I couldn’t get out of bed again this morning. The curtains are still drawn shut and the room is bathed in a reddish glow. Albert the cat meows behind the door, the sound of his claws scratching against the wooden frame eager for his morning meal. I didn’t get up to feed him last night, I didn’t even feed myself, yet my stomach feels fuller than ever. Like a rock is sat between my ribs.
The bin men argue down in the street and I listen to the beep beep beep of their lorry reversing. This lets me know that it is a Tuesday, as I long since lost track of the days. Not that it matters when you’re lying between the sheets staring at the paint-chipped wall above you. The small damp spot in the corner is getting bigger: I’m sure of it. I imagine that soon it will cover the entire ceiling, the roof will collapse and I will still be lying here in a pile of rubble – unmoving – now staring at the clear sky above. I roll on to my right side, the battered old bed frame creaking beneath me. A book lies open at page 12 on floor next to my bed. Charles Dickens’ Hard Times. It can’t have been that long ago I got it off the shelf, maybe a few weeks, yet I still find it hard to believe there was ever a time I felt like reading that – reading anything.
After fourteen and a half hours of sleep my eyes still feel heavy, like they’re weighed down with blue tac. I rub the crumbs from the corners of my eyelids and they begin to water from the prodding of my fingers. The tears escape down my cheeks and I catch them by my mouth with my sleeve. I guess this is how it must feel to cry but I still don’t feel anything.
I roll on to my back again. Body straight and eyes on the ceiling. A car alarm goes off outside, a shrill repetitive noise that is momentarily drowned out by an ambulance siren as it whizzes by. I always loved sirens. Whenever I would see one flying by in the distance I would take out my earphones just to hear it wail. The car alarm stops shortly after and the room returns to its silent state. With my eyes closed I can’t even hear the sound of my own breathing. The cat has gone quiet and slinked off to sulk. Given up on the quest for food and attention.
I eye the small cardboard box on the chest of drawers at the end of my bed. Inside the box are twenty-six small yellow pills. I stopped taking them ages ago because I know I’m not depressed. I’ve been the sane one in my family my entire life, a badge I wear proudly, and to be honest with you I don’t like crazy people. I also don’t like the doctors. Don’t like the way they talk or the way their office smells. Don’t like the waiting rooms and the hundred and one doors.
Yet on some days, days like this, it’s like a light has been switched off in my head. My legs won’t move on their own accord, my hands won’t do what I want them to, my eyes won’t focus, my voice sounds dull and the space inside my head feels like it is shrouded in fog. At first it’s the little things that go. I stop brushing my teeth in the morning, Albert misses the odd meal, I forget to reply to a text. Then it’s the bigger things. The rent doesn’t get paid, I don’t eat for days, the cat’s starving and my life is spiralling downwards faster than I can keep up until it all ends with my lying in bed staring at the damp spot on the ceiling for the eighth day in a row.
I hear the door to my building slam, a pair of feet coming up the stairs. Convinced this person has come for me I lie deadly still, scared that Albert the cat will do something stupid and give us away. Another door slams shut beneath me, quieter this time, and the footsteps have gone. A gaggle of children screech and whine in the street down below. It must be end of school time. Another day going on without me. Albert cries softly in the hallway. I look at the door that separates us: thick and wooden. Him on one side, me on the other. I am safe in here for another day.