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* * *
Goodbye, Socratic Girl.  The time has come to take a hiatus from writing things that get me in trouble.  This whisp of time in my life has run its course.  No more lithium, no more dorm room, no more being that person I didn't know.  Perhaps I will do some soul-searching and come back reinvented.  I'll scrutinize, do some spring cleaning, create, recreate, breathe a little more, stretch, enrich, modify, negotiate, take notes, reorganize, and wrap myself into a blue package with gold ribbon, ready to be opened, I hope, by my own birthday in March--just in time for ideal hiking weather.  

Let's go, self.

* * *
"This is what happens when you are not on the proper medication," said my therapist yesterday.  She knows, she sees the frenzied look in my eyes and the way I talk with urgency and aggravated insight.  "I know you want to die.  Do you really think overdosing on pills was not a small attempt?"  

"I was not trying to kill myself.  I didn't want to feel what I was feeling, and what I was feeling was something I don't like to feel, so I decided not feeling was the best thing."

We had to start talking about my next visit with the psychiatrist, an appointment I have yet to make.  The poison this time is lamictal, along with my Zoloft and Klonopin.  The therapist suggested I give my mom all my meds and that she gives them to me in the proper doses at the proper time so I don't have access to potentially lethal combinations of chemicals.  I concurred, because really, I don't want to die right now.  It will be in a long time, and I don't know what I mean by long time.  

I went hiking today in the snowy mountains, armed with my cell phone in case I should fall or get attacked by a bear or get scared, etc.  I wandered off trail and climbed up rocks, climbed down rocks, rough and bitter and like sandpaper beneath my gloves.  I got up to a peak and looked over, so far down below, where all the leafless trees lie in muddy snow.  For a split second I wanted to jump--no, fly--and see what would happen.  Probably I would die, but wouldn't it be a nice death?  Doing something I love and then dying.  That is ideal. That's how my great grandma died--in the bowling alley.  

Imagine there's no heaven, it's easy if you try
No hell below us, above us only sky.
* * *

            At 5:31 on a Thursday morning I sit here to write something.  After several hours of outdoor adventures in frigid midnight weather, with fog so thick one can hardly see five feet ahead, my mind dragged my body into the house that sat on the small hill.  Two lights were on in the living room, dim lamps that illuminated my piano and the details of the expensive cushions that adorn the two white sofas.  Something inside was brewing as I wandered around each room of our home—our home—and imagined myself elsewhere.  Why would I do such a thing when there are so many “nice” and “pretty” things to look at in the home in which I live with a mother, a stepfather, a sister, a step-sister, a step-brother, and a golden retriever? 

            I did not notice I was dancing as though I were a prima ballerina whose feet were too noisy until my mother sauntered in, pale and eyes slim, to remind me that it was past three o’clock in the morning.  I looked blankly at her as if to say, “Your point being?”  Instead of provoking any sort of unnecessary and greatly unwanted conflict, I nodded my head and promised to go to bed immediately.  She turned her back slowly and I heard her bedroom door shut.

            My world came rushing back—philosophy, psychology, research, conversation, debate, romance, nature, history.  I wanted to jump out of the house and go back to that spot I had been earlier with an old companion, that one special place only we know about on the top of a mountain that is only one in front of even more massive mountains preceding it.  The fog shifted in patterns that in my mind looked like the Northern Lights.  Street lamps from the neighborhoods far below looked like giant fireflies resting peacefully in the night, giving off rays of luminosity as though there was no reason to be afraid of an impending storm.  Huddled under blankets, our teeth chattered and our bodies shook.  Sarcasm, jokes, and secrets were revealed and considered as my toes started to lose all feeling. 

            Trudging back to the car was an arduous task, and I felt a deep sense of loss.  I was leaving the mountains, any chance of escape from the world of humanity as we know it now.  Back to paved streets and professionally arranged landscape costing upwards of one thousand dollars.  My mind raced and I felt the urge to drive faster, as if that would somehow shift my attention away from the delusional thoughts that I, Amanda Anderson, would one day save the universe from total destruction.  You see, tonight (or should I say this morning) I can honestly say that I have a mission in life: to live on behalf the world.

            Absurd as it may sound, it’s a thought that has visited me quite often in my long moments of solitude—and isolation.  Though I want to die, as I crave to leave my body and never look back, I so want to thrive and move ahead and accomplish everything I can humanly accomplish.  My only despair is that it’s too late, for right now my life feels like a ship wrecked at sea, only a handful of survivors clinging to life.  The waves rise and fall, as do the remnants of a once mighty ship. 

            That mighty ship was me, my name, once again, being Amanda Anderson: the overachieving daughter, the do-gooder, the rule-abider, the athlete, the helper.  Somewhere along the way the ship lost reliable sailors, and the plagues that can ravage a whole crew were taking a toll on a significant portion of my being.  Soon I became the drama queen, the crier, the bulimic, the compulsive exerciser, the personification of depression—and then madness.  Anxiety so crippling I could hardly move; mania so intense I could not stop moving; depression so incapacitating I could not speak. 

            “Which Amanda will we meet today?” asked my family and friends.  Would it be Amanda the Jester, Amanda the Melancholy, Amanda the Feisty, Amanda the Fraud, Amanda the Problem Child, or Amanda in person?  I often wondered that myself when I woke up each morning starting in the fall of my last year of high school.  “Who the hell am I?”  The question resounded in my brain, bouncing back and forth like a tennis ball in a Wimbledon match.  Going through the motions of “life” was torturous.  It still is, I admit, and the ways I cope are not always the “correct” or “healthy” alternatives. 

            I overdosed on my Klonopin (a highly addictive benzodiazepine) a few nights ago after tearing a ligament in my ankle that provoked frustration where frustration already sat like a ticking time bomb ready to explode into mass chaos.  I crashed down the stairs and swore loudly, and my stepfather told me to stop being a baby. 

            “You cannot ruin another holiday,” he said angrily, his eyes brimming with wrath and panic.  Another holiday.  The memories of last year’s holiday came rushing back so fast I could only slam the bathroom door in his face and stare at my reflection in the mirror.  The blackness that surrounded me exactly one year ago pounded my head and flushed out any happiness or faux sense of well being.  It was starting again—the panic, the hopelessness, the dysphoria, so cruel in its nature of squashing my mood like an ant yet catapulting my physical self into an energetic frenzy.  I crumpled onto the floor and the tears I needed would not flow.  It was as if a dam had been set up as a preventative measure for when the lake would eventually exacerbate its own strength and destroy everything in its path. 

            There was the bottle, calling to me.  “Take me, and this will go away.”  My intention was not to die; it was more what the folks in Brave New World would refer to as soma.  “Take a gram, don’t give a damn,” or something like that.  I did not take one tablet.  I took almost the whole bottle—I believe 20 pills at least.  It was late evening and I drifted in and out of consciousness, sometimes forgetting who I was and where I was.  My sister asked the age old question, “Are you drunk?”  I would have exploded with rage had I not been so near fatally sedated.  My head knocked against the wall as I left the room where she sat watching me with fearful eyes.  Collapsing on the couch that most nights serves as my bed, I closed my eyes and drifted into the unknown.

            Would I wake up in the morning? 

            Clearly I did, as it would not be possible for me to be writing down all of this nonsense at a ridiculous hour.  Somehow I felt proud of having survived.  As everyone constantly points out, I am so “tiny” that it makes me extremely sensitive to medications.  The same can be said for alcohol of any kind. 

            Which brings me to another confession.  While house-sitting for my aunt and uncle, having their home all to myself for nearly a week, I sat down last Friday night and began to experience the dysphoric energy tickling me in the head.  I asked myself, “Is this depression?  I feel death everywhere.  Is it mania, though?  I feel invincible and unable to ever fall asleep again.”  My fear of “in-betweens” and gray areas overcame me like a rush of blood straight to the head when I do my notorious one-minute headstands.  Taking Klonopin at that point had never occurred to me, at least in terms of taking it in potentially lethal doses.  I bolted for the freezer where I knew my aunt kept a bottle vodka.  Surprise, it was my favorite brand, and before I could stop my hands, they grasped the cold bottle tightly and undid the cap hastily, pouring an entire 10 ounce glass.  Who drinks straight vodka? 

            I did.  A quarter of the way there, I was relaxed and at ease, but it was not enough, for there was still some disquietude lurking in the shadows.  Halfway there, and I was rolling on the ground, laughing and drooling over how pathetic it is for one to be drunk alone.  Three quarters of the way had me calling everyone listed in my cell phone, save for my parents.  Empty glass had me on the floor in the foyer, where one of the best friends I’ll ever have stood looking through the glass door, calling my name.  I reached up a limp arm and unlocked the door.  She reached her strong arms down and carried me to the sofa, asking, “Why, Amanda?  Please tell me why?”  I heard myself babbling some nonsense about wanting to have fun.  Was it really my voice I heard, or did I imagine it?

            As you can see, I was so intoxicated I was on the verge of doubting my own sanity, which I quite often do, but never to this extent.  I know at one point I sprinted to the sink and saw the contents of vodka and lettuce enter the disposal, a burning sensation tearing apart my throat, refusing to stop until about three minutes on the clock had ticked by…tick, tick, tick.  I was put to bed after insisting on brushing my teeth (I actually did a better job of brushing my lips and chin than my damaged whites).  The good friend named Sarah slowly got up and I saw her look at me one last time through the tiny slits in my heavy eyes, and then there was darkness again. 

            This is not a short story narrative that has a conclusive and hopeful ending; this has become my life.  Yes, I do have a life, and while I desperately want to find a way to get rid of it as fast as I can, I paradoxically want to cradle it in my arms and nurse it back to health.  I want to bring the sunken treasures of the ship back to land and heal the wounded seamen who survived the catastrophe.  I want to travel, read books, write books, be an advocate, be a playmate for children who need playmates, stand up in a court room to defend the Constitution, be a good daughter, be a player in the game of life. 

            Admitting my troubled days as a manic depressive and delving as far as I can into the depths of my perplexed mind is painful and paves the way for nostalgia of a life that once was.  It is, however, a life that was and never can be again.  I can remember what it was like to have some sense of security and trust with myself and not worry about what dilemma I would get myself into next.  I remember being able to love unconditionally—and, most importantly, loving myself.  I have a long road ahead.  I’ll follow the wrong yellow brick road and read the map upside down.  I will meet people who will desert me because I am.  For all I know, I could be dead just days after this has been written.  If my death is of my own doing, the most important and crucial detail everyone who cares about me must know is that it would be only because the pain of living had outweighed the will to live and defy death. 

            I’m trying to ease the pain that living has caused me, and not only that, I’m trying to search for my own health.  The fight isn’t over, and maybe it never will be.  The only thought I can come up with to end whatever you may call this bit of words is the epitaph from the grave of the great poet and writer, Sylvia Plath.

 

Even amidst fierce flames, the golden lotus can be planted.

           

* * *
Once upon a time there were two different but very prominent twins: Mary Mania and Daniel Depression.  Both lived in the same place--a big gray house way up high off the ground.  

Mary was a bright, happy, and talkative little girl who always wore the zaniest, most distinct outfits.  Her laughter filled the whole space, and it took seemingly days to make it quiet down into little giggles.  When Mary was at her peak, the laughter became dangerous.  She'd raid every part of the house, turn on the music too loudly, and read too many books.  Seldom would she sleep; instead, she'd stay up all night, night after night, thinking of new inventions and writing stories that made little sense.  Oftentimes, when there was no one to play with, she'd dance around in circles until she passed out.  When someone said the wrong thing, she'd lash out and turn bright red, redder than the reddest outfit she owned.  To ease the anger, Mary would collect special herbs that could enter her body and enlighten her.  She felt invincible.  When that invincibility became too real, though, only bad things could happen.  Mary would take herself on midnight jogs despite the danger.  There was no stopping her, and she could not stop anything.  

Eventually, Mary could not carry on.  Weary and exhausted, she woke up Daniel to take over the house chores.  Now, unlike Mary, Daniel was a pale, sullen lad who didn't dress well.  His hair was a mess, he spoke as if life was leaving his body, and he never invited friends over for tea.  Daniel didn't have friends anyway.  He cried a lot over the loneliness he felt, even with many people around him to whom he could talk.  Where Mary loved to read and dance and sing, Daniel preferred sitting on the sofa, pondering what life meant and how beautiful death could be.  When he looked out the window, he saw death and decay, not green trees and pink roses.  He'd wonder why anyone cared to live or lived to care.  Life was a deep, morbid mystery that made fools out of us all.  

There were times when both twins were awake at the same time.  Mary and Daniel did not get along at all.  Mary wanted to climb mountains and jump in lakes, while Daniel preferred taking too much medication and sitting in his closet.  When Mary won, both twins would jitterbug and waltz and talk about too many things that were impossibly senseless.  They got confused enough to the point where they joined hands and paced around rooms and rooms, not knowing what to do with the tension and anxiety that filled their minds like ink in a jar.  Daniel soon became boss, and it made Mary grow agitated and afraid.  Together they became paranoid as if the whole world was out to get them.  They had each other, but they destroyed each other the longer they held on too closely.  The intensity and chaos seemed infinite; which twin would die first?  Would Mary succumb to her lusts and whims and impulses, or would Daniel fall prey to heavy thunderstorms and a bleak landscape of sorrow?  
* * *
I had one hell of a time sleeping last night.  My bed is taken by our guest here and there are no others, so I opted for the couch in the basement.  The night before it worked well, but last night was different.  I felt very paranoid and vulnerable out there, just feet away from the back door at the bottom of the cement stairs where Sam Adams and I had our rendezvous.  I sat up, dizzy, and jogged down the hall to my stepsister's bedroom, opening the door with ease and climbing into bed beside her.  She breathed warmly and steadily, and my back was against her gurgling stomach.  Apparently she woke up at one point and poked me hard, but the Klonopin turns me to inhuman stone when I sleep. 

This morning I got up, put on a semi-happy face, and pranced around sarcastically, a gentle cynic in the midst of booming Christmas music that refused to abate.  I got money and a sweater and gift cards.  I asked for no presents.  Alas, I got some, so I was sincerely grateful/irritated.

So many people crowded my dad's house, what with the Greeks and all.  Since I am no longer ingesting lithium, my piano and reading skills have returned from their vacation.  That, in turn, was cause for my dad to "suggest" that I play some songs on the piano, which I did roughly but well enough that he cried as always.  I even got a quarter glass of red wine for my compliance, which I savored and kept craving long after I had downed it.  Why alcohol?  What is it about that stuff that pulls out its hands and grabs my arms as my feet slide on the wood floor to the liquor cabinet?  It is inanimate, yet it's so brilliantly alive with personality and vibrance.

All in all uneventful day.  I'm getting manic.  Perhaps hypomanic.  I have the urge to grab someone and kiss them until neither of us can breathe.  That's not good when there's no male around and all I have is my imagination that cackles and hisses and mocks.  My imagination, winding around in circles and confusing the hell out of me.  It has a magic wand that can make things seem real, then so unreal I want to run and hide in a closet with a lot of coats.   

Speaking of coats, it's terribly cold in this house and my toes have turned into tiny ice cream chunks.
* * *
* * *
Tonight is Christmas Eve and there are far too many people to handle. I took a plate of carrots because I do not want to eat.  As I walked past all the alcohol in the kitchen, I looked around.  Everyone was engaged in this or that--"How's the job?"  "I'm having some pistachios, anyone want some?"--and son on.  I discreetly grabbed a Sam Adams lager from the large tin bin and hid it in my jacket.  I got outside through the back foor in the basement and sat on the stairs leading up to the porch.  I ate my carrots and stared at the bottle.  Oh, so delicious, no wonder I could not resist and practiced the impulsivity I am mastering.  I took the bottle and tried to twist the cap off.  I put it in my mouth and tried to pry it off with my teeth.  

Idiot.  I needed a bottle opener.  It was upstairs with all the guests.  I staggered up the stairs and stood against the counter casually, smiling.  I swiped the bottle opener and ran back to my spot.  I had a blanket out there and sat on it, taking in the cool air and stars.  "Here's to...here's to Sam Adams!"  And I drank some more.  Only one.  It was the most delicious drink I had tasted in so long.

When I was finished I had no idea what to do with the bottle.  There was a hole under the deck above the stairs, but I couldn't throw it because it was too high.  So, I got on the ledge with the railing, shaking and almost falling, and gently inserted it into the dirt and leaves under the neglected little section of that deck.  I jumped off and bumped my head and slammed my bad ankle--must have been at least nine feet--and sat for a second, trying to see straight.  Then, I got back up, brushed off my clothes, swayed my way upstairs, and collapsed on my mother's bed, complaining of the pain in my ankle.

"I wonder why it's looking worse," she said with curiosity.  

"I have no idea."
* * *
20 Klonopin last night.  How is it I woke up?  Christmas Eve, and I must put on my best face.  My best face, inconveniently, is missing.

I twisted my ankle badly yesterday, and now it is a canvas of purple and red and blue and gray.  I do not want to see a doctor for obvious reasons--it will interrupt other peoples' lives and just cost money.  So instead I shall endure and deal as best I can.  Everything is so abstract and otherworldly when you're hung over from a massive overdose of Klonopin.  It's even more so when you cannot walk properly and get things done, like cleaning up the house for guests and running around to find things that have been missing for a day or so.  My hopes dwindled each hour today as my ankle got worse and worse.  I have one crutch, but it does me little good.  I hobble around the house like an invalid, refusing help from anyone because I do not deserve it.

Last night as my ankle was still swelling from its newly impaired state, I crashed and fell over into the wall as I tried to carry some clothing upstairs.  "Fuck!" I yelled out, despite myself.  I collapsed on the ground and suppressed some sobs.  My stepdad came out and stared at me.

"What can I do, dammit?" he asked with hostility.  Here I was, a drowned mouse on the ground, a bother, an obstacle.  "Amanda, you need to tell me what to do.  You have got to stop acting like a baby."

I got up and stared at him, no expression, no feeling, no thought.  "You cannot ruin another holiday, you just can't.  Are you listening?  Cut it out and get your act together.  Stop.  Acting.  Like.  A.  Baby.  What do you want me to do with these clothes?"

I grabbed them, tossing them into the bathroom, and slammed the door in his perplexed and bright red face.  I stared into the mirror at what look liked me.  Blonde hair, blue eyes swollen from an overdose and heavy sleep, my blue robe enclosing my body.  "I hate you," I muttered with indignance and sincerity.  "Go away."  I dropped the clothes and fell to my knees, no tears yet, no trains of thought.  Not even anger.  I felt nothing and I was nothing.  I had become a waste of space that would soon disappear.  My head lay against the cold wall, my feet chilly from the new tile.  "Leave it all, just let it go," I whispered again and again.  

A half hour must have gone by before my mother returned from a movie with my stepsister.  I could not go because of my incapacitated foot.  When I heard her heels pounding the upstairs floor, her voice fluttering wih rave reviews of the movie, I retreated further into myself, into the shadowed corner behind the bathroom counter.  I am, I am, I thought, and I wish I am not.  I had taken about ten Klonopin by that time and my head swelled with dysphoria and confusion.  

"Where's Amanda?" I heard my mother say.  "Amanda?  Where are you?"  A knock found its way to the bathroom door and she slowly opened it.  "What is the matter?  Good God, Amanda, get up, you're a mess."

I imagined what I must have looked like, a rat's nest of hair, naked under the robe, red eyes that were going cross-eyed.  "Leave, please leave.  Just get out."  

"What is going on?  You need to tell me."  I eased into a teary rendition of the events that had transpired.  The tears flowed and my sleeves were stained by the black mascara.  I knew my stepdad was in the next room listening, so I tried to not sound like a victim.  He had hurt me badly, but he would never understand how or why.  

"You can't let comments like that bring you to this point.  You need to take control."  I looked her square in the eye and said, "I have no control, mother."  She sat and said nothing.  I wanted to vanish into thin air, like a whisp of steam from hot soup on the stove.  I wanted the world to melt away like ice.  Alas, I do not have these powers, so I was stuck like scotch tape to the bathroom floor.  

"Please get up.  Wash your face.  Get dressed.  Elevate your ankle.  It looks awful."  

She left and I waited a few moments before looking at myself yet again in the mirror.  Ugly, I thought.  Red face, puffed eyes, negleted appearance.  I took the water in my hands and flushed it on my face, again and again.  I saw the bottle of Klonopin.  I took the rest, save for two.  That made rougly 20 in all.  I didn't care if I died.  I wanted to be numb, free of feeling and thought and emotion and my torturous mind.  It was my rememdy, my way of saying "Fuck you" to everything that had affected and defined me throughout my lifetime.  

I cannot remember well what happened after that.  I know my dad came over because I called him in a panic.  He looked at my ankle and we talked about what was occurring inside of my head.  Sympathy and concern poured out of his face and mouth, and he reminded me again and again I am not alone.  I'm loved, and I have so much love to return.  I managed not to cry as we sat on my bed and had a relaxed conversation, something that has not taken place in 18 years--my whole life.  He got up and hugged me hard as if he never wanted to let go for fear of losing me permanently.  

"I will be okay, dad."

The rest of my day was spent in and out of reality.  I retreated into the comfort of my head--philosophy, politics, my cottage in Switzerland, my imaginary friends who listened and said nothing but stroked my arm and nodded.  I remember staggering and talking to people who may or may not have been there.  My sister saw me and asked the age old question: "Are you drunk?"

"Chemical K," I replied.  I left the room and passed out in her bed despite her pleadings otherwise.  That night was about me, and for once I didn't give a rat's ass how, like, pissed off I made her or how much I, like, messed up her "vintage" bed.  This is not life--these are things, and they are becoming more important than living. 
* * *
My mood was so mixed for so long and I could not take it.  I drank.  And then drank some more.  I think I was going to die.  My friends wanted to take me to the hospital.  I cried to them not to, my parents would find out, I'd get in trouble.  Would I rather die than get in trouble with my parents?  Yes.  There is so much pain I cannot escape, so I do my best.  The pain of disappointment, the pain of loneliness, the pain of having to accept a new way of life that is taboo.  I hate it all, and thinking about it makes me cry too often.  I do not like crying.  I hardly stop and then I get so exhausted I cannot move.  Saturday night I had a panicc attack and I was alone, house sitting for my aunt, 11:00 at night.  Everything came back too fast--moving in to the dorms, moving out, classes, missing classes, paranoia, drunken episodes, pot smoking, suicide attempts, keeping secrets.  I'm good at keeping secrets.  My parents must know I am alright.  The way I present myself is careful and painstaking.  Sweet happy Amanda, always cheering up everyone and making them laugh.  No more lithium.  I'm thinking fast and debating with people and winning.  I can read a book. I played the piano very well today.  It's fantastic, but I'm out of control.  

I took six klonopin tonight.  I only usually take one.  I don't know why.  What am I trying to accomplish?  I want to be whisked away to a fantasy world that can come true when I'm overly medicated and floating on clouds.  I'm suffocating and breathing restlessly at the same time.  Running as fast as I can as my lungs begin to close.  Everyone watches, unassuming and unaware.  It's so laughable.  I cannot talk honestly to my own mother.  I need to worry about her feelings, not mine, so I sneak away to go insane and act irrationally, then come back the next day with smiles and hugs and a calm demeanor.  Oh, the effort it takes to act like that.  

Will this never end?  The endless anxiety and mania and depression and mixed episodes that define who I am now.  It is ME, it not simply a part of me.  What can I do but turn to alternative resources like overdosing slightly on medication and getting drunk and going out of my mind with hyperactivity.  I lash out at people who have abandoned me, or so I feel.  I don't know what reality is.  Where's my perception, and why is it so lagging?  I WANT TO LIVE MY LIFE WITHOUT ALL THIS.  No one will ever know how truly alone I am, slowly exposing myself to the shadow of death.  Whether I'm manic or depressed or both, the thought of suicide persistts and I cannot control it or ignore it anymore.  It takes willpower not to take all the medication I have in one easy swoop and swallow it down with all the alcohol I can find.  For anyone close to me who reads this, it must be alarming and frightening, but, this is my life.  Welcome to the world of extremes and outrageous thought patterns and actions and absurd reasoning.  I was not always like this.  I used to be sane and float through life like a good little girl who was satiated and comfortable.  The turmoil in my head keeps me from enjoying, period.  

Oh klonopin, relieve me of my life for tonight.  I cannot face my living self right now.  I can only hope for morning.
* * *
Please, not another Christmas like this.  Last year was so miserable.  Having your mother drag you out of bed Christmas morning and not being able to physically smile or talk is bad enough, but it's worse when everyone notices and whispers behind their backs as if you don't have any ears at all.  I'm not full-blown depressed, but it keeps building and then subsides as I have my hyper, energetic outbursts when I go to the world in my head.  Nothing feels real or safe; it's seriously melting away and I'm just more and more removed from the catastrophe.  I don't care what happens anymore, yet I'm so anxious I can hardly sit still without wanting to cry.  I keep thinking about insurance, when I'm going back to school, what my mother really thinks of me, what my purpose is in this world, and how painful it is to be alive.  I sort of envy those people who "embrace life" and "live to the fullest."  How does one attain that outlook in such an ugly world?

Something is seriously wrong and I'm scared about what's going to happen.  I feel this impending doom in my future that I can't seem to shake.  More and more I'm wanting to get drunk or take too many Klonopin to escape for fresh air.  My brain is decaying, it really is.  I want to have an MRI to see how much damage has been done.  Honestly, I'm so sick of this that I keep reminding myself I can always die to get out.

Then, however, I fear, "What if dying doesn't accomplish anything...what if there is NO END EVER?"  Will I always exist continually with no hiatus or relief for even a minute?  I used to believe in heaven when I was younger and how great it would be.  Now, I'm scared half to death at the thought of still being.  God, is this the lowest I have ever been?  Have I gotten to the point where death is no longer comforting?  

My hands and head are too heavy to keep going.  Life has begun to kill me.
* * *
I'm so mixed right now, like a Spanish omelette simmering in the skillet.  Depressed inside, but also out of my mind with racing thoughts and skewed euphoria.  I get the urge to run away every time I get in the car to go somewhere.  Tonight I made up an excuse to my mother to leave, telling her I was visiting a friend who isn't even in town.  I ended up driving around town, knowing I was burning fossil fuel faster than a Hummer going across the country.  My head was spiraling up to the sky, north, south, east, west, up down.  I was almost frantic for no reason at all.  After a spontaneous stop at Starbucks, I drove my car up through the campus to the foothills, where the Bonneville Shoreline Trail begins and winds itself among canyons that serve as different possibilities for escape and change.  

Yet I am trapped even within the wide cracks.  Where would I go?  I know, in my heart of hearts, that should I decide to pack up and run away in an instant's notice, I would not make it alive to wherever I was headed.  The prospect of definitely having to face everyone at some point would hit me like a knife in the chest, which I would literally want at that moment.  I'd end it all, right there on the side of a quiet highway.  

My mother is still beside herself with "the situation" and my dad is so obsessive about how I'm feeling and the fact that I am a "walking pharmacy."  The insurance will stop covering me in March if I am not in school.  Everyone is sick of taking care of me, paying the bills, putting food on the table.  I yearn for independence, but look what that gave me last time.  I can't trust myself with myself.  Am I forever going to be a child needing special assistance because functioning normally isn't possible?  I still see myself as Little Amanda, in her leotard bouncing up and down on the bed, crying out for attention and receiving it with some sense of disdain.  Little Amanda, who needs to be fed every 20 minutes because of her dangerously fast metabolism and insatiable appetite.  Little Amanda, who falls everywhere and has to get stitches at least once a year, usually in the head.  Little Amanda, who demands more books, more knowledge, more stimulation.  She is a bottomless pit.  

Suffice to say things have improved on the social scene.  I have rekindled a friendship with a guy from junior high and have become a regular at his fraternity.  So many nights I have been out late, running through parks, fleeing from deer at 1 a.m., jumping in hot tubs at random locations with the frat boys.  I enjoy it, but I feel so infinitely apart from it all.  Who am I?  I say all the right, witty things, I flash my smile so much my face aches, and I go out of my way to speak to people I have known for five seconds.  They have no idea what has gone on the past year, unlike my former dorm friends.  It's nice and it's refreshing, but I still feel vulnerable.  At times I feel as though I let things slip off my tongue like ice, and I'll get the sort of response, "Hey, let's chat later..."

My days are filled and even when I am alone I never feel settled or even alone.  I have some sort of purpose, though it's foggy and ambiguous.  I haven't slept in my bed in a week.  I now reside downstairs in my sister's messy, "vintage" queen size bed, lying beside her and listening to her breathe before I take the plunge into sleep.  I feel safe and secure, like nothing can go wrong as long as I am there with her, my eyes closed and somewhat calm.  Sometimes I fear everything and everyone around me is disappearing and I  just don't realize it.  I am paranoid, but simultaneously I just don't give a damn.  

When the world comes to an end, whether it's my world or THE world, I'll be swimming upstream in search of a new home.

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