How Wallpaper Saved My Life

How Wallpaper
Saved My Life

An Irish Shrink meets Stan meets Retro Mint

It is the morning of THE CALL WITH PSYCHIATRIST, thank you covid (this time). I didn’t have to get myself to his office. I couldn’t even imagine having the strength to move myself into a vehicle, follow Google maps, and arrive safely.
I had made some pre-emptive notes and steps (highly unusual) for myself.
I was going to take it with my coffee.
I was going to be calm.
I was going to be articulate.
I was going to advocate for myself ‘appropriately’ (whatever that means, but everyone tells you to do this).
I was ready.
Phone rings:
“Emma here.”
“Good morning Emma, Dr. O’Ryan here.”
Dr O’Ryan looks and sounds just like you would imagine. He is an older Irish gentleman with the manners of the Queen, not that I know the Queen, but if I did know the Queen, I feel like Dr. O’Ryan could be her psychiatrist, too.
“Yes,” I croak.
“So, tell me what’s been going on?”
Oh, no.  Not this, anything but this – total – body – shutdown.
All expectations ruined. I can’t even get the words out, can’t find the words anyway, all I can do is put the phone on speaker and lay it on top of my duvet.
“Sorry Dr. O’Ryan.”
“Emma, Emma? You’re ok, you are ok.  Why don’t you start by telling me what has been going on.”
Breathe.
Breathe, stare at the birds on my bedroom wallpaper.
“Emma, talk to me, you’re ok.”
“I think … I think”, I squeak out. Stare at swirls around the birds on my wallpaper.
“You think …?”
I examine the colour of the birds on the wallpaper. It is such a beautiful retro mint. This colour is not used enough in design.
“ …You?” He nudges.
“I have been thinking a lot …”
“ … A lot about what?”
”That I am so so sorry I missed our last two appointments … I don’t mean to disrespect your time,” tears dripping into my mouth. “I just didn’t want to think it was this bad.”
“Ok, well we are here now. What is so bad?”
“I have been thinking a lot about buses.”
I grab a dirty t-shirt off the floor and blow my nose.
Breathe.
Breathe.
“How good it might feel to have it, well, you know …”
“ … know what?”
GAWD he was going to make me say it. I knew he would, because he has to. I think it is in the How to Be a Good Psychiatrist manual.
“How good it might feel, to have it you know, hit me … flat on … but quickly.”
Having it be quick is always somehow a little bit comforting to me, like, I can’t be toooooo depressed if I want a quick painless death?
A pause.
A sob.
“I see …”
This is followed with the conversation I have been dreading. The one where I need every neuron in my brain to be disciplined to be honest. I have to not give in to the urge to gloss it all over with a joke (the need to laugh it off is REAL, my friends).
To not hide my actions of my recent blip, my overwhelming sense of shame and my extreme fear that I would feel like this forever. This, from my experience, is one of the MOST difficult feelings to come to terms with when you are depressed. The fear that living in these thoughts forever could be a possibility. That this could be your LIFE. This I know is why kids are more vulnerable to suicide. At least as you grow up and work yourself through depressive episodes, you start to develop some resilience. I now have a grain of faith that relief may be possible and, ‘the may’  is, well, everything.
We review my existing diagnosis of clinic depression/borderline personality with bi-polar tendencies i.e. nobody really knows. This is another issue for many of us with mental illness: we do not fit into a box. Boxes would be way handier because they look prettier when you wrap them and they are easier to open. And who doesn’t like pretty things? Nice furniture always cheers me up.
Random thought break: If I am honest, I miss being able to wrap Christmas presents in boxes because it IS worse for the environment but they are SO much prettier … unlike Stan. Stan is starting to look like some kind of mobster. He has too much body hair, balding with a mustache, not super original but I am going there. And he yells a lot. Like spitting in your face but not on purpose. Or is he a creepy sociopathic dude? Like well dressed, high level employment but is secretly doing very mean things … not sure yet.
Back to my call with Dr O’Ryan. I manage to stay mentally present long enough to go through the necessary exchange to establish a game plan. We are going to add drug D into the mix which I will take at night and should, at the bare minimum, help me get some sleep. We will meet again in 14 days to review side effects and establish a game plan for ‘reviewing’ (i.e. changing) my medication protocol.
I hang up the phone.
My brain swirls with something that could maybe be described as relief.
Maybe I am not making this pain up.
Maybe ‘this’ isn’t because I am not trying hard enough.
Maybe, just maybe, relief will be possible.
And ‘possible’ will have to be enough for now. Possibility is not nothing.
I lean back, and take note again of my beautiful wallpaper.
Now wallpaper, unlike this brain of mine, has never let me down.
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