I remember one time in hospital sitting up writing in my curtained cubicle when one of my favourite nurses came in to speak to me. It was the middle of the night and I couldn’t sleep, despite being dosed up on 400mg seroquel, zopiclone and lorazepam. I think I might have had a bad evening, because I remember her asking me if the drugs felt ‘nice’. Which at the time struck me as a strange thing to say. Because it didn’t feel nice- I could still feel my thoughts buzzing away underneath the haze of the pills, struggling to breathe, to get out, needing to be put on paper. And so my mind, my body was wide awake, but I was paralysed by this thick fog of medication and I felt trapped by it- not comforted or relaxed or ‘nice’ the way I presume I was supposed to be feeling after all that medication.
But tonight I think I know what she meant when she asked me if it felt ‘nice’.
I got riled up at work today. Over a pair of ill fitting jeans. Sized an 8 when, in all honestly, an eight year old child would struggle to fit into them. I came across the same pair of jeans two weeks ago. Simply held them up and said ‘those aren’t an 8’, and set them back down, forgetting all about them. Until today when I was back folding the same stack of jeans. Only today for some reason I found these same jeans hugely offensive. And so suddenly my thoughts start racing and I become hugely indignant at how much of an Absolute Joke this is, that we are selling CLEARLY FAULTY JEANS THAT ARE MIS-SIZED. I spot the Senior Department Manager further down the shop floor speaking to someone else, and violently tug and pull at the rest of the jeans on the heap I am tidying, folding them perfectly at the creases in one quick flourish, one eye on the manager waiting for her to approach so I can launch my attack.
In the interim, I pounce on each unsuspecting colleague as they pass my jeans table, thrusting the jeans in their face, demanding they SEE THIS!!. They agree they are indeed, too small, that they were obviously a faulty batch from the factory, but I am shouting over them, ranting and raving about the unjustness, the poor, unsuspecting 14 year old girl that will subsequently try on these jeans and feel F A T when they don’t fit her. This is ridiculous! We should not be selling these!! I will be bringing this up with the manager!!! Until I can contain it no more! Off I march towards the Senior Department Manager, huddled together in the middle of the shop floor with the Assistant Store Manager and another department manager, three pairs of the culprit jeans in hand. ‘Is this a JOKE????’ I demand of them. ‘Why are we selling these!!’ The managers laugh, take the jeans and hold them up against their legs, tugging at the waist, offering explanations and joking ‘these wouldn’t go round one of my thighs!’ But I am not finding this the least bit funny and am shouting over them about how they wouldn’t fit an 8 year old child, are promoting an unattainable body image!!!!! The injustice! The tannoy interrupts, calls me to the service desk, so off I march, face flushed and shaking with fury by the time I get there, storming in and telling my supervisor I am NOT HAPPY, wave the offending jeans in her face too.
For the next hour and a half I fume about the jeans, telling anyone who will listen. When I finish work, I stop the Senior Department Manager on my way out and ask her can she like, remove them from sale. I am vaguely aware that I am sounding ridiculous, that by now my colleagues are probably laughing at me, rather than with me, and that any concerns they’ve had about my sanity over the past few weeks have now well and truly been confirmed, but I don’t care. By now my brain is working overdrive and as any manic will know, nothing stands in the way of a manic with an Opinion. And godmammit if my Opinion is not heard! She laughs, tells me there are obviously people that fit into them otherwise they wouldn’t make them that size…’no they’re aren’t, and if they are THEY ARE IN A HOSPITAL BED!!!’ I holler on my way out the door. Two minutes later I am back in the shop, a possey of colleagues who hand’t heard my rant earlier and were now keen to see the jeans in tow.
How DARE they refuse to take them of sale! I drive home hatching grand plans to buy every single pair in the store so no poor girl has to struggle to squeeze into them and have her confidence shattered! I will conduct a radical experiment and lose weight and prove to them all how unhealthily thin one would need to be to fit into them! I do not calm down when I arrive home. I rant about the jeans until my sister slams her bedroom door in my face, then storm into my room, yanking off my lanyard, my scarf, hurling them across the floor.
It is not really about the jeans. I am just being dramatic for the sake of being dramatic because I can’t really help it. Everything to the manic brain becomes amplified, so what ordinarily would have held me in mild surprise has me captivated. I see the small fitting jeans and leap to visions of myself contacting media outlets worldwide, brining down global retail chains, slamming them for their carelessness, their shameless encouragement of unrealistic body goals, the inevitable string of eating disorders they will create in their wake because that is what I do when my brain whips along at a thousand miles a minute. I think up grandiose plans to change the world that, in an hour or two will no longer be relevant in wake of the next Big Idea.
So my work clothes are now strewn across my floor and my music is up loud and my brain hops on to something else, namely, the tragedy that no one wants to talk to me, and so for the next two or three hours I holler along to my music that echoes vibrations throughout the house and pace my room, the landing, my mother’s room, the living room, the kitchen, the garden, and back to my bedroom while my mother tells me I need to calm down and my sister yanks my iPod from its docking station. I pace and sing and hang out my bedroom window for air and ignore the perplexed looks on my sister’s face when I tell her at dinner she cannot be more intelligent than me because she has not reached transcendence like myself and my pulse matches what it was the last time I was admitted to hospital and I feel the worms squiggle fasterfasterfaster until I fear they are going to come popping out of my ears and I decide that I must leave the house right now before I implode- but alas! Mum will not let me leave the house on account of being ‘too hyper’ to drive. The indignity! The injustice of it all! Have you EVER! Well, I am not incarcerated, or in hospital or a CHILD and off I stomp upstairs to pace my room for a bit and simmer at the unfairness of it all, the audacity!. And the worms are unmanageable and they are uncomfortable and this is no longer a purposeful sense of indignation where I am going to challenge the Establishment, because instead my brain is eating itself.
So I relent. Grudgingly I accept that I can not ‘calm down’, and that actually, this time, I want to. So I slide open the drawer of my bedside locker and rummage for the strip of diazepam I have kept for Emergencies Only and I pop one out of the blister packet and swallow it before I have a chance to change my mind.
My body fights it at first. I sit in bed and continue singing, my legs jigging aggressively under the covers, until maybe thirty, forty minutes later I am still and the worms have stopped squiggling and I can no longer feel them in my brain and I have been carried gently back to earth by the diazepam gods! Praise Leo Sternbach and his marvellous creation! Thank the sun and the moon and the stars that my tolerance for benzodiazepines is low, that just 2mg is enough to render me somewhat sane again!
So yes, I get it. I get why the nurse asked me if it felt nice, because sometimes, sometimes the drugs work and it does. And all is temporarily still.
(Ironically while writing this post the diazepam has either worn off or I have worked myself back into a state about the blessed jeans because the worms are squiggling again. Excellent.)