i’m cute but psycho, she says. she smiles at me.
in my backpack are sixteen emergency items for panic attacks, for shutdown mode, for in case i can’t stop urges i can’t control, in case i am in trouble. i have under my bed razors i can’t bring myself to throw out, even though i’ve been recovered for ages. i forget what i said to him after i say it. i don’t mean any of it, but maybe i did. am i steering this ship or am i just a passenger on it.
i put the hot in psychotic, she says. i hear her laughing.
i can’t feel my lips. back when the hallucinations were bad i didn’t tell anyone but him, because i knew what was happening. when i woke up in a hospital i tried to kill the doctor. my therapy group was full of wonderful people. the girl who was schizophrenic had a beautiful singing voice. i can still hear her crying sometimes.
normal people scare me, he says. i know it’s from tv.
we faltered on the edge of bad things. when he tried to burn his house down he didn’t know what he was doing. he’s being charged as an adult, they tell me. when he saw me looking he said it was his responsibility. the girl with split personalities is sweet. her trauma rendered her largely unable to speak. i sit outside with the other three who raid our own bodies and we pluck flowers and play a game: what if i’d been born normal. what if i had been given executive functions. what if i hadn’t been given depression in bucketfuls until it overcame my lungs. my parents don’t know how to look at me anymore and neither do my friends. they all tiptoe around me like i will break at any second.
try yoga. it’s just a phase. we all feel that way. you have so much to be thankful for. someone has it worse. mentally ill people are dangerous. therapists aren’t real doctors and by extension you have no real problems. go for a run. just choose happiness. you’re not really sick. you’re faking it.
i lace my shoes. it’s nice to have laces back. i will try to work out without letting myself get back into my disorder, but we all know how well that will go. i have been working out since i was six years old. yoga is on my schedule but it’s never active enough. there’s a good chance that out of the people in my group, one of them is being taken advantage of. we are so quick to give ourselves out for the safety of others. the boy who, like me, has burn scars on his skin - he tells me his girlfriend likes that he’s sick. it makes him sensitive. the girl who is schizophrenic gets picked up by her father. i know he hits her. she says she kind of deserves it.
sadness makes for good art, she says. i don’t look up.
when they ask me where i’ve been i say i’ve been out of town. i feel fine thanks for asking. i don’t know who i am when nobody’s looking. i don’t know if i’m even real anymore. i don’t know how to get close to people because they’ll end up finding out and hating me for it, or i’ll be a burden, or they won’t know how to handle it. my family never brings up the hospital again. sometimes i think i dreamed it.
you won’t find love until you love yourself, he warns. it’s been a long day.
i’m so alone.