I keep the curtains shut
at my tiny box of a home,
as if that makes it oblivious
to the laws of time and space.
Responsibilities are crumpled
at the bottom of the laundry pile,
aspirations, stacked with dirty
dishes in the sink. It has been a
while since I’ve vacuumed the floor,
I may have spilt motivation on it
a couple of weeks ago.
I wonder how long I can stay here
before I unlearn the existence of a
world filled with abstractions, beyond
the lazy grope of tired fingertips?
See when you lose track of
night and day, everything else also
melts away, like armouring up
for Melbourne’s weather-tantrums,
or meeting with friends
at overpriced coffee shops,
those are thoughts belonging
to a different time, place and self,
right now, nobody can know the
shameful little secret of my existence,
to remain locked behind teeth and home.
Today, I could be the last person alive,
or just another nameless soul suffocating
under the warmth of unchanged covers,
(they are starting to smell like self-pity)
as seeds of numbness, fertilised by
unending sleep, grows inertia inside
chest cavity – and the ribcage
sits like anatomical blinds, but hides
the workings of a heart that beats
only because it is accustomed
to a sinking type of regularity.
There’s a parasite in my brain.
It reads my thoughts, and tells
me how to be. Worst of all, it
tells me that I am a liar, and I love
this life and this is the best
I can hope to achieve.
Finally got around to publishing this poem, just over half a year since I’ve moved out of the most ‘memorable’ apartment of my life (and that’s saying something considering the apartment before that one involved me sitting on my bed Googling if mice can jump/climb as one scurried along my floor – fyi the answer is yes).
To put it into context, the space was tiny. It was less than three big steps from the middle of the room to get to anywhere important: bathroom, kitchen, bed, desk, closet etc. I also didn’t really know anyone else in the building at the time so it really felt like a little enclosed world for me that I didn’t have to leave.
That wouldn’t be the worst, if it wasn’t for the lack of sunlight in that room. If you imagine the building being shaped like a square donut, the only window in my room faced towards the inside, so all I could see were the rooms on other side of the ‘hole’.
That also meant, only when the sun was in a very specific position in the sky, would I be able to get a crack of sunlight in my room for a couple of hours before it disappeared again.
Fun side note, because everybody wanted to keep their curtains open to catch a little bit of light but nobody wanted their neighbours to have a nosey into their lives, the bottom half of all the windows facing into the building were lined with various newspapers and magazine pages. According to a friend that visited me, the 24/7 lights in the corridors and the covered windows made the place seem like a mixture of a renovation site and a mental asylum.
So the window situation meant that I was living off artificial light. Think it’s just the lack of sun? I had to accustom myself to wearing sleep masks at night as well because it never got dark. Never mind the power bill, this became very disorienting not only for me but both of my house-plants too.They reacted even more dramatically than me by deciding to just die together one day.
All in all, 2017 was not the best year and I truly think it was in a large part due to the conditions of the place I had to call home. It was the first time I realised how big of an impact something like where you live can have on your mental health. Once that clicked, for me, things slowly got better. I tried to force myself to go out and socialise a bit more (even though I really didn’t want to), and I vowed to move out after the lease ended and actively looked for new places in the last few months.
What I’m trying to do by sharing this is to give you a gentle nudge if you’re in a situation that is making you unhappy, that you should do something to change it. Even if it’s as small as acknowledging the problem, talking to someone, or making a temporary improvement if the problem is too big for a permanent change to be viable, anything is better than nothing – please look after yourself.