Some friends hosted a little get-together last night, complete with bonfire. I had to have one friend come get me because I'd already needed some Klonopin while being at home. I haven't been this consistently keyed up since I was first discharged from Our Lady of Peace in October, 2011. I feel vulnerable to any and all stimulation - auditory, visual or other - and my comfort zone has become so small it's claustrophobic.
Still, I did go with my friend to the shindig. They were watching basketball in the TV room, which I avoided. I have no interest in basketball (unless I can maybe win free pizza or beat President Obama's bracket), but that wouldn't ordinarily have prevented me from at least flaking out on the couch while the others watched. Even from their kitchen, I found the excitement level a bit too much for me to handle. Plus, one of my dearest friends was having a particularly rough night and my phone was all but dead so I had to stay near an outlet so I could text with her while it charged. I hope I was somehow helpful to her, at least.
Then came the bonfire. It was actually one of the more successful ones we've had in recent times. It required a bit more collective work to keep going than I think we'd have preferred, but it was about the right size for us. Conversation outside was quiet and low key, which I appreciated. Two friends left around 10, leaving just the friend who had picked me up and our hosts.
That's when I became The Worst Bonfire Attendee Ever. Sitting in a foldout lawn chair staring at the flame-licked logs, I felt the familiar wave of anxiety and depression. I began to see myself as the log, consumed by fire, helpless to put it out. Not only was I no help to the log, I was actively rooting for it to burn. I thought of our society at large and how tempting it is to cheer when others burn, as I presently am. I felt sad for the log. We didn't need the warmth. We just thought it would be fun to have a fire. Sometimes I wonder if God puts no more thought than that into who among us burns.
I couldn't help it. I began to cry, consumed again by the same fears and resentments that have dogged me now for two entire weeks. This isn't melancholy; this is desperation. I really have felt the walls closing in around me again. I've become disillusioned with any sense of progress that I thought I'd made the last 14 months. I no longer believe in the paper moon above the cardboard sea. I do enjoy the support and encouragement of wonderful friends, but somehow I'm left feeling just as alone and afraid as I have ever been. I'll know at some point relatively soon about something important that could make a world of difference, but let there be no mistake: I do not have it in me to fight any further if I lose this round. I'll be the log on fire and I hope you'll get some warmth from me before I turn to ash.
Bring hot dogs. But no marshmallows. I hate marshmallows. At least do me that much of a favor?