Yesterday was a day with more spikes than a porcupine in the Ancient Greek army.
One of the few blessings about this disorder is that sleep acts like a reset button. So I’m writing this morning, with a beautiful blue expanse of sky beaming through my window, feeling like the first breeze signalling a receding heat wave.
After the paramedic left yesterday, (he stayed an hour and had a cup of tea to make absolutely sure that Nana felt alright and comfortable which was kind of him, well done Peter), I began deflating.
Somebody had stuck my balloon brain with a pin. The air started squeezing out, making that shrill ‘eeeee’ sound as it went. I bounced around the ceiling for a few giddy minutes before slumping, empty and formless, on the floor.
There I stayed.
I managed to keep talking to people, which is an achievement. Online of course. Most of yesterday’s words got swallowed up in the mind-larynx continuum. (That is to say, I was thinking the words, and thinking them very loudly; mostly ‘help’, ‘everything hurts’, ‘my head feels like it’s on fire and about to combust rather explosively so please throw a bucket of water over me or something, something else to feel, something to make this ceaseless tide of fear, dread, nausea, melancholy, anger, anxiety, and helplessness stop’.)
Those words were locked up for several hours, expressed only by an intermittent broken faucet in both my eyes. I painted a bit. Walked a little. But nothing took the intensity away.
It was very tiring. Spiky days always are. Nana came into the room at about 6:30, while I was knelt down by the bed, hands clasped behind my head, thinking some thoughts and throwing the word ‘Jesus’ in there a few times in the desperate chance that some cosmic power would hear and (hopefully) soothe.
We then talked for a while. (Nana and I, not Jesus.) A lot of ‘sorry’ from both parties. We’re both like that. It obviously wasn’t her fault, and I’m trying to remember that it wasn’t mine either – just some chemicals firing wrongly, some sparks flying from wires that shouldn’t have been cut.
When all of my emotions had sunk away into the cranial quicksand, I felt deserted. As in, like a desert. If desert was a verb. I was aware of soreness in the meat suit from a day of pent-up tension and shaking, and of a knot in my abdomen, (on a lateral line with my belly button, about three inches to the left. Usually I only feel it when walking downhill. Should probably get it checked out. But I always forget to mention physical stuff to the doctors, there’s always so much brain dust to sift through. It’s probably nothing. Anyway,) and of a gentle haze shimmering around my peripheral vision. Blinked. Inhaled. Exhaled. Whew.
Coming back after these spiky blips is sort of like the ‘dissolve’ transition on Microsoft Powerpoint, except much slower. The first pixel of clarity to show up in my brain was this:
‘I’m nearly out of milk.’
My brain had gone from:
- swirling cataclysm of intensity and confusion, to
- Void, Blankness, White Noise, to
- ‘I’m nearly out of my milk’
in about half an hour. (I drink alpro.)
Milk emerged triumphant from the abyss, my One Priority, my One True Calling, the Ultimate Goal. ‘I must get milk!’ my brain murmured. ‘How do I get milk?’ it pondered. ‘Ah, by walking,’ it announced proudly.
‘Excuse us?’ said my legs. ‘We’re actually in quite a lot of pain right now, because of the frankly ridiculous amount of exercise you have done in the last few days, and we’d like to let you know that if you have to do another hour of walking today, we will file a formal complaint. We don’t want to let it get to that stage, so, yaknow…fix it another way.’
My brain was taken aback. No walk? No walk…bus? Expensive. And confusing. Hmm.
‘Help…milk,’ said my larynx. In real words. Out loud. That my mouth said and my ears heard and my nana heard as well.
‘Sorry darling?’ she asked.
‘I’m…low on my..milk.’
She breathed out and smiled. This was the first coherent thing I’d managed to say for a while, and the first problem with a finite, straightforward solution. We got in the car and went to the shops.
It was a big shop that I hadn’t been to before. I was a diver, observing the deep-sea life through the burdensome, heavy helmet with bars over the visor. The visor lifted when I noticed Disney’s Treasure Planet on DVD. My hands, big and clumsy in the diving suit, picked up the DVD. My brain made this connection:
and a few bubbles floated upwards. Laughter…? Laughter! I put the DVD back on the shelf and kept swimming. Nana doesn’t mind it when I swim at the shops. She tends to shop slowly anyway. We must have looked like quite a pair. An 84-year-old clutching a trolley, performing a slow-motion slalom left and right along the aisles, beaming at everyone she passed, and me…I have no idea what I look like in those moments. Dread to think.
We got to the tills. I did the packing because my diving gloves had come off somewhere between cereal and peanut butter. The girl doing the blip-blip looked like a Disney princess, thick blonde hair plaited loosely over her shoulder. I told her she had amazing Disney hair. She smiled a gorgeous smile and said yeah, she gets that a lot, usually from kids though. We drove home, a cooperative effort, as for the first couple of minutes after getting in the car, neither of us could figure out where ‘reverse’ was on the gear stick. Cars are confusing.
Got back, parked (the car park is under the building), I grabbed the bags out of the boot and headed towards the lift door.
Then, and this is where it gets peculiar, I heard a voice. Low, deep and resonant, it sounded like it came from the far corner of the car park. It was clear and precise. It said:
That was it. ‘Trust me.’ I looked at Nana. She had her resting face back on, which is a mild smile at the corners of her mouth, normally gazing softly into middle distance. She had clearly not heard it.
‘Trust me.’ Well, voice, whatever you are, wherever you’ve come from, I think I sort of do. I apologise for running away but you were so sudden and abrupt that I didn’t know how to deal with you. I told Hayzul about you immediately, and she was (as always) a tremendous help and made you seem less scary. But I don’t think you’re scary. I don’t know what you are. I sort of trust you. Let’s not make this a regular thing though, please, as your unannounced presence did rather take me by surprise. Maybe we could get a coffee or something, meet somewhere nicer than the car park under the building.
(Maybe I’ll never hear from you again. Who knows. I’ve heard little bits before, but never as clear as you. We’ll see.)