What are you going through?

A short story by Cathy Snarey.

Cathy Snarey

Trigger warning: mentions of medication and suicide

Last night I had a dream. I went to work. I was managing a street feast festival. After closing time, I caught a train from Dalston – was it Kingsland or Junction? Does it matter? I changed to the underground at Highbury and Islington, then onto Euston and the Hammersmith and City line to Paddington. I drove home from Reading Station. John was on a late shift, so I cooked dinner, Ayam Goreng Bali. Not that I’ve ever been to Indonesia, the recipe came from a book my mother inherited. Recipes from that book became family favourites.  Favourites that John and I now share. As I crush the ginger and chilis into a paste, I can see my reflection in the mirrored splashback. I’m smiling, happy. Beautiful even. John comes home. I love, and I am loved.  

Only I wake up, imprisoned. Incarcerated by my own mind. A mind that holds the real me hostage. I should get up, shower, clean my teeth, and get dressed. Only I can’t. Although the bedclothes smell of stale sweat and the air in the room is musty and oppressive, it’s safe. These four walls protect me from a world that doesn’t understand or care.

When did I last eat? I can’t remember. Even making a sandwich is too hard. Cheese is easy. Cut a chunk, eat it, cut another. How long did that block last? I don’t know. All I know is I can lose or gain a stone in a matter of weeks. My clothes don’t fit. I don’t fit.

There’s a shot glass on the bedside table. It holds a cocktail of medication. Anti-epilepsy, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety. Drugs that keep me alive but leave me numb. Next to it, my phone vibrates. My hand shakes as I pick it up. ‘No Caller ID.’ Sick with fear, I can’t answer it. Perhaps they’ll leave a message. If I know who they are, then maybe, just maybe I’ll have enough courage to call them back. There’s no message. The phone rings again. Still ‘No Caller ID.’ Still no voicemail.

I text friends, but they no longer reply. I’m too needy. I cling on too much, and the harder I try to hold onto them, the more they slip through my fingers. I make plans to meet up, then cancel at the last moment because I can’t face going out. So they no longer invite me. 

Someone has posted on Facebook that ‘their door is always open,’ blah, blah. Do they know how hard it is to even get to their door to walk through it?

A text arrives. It’s from John. “Did Talking Therapies call?”

“No,” I reply.

“FFS! I’m calling them.” 

I don’t deserve him.

He calls me. “They phoned you twice today, but because you didn’t answer, they crossed you off.”

Why do I write? It’s supposed to help, but I’m spiraling, my life crossed out. Maybe this is my suicide note, but it will lie, unread, forever?