Loneliness often makes me procrastinate, as it did today.
Usually I keep quite a strict schedule, mostly to beat back depression and to make the neurotic, orderly part of my brain happy, but today, I did not.
Part of the “aim” of my blog, the true motivation behind it, is not only to feel less alone myself, but help others feel less alone in their pain, in their suffering and their thoughts by writing things people might be able to relate to. So let me tell you, then, about my ordinary, little day, as little me—one human, in a sea of seven billion.
I woke up this morning, in the room I share with the rest of my family—they were, as usual, still asleep—feeling bad. I hadn’t slept well, which happens often. I felt as though I hadn’t slept at all, even though I had. It was the dreams. I dream so much sometimes I wake up tired instead of refreshed. When you have anxiety, deep, restful sleep is almost an impossibility. So I lay there, feeling desperately anxious about something I could not pinpoint, desperately lonely and miserable for no exact reason. It was the world, it was me. It was the imperfection, the blood, the dirtiness, inside and out. It was Time, the way it passes so quickly, carrying life on its back, dream-like. It was an awfulness tucked underneath another awfulness, metal slipped beneath skin. I often wake up feeling as though I want to die. It’s what my psychologist calls depression; I believe it to be a natural reaction to being alive, and aware.
I knew, however, that if I did not get up, I would most likely lie there for hours in a stew of misery, wasting the very time I wished to hold onto. Besides, I had therapy to undertake, a word count to hit. So I dragged what felt like my disintegrating, rotting carcass out of bed, across the bedroom, and into the bathroom. I brushed my teeth, staring at my reflection in the mirror with the cracks in the left corner. Then I went to the toilet, pulled the metal chain in this new place of ours dangling from a white compartment above the actual toilet itself—old as it is, I like it much better than the buttons on the toilet in our old home—hearing the rushing noise as levers activated, sending the water whirling away down the bowl in a gurgling rush.
Then I had breakfast, milk and cereal. It tasted of nothing, mere wet mush in my mouth, but, as with dragging myself out of bed, if I did not do it, I would not be able to have energy to get through the day. Anxiety and panic attacks consumes calories like nobody’s business.
Then the rest of my family woke up, my mother went out to buy groceries, without saying much to anyone. Then I went out, too. This was a lengthy process. I had to arm myself with earplugs, sunglasses to protect myself against the world’s glare, put on a jacket with a hood, just for the extra possible protection it affords. I had to arm my mind, even though I can never feel completely prepared. And then I went out. Alone. My brother watched me go. Later on that day my mother would most likely interrogate me, and then my sister and brother, to confirm I gone out and continued my ongoing therapy.
I walked around the neighbourhood, down the streets, where there were quite a few people passing through, quite a few cars. Each time it happened, anxiety tightened my body. I walked for around ten minutes, which is my limit, before returning home. Just that small frame of time spent outside had drained me tremendously. I felt like the skin on my face had grown old and withered from the strain, like I wanted to blot the world out, to huddle in the darkness, deep inside my own mind, for eternity.
Instead, I just lay on my bed, and rested.
That was when the loneliness began. The seed was planted while outside, when I passed a family on the sidewalk. They seemed so happy. The father was acting like a goof to make the kid laugh, almost as adorable as the child himself. The tableau—mother, father, child no older than three toddling between them—struck inside me first a high, sharp note of joy, then a deep, discordant, long note of envy and despair at the thought that such a happiness was most likely closed to me. Apart from my family, who, amongst all the people I had met over the course of my life, had loved me, liked me, even? No-one. I remembered school, and how alienated and isolated I had felt. The bathrooms I hid in, to cry, and to think. Suddenly, looking back on my life, all I saw was a constant steady stream of rejection, loneliness, isolated, self-hatred, excruciating sensitivity, the accumulated agony of it blinding me from the ceiling in front of my eyes for several seconds. No-one knew me, no-one understood. Rumination, my psychologist tells me, is something to be avoided. If I started dwelling on the past, I was to distract myself.
So I did. I didn’t write, because to sit down at my desk, I knew, with only the blank page staring back at me, would only further accentuate my loneliness. Instead, I procrastinated. I turned on the computer, waited for it to finish starting-up, then watched a movie, a comforting one I have watched several times before, called Hating Alison Ashley. It’s a funny Australian movie for teenagers—the book is excellent—though all the main characters are, as usual, Caucasian. Nevertheless, I like it a lot. The main character is imaginative, hilarious, prone to supplanting reality with fantasy and idealizing herself. Yet after the final scene ended and the credits began to roll, I started to cry. Again, the same reel played before my eyes, the social ostracism I experienced from people, the loneliness I felt even when no-one chose to torment me or exclude me but simply let me be, the way the other students may have respected me sometimes but never liked me. I have never known what it was like to feel a sense of belonging in a group of people like the ones I see often in photographs, a class of students huddled together, laughing and smiling. I have never known a hand holding mine in love and reassurance. I have never known for someone to stare into my eyes in kinship.
And the reason behind all this is not only because I suffer from anxiety, or Asperger’s, or am too introverted, too quiet, too lost in my own head. The true reason is, as I wrote in an earlier post, as I realised, lying there on my bed, was that I was born with a creative mind, an ability to see the world differently, a quirkiness, a brain slightly morphed out of its customary shape. Loneliness is almost indivisible from creativity; the two go hand in hand. I may not have been gifted with much of an intellect, but I sure can connect the dots between disparate objects, twist and turn and distort them into something new, into outlandish worlds and strange plots, make goldfish explode with a sound like breaking vases and send tiny moons skipping across waters like pebbles. For the artist, loneliness is the price one pays for originality, and detachment from society and the usual frameworks of life is arguably as essential for nurturing creativity as food is for our bodies and brains.
I slept, then, because I was tired from going outside, and tired from the sadness. When I awoke, I went to my desk, picked up my pen, and lost myself in silent misery and happiness. And tomorrow, the day will begin again, as it does for everyone.