I am careful with what I allow my mind to consume. Happening upon anything that could violently push me out of my everyday numbness has to be treated with caution. I once picked up ‘The Bell Jar’ in Waterstones and having read the back cover, I spent ten minutes focusing on the sensation of my tongue touching the roof of my mouth to keep the wave of anxiety at a manageable distance.
Descriptions of TV shows have to be examined carefully before I press play, keywords in film blurbs and book synopses too. Sometimes it jumps out of a song lyric, unexpectedly, like cutting your finger when chopping an onion.
If something gives me the feeling of nauseating, excited apprehension, I want to consume it immediately and always, always stop myself. All that which suggests youthful optimism, ambition, courage, and frenzied but doomed love is added to a list potentially triggering desirables that will be devoured eventually, at this ridiculous, unfounded emotional cost.
It is exhausting to anticipate these emotional punches all the time. Things that remind me of my younger self, when friends held hands, not babies. Past passions that now rest like the dust on the computer screen in my day job. Yet, if that comfortable twenty-something numbness, flatness, routine-ness is to be maintained, I have to stay careful. Some days, I will purposefully choose something that will inevitably throw me down a spiral of misguided daydreams, like a walking textbook embodiment of ‘sad girl theory’, only without a Tumblr account. I feel a pinch of excitement that whatever I’m about to do will make me feel so much, too much.
Recently, I watched ‘Normal People’ and couldn’t eat for three days. I knew this would happen.
This short text was written in response to the prompt “The feeling of being sort of numb; of having no passion; of past passions turning to nothing”. It was completed as part of the Project Phlegm art course during the COVID-19 pandemic.