past present future

Sometimes I feel that I’m living life in anticipation. Next, yet, are words that I have not exhumed from my vocabulary. This will not be a problem, yet. I will not quit, yet. I will quit next [week, month, years from now, never].

I can’t swallow my heartbeat when I’m like this. I get so overwhelmed when I’m doing well– I become helpless when I don’t need help. Everything becomes about the moment because I am afraid of losing this– how do I make this moment better? And that makes every moment about the next moment– how do I make this moment better than now?

I am permanently living five minutes ahead of everyone else. I live my life in the future– maximalism at every turn. In wanting my life to be bigger, better; I have become gluttonous and obsessed with dripping, oozing goodness.

I didn’t really believe in addiction before I began considering myself an addict. I thought it was just something people used as an excuse to do what they wanted; that’s what I adopted it as. I consider myself an addict; I don’t know if this is a term I can use, because I don’t know what I’m addicted to besides everything. Everything that someone could latch onto, I would latch onto. I’m addicted to feeling good, feeling better than last time. Where is the ceiling?

I fell in love pretty close to first sight. Saying I love you was an exhale, a release of pressure. Sometimes I try to forget I’m in love so it comes as a surprise when I remember. I think this is me handling my addiction– if you can’t live without it, you’re addicted, so I try to spend time living without it.

I wanted to say something about how it is rare that I feel something so deeply but that wouldn’t touch the truth. I only exist in the binary– in the ones and zeros of yes or no. It is always all-or-nothing. I will either be in love deeper than ever before, or I won’t be in love at all. There’s no normal.

I wonder often about how to contextualize this in the terms that I’ve been given– the patient exhibits symptoms of [bipolar disorder type ii (this is my rock, my defining foundation, against my will), borderline personality disorder (I meet the criteria but the diagnosis would condemn me to a life of being someone I was afraid of growing up to be, so maybe I abandon it), obsessive-compulsive disorder (I got over that, right? 2016?), post-traumatic stress disorder (radically record-breaking recovery rate from repeated rapes), major depressive disorder (it was born with me, it will die with me, in my arms), panic disorder (a new symptom that I’m experiencing when the imperfect and the perfect align)]. These words are great for psychiatrists, who can look at my chart and use their experiences and language and years of school to understand me in five minutes or I get my money back. These words are great for me, who is lost without labels.

Who am I outside of these tendencies? Am I anybody? If I wasn’t myself, I’m asking, would I still be myself? If medication isn’t fixing these problems, is it just a character flaw? Is my hamartia everything about me? Without the language I’ve been given to describe my life, I would not be living. I would be a tree, fallen in a forest, and no one would hear me.

It becomes futile to run this cycle of existentialism. I decide to give up and accept that I exist, against my will perhaps, and that I know nothing. Every day I realize that I know less than yesterday is a day I have grown.

It is hard to celebrate growth when it comes in such small containers– the amount I grow each day is what’s left at the bottom of your coffee cup, what’s usually dumped. It’s hard to collect.

After writing this I text my mom this message: I think maybe I am depressed. The last few days have been pretty hard, and pretty representative of the past few weeks aside from the mania. I realized it because I am really struggling to take care of myself. I am not eating enough and doing basic things like completing homework, keeping my room clean, and personal hygiene feels monumental. I’m going to talk to my psychiatrist about this. I have been giving myself so much shit for not being able to do simple things. I think maybe I am depressed and hadn’t realized it, life feels a lot harder than it’s supposed to.

I want my life to be yellow walls. I want my life to be something freshly baked. I want my life to be comfortable. I want to be happy. I want it to be easy, god I want it to be easy. I want my life to be a dark brown leather couch in the living room with scratches from long and short fingernails. I want my life to be lined with books on the walls, the books I’d be proud to show people and proud to read. I want my life to be marinated in peace. I don’t want to fight anymore. I just want to love.

What do you do after you love, and are loved, and it’s good? How do you enjoy things? Once I get what I want, all I know how to do is want more. I don’t know how to enjoy it. I want to stop wanting.

Audre Lorde once wrote, “Women who want without needing are expensive and sometimes wasteful, but women who need without wanting are dangerous.” I am greedy, I will be in my first house on the night I sign the final piece of paper that ties this building to my name and I will be surrounded by boxes and I will be wishing for a mansion. Every time I get high, I wish I was higher.

When I get overwhelmed, I have a few things I try to do to calm myself.

  • A butterfly hug, where you embrace yourself and tap your upper arms in a rhythmic pattern until it goes away.
  • Deep breathing, where you let your lungs fill until it hurts and hold it longer than you can, then let it all out.
  • Crying, where you collect all the pain and put it behind your eyes so it can release at an appropriate rate– in the brain, lain uncollected, the pain is too much for a girl like me to handle.
  • Imagining, where you find a place you like and stay there for a second, even if you can’t move.

The place that I imagine is a yellow house on a hill. It is surrounded by water, maybe the ocean, it is a land formation that would never exist, there is timothy-grass lining the ground and the field which exists on this slope outside my house. It is maybe a bungalow. There is a big tree in the yard with a swing attached to it, and I can hear soft piano playing from a place unknown when I sit.

So when I am busy thinking about how unfair it was, or how he’s free and I’m not, and the anguish pours like rain on a dark day where you can’t bring yourself to do anything but go away, sometimes I go to my little house on the hill.

This is how I live in the present moment– by hiding from it. When I have to exist here, now, when I have to be in a moment shared with others, I disappear to a place they don’t know about, and I stay there until I can escape. When I escape I go home and write or drink coffee or go to sleep. When I escape I do everything I can to not exist in first-person.

I am starving for silence.




Isabella (AKA belm0ney, she/her) is an English and Creative Writing student at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC.

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Isabella (AKA belm0ney, she/her) is an English and Creative Writing student at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC.

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