Book: Story of a Breakdown
This is what a breakdown looks like…
In 2010 I had what would commonly be called a nervous breakdown. I forgot how to function in my daily life, and underwent a level of mental torture I thought I could never survive. Here is a brief extract:
Summer seems to be coming early this year; it’s bright and warm in April. I love the sun; it always seems to make things better. Except this year, it doesn’t seem to be working.
I have always felt as if I didn’t quite belong. Never quite accepted; never quite popular; never quite cool enough; not pretty or clever or slutty enough to fit in with any particular group. At school I felt inferior to everyone around me, like an impostor. My friends were all way more intelligent and beautiful than I was. I tried to be like them, but it never quite worked. When I left I didn’t maintain contact with most of them, and those I did still see never seemed particularly thrilled by my presence. People left school and went off to universities in far flung places, and I stayed put. I would find out after the fact that people I thought were my friends had come home for Christmas or Easter or all summer and met up, had parties, got blind drunk, and had a fantastic time; but they’d not called me, I’d not been included. It hurt me every time, but I had never really expected them to call any way; I had never been one of them.
I’d always felt an outsider, but that never made it any easier. It was never through choice, I just didn’t know how to cross that line, to be inside the circle instead of outside looking in. That feeling of being an outsider is getting gradually worse though, more pronounced, as if I am further and further removed from the people around me. And I’m starting to care less and less about it…
I go to work. I sit at my desk and stare blankly at the computer screen, waiting for 11 o’clock when the sandwich man sets up shop downstairs. At 11 o’clock I go downstairs to the break room and buy a can of Coke and a Kit Kat. I go back to my desk to wait for lunch time. I drink most of the Coke and force down two fingers of the Kit Kat. This takes me two hours. the rest of it sits on my desk, going stale in the air conditioned office.
At lunch time I walk into town. Most people use their lunch hour for eating, but I’m not really into the eating thing right now, and any way I have started to enjoy the feeling of emptiness. It’s some sort of physical answer to the way my brain has been feeling for months now. I wander around aimlessly for an hour, waiting for it to be time to go back to work. When an hour is almost up, I head back to work and sit at my desk, staring blankly at the computer screen, waiting for it to be home time.
I walk home slowly, because I know what comes next. I walk up the path to my house with a sense of sinking defeat. When I get in, I wait for it to be bed time. I sit on the sofa and stare at whatever happens to be playing on TV. I go to bed, sometimes sleep, and mostly wait for it to be time to get up again. When I am up I wait for it to be time to go to work and begin the cycle all over again. It’s like Groundhog Day, except there’s no Groundhog. And no Bill Murray. And no hint of a laugh.
I am alone.
Story of a Breakdown is the story of my nervous breakdown in 2010: what happened, and how I began to recover. You can download it here.