The Light at the End

A mind will do anything to feel in control. Today, mine is doing donuts in my soul’s parking lot. I can feel the concentric circles of nonsensical logic, irrational guilt, over-analysis and a profound sense of impending doom drawing closer and closer to one another in the middle of the circle until the four horsemen of my anxiety have become a glowing ball of pure radioactive panic. Yeats says the center cannot hold, but I can’t get this center to let go.

My therapist tells me to listen to what my mind is telling me, but I’m too far into this panic to hear anything but anguished shouting from inside and outside my head as I rock back and forth. My knees are pulled into my chest, my eyes are wide open but staring at nothing, every muscle in my body is tensed to the point of pain. It’s times like these that make me wonder how my head can hold everything that I feel. I have to find something to ground me in physical reality or my body and mind are going to shake apart. I don’t know how I know this, all I know is that I do.

My mind is like a 20th century nuclear test town. I’ve been building a tenuous sanity, painstakingly dressing it to look like a real life with real people, real pets, and real red checked picnic blankets. It won’t survive the night, but I knew that when I started putting it together. Soon, I will watch as my mental equivalent of mannequin faces melt, cheap plastic rubber spilling over immaculate navy blue suits and brand new silk dresses. At my next therapy appointment, two figures will don hazmat suits and pace through the ruined town, investigating every square inch of ruin and leaving no stone unturned. And then I will take a nap and start rebuilding again.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The town is still standing, the ruin has not yet come. I need something to hole up with in my lead-lined refrigerator while I weather the storm. I’m out of medicine, so I pull out my crochet supplies and get to work. In, over, pull, over, pull, over, pull. Again and again and again and again and again.

Without so much as a whisper, eight hours have gone by. I have created a full foot of afghan without moving from my seat or glancing away from what lay on the other side of my hands. My fingers are stiff, my hands are cramped, my mouth is dry, and my stomach is rumbling. I shake myself back into conscious awareness and turn my face to the work I’ve done.

My stitches are flawless. Thousands of them, neatly spaced and wound tightly like a Möbius strip composed of colors so bright they almost seem to be mocking my mental state. Like a Möbius strip, there is no end to this project that I can see. I’ll just keep walking the same paths, feeling the same feelings, writing the same sentences. A mind will do anything to feel in control.

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