It gleams bright red under the glow of the fluorescent light humming softly overhead and it is so beautiful. Speckled across the countertop, dripping into the sink, staining my fingertips. It flows with the frantic thumping of my heart, out of me and into the tiny bathroom, turning crimson in the air all around me. Blood. My blood. Leaving my body and covering the walls and the floor, soaking through toilet paper and soft towels, dying my clothes with a memory of these bittersweet moments spent living all alone in the mirror, bathed in the artificial beauty of the lightbulb stuck to the wall. It's everywhere now and I can't seem to stop it escaping the confines of my skin. Have I gone too far? Will this finally be the end? Oh, how I've waited for this moment to come. It's not how I imagined it would be, not quite. I always imagined a dingy hotel room; but the blood, the blood is exactly the way I'd pictured it, smothering the colors of the room beneath it's beauty.
Don't worry. This isn't happening right now. It's just a thought, a thought that has been visiting me everyday in recent weeks. I dream about this shit. How can I possibly wake up feeling rested and excited to start a new day when I dream about dying all alone in the bathroom on the other side of the wall from my bedroom? The answer is that it's very difficult to start the day off on the right foot in this manner. It's difficult to end it on the right foot either when these are the thoughts that find you as the hours of the night drag on.
The thoughts have never gone away, nor do I feel hopeful that they ever will, not entirely. But the thoughts were more notions, more disjointed, more subtle, more foggy, less concrete in months passed than they are right now and that's what worries me. They're just thoughts and thoughts can't hurt me but most actions begin with a thought and actions can definitely hurt me. Actions can and will be the end of me if I'm not careful.
I tell my psychiatrist about these thoughts and he shrugs, tells me that sometimes things will be difficult, and then asks me if I'm still working at the bike shop. Um, yes? Thank you for your insight. Note to self, your shrink is useless. Just give me my drugs and get me the hell out of your office. But that's not the point here. It's not his fault that I feel this way, nor is it my fault, or anyone else's fault. It just is and this is what I have to deal with at the moment.
How I long for the days when my biggest dilemma was fitting exchanges into my meal plan. Can I please go back to those simpler times? It's not about the meal plan, or about the food, or my body, but sometimes I wish it was. I can figure those things out or learn to love them with enough time and practice but this feels deeper and darker and infinitely more complex. No one said this would be simple or easy. In fact, they told me that this would be the hardest thing I would ever do but I thought they were talking about the eating disorder. I thought they were talking about the food, and accepting my new weight, and taking my shirt off at the beach without freaking out. Check, check, and check. I've been there and I've done all of that and that wasn't even scratching the surface.
I don't think about my eating disorder anymore. I went to a support group last night and felt like an outsider when the topic turned to food or body image. I remember struggling with these things but my focus for months now has been just trying to stay safe. Food and my body seem to matter so little in comparison to my safety. Of course, it all matters. I can't forget about the food so that I can protect myself and I can't focus on the food while I'm hurting myself either. There has to be a balance. It's only been six months since my last incident involving self-harm. I haven't binged or purged in something like 22 months. Self-harm is still much closer to the surface and much more worrisome at this point for me.
And I feel a little lost. I know who to call if I don't want to finish my dinner but I don't know who is equipped to help me if I don't want to wake up tomorrow morning. So I sit through the urges until I fall into a restless slumber filled to the brim with dreams of blood stained bathrooms and I pray that tomorrow will be better. Sometimes tomorrow is better. Sometimes tomorrow starts out well and falls apart as the day goes on. Sometimes tomorrow is just as bad as the night before. I just have to wait and see. And I know that part of how I feel is in my control. I know that I have some control over my mind and the thoughts that it thinks but sometimes my mind can be a difficult thing to contain. Sometimes it runs wild and all I can do is hold on and pick up the pieces after the destruction is finished.
I'm a work in progress and I'm making progress, aren't I? I wouldn't have been able to hold on through these thoughts not so long ago. I would have been back in the hospital months ago. I can see the progress and I can feel good about it if I can pick my head up long enough to take a deep breathe. For now, I'm keeping my head down and working to stay safe. For now I'm keeping the thoughts where they belong: in my head and away from the knife drawer.