I’m writing. It’s going really well. Pages and pages of ink in my beloved dot grid Moleskine. So many pages, I think to comment to friends about my comparatively unpretentious but equally beloved Bic pen that has somehow lasted me almost sixty total pages, plus about half of my previous Moleskine, and months of Word of the Day Post It notes, mailed letters, and other miscellany. I included a picture of the inside of the front cover of my notebook, a gift from Kate, with that inside cover inscribed by her at the spot we met on the second anniversary of it, a callback to our first conversation—notebooks.
I write; I take a break to clean a few things when my back complains about sitting. I end up sitting on the bed and reading Writers on Writing, a New York Times essay compilation recommended from a workshop class. I go back to writing at my desk. It flows. Something else I can’t place my finger on keeps catching my attention. I put noise canceling headphones on that I’m borrowing from Kate, with a bit of Harry Potter themed ASMR with splashing water and bubbles. I remember putting them on and realizing how much white noise was in my brain for the first time as hallucinations worsened. Something keeps drawing my eyes. I think it’s black—a prominent color in my most terrifying recurring hallucination, but it’s not that—yet, at least.
Maybe it’s the cat. Black Sabbath—Sabby—the fanged black cat, naps on the bed. But every time my eyes dart to her, she’s still, not eye catching. The legs of my desk, the fabric drawers, my space heater, my knee socks, my desk chair, my computer screen fully dimmed since I’m just using the device for the ASMR—something black. It keeps coming in the corner of my eye. I turn on my task lamp, also black, but hoping the light will dispel some shadows. Pixel, the other cat, tortoiseshell, naps in the rope hammock swing, encased in my white canopy and starry string lights.
Kate comes and asks if I want anything downstairs while she’s going. More black in the corner of my eye at first—her usual attire. I do a double take. No, she’s there. Water, I say.
I get the words down a little faster, not sure how much longer they’re coming for. I’m behind on words for Camp NaNoWriMo, hoping for my tenth win of 50,000 words or more in a month—one past win being the 100 pages for the sister event for scripts—and I’m not sure yet how many words are actually on the page without the convenience of a computer’s word counter, having not typed them up. There are plenty of words crossed out for better ones, and random notes about the story or about things to add to the shopping list, places my handwriting ceases to know what a space is. If I don’t write now, with the first signs of my mind fading for a while, I’m probably not going to anymore today.
Kate comes back with the water and leaves. The cat goes off to explore.
I wish my hands moved faster or my characters got to the point faster. “I’m rambling,” one of the characters confesses. Yes, you are, I think at her, hands twitching. The black cloud seems to be flashing in and out faster. I should just write down a summary of the rest of this scene in case I don’t get to it. The chapter outline lives on my computer, a picture of my whiteboard and some added notes, but it’s missing snippets of dialogue and action that have just come to me as I approach them. I add more notes; I can’t seem to hold them in my head well anyway. I sense humanoid movement, which means it’s probably heading down the PTSD road; I keep seeing it in the mirrored closet doors next to my desk; I have that distinct sense of something behind me and turning around clears it for only a moment.
It’s strange to worry about not being able to think. Day to day, it means not holding where this scene is going only in my head, just in case my mind goes mostly out for a few hours and comes back without those ideas. It means a bit of an obsession with certain paperwork.
To be fair, reading Five Days at Memorial would give anyone an obsession with living wills, and I’ve gone and succeeded pro se in probate court with no will recently enough to have it in mind. Those aren’t really the papers I’m worried about yet.
Right now, it’s mostly a piece of paper in a plastic sheath in a binder in my desk drawer; my little “SHTF” paper. The sort of things I wish I had written down before the blur of my one abrupt psych ward stay. My medical history. Contacts. What helps. What doesn’t. Check my phone. Someone should feed the cats.
Cats—Sabby—a black blob in the bed—no, Sabby’s on the carpet now—the blob flickers out. I glare at where it was, mostly over knowing I can’t see my psychiatrist for over three weeks to keep it flickered out.
I called my psychiatrist first thing Monday morning after I committed to calling, because I’m psychotic but not irresponsible—fear of irresponsibility due to my mind fading out perhaps fueling those papers and other things.
I put the appointment on one of my multiple Google Calendars. Kate once said I run my life like I’m a startup CEO rather than a housewife writer with some real estate. I might just be paranoid. She agrees to drive me to the appointment. I don’t drive and while I keep tossing the idea around, I don’t want to one day swerve around a dog that isn’t there, like the one that accompanied me on my walk the other day, holding an also hallucinated leash in her mouth as she trotted next to me like it was helpful, flickering and then fading entirely by the time I got halfway to my destination.
My therapist has had no luck finding me someone who knows more about psychosis on the therapy side, while I wait on meds, and neither have I. She says the laws apparently changed, according to a coworker of hers, and she’s allowed to treat it now, but no more knowledge qualified than she was before. I’m waiting on some books, library and mail order, my finds and my therapist’s, and enjoying JSTOR’s pandemic discounts, if research is only a grab in the dark for that responsibility and control. One book I’m waiting on is My Month of Madness—a paranoid long shot for usefulness, but autoimmune has definitely been thrown around before, and after months of pain turned out to be a rare manifestation of toxic black mold poisoning once, I try to not dismiss rare diagnoses out of hand. Yet I don’t want to fall into the “letting WebMD convince you that you have a brain tumor” trap.
So honestly, I am mostly still at waiting, which is a lot of what treatment is. You’d think I’d be better at it by now. Waiting for the black blobs to get too consuming, waiting for my appointment, waiting for books. I have many virtues but patience and sanity are not among them.