By Courtney Thompson
You lie on your back, window open, mosquitos buzzing around your head. Their tiny wings whir around in your throat until you’re almost certain you’re going to choke.
You sit up, turn on the light and start counting from ten to one, just like the app suggested.
Breathing in and out.
In and out.
In and out.
You check your phone. No messages, just the numbers 3, 5, 1.
You can’t tell if you feel relieved or unloved.
Then, the sinking feeling comes. The cold trickles and drips down your pipes and a pool expands in your chest. Your lungs are heavy with the depths of self-doubt. Shame and mould and thistles sprout around their edges.
You are frustrated, all at once drowning and dry. You convulse and shake but the chemicals you’ve plastered yourself together with don’t allow for salt to spill out. You scream. Silent.
Holding your nails against your arms you drag at their casing,
Too afraid to cut in case it hurts, in too much pain to sit on your hands like you’ve learnt to do until it passes.
There’s nothing wrong with you except that the one you love doesn’t love you back, and your mother hasn’t called since Christmas.
You’re embarrassed to think that such minor things could ever crack the iron exterior of which your friends are in awe. They tell you “everything will be okay” because you’re the “strongest person they know.” This doesn’t mean shit; you’ve got a suspicion that this is their default response when they themselves are too lonely, too tired to talk you down.
It’s a shame the meds have stopped working since you’ve spruiked them to all of your mates, declaring that you’ve got energy again because of them. Now you can’t tell your friends or your parents or Centrelink that the reason you can’t find a job is because you just can’t work anymore.
You make a mental note to add sleeping 16 hours a day to your resume.
And, with that, there is the rhythmic thud of open palm on thigh, closed fist to skull. You only stop once you remember that all you’ve got going for you are the brain cells too stubborn to die.
You calculate: two weeks, three days until your next appointment with the woman who makes you feel like everything is as simple as just taking a breath. You try to space each appointment out because you’re only allowed 10 before they’ll start costing you more than your problems are worth, and yet, you know that when you see her you will tell her about the frivolity of university and not about the way that when the 348 sped alongside you this morning you considered jumping, or how you only ever feel like yourself when you’re sitting on the toilet with the door locked.
You look at the vibrant, violet flowers you’ve branded on your skin, tattooed permanently inside. Erased, so simply, with the simplest of lies.