I have traveled six hours from where I currently call ‘home’ (even if it’s not that homely in itself) to be where I am now. I have been in this place for just 24 hours and yet I am already desperately yearning for familiarity.
In fact, the Radiohead lyric ‘what the hell am I doing here? I don’t belong here’ comes to mind.
At the last minute, I decided to come to this wedding, so far from home. I regretted my decision the moment I sat down on that first train, and my regret has only increased by the hour since then.
I am surrounded by strangers, some of whom I would not even choose to make acquaintance with in my daily life. I feel judged, I feel completely out of place, isolated and lonely. Although my boyfriend is here with me, he knows everyone here and so there is this sort of invisible divide between us at the moment. He is perfectly comfortable and at ease here and so I am trying my best to follow his lead and fit in, when, actually, inside I am falling apart.
Last night I made the rash (and foolish) decision to ‘take the night off’ and ‘join in’ and go out for a meal with everyone and eat- at least by my standards- a huge amount. Hell, do I regret that now. It used to be the case that I would enjoy my food- at least briefly- whilst I ate it and only feel depressed afterwards, but now the entire ritual is unbearable. I feel anxious before I eat, I feel guilty as I eat it and I feel disgusting, fat and a failure afterwards. I cannot stand the feeling of anything in my stomach; not even water, let alone food. Although I last ate at 9pm yesterday, and it is now 6pm the following day, my stomach still aches and I am terribly bloated. Even though it is probably my imagination, I can already see the fat building up across my stomach.
In the middle of writing this, I broke down in tears, overwhelmed by everything all at once. My boyfriend mocked me, saying ‘oh, you’re so hard done by!’ I am completely aware that I handle an unhealthy amount of self-pity, but I could not help but turn to him in reaction and say ‘how about you try being an active manic-depressive, currently experiencing a large dose of suicidal depression in a house full of strangers, in a tiny village in the middle of nowhere with no option to escape. Try being an alcoholic, 3 years sober but feeling on the brink of a serious relapse, in a house full of alcohol; promising the outcome of one insanely drunken night ending in a suicide attempt. Try being an anorexic trying to fit in with everyone by eating for the first time in weeks and feeling utterly destroyed by the bullying voices in your head, thinking only about how to get through the next week without touching a morsel.
Try being this far from home and those you love- civilization, even- and having no option but to stick it out for another week (as I can’t afford another train ticket).’
To an outsider, I probably sound ridiculous and selfish, but I tried my best, I didn’t want to come here, it was the last place I wanted to be with the way things have been going lately, but I made the effort because I didn’t want to let other people down, at my own expense.
On top of all of this internal distress, I had skipped my medication for a couple of days, concerned that I would do myself serious harm taking so many pills on a completely empty stomach; solely on a diet of chemicals. Even without too much caffeine, by yesterday evening I found myself rapid cycling. I hadn’t noticed my sudden change of mood until we reached the restaurant last night. Suddenly I found myself the centre of attention at the table, speaking too loudly and talking rubbish, although still uncomfortably aware of my words (which is the worst part of hypomania in comparison to mania). Once I recognized what was happening, I knew I would soon drop into a depression. Sure enough, an hour into the evening I suddenly felt both exhausted and close to tears. My mental state was so extreme that I felt physically ill and became feverish. I could not wait to get back to the house, swallow my sedating medication, shut my head up and get some sleep. Alas, I lay awake most of the night, tortured by the thoughts in my head.
This morning, when I dragged myself out of bed to go on an outing with everyone, my boyfriend and I found a nice coffee shop by the river. It was peaceful, I had some alone time with him and I was finally able to relax a little; listen to some music and wake up on large quantities of coffee.
Before we left, I needed to use the toilet and so I went back into the shop to find the bathroom. The nice lady who had served us earlier had gone and a very strange man had taken her place. There was just something about him, something not right and my instincts told me to just leave there and then. But, for some reason, my body wouldn’t allow it and I went on in to use the toilet.
Although I didn’t realise what the noise was until later, I did in fact hear the man bolt the door from the outside. The bastard had locked me in. I pushed and kicked the door but it wouldn’t give. The shop lay in silence while I hammered on the door for a good minute. No response. I started to freak out, what was he going to do with me? Rape me? Kill me? Both? I jumped to conclusions and thought of the worst.
It was only when I heard an old lady come into the shop that the man answered my banging.
‘Yes?’ He said. ‘I’m locked in!’ I called. And then, in the creepiest possible way he answered ‘ooh, well I don ‘t see how that could have happened madam…’
‘Oh dear,’ he said, and I heard him slide the bolt across.
I made it out, safely.
Some of you might think I’m crazy for jumping to such conclusions but I’m the only one who heard the tone in his voice; who heard that outside bolt slide across. I have no doubt whatsoever in my mind that that man was going to do something to me, something terrible.
All signs here point to go.