Red Eyes

Today I feel like crying.

I’m taking a break from the serial (look forward to the next serial post, which–insider preview– is about my first hospitalization). It may be summer outside but there’s no summer for me, and as the Fourth of July looms near I’m painfully reminded of this. I rarely leave the house: once a day if I’m lucky –and any more than that just adds to my stress.

I have visitors from the outside that stop by from time to time, always a welcome distraction. The sick thing is that soon enough I need a break for them, even though they are here to be a break for me.

I compulsively pick at my hair and my eyes. My fingers run through my strands, searching for the ones that aren’t uniform, that aren’t completely straight, like the rest of my hair. My fingers search for the strands with kinks, the ones that are for some reason coarser than the rest of my hair. I pull them out. I stare at my ends, grabbing them and bringing them up close to my eyes for inspection. Split or broken ends are worried about. I eventually fling all of my nearly-waist-length hair over my shoulders and try to get back to the task at hand, perpetual studying.

But there’s something in my eye. I rub and scratch at the eye, trying to pick out whatever speck of dust or allergen has landed there. I can’t find it but I can still feel it in my eye, I can see it as it clouds the peripheral vision of the affected eye. I rub, scratch, pick. I get off of the couch. I make my way to the big mirror in the bathroom and lean over the sink staring at my red eye, trying to find the irritant-culprit. I open my eyes wide, unblinking as I diligently search for the intruder, the cause of the irritation. I roll my eyes around, trying to find it. I rub them again. I poke around at my other eye, making sure nothing is in that one. More eye rubbing. At this point both of my eyes are swollen and completely red. The speck, eyelash, loose fiber, whatever, is nowhere to be found and is now certainly un-findable. If there ever really was anything in my eye at all.

I look at myself in the mirror. I look very bad. My eyes are swollen like I’ve been crying for days and red like I’ve been smoking for days. My long hair, my prized possession, hasn’t been washed in a week and is banished to a clip to mask its greasiness and to keep my picking fingers at bay. I’m probably in pajamas of some sort, even though it’s late in the afternoon. I’m as pale as ever because I never go outside. I’m supposed to be running but the combination of the intolerable heat and the paralysis of my anxiety has kept me shut in the house.

I put in some eye drops, give my eyes a last good rub, and then resolve to stop rubbing and picking at them. My compulsive eye rubbing has gotten better. At the beginning of the summer, my allergies were nearly unbearable, as was the itching in my eyes. At that point, it was nearly impossible for me to stop rubbing them once the itching started. I’d have to law down and place a wet washcloth over my eyes while laying on my hands, disarming them, to keep them from going after the itch again. At least now my eyes don’t really itch. Even though I still pick at and rub them like allergy season is in full swing. This concerns me. I know it has to be bad for my eyes on some level. But more importantly, I’m worried about what all this rubbing and picking will do to the sensitive, delicate skin around my eyes. I’m very worried about wrinkles. I usually take impeccable care of my skin and hair, trying to delay the aging process by being proactive. I have at least three or four different moisturizers for my face, all the same brand. Some are laden with SPF, for use during the day. Then I have my nighttime moisturizers, some with retinol to help repair damage to my skin, some without retinol- which can be harsh- for nights when my skin needs something gentle. I keep a small bottle of moisturizer in my purse for nights when I don’t come home. I have various anti-wrinkle serums, acid treatments for acne and pore imperfections, cleansing masks, toners, and blemish gels. All this to slow the inevitable, the wrinkles that are coming, deepening. These days, I usually forget to wash my face at night and so my skin goes un-moisturized, the serums go unused. Instead, I spend the day tearing at my eyes and roughly picking at the delicate skin surrounding them, the skin that I try so hard to preserve.

I wear a sports bra almost every day. I think I’m trying to make myself more likely to do the impossible, to go for a run. I’m technically not supposed be running because of my chronically injured back. But I want to run a marathon (not my first) in January. So I really should be running. But I haven’t managed to get myself out of the door in the past week. I have a schedule that I’m supposed to be following, each missed workout shows up in ugly red, which makes my stomach churn with guilt and anxiety. And then I get anxious about being anxious. I’ve tried getting up early to beat the heat but I haven’t had the self discipline to do anything more than shut off the alarm and go back to sleep.

I really shouldn’t neglect my running. It helps stabilize my mood, is an outlet for stress, and would get me out of the house (which I desperately need to do and avoid doing with equal desperation). But inside I stay, sports bra and all. I only allow myself to run after 6:00 pm in the evenings because of the heat. I have to be back before the sun starts to go down because I’m very worried about safety in the city, no matter how rational or irrational this may be. This usually means that I have to be back by 7:30 pm. So if I wait too long after 6 to start my run I won’t go at all because I might get back too late. It’s an easy excuse. Sometimes I don’t go because it’s raining, or there’s a chance of rain, and so I stay inside, even after the threat of rain has passed. I really shouldn’t let the rain stop me; after all, it’s usually around 90 with a heat index nearing 100 with humidity. Some rain on the run would probably make the experience more enjoyable by cooling me down. Other days it’s because my back hurts too much. Or I’ve got plans for dinner that interfere with my brief running window. Or I have friends in town for the day (never mind the stress that that creates). And sometimes I just let myself stay inside because I’ve spent too much of the day agonizing over whether and when to run. So I give myself a break and let myself skip the workout because “I deserve a break”. I’m terribly self indulgent. Occasionally, I smoke too much before 6 and that completely precludes any sort of exercise.

Although I’m not exercising regularly I’m still losing weight. I don’t mind– who doesn’t like losing weight?– especially since it’s the result of zero effort on my part. Except I’m getting a little too skinny. I don’t want to have to buy new clothes. Right now everything, for the most part, fits splendidly. I don’t mind things being a little loose. But I’m starting to loose my boobs. Which I cannot allow. I’m trying to maintain my weight at 135 lb, a healthy enough weight for a 25 year old, 5’9″, female. But the scale keeps slipping past 135, closer to 130. Not really something to complain about, I know. It’s a problem I secretly like having.

I get nauseous every day around noon. I eat breakfast but after that I have no appetite. I drink a coke for the nausea. If it’s really bad I’ll take a few hits off my pipe (a small luxury afforded by my summer of unemployment). I’ve lost 20 pounds since January, essentially with no effort on my part. Until a few weeks ago, it had been at least 4 months since I’d worked out. I just never feel like eating. It could also be the Vyvanse I’m prescribed for ADD. Sometimes I have bubble tea for dinner, the chewy tapioca pearls are enough to fill me up. Worried that I’m not getting enough nutrients, I recently spent $70 on vitamins. Perhaps not the best use of my meager allowance. But now I take 10 vitamins in the morning and 4 at night. I’ve pared my meds down to 3 pills in the morning and at night, with lorazepam as needed. That makes for a total of 20 pills/vitamins a day. At a minimum. More pills if I’m anxious, my back hurts, I get a headache, or if my chronic heartburn (sexy, right?) flares up past tolerable levels.

I get overwhelmed and completely enveloped by stress at seemingly random times throughout the day. And when I’m overwhelmed I want to cry. A fairly normal response, I’m aware.

Today is the first day of July, which means the bar is three weeks away.

And so today I feel like crying. I want to cry because I’m stressed out, because I feel like I’m not preparing enough, because I’m wasting too much time. I want to cry because it’s summer and I never leave my house. I want to cry because I never want to leave my house, because of the anxiety, and I want to cry because leaving my own house makes me anxious. I want to cry because I’m afraid of what will happen if I don’t pass the bar, what I might do to myself. I want to cry because all I do is study and because I’m exhausted and because the end is still weeks away. Not every day is this bad. But today is. And I just want to cry.

But I don’t cry. I just don’t. Maybe I can’t. Maybe wanting to cry is as far as my body and my mind will let me go, maybe my body can’t spare the energy to produce tears and sobs. Maybe I don’t cry because I’m afraid that once I start I won’t be able to stop.

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