I didn’t see the punch, I just felt a jolt and then I was inside a cavernous dome, ears ringing, head cut off from the rest of my body. Or maybe my head was in a fish-tank, water rushing into my ears, eyes blinking, vision blurring; was that a goldfish swimming past me? I distinctly remember swaying, as my body caught up with the power of the right cross, and then I was on the floor, blood spilling down my chin.
That was over fifteen years ago, inebriated after a night out, when my inside had burst out of my skin, like a clenched fist through wet paper. I’d spent all day ruminating on a single intrusive thought, and then I’d drank the evening into oblivion, gaining brief respite as I drowned the crow in a barrel of beer, topped with vodka chasers and cheap red wine. In the fresh air, on my way home, like many drunks, I began to contemplate my life story, and feeling melancholy, angry with the direction it was heading, becoming bitterly savage with my OCD, I lost my reason in a sea of red-mist. Hatred stirred in my belly and my outside, that smiling loon, that gormless joking fool, didn’t simply leave the building, the rotting, self-loathing Yan kicked him off the roof.
My inside now had control, and I was resentful and screaming and deserved that hammer punch, and many more besides. As the man whose fist had split my bottom lip in two calmly walked away, I remember hauling myself to my feet while complimenting him on such a perfectly delivered right hand cross. I knew I’d been an arse; I realised that my frustrations at wasting another day, ruminating my life away, had simply broken through the surface of the water and smashed into the hull of an iron battleship. Yet I’d relearned that same valuable lesson for the thousandth time, (which I’d forgotten by morning light) – mental illness and copious amounts of alcohol don’t mix; someone’s always going to get hurt, and thankfully it was usually me.
My OCD is not the worlds problem, it’s mine, and I never could fight but I could certainly get hit, and did, and got black eyes and bloody lips and bruised ribs and worse of all, a damaged ego as I faced certain individuals the following day. I still beat myself up inside, every day, fantasizing that crude weapons are smashing into my body parts – like recently, on a bus travelling to the next city in Georgia. I was looking out of the window as we pulled out of Gori, Joseph Stalin’s home town. Without provocation a three year old spike pierced my thoughts, terror curling in my stomach like a finger on a trigger; I grew hot, I worried unnecessarily, fear, sorrow and bitterness splashing around inside of me like eels in a bucket.
But I smiled at the old woman beside me, I thanked the man in the seat in front when he bought me a cold cola, laughed like an hysterical hyena at a shitty joke when all I wanted to do was scream so loud that it burst my eardrums. I imagined shattering the bus windows, from the back row to the windshield, as I shrieked like a banshee who’d stubbed her gangrened toe on a rock – I watched in my minds-eye as the passengers were drenched in tiny glass fragments, Luciano Pavarotti singing the Marriage of Figaro as they dived for cover in classic Hollywood style slow motion, and a knight in crimson armour, with a red crow emblazoned on his shield, materialized into existence beside me, clobbering a heavy mace across the back of my head with all his might. Frustration yelled its name in my face…but I waved at the young boy peering over his seat like my only thoughts were flowers blowing in the breeze.
I’ve been told to wear my heart on my sleeve; to be honest and open about my illness. But I really don’t think the passengers on the bus wanted to see me cry. It would have been an awkward experience for us all. So I kept my inside in, lurking in the swamp as deep as I could send it; and painted my face with a beaming smile like a f*cking LSD rainbow whenever someone looked my way.
Many on the fringe who think they know me believe I’m having a great time out here; carefree and effervescent, a million miles from harmful thoughts and bouts of depression. And of course I do enjoy myself, even without having to get drunk like when I first went away, staring at the bottom of a shot glass until Crow was blind and staggering and harmless unless the music stopped and I began to think of what he was doing to me – then of course my inside popped its head over the fence and met with a flying fist. But even now it’s certainly no bunch of roses, and if life IS a box of chocolates, there are a lot of praline truffles in there. And they make me gag.
Note to Mum and Dad; Of course it’s debilitating, but believe me, looking at it relatively, these days it’s not like it was – in comparison it’s like having a runny nose instead of pneumonia – snot on my sleeve instead of phlegm on my lungs.
I’m out of the factories and running, something I’d never have been able to do all those years ago.