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  • Lindsay S. Wheeler

Yellow Notes

[An ongoing writing exercise: My stream of consciousness, thoughts on iPhone 'notes.' Many asked me to describe what it is like to feel so much, to swing so much. I embarked on a difficult exercise in response to the questions. Don't ask me why, but this was one of the hardest things for me to share. Friends forget that every once in a while, it isn't easy, despite my living with no regrets. Trigger warning.]

It’s November (2014) of the twenty-second year of my life and somehow I am here in Khana, India, where the fields are gold, the straw diffracts a view of flat plains, and human skin blurs the horizon with vitality. In a gently bitter place, I wonder why it takes pain, the lowest lows, and choking screams, to taste the highs.

My attention is focused on the tiniest details I've never noticed before. The energy it took to see them, to make the memory last, far outweighed my ability to hone in. I sift through pictures of dewdrops I stopped to look at; so minuscule and delicate.

I still don't quite know who I am and that's okay with me at this moment. But for all of the years I spent screaming, fists shaking at the sky, "why me, why is this my life," I have begun to ask, "why me, why am I so lucky”?

Airplanes coming from pristine places sometimes land on the other side. I scribble words as we ascend to ecstasy and descend through pain. I've learned both what it means to suffer and to thrive; that these sensations can be intertwined. You can dance between the two, they can coexist, and you can be driven out of control.

I tackled the darkest storms with my eyes closed tightly. Is it more painful to wage a war with yourself or with someone else? And does it become unbearable when these forms of conflict happen all at once? I’m still trying to figure this out.

It's now the middle of the night in mid-December and I should be sleeping but my mind just can't stop moving – a mile a minute – sixty minutes of an hour that keeps dragging on. Why didn’t she text me to say she made it home safely from the bar? What if I never get better? What if I always fall short?

It’s now late January and golf doesn't straight piss me off while on my meds, nor do the people I once couldn't stand. Maybe things will be better now.

And it’s days later again, the comfort is gone and I don't want to do this gray day thing anymore. It always comes back twice as hard. Life looks so short sometimes but it feels so long at others.

January is almost over and it hurts. It hurts like hell right now and I'm sitting on a subway months after that colorful trip across the world. I'm not even inside my own head. I'm every vibration under these heavy feet, every rattle of the subway walls, every tiny sneaker screech. I grab my ears and rock, head between my knees, praying that someone will get me above ground where I may feel closer to a reality that scares me less; further from the demise of a self I no longer know.

February has arrived and I can't seem to understand why I feel disposable when I was unstoppable just weeks ago. I thought I had crossed through that tunnel. Loving you is admitting I am scared. As hard as my brain begs me to put up that wall, I fight it and I stay. But I am scared. I am scared to say that the only reason I’m alive today is for other people. I am too weak to fight and too weak to let go.

February begins with a week of hell that once again leaves me wondering what it is about me that makes you want to sick your nasty little teeth into the backs of my legs as I barrel away from you. You fucking disaster of an illness, give me the life back that you stole from my fragile grip when I was too young to see you for the savage, the venomous enigma that you are. Love me like I have chosen to love you, through writing and hope. Nurture me and let go of my brain, give me relief.

It’s the third of February and I want to bring each of those depressed kids out from under the bed as they ask to be taken away or set free. I want to squeeze into that tiny space just big enough for a body and breathe air into their lungs. Depression is an absence of light. In its absence, we combat darkness on a tightrope. Sometimes it's like watching your beloved dog fall from a cliff, and feeling numbness free of pain.

The black is smothering me. It is taking every fragment of my light and driving it underground to a place where pigment has no chance.

Some kid is out there wondering why he can't lift his body off the couch. He's looking for a hand to pull him out of a world that gives him no hope. No hope at all. He doesn't know what the hell is wrong with him; he begs his doctor to give him every test. I was that kid, that kid was me. I lay on the floor, begging for mercy, six years ago, six months ago alike. I want to stomp my pills into powder.

It's February 4th now. I'm a fighter. I'm a loser. I have courage. I'm weaker than a damn piece of thread. I want my life back. The sweet drippings of an actual life that I tasted for a couple of fleeting months before I took that wrong turn, I want it back now. It's a sick joke. whoever you are that tied my limbs to puppet strings when I was twelve. Give it back and let me breathe.

Give me a break. Give me a sunny day made of something new, something shinier, warmer maybe. Give me the confidence to fight for more than just tomorrow, February 7th. Where did my color go? That color I'd written so much about for a while. That stuff I've been told, that through my writing, has given purpose to a number of human lives that just hadn’t found it yet…where is it? This is embarrassing. I can't even fabricate it when they ask me what it's like to see in color. I'm beginning to forget that feeling altogether. All that's left for me here is the dark corner where all of the misfits come to find relief, but instead they find themselves eye to eye with the darkest sort of deception.

I give new meaning to the expression “girl on fire.” My brain is burning up and I’m hot, cold, and lukewarm in one instant and I don’t know what to do about it anymore. Today I felt heat pouring out from my ears and I had to lift my hands up next to them to see if it was really true. My brain is on fire and it wants out. It wants to get out.

That beautiful, 19 year old, smart girl - Madison Holleran - she jumped from a parking garage. She landed right next to a runner who thought she had tripped. She sought help earlier that week but it was too late. She had everything, so why’d she do it? It was all of that pressure. Fuck no, are we all brain dead? It was those voices and her sirens, her nightmares and her fears. It was the illusion that haunted her and told her there was no point in running anymore. It was her demons, her broken bones, her old bruises that never went away, the scar on the back of her head, the game of ‘Japanese water torture’ that made her scared to swim. Maybe it was the sound of the rain the night before that set her off; another dark day to endure just like the one she’d tossed back those pills on. Maybe she wasn’t perfect. Some of us are master con artists with a hell of a lot of scars underneath our make up. I remember when my dean told me to “toughen up,” that she’d had enough of the entitled-rich-kid-who-thinks-school-is-optional game. Pressure. I would kill to know what pressure feels like to the next kid.

It’s almost the new day of February 7th and I’m praying for something in my yellow notes.

Today is Sunday, March 19th, 2017. It's two years later and I've looked back in the Yellow Notes I could no longer bear to continue. And I have so much hope.

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