The Meaning of Pareidolia

2017-09-13 13.29.03

I miss my psychiatrist. I miss the way he would grit his teeth so as not to show his annoyance that I’d skipped my last session. I miss the way he would ask how my week had been, and attempt to make eye contact with me to ascertain the level of truth in my response. And I miss watching him scrawl notes in my file by hand.

I sit in the wicker chair in the corner of my bedroom and stare at the folds in the laundry. Sometimes I mix it up a bit and stare at the curtains, trying to pick out figures or faces in their damask pattern. I start to wish that they were real people; that they would just hop out of the fabric, give me a hug and tell me I am valuable. That’s not so healthy, I think, so I call Linda to ask her to come over. She only responds to messenger so she doesn’t answer, but when I select her name on my phone I see those three little dots that mean someone is typing. . . and a few seconds later I get a “Hey what’s up” in my inbox. I tell her I’m not doing so good, I could use some company, and she says she’ll be round in 5.

Continue reading “The Meaning of Pareidolia”

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Learning To Fly

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I am encased, swaddled, and smothered by an invisible substance. My skin is writhing and earthy beyond my threshold, so I step into a soothing bath to remove the unwanted film for the third time today: the transformation is less prominent there. I congratulate myself briefly when I finally manage to open the book I’ve been staring at for the last hour and a half, and I hide out in it like it’s a protective roof over my head. But just minutes later it caves in and my concentration wanes once again. That is when the dreams begin to come. Dreams of wriggling, striving, and rupturing.

There’s a tapping at my window. A sad, gaunt face with sunken eyes is peering in. I know it is self pity and it doesn’t belong here, so I press my fingertips against my temples and try to cast it away. It doesn’t go.
The tapping escalates to a pounding, and I know something in my chest cavity is screaming to get out. With a mouth full of dry cloth I try to call for help, but am met only by the eyes of the bothered and the perplexed, who join self pity at my window. I become dizzy and confused when the world fades out and I shrink further and further behind my watering eyes.

With my heart in my mouth, I am falling down from a high bridge across a fast flowing current. I hit the water hard and am thrust into its body, my nostrils filling quickly and stinging the back of my throat. A fist grips my hair at the neck and heaves my head above water to make sure I can hear loud and clear: “you are supposed to be dowsing, not drowning! This is all for your art, so suck it up, sweetheart!” I long for my oppressor to take me in his arms but he thrusts me back beneath the surface and walks away without another look. But it hurts, I answer in my mind, it hurts so damn much.

[For a moment I am back in my office, searching through a box of data cards. Each one has a crudely drawn face on it and I am trying to find a match for my memories. If I can recognise myself, maybe I can recalibrate my mind. Then all of a sudden the change is upon me, and I know exactly which one of the scribbles I am. Throbbing dissonance starts up in the background that I cannot be separate from; the music that connects with my soul and drags it forth. I feel the click of the safety harness latching onto my core, and the world comes back into focus. The software is loaded, the goal is set.]

Now I can feel the rhythm of the sea that carries me, and I rock my body slowly backwards and forwards along with it like we were one. I gaze over the edge of the boat, into the deep waters that previously surrounded my body. Such a relief to be heading home to warmth and comfort, and yet also the sharp pang of an ending. A thought crosses my mind that I should abandon the boat and leap right back in: the grief is all that is familiar, after all. Fortunately perhaps, I am unable to carry out the whim, for the music has me in its grip and will not let me go. There are lyrics accompanying it now, and although I can’t quite make them out they seem to be telling me to feel the full force of the butterflies in my stomach. Feel them, remove the blockage: it is stopping the buzz of energy from flowing through the veins.

The butterflies are blue, and they are dancing, not struggling. They are not caged, they are not trapped. They are simply fluttering around delicately in the only way they know how. They were once wriggling beasts, but now they are learning to fly. It’s time to let them out.

Fragments of Dark: When the Tears are Gone Forever

Tears are gone

My guardian angel has gone to the store to get more vodka: medicine for our brains, he says. That’s perfectly standard practice, only he’s been gone for some time now, and I’m starting to think he’s left me to fall apart in this god forsaken flat.  

I stare at the electric blue teacups lined up on the dresser, every one of them full of storm. I sense the waves pouring over their rims, and for a moment it is as though someone were playing them like singing bowls; circling a mallet slowly around and around. It is almost joyous, almost full of hope, but then it begins to scrape and screech, and before I know it the whole room is shaking with the deathly racket and I have to take cover under the coffee table. 

That’s when, of course, the walls start oozing their 

black

tar

and 

shadows

.

.

.

I can feel the dark substance already: clinging to my skin, desperate to get through my pores and into my blood stream. There’s no coming back if it gets that far, I can tell you that right now. 

I don’t know if lying here in foetal position helps, I suppose it’s more of an automatic reaction to detecting imminent danger. However it does serve to remind me that this particular mass of pain, lumped together beneath the table, is what I am directly in charge of. It reminds me that I am, in physicality if not in principle, separate from the poison out there that would infect me further; from the room that would swallow me whole…

I’m cold now. Cold and clammy and shivering. At least the teacups have shut up though, hey? There are no tears either in case you were wondering; we’re way past that, me and my angel both. Unfortunately what comes when the tears are gone forever is a sort of black hole inside, as though the salt from the flood had burned 

right

through 

the 

soul

.

.

.

Leaving a window to infinity, ready to implode the remainder of our being at any minute… 

So the struggle we’re left with is really this: what will we allow to consume us, the predatory world out there in the flat and beyond, or the horrifying black hole inside? I don’t know if there’s a difference, but I’m sure as hell hanging back from making that decision, at least until I’ve given the medicine one last shot. But the

blackness

is

coming

where

is

that

angel

.

.

.

?

Fragments of Dark: George

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Heal my wounds?

Night after night I awake in that place; drenched in sweat, feeling a hundred years old. The walls around me are brown and peeling, etched with words that won’t stay, covered in blood that is rotting yet alive. The stench fills my eyes with tears, and the tears melt my leathery skin on contact. There are echoes around me of incomprehensible words spoken, sharp and hasty. They resonate in my skull, around and around.  I am bound, yet there are no ropes and there are no chains…

Sometimes a rusty iron ring emerges from a wall as though it were soft, and I reach out for it. But I slip on the pool of blood beneath my feet and

I cannot regain myself and

I slide around, unable to grip and unable to stand or even to pull myself to my knees amongst the maggots. Yes, there are maggots now, ok? Continue reading “Fragments of Dark: George”

Fragments of Dark: Julian

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Julian…

Call me dramatic, but there is a black, spherical void at my core. at least, I imagine it is black. The type of black that is so black, it misses the point of being black at all. And everything else that I am, all my solid matter, my emotion, my human soul, is constantly on the edge of falling in. My heart is particularly close, and the void darkens its vibrations, tainting it so that sometimes I think it has already fallen in and is now pumping the void around my body. My soul is dark too, from the void in me. It feels tortured that it should go on in this conscious host instead of being at one with the infinite void. My mind, I think, is not wholly convinced that the void is where the heart and soul should belong, but then my mind is tainted with human arrogance as well as eternal darkness.

Continue reading “Fragments of Dark: Julian”

Fragments of Dark: Jesse

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Depression is not a dramatisation of how you feel when you lose your wallet. Depression is falling off the merry go round; and broken, bruised and dizzy looking back up at it wondering why you were on it in the first place. Despression is not immediately jumping back on, because from down here you can see the rickety mechanisms and the shady characters that operate it. From down here you can see that the shiny paintings and smiling faces are easily peeled away to show the cold grey metal underneath. The mirrors are not true reflections. From down here you can see the open space, the trees and the sky. All these things move much slower, and the more the dizziness wears off, the more beautiful and attractive they become. The faces and the hands reach out and try to pull you up onto your feet, but instead you slowly back away from the fairground and melt into nature…

 

Fragments of Dark is a hand bound, illustrated zine compiling short bursts of creative writing about depression and madness.

Fragments of Dark: Jack

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The sound of the commuters starts at 6am, as surely as the sun will rise each day, but with more precision. The start of daylight and the commuters never quite coincides, you see. Sometimes the light will come first, sometimes after, but always the commuters at 6am.

The sound of acceleration, brakes, exhausts, horns, people calling to one another in aggressive tones. They’re always in a hurry, the commuters. Always in an integral daydream of purpose that cannot be broken.

I lie awake listening to them, watching the grey walls of my room. Well, they’re not so much grey as watered down versions of the colours the commuters see. When I was little I was given books containing thick black outlines of characters and scenes, which I was to cover in the water from a paintbrush to reveals light colourations. They were barely colours at all, but there was something satisfying about revealing them anyway.

My morning view is predictable. The wardrobe doors are still there, as are the radiator, the curtains, my lamp, and the cobwebs hanging from the ceiling. What is different is the shapes I see in the pleats of the curtains, the fall of the duvet and the lay of the laundry. I note these differences long after the sound of the commuters dies down into a steady buzz, and I imagine them settled into their respective roles as citizens.

Officially, I have a job like them. Sometimes I imagine myself sitting back at my desk in a brightly lit room, surrounded by chatter and nonsense and things to  think about other than the shadow cast by yesterday’s teacup. But in my room I am separate from all of that. I am safe and I am in my own head; not the heads of the commuters.

Mid-morning, when my back or hip or head starts to twinge, I sometimes venture into the hallway to glance at what post has arrived. Then I float into the kitchen to make a drink and pick up painkillers. Other times I will take painkillers from my bedside drawer without assistive liquid.

If it is a kitchen day, I will pass a collection of unfinished paintings I once created and be briefly upturned by the change in me that now inhibits such pursuits. I don’t like the paintings much anyway. It would be no bad thing if they were to be destroyed to take my small stamp upon the world away…

 

Fragments of Dark is a hand bound, illustrated zine compiling short bursts of creative writing about depression and madness.