Sometimes I tell people that if I was left to my own devices and had no other living things depending on me to not be horrible, I would live naked on a room-sized pile of dirty laundry. I would weave weed-stems and bones into my hair, paint stripes on my cheeks with cigarette ashes while I chain-smoked and took speed. I’d go out happy and fast. I’d be a lunatic humming in trash, crying on my way into the light—a schizo lovechild of the warty garbage lady from Labyrinth and Daryl Hannah when she was Ayla in Clan of the Cave Bear. And that’s why I should see a therapist.
People laugh like I’m joking when I say it, and I usually say it because they’ve done something like compliment any of my practical life skills. I’m compelled to crush that immediately, not because I’m bad at All The Things All The Time but because I’m a lifelong addict with the usual mental illness flight that comes with (grows? causes?) addiction—anxiety, depression, manic moments that last from a few hours to years, and that makes it hard to sustain any kind of uninterrupted status quo no matter how hard I try.* And I’m bad at accepting compliments.
One of my Best Forever Sister Friends and I take selfies making the grossest, ugliest faces we can muster and send them to each other with no warning sometimes. While there’s no score, schedule or rules to this game, you know you’ve won when the recipient cusses you for making her laugh for emeffing real—out loud and against her will—in a public place. The naked lunatic-junkie picture I like to paint is a word version of one of those faces. My jaw doesn’t always jut into a pronounced under-bite but it can; I’m not perpetually in a holy-shit-balls-to-the-wall mental health crisis but I could go there.
One of my favorite, favorite, favorite things about being lucky enough to still be alive is learning how to accept myself. Right now, I’m working on the part where I find the line between To thine own self be true and FUCK IT I’M NUTS NOW! and mark it on my map: DO NOT CROSS. I’m still pinning down the coordinates, and I’m grateful to have a co-pilot on this mission in the form a smart twenty-something who listens to my shit then says things like, “Okay, well, that was a lot of assuming feelings and outcomes based on past experiences that aren’t this one at all.”
Therapy is good.
*But I/you/we don’t get to quit trying. I just hate for people to feel disappointed when, despite love and counseling and sleep and meds, I go off the rails and do it all wrong sometimes anyhow.