getting at her, but there was more that she didn’t really understand yet… And for an hour I calmed her down and talked to her until I knew she was safely back home, and then I wrote a huge long message for her to send her mum, and then as a responsible adult I also messaged Auntie-Godmother to let her know that her child was in crisis. I managed to human enough to deal with that. I said what needed to be said, I told my cousin I was proud of her for the way she dealt with the feeling and thanked her for sharing with me. I promised her that her mum cared and told her honestly that our entire family is proud of her (honestly, she is an incredible young woman). I assured her she wasn’t a disappointment and that if she spoke to her mum it would get easier. Auntie-Godmother is super in-tune and understanding about mental health issues and emotional issues. She listens, she talks, she comes as close to understanding as any healthy person ever can with my stuff, and she doesn’t ever shout, and balances just the right amount of logic and compassion. And they talked. And they both thanked me. And my cousin felt better.
Just being with my dog also helped me human enough to speak. I started making lecture notes on the stuff I’m weeks behind on. I attached no importance at all to the task, so frequently stopped and did absolutely nothing for hours – that’s the point, I wasn’t making the notes because I knew I needed to catch up, I was just… I didn’t know why I was making them, they just were something to do. And I was exhausted so I napped a lot. But when there was nothing to fill my time and I felt like typing, I’d just monotonously type out lecture slides. I got through half of an hour long lecture over the course of an entire day. I’m… 6 weeks (13.5 hours of lectures) behind in that module, and it doesn’t matter to me at all. It probably should, because I have an exam in that module on Wednesday, which I’ve also not been able to attach any importance to enough to care about. And see this, this is wrong, because it gives the illusion of coping, of trying to get back on track. And that isn’t what happened. That isn’t what went on inside my mind, there was no thought process, there is no obligation, there is no importance attached to this at all. I feel nothing towards it or about it. Nothing. I just did a thing on autopilot, dead inside, not even taking in what I was typing.
Words mean nothing. They are empty air. And these ones are particularly crap, because they don’t say anything right at all. But they’re enough to make some people think I’m alright. People are intent on trying to relate, or in asking me how I feel. And I can’t deal with that. I can’t answer the latter because there’s no thought and no feeling and I am so done with humans. I can’t face anyone. Weirdly, until she disconnected from me again, I think I just wanted my mum.
And you still won’t get it, because I just read through this and it doesn’t say things right at all. It doesn’t get it right. These words are miles away from just how broken and in crisis I am. But people just want words from me. So… Here, I guess. Have 2,421 of them.