Hello from day 8 million of quarantine. Are you worried that you might be losing your mind? I definitely am losing my mind. I’m out here over the edge of sanity on twice my usual dose of quetiapine, an atypical antipsychotic I have referred to lovingly over the years as that med that prevents you from tearing your face off like a rabid hyena. I lost my mind over the weekend, after I sustained a series of blows to my sanity (which is, let’s admit it, always precarious) that included multiple mental and physical health events in the lives of people I care about and need to care for, as well as the unending trauma of the quarantine itself, the way it has cut me off from some of the coping mechanisms I used in the past, and the deaths, and the isolation, and the homeschooling, and the masks, and the massive blood clots the loss of taste and smell the hairdresser care packages the plexiglass barriers appearing everywhere, the livestreamed dance parties I can’t bring myself to join even though they sound so joyful, the cocktail zooms I bail out of because I don’t want to be a party pooper, the people I simply stopped talking to because they were making everything worse, not better, the long shadows left by people I gave up before the quarantine, my mother’s sourdough starter I begged her to mail me but have not started, 50lb bags of hard red winter wheat berries because it’s hard to find flour and I have a grain mill, people, people I love and want to hold who live nearby but are not in quarantine with me, and the distance that every day is worse, is harder to overcome, my own walls, and the spring still happening outside as if to spite us, “I’m bigger than your plague” says the spring, or, when I’m in another mood, to comfort us “I’m bigger than your plague.”
Hello from the other side of losing your mind. If you feel like you might be losing your mind, and you haven’t lost it before, you might be very scared right now. What if your mind, she leaves you, what if she never comes back? You may feel as if you only have fragments, that something has been shattered, that your plans were destroyed and that you cannot come up with new ones, that you see only this next moment, that there’s no thread, or too many. Perhaps you have run out of patience with living itself, not to mention the people or animals or objects with whom you live, be they only dust bunnies or house centipedes. You are falling, and you don’t know when you’ll stop falling. Maybe you are numb or maybe there are too many thoughts in your head, all bad, maybe you feel as though you have suffocated, that you’re on the other side of death, somehow, that none of this is real and all of this is sinister and terrible and you don’t know when it will end or how.
I’m familiar with the sensation, it happens to me several times a year. My mind is a rickety rube goldberg machine held together with a combination of duct tape, spiritual mumbo jumbo, and drugs that include more than just those prescribed by my various doctors, whose prescriptions are often as questionable as the unprescribed -- that’s all to say though that I am always reaching a point beyond which I think I cannot go -- my mind is too much in tatters, too many or too few thoughts, finding myself having to drop at least the “functioning” part of the “high-functioning” descriptor upon which my self-image and sense of value in the world resides. At first I struggle and worry. I think I will never put myself back together again. Too many fragments.
Truthfully it’s April and right on time for me to lose my mind anyway. I was supposed to be on a Girlstrip this weekend, three seats in row three on a Jetblue out of Boston, three working moms finally free of obligations for a weekend meetup with their fourth, flying in from SF, like a superheroes club. Maybe we’d have planned a heist. But last year I remember also several days I took off work in April to wait through an antipsychotic haze until I had the opportunity to reinvent coherence for myself, and last year there wasn’t a plague. Heartbreak, but no plague.