Jump in front of it.
It was a moving train. The speaker was my brain. To be clear, let me say it again, the speaker was my brain. God only knows how many times I’ve been asked if the speaker was a voice. It’s not a voice. Sometimes professionals have even told me that I am hearing a voice or a hallucination instead of my own thoughts. That’s incorrect. It is my own thoughts. And truly, does it even matter? Both are disturbing. Both are distortions and distracting and dark and disorienting and distressing. Just in case you needed other “d” words to describe suicidal thoughts and voices. Okay, small rant over.
Some might say my brain is fucked up. And sometimes I might agree, but I would add that it is in an interesting, kind of brilliant like way. You see, it is like there is a constant theatrical experience going on in my mind. A play or a musical depending on the moment. My brain like a stage, my thoughts like a full cast, the interactions between them a full-length script showcasing different personalities and ways of speaking and all sorts of conflict. So, cue our next character.
Bud, is that a good idea? No, that’s not a good idea. Come on, you’re doing a great job. You just have to get to grandma’s house.
I really was doing a great job. I had ridden the LIRR from Deer Park to Jamaica. I had ridden the E train to 63rdstreet. Pause. If you know the subway system, you are probably thinking, 63rdstreet? Yes, 63rdstreet. The E turned into the F; and I didn’t freak out. I remained calm. I had walked up the five blocks of people laden city streets from 63rdto 68thstreet, arriving at Hunter College. I had navigated a building I was unfamiliar with to take an exam that I felt anxious and unprepared for. I had taken the 6 train to the L train to Morgan Ave in Brooklyn. I had navigated an unfamiliar area to arrive at an unfamiliar restaurant that served an unfamiliar type of food. Pause. The restaurant was dimly lit with a great playlist, served an all vegan menu, and had shelves of books covering the walls. A haven for Makaylas. Play. I had walked through this unfamiliar area for about 20 minutes so that I could allow myself to enjoy a vegan donut, despite always coming down on myself about weight and eating concerns. I had done a lot. For me, that is.
Some might be sitting back saying whoop dee do, you successfully commuted to several places. You successfully used Google maps and dealt with people and tried new things. Congratulations, you are an adult. To those people I say, “Yes, I am an adult. Thank you for noticing. Now, let me educate you about something.” I am an adult with indivisible differences. My brain has special neurons that program my dendrites and axons to have OCD and ASD. Yes, I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and I am on the autism spectrum. Omg. Shocker, right? But that’s for another blog post.
My brain has many rules and not many exceptions. I violated all of those rules. I dealt with bright lights (Fluorescents are the devil), overwhelming smells, sounds so loud that even my noise cancelling headphones couldn’t block them out. I dealt with a change in routine and a change of plans. As a person who lives off of ramen noodles, popcorn, and chips and has lived off saltines in the past, I ate Ethiopian food. 7, again I say 7, sample dishes of Ethiopian food. My extremely predicable, precautious brain guided my feet through an unfamiliar neighborhood. I had done a lot. For me, that is. And I just wanted to end the day off by visiting my grandma.
Now I stood on the edge of a platform at the Montrose Avenue station, watching the L train race towards me. The time was 5:00pm. Rush hour. Many others stood on that same platform with me, with their bodies that took up space and their germs that silently corrupted the air. The thought of this made my breaths sudden and shallow.
Deep breath, bud. Deep breaths.
The L train passes me by. One character of my brain sighs at the missed opportunity. Another cheers as if celebrating yet another victory. The train comes to a stop. People huddle towards the door, towards me. Their feet shuffle into the train. Their bodies take up space, my personal space, and continue to crowd in until I have none. This is rush hour. A nightmare for Makaylas.
I hate you go fucking kill yourself.
Deep breaths, bud. You’re doing great. Just close your eyes and focus on the music. Remember 14th street get off, transfer to the F. Stop number 7. You love the number 7.
“Gloria, Gloria, I think they got your number. Gloria, I think they got the alias, Gloria, that you’ve been living under, Gloria. But you really don’t remember, was it something that they said? All the voices in your head calling, Gloria?” (Gloria, Laura Branigan)
My eyes are closed. My mind wide open, taking in the music. My brain, synapses and all, grooving along to the thumps of the drums and the jumps of my anxiety as the stations go by.
I hate you go fucking kill yourself.
Graham Ave. Lorimer St.
I hate you go fucking kill yourself.
“Come on, Eileen. Oh, I swear, what he means, at this moment, you mean everything. You in that dress. My thoughts I confess, verge on dirty. Ah, come on, Eileen.” (Come on Eileen, Dexys Midnight Runners)
Bedford Ave. 1stAve.
I hate you go fucking kill yourself. I hate you go fucking kill yourself.
“Easy, ready, willing, overtime. Where does it stop? Where do you dare me to draw the line? You’ve got the body, now you want my soul. Don’t even think about it. Say no go.” (I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do), Hall and Oates)
I get off the train, shuffling my feet just as the person ahead and the person ahead does. There are so many people. So many bodies, so little space, so many germs. I need a fight song, something to focus on as I move through this Amazon. I pull out my cell phone. I scroll faster than the traffic moves, down the 80’s playlist I’ve been obsessed with for the past week. I see the song I’ve played dozens of times, obviously one of my favorites. I press play and turn my headphones up.
“Holding back the years. Thinking of the fear I’ve had so long. When somebody hears, listen to the fear that’s gone. Strangled by the wishes of pater, hoping for the arms of mater, get to me the sooner or later.” (Holding Back the Years, Simply Red)
I walk up the stairs. Take in a breath of air. I can finally breathe and feel space around me. I look around for signs indicating the F line. There are none. I walk to another area, where I see a crowd of people heading towards, no signs. I come to a conclusion; the F line doesn’t stop at this station despite google maps telling me so. Another change in plans. I’m less equip to deal with it than before. Now I’ve dealt with more fluorescents, people, sounds, smells. I’m in a state of sensory overload, and now I have to change my plans. I feel my breath being taken away and my heart starting to race. Anxiety is starting to take over. The fingers of my left hand start to dance, contacting the palm of my hand then jumping off as if a hot dance floor. Repeatedly. Stimming.
Stop fucking stimming. You look like an idiot. I hate you go fucking kill yourself. I hate you go fucking kill yourself.
My fingers continue to dance. Stimming. Self-stimulating behavior. It’s supposed to make me feel better. What’s the point if it doesn’t make me feel better? I reach for the thick coiled mass that is my hair. I grab hard and pull.
Bud, don’t pull your hair. Rake don’t pull.
I take my fingers and comb my hair to the left with my fingers. Repeatedly. Stimming. Hoping to ease some of my anxiety.
It’s okay bud. We will just go the same way that we came. Go take the 6 train.
I take a deep breath then walk over to the 6 train. More people. More fluorescents. More rats. The fingers of my left hand start to dance. I see the train fast approaching.
Jump in front of it. I hate you go fucking kill yourself.
“I’ll keep holding on. I’ll keep holding on. I’ll keep holding on.” (Holding Back the Years, Simply Red)
I ignore those thoughts. Thoughts-0. Makayla- I don’t know how many. I’ve lost count. I board the train. People squeeze and squish in. There is no such thing as personal space on a train during rush hour. I smell people’s body scent, feel the germs of their coughs, feel the texture of their clothing. It feels like all of me is being violated. I feel so overwhelmed. So overwhelmed that I would bang my head against something hard and near if I wasn’t afraid of being taken back to the hospital.
It’s okay, bud. You’re doing great. Just focus on the music. Sing along in your head.
“It’s gonna take a lot to drag me away from you. There’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do. I bless the rains down in Africa. Gonna take some time to do the things we never had.” (Africa, Toto)
Fast-forward. Lexington and 68thstreet. Hunter College. Time to walk the busy city streets down to 63rd. I need another fight song. I scroll through my 80’s playlist once again, finally choosing another favorite, turning my headphones all the way up.
“I gotta take a little time, a little time to think things over.”
69thstreet. Shit, I went the wrong way. My fingers start to dance.
I hate you go fucking kill yourself. I hate you go fucking kill yourself. I hate you go fucking kill yourself.
It’s okay, bud. It’s okay. Just turn around. You’re doing great.
I turn around. Keep walking. Because that’s all that you can do. Keep walking. 68thstreet.
“I wanna know what love is. I want you to show me. I wanna feel what love is. I know you can show me.” (I Want to Know What Love Is, Foreigner)
67thstreet. 66thstreet. 65thstreet. I grab the thick coiled mass that is my hair. Grab hard and pull.
Rake, don’t pull, bud. Focus on the music.
“I’m so excited. And I just can’t hide it. I’m about to lose control, and I think I like it.”
I’m about to lose control, and I don’t like it. I’m about to lose control, and I don’t like it. I comb my hair to the left with my fingers. Repeatedly. Stimming.
Thank God. I’m here. Just one more step to this journey.
I walk down the stairs. Take off my backpack. Pull out my wallet. Pull out my metro card. Swipe myself in. Put back on my backpack and keep walking. I’m so jittery that I’m practically running. But I’m still moving. Because that’s all you can do. Keep moving.
Fast-forward. Another crowded subway train. More fluorescents, more people, more germs, more rats. More music. Roosevelt Island. 21stQueensbridge. Grandma’s house.
When I got out of the car at 12:18pm, the start of my journey/ adventure into the boroughs, I turned away from the 80’s for a while and celebrated the release of the movie Love Jones on Netflix. I played this song from its soundtrack.
“They say I’m hopeless. Hmmmmhmmmm. As a penny with a hole in it, penny with a, penny with a hole in it. Yeah, yeah, yeah. They say I’m no less. No less, no less, no less, no less. Than up to my head in it.”
Some say I’m hopeless as a penny with a hole in it. Some say I’m no less than up to my head in it. I have so many labels that people consider indicators of my abilities. OCD. ASD. Major Depression. GAD. Some people think I should just stay in situations that don’t upset me or trigger any bad thoughts or emotions. I disagree. That’s not living. Life is experiencing a range of different emotions. Life is experiencing climbing up some pretty steep mountains and then enjoying the view from the peaks. I want to live despite the negative thoughts I have to deal with every single day. So I am going to keep on climbing. Because that’s all I can do. Keep on climbing. And I’m going to keep listening to my music and having fight songs to get me through. Like this 80’s classic:
“It’s the eye of the tiger. It’s the thrill of the fight. Rising up to the challenge of our rivals. And the last known survivor stocks his prey in the night. And he’s watching us all with the eye of the tiger.”
We’ve all got the eye of the tiger. I’m going to keep fighting. You too. Keep fighting, my friends.