I’m going to write a story about phlebotomists in love. I take my inspiration where I find it and anything that gives me an excuse to study the things that hold us humans upright gives me some power of understanding how it is we’re still here on earth in spite of not deserving it.
I am always caught between the normals and the others. I hear people tell me I’m normal all the time but usually they’re people who are not normal who tell me this positive and awesome and yet strangely alienating bit of opinion. At the same time I watch people draw away from me as though being too close might contaminate the good life they’ve carved out free of virus and evil. Free of me. I feel the distance and the chill between myself and them and I know what it means because I can read that distance like it’s filled with words. I don’t belong. I am not normal. I am Malaise with legs.
I am normal and not normal. I am sane and yet not sane. I hear all the voices in the world colliding in my head during the most cacophonous hours of each day. I hear all the humans crying, reaching for hope that lives two inches from their fingers and never closer. I am sane and yet I hold my own life cheap enough that it is always a delicate balance to feel connected enough to my body, to my life, and to the earth to keep from floating away without my skin.
There are voices. There are so many voices. There are voices all the fucking time. I call it internal “noise”. Talking to a friend the other night our conversation led to people who hear voices and have formed groups exploring other ways to address their voices than traditional psychiatric methods. I was intrigued and as usual I felt so dual. I resent people not knowing or understanding what my mental landscape is really like but at the same time I have no right to resent people for what they don’t know if I refuse to tell them, if I continue to hold back the darkest and scariest aspects of my personality just because I don’t feel I can trust anyone with it. It isn’t fair to continuously obfuscate the truth as I experience it and present myself as the “full disclosure gal” when I only ever disclose exactly as much as I think people can handle.
I know myself. I have always known myself. Except for the couple of years where I would sometimes look in the mirror and not recognize myself. (Fucking freaked me out.) It was of particular interest to my psychologist later on when I finally sought professional help. I will always understand what it feels like to look at my own face and not know who I’m looking at and that haunting deeply shook my sense of self and continues to float through my subconscious as a special flavor of hell. I heard voices back then. I heard the screams of children being abused and tortured. But those screaming voices were outside of my head. They were not inside of me because they were hallucinations.
So if hearing voices and thinking they are real and outside of yourself is considered an auditory hallucination, what the fuck is it when you hear voices that aren’t your own chattering inside your own skull, right there under your eyes and resonating through your temples? What does it mean when you hear your brain say things but it isn’t your own voice you are hearing? What does it mean if you hear your brain making comments or jokes or talking nonsense in a voice that you know is not your own?
I have not been honest with most everyone because how on earth can it be safe for me to do so? Do you know what it feels like just to suffer from garden variety depression and suicidal ideation (mostly concealed from others) and anxieties? If you suffer these things as I do you know that people find this scary enough. More and more people can accept it and embrace it without fear but it still makes you otherly.
But what if you are much more otherly than anyone knows?
I am a master at obfuscation. It is the one skill I have worked harder at than writing. No matter how enlightened people are getting about mental illness, we still live in a world that is largely scared of it. People can claim to be completely understanding and comfortable with mental illness but there is nearly always some part of them that fears that if you are mentally ill you might become dangerous to them or their loved ones. It can happen. But not at any greater rate that non-mentally ill people can become a danger to you.
The mental illness stigma is burningly alive. So how much honesty can you expect from people who are otherly? What barbed-wire-cross awaits us if we tell you everything? How much does anyone really understand? Do people know enough yet to handle us with compassion and proper care?
I trust no one completely.
That’s the loneliest thing in the world.
I love my people so fucking much and I tell them everything I feel I can and I trust them more than anyone else – yet – I am constantly protecting them from myself and I worry that some day they might hate me for it but they need my strongest self and is that strongest self the self that wanted to die in McMinnville? Is my strongest self the one who can’t listen to them eating or making noise or making big demands of me? Is my strongest self the one who has three phrases repeating in my head non-stop for three years running? To the point that I want to scratch those phrases out of my own head with a toothpick?
I can’t ever tell the full truth but not telling the full truth means that most people will come to conclusions about me that are inaccurate. They won’t understand what tribe I belong to even though I know.
All I am is depressed and anxious – pretty much nothing out of the ordinary. Right? Except with voices in my head. Random fucking voices that aren’t mine making comments and chattering like strange monkeys. As though I have an internal radio station I’m tuned into.
Tell me everyone has voices in their heads that aren’t theirs. Tell me they hear people say things and are startled and try to answer before they realize the voices came from inside. Tell me everyone hears that shit. Go ahead. Because that would be awesome. Do YOU hear chatter in your head in unfamiliar voices?
I feel otherly in the extreme but I have never been dangerous to others. Every aggression I’ve ever felt has been against myself. When I cry I want to hurt myself. When I reveal anything painful and scary, like right now, I want to hurt myself. When I feel helpless or stupid or like a fucking leprous asshole I want to hurt myself. Even when I don’t want to hurt myself I’m always hurting myself by picking at my scalp or my arms until I bleed. I want to stop and I can’t and I am deeply ashamed.
When people negate my place amongst the mentally ill I feel like I’ve been cut adrift from my true tribe and have no family. I feel empty and misunderstood. I have to remind myself of my own role in what information people have been allowed about me. My diagnosing psychologist, the person I’ve been more honest with than anyone else, is dead. The medical records he created concerning me are lost. I requested them and they are gone. Almost like I never told anyone anything at all. The first person I trusted with the scary stuff is dead and his records on me have gone missing. I cried in front of him and wanted to kill myself for doing it. I told him about my auditory hallucinations and about my separate selves that were really strong when I was a teen but which are now like a comfortable separation of church and state. I told him so much I was scared shitless and he understood and gave me answers with no judgement.
When I told him I was worried my insurance wouldn’t cover my sessions with him because they would only cover major mental illness he laughed out loud. He told me I didn’t have to worry about that – I had major mental illness and my insurance would have no problem covering it. Him laughing let me laugh too. Seeing Jay Judine was the best thing I ever did for my mental health.
I have told the truth in plain sight so many times over the years with no one thinking I am other than “normal” that I suppose I could run into the field missing an arm and everyone would always see both of my arms so that it doesn’t matter what I tell or don’t tell – show or don’t show – everyone will see or not see what they please. The only person who saw the truth and who validated the trouble, the danger, and the otherness was a dead man. Judine told me what had been happening to me when I ceased to recognize myself when I was sixteen and he told me how it was okay to be myself but simultaneously how okay it was that I was NOT FUCKING NORMAL. I am a person trying to hold my shit together but my shit is messed up through abuse and brain chemicals and I get to tell what I wish to tell and keep what I need to keep: private.
I self identify as the “full disclosure gal” and that’s a complete lie. That’s who I want to be and that’s who I pretend to be and that’s who I make you believe I am.
I have so many secrets still.
I don’t care about the normals. I don’t belong with them. No matter what you think you know about it. No particle of me romanticizes the crazies. I know what it’s about. I know where I belong even if no one else does.
Come into my head, if you dare.