Borderline: bad days

And to know the fundamentals of being alive,
Am I?
Zack Hemsey

Wake up. Check my surroundings, check my body, check my brain. No one has left, nothing’s gone missing; yet I feel as if, somewhere during the night, everything I know has shriveled and died.
Clench the day into my cramped hands; drop it anyway.

It’s just the way it is sometimes. I think that there’s the difference between sadness and illness, the intensity of it. Sometimes I go outside and the streets I’ve known for years have slightly shifted, changed meaning. The outside world was real and here yesterday, but who can say about today? Pop-up houses, paper trees, on the translucent ground in a cellophane sky. My eyes are separate beings and they might be lying. I woke up in an unknown world on a different planet. Visual illusions, my heart aches for home without being sure it’s truly gone. How can we know that what we see is what is there? If I cannot feel the ground, myself?

There’s a glass wall between me and everyone. I can’t destroy it, I can’t get out. Now, more than when I am alone, do I feel the shattering sadness of isolation.

I am untouchable. Flesh is all that separates my mind from existence. My body is a prison and I can’t breathe. Do you know the full meaning of claustrophobia? I need to cut it open so that I can escape.

A movie reel of atrocities plays behind my eyes. Colors darken, dissolve in a bloody red. My body is the victim and executor of a million violent deaths.

My brain can’t grasp my mental pain and turns it into something physical. An aura of phantom pains surrounds my chest; someone put knives in my lungs.

I hope my thoughts mean that I’m crazy because if I am crazy, my fears have not come true.

These are the bad days. Sometimes I wake up and they’re just there. Some time during the night, in a dream, perhaps, or a slumbering forgotten thought, something just went awry. I wake up and the world has shattered, and I can’t remember what it felt like before. This is a far cry better than once upon a time, when everything was disordered, and the bad days were just days. They’re a shadow, now, from what they were before, they come less often and farther in between; and I am concrete, touchable, both body and mind. But you don’t forget insanity, even though, some moments, I come very close. I wear “before” on my arm, “before” is weaved through my disintegrated memories, reminding me not to turn back. I’m starting to believe that I can do it; but some days, still, the ground shifts, I stumble, almost cross over. I live on the borderline of existence; I think too much; I’m never sure if I am alive.

Am I?


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