Tag Archives: anxiety

Indigo afternoon

You can still see the indigo colony, the little
Masked folk mingling at the foot of the bed
With ogling eyes uneasy as the sea
Under this moon, rubbing her rabbit-filled eyes
Pulsating irregularly

Catapulted across the reaches, the quantum moon
Globes anew in fresh lightscape
I cloak myself circular, thinking that this is
The third room I have awoken in in
Three months. My particles are all skip.

Submerged in hypnopompic water I still expect
To open my eyes to a different window
To hear the boom of concrete, the thin whine
Of alleys, to feel the blaze
Of naked sky, noontime at dawn

Instead, when I peel back the curtains
There is only a gentle green dance and
Neat bricks that make no sound
The rooms here do not shake and I did not
Step off an airplane 5 hours ago: It is all in my head

Lost in thought

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Summer came a few days ago, with me not quite knowing what to feel about it or want from it. I had been trapped inside myself for so long that I only knew how to be numb and confused.

Pawing through my own insides for the feelings I was supposed to have only created more questions and made me nervous, so I decided I would simply live as the moment dictated.

In between lunch and dinner dates I wander around on my own, trying to let every thought and perception touch my mind as lightly as possible. I reflect on the months that have passed, trying to reconcile myself to what has happened.

It’s possible to strive so much for control that you simply lose control. Perhaps that is what obsession means.

Everything happened so suddenly this year. It started with an inexplicable feeling of inner unsettledness, a feeling of something always running in the background of my mind, and I remember just feeling very tired all the time.

And then there came the empty weeks, lengths of free time in which I sunk into torrents of endless thought, letting the hours turn into days and weeks while I sat panicking and unable to get anything done. The more I thought, the more I felt confused, and the harder I fought to regain a sense of balance and coherence. In the end I completely lost both, along with my sense of place and my sense of self. And in the end, I was no longer sure what I had been trying to protect in the first place. I had become a shell of myself, barely human. And still, like an overturned bicycle with wheels still whirring, I couldn’t stop.

I wandered around aimlessly, sometimes anxious, other times weighed down by a blanket of emptiness that was about as close as I got to comfort. Other people seemed to me to be shining, while I felt my own presence dim and shrivel inside.

***

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It’s warm and breezy outdoors. Everywhere on the streets and in shops windows are the colours of summer– fuchsia and turquoise, orange and yellow. I remember looking at a colourful display a few nights before and suddenly feeling like I wanted to put lots of flowers in my hair. It was one of the first times I remember myself wanting to do something for summer, and it made me shake a little inside.

Sometimes in my head I write letters, conveying these little thoughts or little victories to people far away, or not so far away. In reality, the value of these little moments is not easy to convey. But I carry an envelope with some letter paper in my backpack anyway, in case I suddenly feel like trying.

These days I’m feeling the waters recede. Almost, almost, I’m breaking the surface. I’m learning to breathe again, finding that I can. On the way home, the sound of the train soothes me as I lean by the coach doors, and I feel the warm six o’clock light wash over me from the window.

As I walk home everything smells green and warm. Birds chirp and fly from tree to rooftop. I feel like I can almost sink into the golden light behind the clouds. Almost there.

***

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Sometimes at home I find little pieces of paper lying around. On them, scrawled in my own handwriting, are words like “Focus. Just breathe. Everything is alright”. I remember writing these things, and scratching them out, and re-writing them again, and again. Calming myself down didn’t work if I did it in words, because I could never get the words right. The words were always wrong. Even the simplest things had to be tweaked and rewritten over and over again. Why were the words always wrong?

I tear up these little papers and throw them away when I find them. It’s unfortunate. I know the words tried hard for me. I just couldn’t let them be enough.

It’s never enough.

Sitting by the fountain today, watching the light glint on the silvery surfaces of surrounding buildings, it occurred to me that our strengths can never be separated from our weaknesses. They are actually but one and the same.

***

“Hello, tiny star
Can you hear me call?
I’m so blind as everything at birth

If I could flow against these nights
Straighter than the string of light
I would lay these hands on time”

For Now

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Under a shield of palm leaves

Enveloped in night cool

Hear the soft tinkle

Of fresh dripping dew
 

Touched by gentle

Orange lamplight glow

How nice it would be to walk

Beside another soul

 
Who can predict how harrowing

The break of dawn may be?

Beneath the moon, jasmine and primrose

Open and sigh with night’s relief

Quiet

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The river in the morning – it surprised me as I emerged from the cool, shadowy interior of the Esplanade and met with the river bay. The water is different in the morning light. In the softness of it, one can take in the whole expanse of the water at once – wide and shimmering, blue and clear.

The Starbucks at the Boathouse was empty and smelled of wood and rope and coffee. The past few days I have begun to feel a little more right with the world – I’m better able to keep calm and curb my unproductive hyper-analyses, and I feel like less of a stranger to myself.

Tomorrow we begin our papers. We’ll grasp with our hands those fragile structures of words we call rules, watch the way they come together and fall apart when faced with the irony and whimsy of daily life. And I’ll think of the way thoughts drift through our minds, each one as delicate as a snowflake in its random beauty. Think of the way it can overwhelm when out of control, in torrents of white.

Tread softly, softly, through words, through thought, through the little worlds you move through by the push and pull of language. And always, stay bright.

Wit’s End

photo_2015-04-10_20-38-35     “The trouble was, I had been inadequate all along, I simply hadn’t thought about it.” ~ Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

I woke up in the evening feeling as though I had been overthinking in my sleep. It’s a sickening feeling, to get up so uneasy, feeling like something is unresolved and you don’t even know what it is.

I wish I could drift through the days peacefully, just taking in what’s around me – the lights, the sounds, the colours – a sense of place.

Wake up in my room with the smell of the sheets, sound of the fan whirring softly, coolness of the air, slight dampness on my back, and gently crawl to my table to work through some more words, thinking puzzles.

Sit in the library, in cafes, not thinking too much about anything in particular. Smell the coffee, the wood tables, the density of words, and the lightness of thought. Satisfy myself with a drink and a task.

Walk through the airport, big-bellied planes moving slowly amongst blinking lights outside, think of the way it feels to be gazing out from behind one of those little oval windows, huddling in a blanket, everything vibrating.

I could probably use more calm spaces now – both outside and inside myself. I keep twisting my mind over, through anxious moments and overexcited moments, trying to find a suitable state of being that I can settle in. I’m no longer sure if it’s my agitation that is the real problem or it’s my overthinking about the agitation that’s the real problem. What is a good day supposed to look like? I ask myself. What can I do to stop myself slipping into these flights of fancy, or falling into cycles of rumination? Is work an answer? Is creation an answer? Is focus an answer? Being with friends? Being present? I feel sick from running through the same thought process over and over again.

We’ve been through this before, haven’t we? At every stage in the process, I get myself tangled in thought. I make problems that are really non-problems seem so much bigger than they are. Really if I just keep moving forward, all these obstacles will probably reveal themselves to be nothing more than mist in the air. But sometimes the hardest step to take is a step back.

This is what it is.

Freshly bathed and powdered, I lay myself across the bed sheets, feeling myself being stretched out across the mindless minutes, spread out like a fabric, like the denim skirt lying across my legs. Warmth from the morning’s run pulses under my cheeks. I’m catching a breather before hitting the books. My arms and legs lie where they fall, worn out from four runs in the past four days. The room is cool and comfortable. I think to myself – perhaps this is all there is.

Blank spaces – how difficult they can be. Days with no motive, no structure. Weeks with no people with whom you feel contented, surrounded. The space stretches before me and around me.

Some things could be better. But things are as they are. It’s not alright. But it is the way it is. Wondering about whys and whats and until whens will only worsen my inner restlessness. It’s time I just got myself moving.

Perhaps this is all there is.

A place like this.

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This life, and the comfortlessness of it.

Gray light seeped into the room, and a familiar confusion prodded me awake, like a question turning and forming within me. I closed my eyes again, snoozing uneasily for another 2 hours. So much for wanting to wake up early to prepare for class. I ought to feel guilty, but I can no longer count the number of weeks since I last touched my books – a few more wasted hours doesn’t make much of a difference.

My thoughts shifted slowly within me, like a restless mob getting ready to riot. I dressed, powdering my face and pinning back my hair in the cool darkness of the room. The days have been terribly warm, the sun as searing and relentless as my thoughts. It’s been making me wish I could hide in my cold, dark room and not emerge for a long time.

It’s been a nightmarish sort of week, falling in and out of obsessive thinking, my mind always panicked, driven by strange irrational fears. Work doesn’t get done, I can’t read, can’t draw. At night I sit in disgust and hopelessness, contemplating my condition, sometimes with tears, sometimes entering into intense imaginative episodes to distract myself from the turmoil, not feeling quite human anymore.

I began my journey to school, feeling numb, train-wrecked. I’m done contemplating. I’ve learnt more about myself than I care to know. There is no answer to my irrational fears. There is no benefit in being disgusted in the messiness of my mind. And all this overthinking – perhaps in a way, it was really just my subconscious method of trying to fill my emptiness.

Plodding along in the heat, hollow and numb, I finally felt my mind slow down to a more manageable pace. But I continued to carry a familiar unsettled feeling deep within me as I walked up the path towards my school. Comfortless, this world is just comfortless.

The day started kindly, with kind faces, gentle exchanges. In the later hours sometimes around my friends I felt chocked with neediness, but that feeling was moderated by some pleasurably normal conversations that made me feel more at home with myself. I gently restrained my inner restlessness, trying to learn to be okay. Sometimes the thought would hit me, while looking at all the unfamiliar faces – how normal everyone is! How focused, how functional, how sociable. What is a person like me doing in school?

It’s useless as a paperweight, I remember my friend saying, watching a perfectly round little pebble he’d picked up roll across the table. But that doesn’t make it of any less worth as a stone.

Not of any less worth, not of any less worth. In the evening I went running. The feeling of exertion, of having something stuck in my chest, something fighting you as you desperately try to press ahead – it was rather like the feeling of everyday life, intensified. Only today can continue into tomorrow, I repeated the words over and over in my head, trying to swat away the distracting thoughts flying in and out of my mind.

Pushing my bicycle towards the road, dripping with sweat, I looked over the canal to the dim colours of the sky and the warm lights starting to come on in the housing estates. I wonder if there’s a place for me, here in this comfortless city. I feel so stripped of wonder, bereft of feeling, craving the warmth and fondness I left behind in another city almost a year ago.

Back in the room, I stretch and play a song, defeated.You know better than I: Perhaps God has a plan, perhaps God has a plan. Perhaps somehow, I’ll find myself, find compromises where there are no answers, and perhaps even find out what it means to have a beautiful day, in a city like this.

words themselves cannot make for safe hands

Words themselves cannot make for safe hands
Some breaks thought cannot amend
Terrified minds see terrified skies
Wrong lights, wrong brain, rushing black time
Your hands touch fire everywhere
Eyes darting, heart racing, inside you’re dead
Stillborn thought grasped with cold, clammy hands
Bathroom tiles pooling with sweat and panic again
In the sweet, deep, virgin night,
Look up, mind empty, and like a human, finally, cry.

Nighttime prayers

Please be with me through this night
Let me sit here in your tender sight.
Do not come over me with a pillar of fire
But come with the fabric, the thread in your fingers
Bring a garment to lay over my shoulders
To draw these pieces of me back together

 

Some nights I really just feel like train wreck, all in pieces, gasping for breath.