The camera is held at the point of establishing a full shot, subject begins under the water in a bathtub. The viewer hears the roaring of the pressure, in the background a song plays. As the subject’s head submerges from the water the pressure decreases, just the rush of the water hitting the still conservation is heard and the music becomes more noticeable. (ay ay amor canta y no llores…)the song loops around these lines, which the subject cannot hear; the song seems to envelop the glaring sadness in the subject’s face as the camera pulls away from the scene and focuses first on the subject’s face and then pans out: the face as the focal point of the zoom. As the subject rises out of the bathtub, and turns off the water, some water falls on the side of the tub, demonstrating the form of apathy that the subject has for maintaining order. For the split second of nudity the camera will focus on the tiles of the floor, clean but covered in the residue of human flesh (dust) at the places where the tiles converge. A towel is seen swinging across the camera and at last the subject enclothed in the vile color of some serene blueish-green fabric walks out of the room as the camera goes from side facing to following the subject’s backside. The door swings on the camera a slight pause to seeing the subject and recognizing the voyeurism of following a person, who beneath a fabric is but a human body. The camera suddenly in the room again sees the subject who has put on some underwear, the body non-consumed and glaring sports the imperfections of a life lived: scars, marks, the flabbiness of excess. The subject now established as a person, opens a bag, a bag with the potential for coloration, a powder of rouge is taken out and a brush is held by the person who presses on it, bringing the powder now in a form of specks to the face; the hand makes circular motions near each cheek bone, the face now flushed rather than pale looks at the circular mirror. Out of the bag, the person brings more powders to the counter, the fingers dig into the powder and find the creases above the eyes, yet again painting outlines to hide the real flesh. Once the person is satisfied the excess powder is wiped on the puke green towel, leaving behind a brown mark. A black tube is taken out and uncapped, revealing a thin and flexible brush which is pressed directly above and under the eye, leaving some black line, the hand cannot shake and the natural wrinkles must be straightened as the line must be straight. The person looks at their face with each second becoming less themselves and more of a mirage of color, and puts the cap back onto the tube. The subject repeats the motion with a similar tube but this time outlines their lips. After the outline is made, a tube is uncapped and slithered across the pout. Now the cheeks look less pale, the eyes more urgent, the pout more structured. A t-shirt is found, tight enough but not calling for attention, the camera pans out as the person throws on the ware and the camera spins as the person stands. The last part is coming: the subject grabs a phone, opens up the world, find the right angle and presses the button to capture the perfect still. The camera alternates from shot to subject. At last the subject sends the pic to somewhere or someone, looks at the mirror one last time, and wraps their body in a blanket on what is called “their” bed. They immediately notice the glaring light and turn it off. The last thing the viewer sees is the immediate sense of darkness as the person’s bed squeaks; their body once again finds its way to the bed. With the hope of some connection, the person holds the phone to their face, both vacant, but as the hope fades the subject lays their head next to the protruding light of the screen and closes their eyes. the camera pans out noting the darkness and the only light being the phone. The light suddenly flares out and there is nothing but darkness.
It’s always a white man, the white man who can make ungrounded arguments and thinks that he is so sentimental and deep. Meanwhile I sit on the other side, panicking at his lack of understanding and empathy. He is the one saying that his uncle with the walking disorder deserves no pity: As though people can be expected to act in non-burdensome ways even when they are ill. He says mediocre things like “I’m not good at math but I passed my statistics course”. I stared at him with a stoic smile, but wondered how someone can be proud of mediocrity. But then I remember how upper middle-class white people have the privilege of being mediocre. This privilege comes from not having to tackle systematic inequality and never being denied an argument based on their identity. And then I disclose too much, I disclose too much to prove that his oh so deep argument is actually a misunderstanding of normality. He says nonchalantly: ” the only life that can seem normal to oneself is one’s own life”. But hello my own life has never seemed or appeared normal. With the shifting moods it has only felt like a life that moves too quickly and I can barely catch up to: as though my life is a train and I am running to make sure that the door doesn’t close on my face. I told him about the bipolar that plagues me. He interjected by praising mania, exclaiming how jealous he is of people that are bipolar, and that yes he is aware of the coming doom, but the mania sounds amazing. Mania is not what the movies show it to be, mania is decisions which leave you empty, in problems, which push people away because everything moves too quickly and you have no inhibitions to control your interactions. I told him that it is not what he thinks it is. We moved on to the cliche topic of how terrible 2016 made everyone feel. He chimes in to say: “Now is the time to figure out how you would behave during the Hitler Era, blah blah.”He proclaims his knowledge that as a white cis-gendered hetero man with blue eyes, he faces no coming persecution. Everything at this point becomes noise, I am being pushed to an extreme discomfort and I don’t know what to do. I feel dirty, as though every part of me is soiled and unworthy. This man so confidently walks around being a disgusting excuse for a human being. All the microaggressions remind me that to indirect racists I am a stereotype, not a person but a reified phenomenon. Not real but an object; an illusion, an invisible figment, a sort of problem. I looked at him who has excused himself to go to the bathroom, and attempt to form a connection through a smile, he looks back, panic stricken, a half smile forming through force, and I know that apart from wasting 4 dollars on cold-brew and basically sabotaging my sleep, I have wasted so much vulnerability on someone who wanted nothing but a surface connection. I went back, I hid, I felt sad. This is the experience of having a complex identity, one who does not fit into definitions of normality, who as a woman am too direct, who has been able to succeed through the obstacles within education and don’t directly fit into the narrative of mediocrity, and yet as I sit with this particular white man, I start to hate everything about myself, particularly the part of me that isn’t mediocre enough to validate this man and in turn is validated. I have a great amount to learn and love still. I don’t know what normality can feel like, nor do I want to though.
Reason. Why are you here. I have thoughts of hurting myself. silence as notes are taken. Am I a person. or am I a behavior.
The behavior kept worsening. I went from irritable to depressive. The lithium dose kept increasing. My brain couldn’t take it anymore and I would constantly break down. Lithium for me was a brief picture of hell. I could not think, I could only feel my agony. I was only on lithium. I took it every day despite my migraines and lack of clarity. I now regret following orders that were only killing me. I looked at an old poem of mine and noticed that within its borders were the descriptions of my mind. “Death of swing, euthanasia of indulgence, the abortion of the self…” I was slowly sedating my mind into inaction and inability. I wonder whether my diagnosis may have been incorrect. Why did I react so negatively to a drug that saves others? Perhaps I have to remember that the first pages on google search are chosen as the first and that perhaps there are more cases like my own. I was going insane. Irritable by the smallest noise, unable to sleep, registering the farthest voice. I was not this way before the lithium. Why did lithium destabilize me further? I felt no pleasure and was sure everyone hated me. I dragged myself to the hospital unable to understand how to keep myself standing. They only gave me the lithium that was guarding my sanity from returning. I was safe. I wasn’t going after anyone but I was suffering. The medical profession does not care about suffering or inability to think. They care only about whether you are a danger to yourself or others. In some respect they throw you into the situation of wanting nothing but to hurt yourself. Until then you are a success, only after you want to rip your skin apart do they mark you as urgent. I am right now off of all meds. I am thinking clearly, eating, sleeping, and daydreaming again. I am starting to think that perhaps meds are not my answer. Instead I have to find new ways to cope with my irregular emotions. I’m not sure about anything right now. But at least I managed to stay alive.
I can’t cry. I had too many breakdowns and now I feel defeated. I just got out of the hospital a few hours ago. I checked myself in, not able to cope with the concept of living anymore. I keep complaining about this feeling but my psychiatrist won’t give me anything but lithium. I find it hard to think and concentrate. I used to have racing thoughts and each paper that I wrote would take half or a third of the time. I can’t handle being like this. Everyone is seeing my destruction. I sat in the emergency room for a long time. Since behaviorally I am quite normal every person that made sure I didn’t harm myself was made to like me. The enchainment of being non-external. I was released after a day. I walked out to the sun, people, and a discomfort in my head. I don’t fit anywhere. I got into a full elevator. I wanted nothing but to run. I haven’t slept for 48 hours. I’m tired but I keep myself up to feel like the failure that I see. I write words that sound empty. I don’t want to be depressed and have energy. I wish someone could help but I don’t know whether any part of my diagnosis is true. I sat with so many wonderful yet helpless people. I wanted nothing but to hug them. I could barely go to the bathroom by myself. I can’t take my half depleted half apparently normal state. I haven’t done any work. I had to reach out to the dean to help me get extensions. I’m a failure. I became useless and I am nothing but a waste of education. Even writing this post is painful. I can’t be a person anymore.
I called out of work today and my boss asked me if I’m sick. How can I explain in two sentences that I am not physically sick but in mental agony? I tried only to sound empty. I’m unstable, and my lack of sleep is not helping my hopelessness and anxiety. There is a way in which words fail when one tries to explain that the mind is not working efficiently. I used to take pride in my ability to think, and in my ability to create words that moved beyond mundane statements. Basically my pride was built on the efficiency of my hypomanic state. I feel like I have no worth anymore. I can’t even sleep correctly. I am trying to change apartments because my roommates’ lifestyles clash with my need for sleep. There is a dialectic to what I want and what I actually do. I want to know more, to read everything but instead I stare at words that are blank with meaning. Why should I care about Kant’s categorical imperative? I never thought that I would end up being bipolar. Words can’t describe the experience fully. If you have one minute to speak you end up feeling defeated, pathetic, and disconnected. Everyone assumes that you should be able to act within the normative. Sometimes I wonder what’s the point to my education if my mind refuses to listen or care. I don’t belong in the capitalist economy. I want a realm of freedom in which productivity does not measure my worth.
My life is becoming unbearable: to some extent a heavy lightness that suffocates me. By becoming I mean that everything is not as it should be. I am at this point 40 lbs overweight with no hope or energy to lose any of it. My lithium medication was increased today: a reminder that my brain is sick. While at the pharmacy I took a blood pressure test to find out that I am at risk, meaning that I am above the normal blood pressure. I feel like my body is deteriorating and I’m scared. Nothing works anymore. I wrote this essay and the professor kept denying my style, asking instead for curt statements. I just used the one word that I remember from all the GRE questions I have done. This post is pretty mundane but the life of someone attempting to reach stability despite a mental illness is not glamorous. I miss being irrational. I miss being in a higher energy state. Hypomania was always a blessing and yet at the end awaited the fall. I want to fall forever. I often wish that I didn’t exist. I sit sometimes and forget that I am a being and instead lose my awareness, focusing on my racing thoughts instead. I have no one to talk to and it hurts to pretend to be okay. I’m a piece of shit and I don’t deserve to be alive. If I didn’t have college loans I feel like I would end my life. I suppose part of debt is the loss of one’s right to one’s life. The I is a pretty selfish pronoun. I sometimes use we but then I realize that there is no one here except me. I’m sick. I’m sick. I’m sick. But no one can see it. The lard that is the majority of my body just walks around, out of breath sucking on chemicals, wanting nothing but respite. Instead I often find conflict. I can’t even keep one thought for more than a few minutes. This is why my essay was terrible. I can’t focus on one idea. I want to scream to deny my existence to punish my body for being defective. Instead I live half-ly: both alive and dead. I just want to die physically so that my external is equal to my interior. I feel like I am a rotten version of who I could have been. I am already at the fall. I live every day standing over the last cliff. I keep hoping that something will pull me back but instead I am looking above and I see darkness engulf me. I am sick. I wish someone would hear me.
I am not physically alone, but in my mind every person exists away from my capacity to perceive their presence. They are shadows in a world of enclosed anxiety. How do I rid my brain of the racing, of the disappointment, of this feeling that only leaves me feeling alone? Claire de lune plays in the background, bringing me back to the day of my youth. That day I sat under a tree and felt separate from my whole life. I was trapped in agony. I am not just alone but I am trapped in agony. Being alone is one thing but the fear of being alone even when people surround me is agony. Agony that I may never feel better again but that instead I am destined to be alone. People keep telling me to find someone, to go out and meet people. But I don’t have the capacity nor the drive. I sit not in bliss but in fear. Fear. Fear. Fear. My heart feels a hollow hole, that brings the air of my lungs to a standstill. My brain understands that I want to scream or cry, but instead I sit. I sit and write about the banality of my existence. About a fear that should not be fear. I sometimes think about every action that I can commit. My mom says that I have a freedom she never conceived. But she doesn’t know what its like to live in fear: a fear that eats away at potential and freedom. I always move. I move so that I may never have to face my fear. But when it slows to a standstill, I have to struggle to catch my breath. I can’t breathe. The slogan of those who encounter police brutality applies so banally to my existence. I can’t breathe because my brain won’t stop racing. It keeps telling me that I am a failure, that I am not worth it, that I am not pretty. Pretty as though beauty matters to not being alone. Perhaps I am seeking a tangible reason for the loneliness that entraps me. I am alone. Some days I feel okay. Some days I feel the scattering of my sanity. Something touches me and threatens my stability. Can we even call my stability sanity or can we call it a coping mechanism that only fails to generate permanent change. I left so many people in the past. I am alone and yet I am not so alone. Writing helps to bring my racing thoughts to a standstill and I suddenly feel okay. I am writing to understand my brain.