Upon waking there are tears. Immediate tears even before thoughts even before consciousness. It’s the unpleasant sensation of warm wet linen next to my face that forces me up.
And the sensation of no oxygen reaching the lungs, the windpipe tight and aching and catching. The menstrual contractions of the Hanged Man. But I fear carbon monoxide and throw open the windows on a January morning.
Failed attempts to get much inside me. Coffee tastes of sour milk, water of bleach, banana of glue. All of my senses are too sharp and acute like the world is attacking me.
My heart beats faintly and erratically like a scratched record playing in a locked room and you don’t have the keys and it slowly turns you into a homicidal maniac.
I compulsively check the phone for texts, voicemail and email, even though the volume is on. How can anyone leave me alone in this state? Why does no one care? How is everyone not psychic? I want someone to call so I can tell them I am fine.
All night the nightmare tyrant and his lackey insomnia tortured my sleep. Garish, vivid dreams. One where I lived in a room with chartreuse heavy-pile carpet and black matte walls and a dozen antique chairs of different eras, all covered in tapestries and velvets and fringes. The only light came through closed Venetian blinds and lace curtains. Feral kittens kept getting in through holes, like mice.
Steely winter sun breaks through the clouds like a blade through my iris. Cringe inducing, stomach clenching, stress hormone flooding goddamn sun.
I change into a uniform of black leggings and black longsleeved t-shirt. I’m not in mourning for my life, just prepared for it. I can do yoga, go to the library or take a nap without having to change clothes, which would require time, time during which I could change my mind and just wind up sitting on the closet floor for an hour weeping. About anything. I can join a band of roving mimes, ninjas or cat burglars on a moment’s notice. I’m a Prepper but for the absurd.
Today is the first day of the white pills. Of being The Prisoner of Hormoneland.
I’ve a simultaneous desire to devour an entire chocolate cake and never eat again. Unable to decide between the two, I wind up on accidental hunger strike.
I feel like I need a bath even though I just had one.
If I lie down and concentrate on the clouds sailing across the sky or the contented expression on my sleeping cat’s face, I can breathe normally and relax. This wistful practice swiftly devolves into melancholia. I don’t even know why I am crying. The cat. Asleep. It’s too beautiful. It hurts.
I make myself read, convinced depressive moods are killing my braincells. Everything I read is depressing.
I decide what I need is a glass of wine and a Klonopin. I decide the slippery slope of substance abuse would be more socially acceptable than hormonal depression and would give me more freedom to be batshit insane. I decide I want to be a career drug addict and prostitute. Surely misery of one’s own choosing is preferable to all this. I remember having washed down Klonopin with wine. It didn’t turn me into a career addict and prostitute. It just ruined the rest of my day.
I want desperately to cave and take the pink pill and forfeit this period. I’m a career oral contraceptives addict.
Nausea. Photophobia. Irritability. I decide I am getting a migraine. Prodrome. Sounds like a cult horror movie or bad conceptual art installation. “Prodrome.” I eye the line of white pills, then the unopened pack of next month’s pills. I should just skip the white ones and start the new pack. But surely they put the white pills in there for a reason… The 28 day cycle. The moon. Surely if I, a female, disobey the Laws of the Moon it will unleash some kind of Shakespearean fury into the universe. Fires and floods and madmen wandering the streets. Baby lizards with human smiles coming to live in my womb. I don’t know. My God, Why the Four White Pills?
I can hear my therapist’s voice in my head, “I’m glad you’ve not lost your sense of humour.” And mine, “Fuck you. I’m not here to entertain you. I’ve spent all day on a hunger strike unable to decide between becoming a drug addict, checking my voicemail, or having my period. It’s not fucking funny asshole!!!”
I check my voicemail out of sheer masochism.
I think I should go to the country for a bit. I’ve been in the city so long, I’ve forgotten where the country is.
I think I should go to the library for a bit. Fairly certain about where that is. I know I will start chain smoking if I leave the apartment. It’s Saturday, and the library will be overrun with people, mostly small and hysterical, and I’ll get claustrophobic and go outside and chainsmoke and wander the streets like a madman and cry for no reason and have to wear sunglasses in the store where I will purchase an entire chocolate cake that I will bring home and make the object of all my hatred.
No I can’t go to the library. Besides, I’ve not eaten and may faint and bust my head on the sidewalk and get permanent brain damage that can’t be reversed by reading online lit mags.
It’s nervy hormones, not anorexia. But that’s not to say I feel great about my body. I don’t. It’s been a while since a man has expressed physical interest in me. I mean, a man who is not oozing the vibe that he uses the word “boobies” or who concerns himself with matters like a woman’s personal safety. … People say men do not prefer women who need a man to feel attractive. People say needing that shit is pathological even.
Like, what? Woman is meant to be a goddess who exists on some unearthly plane where she giddily luxuriates in her own beauty until caught by the eye of a mere mortal man at which time she is to indulge his needs as reward for … his being so great or something while not expecting or needing or desiring anything from him because goddesses don’t have expectations or needs or hormones and they sure as hell don’t spend a day prone in pelvic pain because of the fucking moon. I suppose these are the same mythological creatures who are naturally a size 4 without being all unbecomingly neurotic about food. Not one of those lame ass human girls who have ovaries and a mind-gut connection and wonder what the hell they are doing here and would like it if someone bothered to appreciate all the time and effort they put into not being a completely disgusting physical animal.
I’ve seen women who live on other planes and luxuriate in their loveliness and eschew worldly needs. In psych wards.
One of the garish vivid dreams I had involved a well known Hungarian poet. I woke up like an unspayed kitten possessed by one thing only, completely unhinged. Ready to prowl an alley or send my therapist a confessional text or message the husband of a friend who had once begged me to destroy his marriage. But I didn’t. I’m better than that. I’m responsible. Cerebral. Moral. Good.
And it feels like it’s murdering me slowly, all this goodness and sadness and discomfort and intensity and madness. I want to take the pill that makes her have some human dignity. But there are three more of those that make her small. And the Moon and the Goddess and the Feral Kitten and the Hanged Man have invited me to their mad tea party of archetypes.
And I cry. Because I can’t possibly go to a tea party looking like this.