I thought we were one. Indivisible. That you were trustworthy and unproblematic. I never considered you. You just did your work, like the skin, the bladder, the stomach, the heart. I suppose you see people who have lost limbs, so I’ve been grateful for my limbs. Similarly, I’ve been amazed the way people are able to use their feet like hands, for things like eating, to painting.
No. I didn’t appreciate you. For you were just part of the overall indivisible me that ‘worked’ physically and mentally, operating each day.
I didn’t see anything awry, apart for depression. For how long? But you started clanging away more and more warped with me none the wiser, trusting you to do your job.
You, Brain, spat out data that made no sense at all.
What is it like to lose all trust in your own brain, to have to constantly monitor your thoughts and feelings for symptoms? To not trust yourself? Is that me, that part that goes off the rails – someone unacceptable and destructive? Or is this me? Who counts out pills, observes herself yet can feel trapped by the mundane. Is a medicated self, murdering a self not allowed to live in this world?
I don’t expect you to tell me, Brain.
I know you are very strong. One time I thought I was the “virgin” Mary and my stomach literally blew up to look like I was 9 months pregnant and I had to undo my jeans. I said to the psychiatric nurse, feeling slightly panicked by how quickly my stomach expanded, ‘my stomach’s got a bit big.’ Trained to remain calm and having daily experiences of the extraordinary, she said, ‘yes, it has, Love. You can tell the doctor about that.’
Another time my feet and toes painfully twisted and turned when I thought I was Jesus who was not resurrected but had been forced to live all that time, a broken mortal, longing the peace of death. This time it was an ambo who calmed my immediate panic.
Why can’t I tap this strength while sane? I’m sure I could lift cars, run, lose weight, overcome my persistent battle with depression.
Brain, why are you at war with me? Why do you put me in antagonism with my environment?
I’m so glad I didn’t go down the highway naked. It was such a close thing. I wore PJs instead and a neighbour picked me up and took me to the psychiatric hospital.
I don’t have a split personality, but I do feel myself as split: the uncontrollable self, that despite being terrifying has an exciting and absorbing life; and the self that is only recently learning to J-walk and chase her dreams, which she now sees as important as repaying society.
I know I can not do deals with you, Brain. That is why I restrain you with medication. You plunge me to the depths and raise me to the heights and show me a mix of colours I could never imagine. How can hell live in heaven, heaven in hell?
Your constant badgering of thoughts needs to be silenced as they exhaust me and I become beholden to you as master.
But I respect you. For your strength. For your imagination.
You need to let me find a different kind of freedom.
Your loving self, Sarah.