On Writing, Breakdowns and Psychologists

 

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On some days, the writing flows. It’s easy, it comes out of your pen as freely as water, forming a lagoon of creative joy on the page. You sit down, and you write, and the world is a good place.

Then there are the other days. It’s like a desert inside your skull, without even vultures to sway, old and leathery, in and out of your ears. The ink in your pen seems to have clotted like blood. Nothing comes out. Nothing.

For those without anxiety, or hideously high standards for themselves, they might sigh a little, then shrug it off as simply a bad day and go take drink, with the intention of returning some time later to see if things have improved. Or they might plow on forwards, even when nothing good is appearing on the page, to keep their butt in the chair and maintain good habits.

On the other hand, if you do have anxiety, or high standards, or are perfectionistic to the point of excruciation, or all three (because they’re linked to one another, after all, like conjoined triplets) you won’t be able to do those things.

Nope.

Instead, you will proceed, almost systematically, to rip yourself apart as mercilessly as hungry wolves.

First, the panic sets in. Panic, however, is too small a word for what such agitation feels like. It’s as though your entire body transforms into this tremendous itch you must scratch, but cannot. This flustered state is extreme enough to make you contemplate skinning yourself alive, or bashing yourself against the wall until you are nothing but lumps of jellied flesh and broken, blood-splashed bone. You want to tear off your own face. Pluck out your eyeballs like fruit. Scream until your intestines come flooding out from your mouth in a tangled, steamy mess.

Instead, you just moan and groan, cradling your head in your arms, like a wounded animal.

Actually, sometimes, you don’t even do that. You don’t do anything. You just sit there, in stupefied agony, as the lava surges up through the channels within you, hot and burning.

Two things can happen after this, as it does deep beneath us, in the earth’s crust. One is that, well, you erupt. This is bad. People around you get buried in the falling ash and pyrotechnic flow of your breakdown. For me, this is rare, because I have learned to bottle in my emotions at home, even when I feel like blood will begin spurting from my eyes if I keep anything in for a second longer, because if I don’t, I will most likely get kicked out of the house. There’s nothing like the threat of homelessness to make your daughter behave.

Two, I start crying. It’s best, in my home, to do this secretly, and silently. Also, I don’t like crying in front of people in general, family members included. My psychologist saw me cry once after some emotional probing on her part, and I still resent her a little for it. Outwardly, I am a very closed-off, private person, which is why writing is such a wonderful outlet for me. But, yes, back to the weeping. Places to go to conceal my crying are limited when my family are at home. Generally I just end up locking myself in the bathroom, or planting my face into the pillow so it soaks up all my misery. In this case, they’re not tears of sorrow. They’re not tears of anger. They are literally tears of sheer anxiety, agitation and thwarted perfectionism. My emotions are so strong and unfettered—no, I don’t have bipolar disorder, I checked, just “emotional regulation problems”, you’d be surprised how at how much crying in bathrooms this has led to in the past—that long periods of crying is often the only way to release them. I can’t control it. And it’s not only when I’m anxious. If I’m lonely, I cry, if I’m depressed, I cry, if I’m angry, I cry, very hard indeed, and if my anxiety reached a crescendo, you guessed it—waterworks. I can make myself crying just by imagining tragic scenarios. Even joy, though it doesn’t bring on tears, has in the past made me feel as though my chest would explode. By now, I’m so accustomed to this reaction my body has to mid-to-extreme emotions that it’s almost as mundane as washing my hands, except much more unpleasant.

After all the water possible has been squeezed out of my eyes, I am drained. I often feel as though I have less energy reserves than most people do. They were born with great, fat batteries inside them, each one filled to the brim with liquid green goodness, while I was born with a tiny one that depletes in seconds, and takes hours to refill—hence my zero tolerance for socialising. At this point, I am too tired to even worry about what triggered the breakdown in the first place, and end up rolling over to rest.

So. That’s what happens when The Writing is going horribly. It is, in fact, what happens when anything is going horribly. Now that you are all aware that this blog is being written by a madwoman, I won’t blame you if you choose to seek out reading material from more sane and sanitary sources. Funnily enough, my post on sex, giving birth and excretion received no likes and very few views (usually I don’t check Stats, but for this one, out of curiosity, I did). I have yet to determine whether this is a reflection of the prevalent social repulsion I wrote about, or simply because the subject material was too “filthy” to have been written by a dreamer like myself. I don’t regret writing it, though—for me, it was important to get it out of my system, and understand my own thought process and reaction to the basic facts of life.

As for any other recent news, apart from my small breakdown this morning, well, I am beginning to dig in my heels when it comes to seeing the psychologist. The sessions are one-hour long, often with plenty of homework to complete afterwards, pages and pages of useless and mind-numbing “fill-in-the-bubble” questions and childish mind-maps. There’s even a well-placed smiley face on every second page. My mother, as you might expect, is not happy.

But it’s just getting to the point where it’s too draining, especially since I feel no emotional connection when I’m with the woman. She’s cold and bright as ice. The psychological exhaustion I feel after returning home is bone-deep. Their services are government funded and free, though, so I can’t use the desire to save money as an excuse. Since they’ve been established to cater to 12-25 year olds, and I’m not 25 yet, I can’t use age as an excuse, either. I might have to resort to hanging myself to get out of going to the sessions and to escape my mother’s fury. In effect, my psychologist is making me suicidal—O, the irony.

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