I am reading Secrets for the Mad: Obsessions, Confessions and Life Lessons by dodie. It is, among other things, very very much about mental health. My Grandpa asks me what I’m reading, so I show him the cover.
“Are you mad?” he jokes, and I smile.
Yes. By your standards, I am absolutely mad.
I am watching a six-installment movie with my family that I really want to see. We watched the first three episodes last night, and tonight are watching the last three.
I watch episode four, and it is as engaging as all the rest. We put on episodes five and six, and I very much want to see what happens.
But I don’t.
I am crying softly in my big poofy armchair (which is luckily the closest one to the TV, so all I have to do is lean my head on my hand and my face is hidden).
Tears, I’ve found, are actually fairly easy to conceal. It’s the snot that causes the real problems. You have three choices with snot: leave it be and let it run all down your face (an obvious no); try to, loudly, sniff it in; or try to, loudly, blow it out.
I go with a combination of options two and three.
I am crying because, through the evening, I have been texting my friend. I am very aware that I should not be doing this, because what we are talking about could very easily lead to me spilling my guts. And if I’m busy trying to sort out my guts and tears and snot, I’m definitely not watching the movie anymore.
But when my phone lights up, I enter my passcode as fast as I can, desperate to see the words that the notification on my lockscreen left out. And then I type my guts into the little message bar.
The next reply asks for more of my guts.
I do not want spill more of my guts.
I “watch” the movie and mull over what to say for a bit, trying to keep the tissue trumpeting to a minimum. And then I decide that I cannot spill my guts now. This is partially due to emotional distress, and partially because I have used the last of my tissues. Mostly because of the tissues, I realize I have to distract myself and stop freaking out.
So, like any good, communicative friend would do, I stop replying with absolutely no explanation.
When I get back to the solitude of my room and bed, I contemplate more responses, and have a breakdown.
One of the most controlled breakdowns I’ve ever had.
It’s almost comical, really. When I’m out of sight, I’m silently sobbing my head off, but whenever anybody pokes their head round the door I am calm and cheery.
It’s this that makes my phone start to call out to me again, daring me to make a social media post about how sad it is that I’ve gotten so good at having breakdowns. I know I’ll never do it, but I keep thinking about it anyway.
And then I realize: I have gotten good at having breakdowns.
I can turn them off when I need to. Well, not all the way off really, but I can store them away in a little box in my brain to deal with later. If I’d tried to do that a few years ago, I would have tripped and dumped the contents of the box all over wherever I happened to be at the time.
I am gaining more control over things, and that’s not sad at all.
So, with a few residual tears, I do my best to box up the rest of the breakdown, and go to sleep.
Photo by James Sutton on Unsplash