Cut and Dry

Cut and Dry

22 minutes until I can cut. Just hold it together for that long. Melancholia told herself, repeating it over and over in her head like a mantra. 22 minutes, 22 minutes, just 22 more minutes. Her glassy eyes stared at the three white walls in front of her, sterile as a surgical table. The only dashes of colour were the sickeningly cheerful posters that lined the walls, posters filled with clichés that simplified a recovery process Melancholia couldn’t bring herself to fully commit to.

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem- yeah right, asshole. If my problems were temporary I wouldn’t be spending my Friday afternoon with this shmuck.

“Melancholia. Are you listening?” Dr. Rabielle asked, his monotone voice slicing through her thoughts of cutting.

“Sorry, Doc. What was the question?”

Dr. Rabielle sighed. “I asked you to rate your mood on a scale from one to ten. Ten being extremely happy and 1 being very low.”

Oh god, not this shit again. Melancholia thought angrily. How the fuck is this going to help anything?

Melancholia almost started to giggle, but caught herself.

Let’s not appear any crazier than I already am. Hmm…I wonder what casual thoughts of self-harm and elaborate suicidal ideations would put me at? Oh well, better not alarm the sap. He wouldn’t care anyway, but let’s not force him to go to the trouble of calling the hospital, having me held in the psych ward again.

“Umm… Probably a five. I’ve been feeling quite a bit better lately.”

“That’s wonderful.” The doctor said, scribbling away on his clipboard and not looking at Melancholia. He rubbed his salt and pepper beard thoughtfully as he wrote, or doodled for all Melancholia knew. She never saw what was written, and it never seemed to impact whatever nonsense he spouted at her.

“What do you think has you feeling better?”

The brand new pack of razor blades I bought yesterday, for sure, Doc. Disposables just weren’t CUTTING it. Haha get it? You should totally invest in some- they sell ‘em at Home Depot. Nice and light but sharp as hell, perfect for slicing and dicing yourself.

“Uh school’s been great. Classes are interesting, been going out with friends quite a bit too. We went bowling this weekend and it was a blast, I’ve never got so many strikes before…”

Melancholia’s voice trailed off, her thin lips smiling at the invented memory. She’d actually spent that weekend the way she spent all of her weekends- alone in her room, behind a locked door. Her phone blared sad music, music about self-destruction and emptiness and death, things she could relate to. Sometimes Melancholia would just slip on her headphones and blast “Adam’s Song” by Blink 182 on a loop.

I’m too depressed to go on. You’ll be sorry when I’m gone. That bit always made her cry- squeezed her heart like it was in a vice, and left her sobbing uncontrollably. What if no one ever truly listened to her, understood her? What if she died all alone, bitter inside, eternally complacent in her suffering? These thoughts swirled in her mind as the tears left her body. Melancholia was tired of living a double life, tired of going along with the therapy and taking whatever the doctors prescribed- a course of treatment that was not working. She was tired of her parent’s tears, their never-ending concern and palpable feelings of helplessness.

I’m tired of carving myself like a damn turkey. I’m tired of living.

… No, that wasn’t true.

I don’t wanna die, I sometimes wish I’d never been born at all. Bohemian Rhapsody- another favourite, another tearjerker. Melancholia just wanted to live her life.

But how the hell can I get any better when I’m not being listened to?

Listening to music, that’s what she did on weekends. When the emotions got to be too much she’d pull out a blade, let it find the right part of her body. Never the arms or wrists- those areas were too visible and you didn’t want anyone asking questions. Melancholia preferred the upper thighs, or the hips.

There was a method to her calculated self-destructive acts- first she’d scroll through her Facebook, looking at the photos of all of her classmates out at parties, grinning for the camera, their red solo cups raised in a toast. The whole world was having fun while she sat alone at home, her only friend the cold steel she pressed to her skin. She’d work herself up into a state, tears streaking black mascara onto her pristine white pillowcase, tainting it as her very soul was dark and tainted. She’d weep until her sadness was physically undeniable- looking at herself in the mirror the next morning her brown eyes would be empty, dotted with red marks indicative of broken blood vessels.  Then, when the pain was too unbearable, Melancholia would pull out her trusted blade, let it bite into her skin. She’d draw one straight line, side to side across, then two, three. The blood would run over her fingers and the blade, onto a towel she’d known to lay out beneath her. She’d cut to her heart’s content, enjoying the satisfaction that only the stinging pain and formation of angry red lines on her skin brought. Then she’d pull out a bottle of hydrogen peroxide, slather it on the newly formed wounds, and slap a bandage on top. It always hurt the next day when her clothes rubbed against bare skin but the pain was never enough to make her regret it. What she did regret was opening up to her parents about her issue in a rare moment of remorse, and being sent to indifferent psychiatrist after indifferent psychiatrist. Melancholia wanted help, she wanted to stop, but she didn’t know how. And with no one listening to her silent cries for help, she felt entirely at the mercy of her demons.

“Fantastic.” Dr. Rabielle said after an extended silence, once again snapping Melancholia out of the whirling current of her mind.

“Now, onto a more intense, personal question.” He cleared his throat, adjusted his navy-blue tie. His bespectacled eyes were stuck to the screen of a mobile phone, which he tapped away on as he asked his question.

“Have you been engaging in self-mutilating behaviours at all recently?”

Melancholia sighed- the dreaded question at last.

Oh shit, not this question. I don’t think I can lie about this.

“Uh no, Doc. Not really.”

Rabielle continued to tap away on his phone, smirking at something. Melancholia could feel herself becoming slightly flustered in response, and the lies were harder to hold up when emotions took hold.

“Umm I mean sometimes- but not often. It’s really under control, I promise.”

“Mmhmmm.” The psychiatrist hummed, still tapping away on his phone.

“There’s really no need to worry.” Melancholia said crossing her arms and staring at him.

He’s not even fucking listening to me. Another asshole ignoring me, yet again. My parents are paying money for this shit. I’m wasting my valuable time here with this bag of dicks.

The rage in Melancholia simmered as she thought of all of the counsellors, social workers, psychologists who vowed to help her throughout the years. Those who asked her pointless questions, ignored her pleas for help until she was nothing more than an abrasive girl with walls like a fortress. She learned to lie and “yes” everyone to death, and now her body was more scarred than Frankenstein’s monster as a result.

Fuck this shit. I’m letting him have it and then I’m out of here. Fuck therapy. I don’t need this “help.”

“Hey asshole, look at me when I’m talking to you. Put down your fucking phone and listen to me!”

At this the psychiatrist looked up from his Blackberry, green eyes filled with alarm. Melancholia was alarmed at her own response- she never let her internal monologue take hold. This was not the calculated, cold demeanor she presented to the world.

“Melancholia, what’s come over you?” he asked, shock colouring his doughy face. She asked herself the same question.

“I’m not gonna let you waste more of my time. I’m not going to be ignored. I’m spelling everything out-right now- good Doctor. Do you think you can bear to listen for one second?”

The doctor silently nodded, looking as if he was being held captive. And in a sense, he was.

“I cut myself. A ton. I don’t know how to stop. Life is shitty, cutting makes it a bit more bearable. I’ve told you all of this before- don’t ask me if I’ve stopped, you know I can’t manage.”

“But Melancholia, I thought you were doing better? You said your mood had lifted since the last hospitalization.”

“Doc, what else am I going to say? If I’m honest with you, you’ll put me back in there and that’s the last thing I want. How in the hell can anyone get better when you’re held in a space against your will? No going outside, no reading books about ‘sad’ topics. I had to beg the nurse to let me use safety scissors in arts and crafts. It was hell.”

“Melancholia, I need you to be open with me. You’ve got to be honest and tell me how you’re feeling or else you’re not going to get better.”

At this Melancholia chuckled darkly. “Be open with you? All you do is write down notes and text on that fucking Blackberry. Get better? I’ve been depressed since I was 13 years old. I don’t even remember what lasting happiness feels like. Sitting here, talking to a paid stranger about how shitty my life is and how pathetic I am doesn’t do anything but make me want to cut more. Why haven’t you figured that out yet?”

Dr. Rabielle shifted uncomfortably in his chair, and began furiously scribbling on his notepad. “So you don’t find our sessions helpful, then?”

“No, I don’t, genius. I talk, you write things down. I tell you all about my twisted little hobbies and when you do look at me it’s like I’m a starving orphan- something to pity, a symptom to be treated. You cram me with pills that make my head foggy and bloat me like a hot air balloon. Nothing helps. The system is broken and I think I’m beyond saving.”

Melancholia sighed deeply- this was all taking its toll on her immensely. Being ignored, being hurt so badly when she reached out for help.  She’d never opened up fully before in therapy, and the exertion stopped her. The vice grip took hold of her heart again and she cried for the first time in front of another human since she was a child.

Dr. Rabielle softened at this display of emotion, and guiltily slid his phone into his pocket.

“Okay, Melancholia. I’m listening.”

About the Author /

Steph@absynthe.org

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