A mentally ill woman describes her mental breakdown and subsequent suicide attempt while trying to make it in art school. This is a brief excerpt I liked from a manuscript I’m currently writing; although the main character Monica has Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder it is NOT autobiographical, but I am using some inspiration derived from living with the disorder on my main character. I have posted one piece from this characters point of view on this blog so far, I might end up posting more at a later date. —
I don’t tell Charles I tried to kill myself too, in college. I OD’ed and my roommate Tina found me. I kind of want to reinvent myself, and since Charles seems to think Lionel getting depressed enough to want to kill himself is completely cuckoo, I pretend to think so too. I don’t tell him I think I might understand how Lionel, who I’ve never met in my life, was feeling, and why he couldn’t ‘get it together’ afterward, with people who had seen him standing on the ledge of a building watching him and judging him. He could never come back from that in the eyes of his co-workers, just like I couldn’t ever been seen in the same light by my classmates after my attempt. You can’t bounce back from something like that, you have to escape from people who see you as a pitiful figure at best, an unhinged basket case at worse.
You know, I think I’d rather be seen as a unhinged basket case than be the subject of condescending stares, downturned eyes, and soft, cloying voices. Are you feeling any better Monica? Good. Would you tell me if you weren’t feeling okay? Okay, sweetie. Poor thing. Are you feeling very depressed right now? I have a third cousin with depression… you’re not the only person in the world to have this, you know…
But it wasn’t depression, not really. It was the Goddamn OCD, following me to art school. I guess it’s stupid, but I kind of thought when I turned a new page in my life it would fade into the background. Instead, it got worse. Me and a few of my classmates watched One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in our dorm. I had seen it before, but suddenly I couldn’t stop thinking about lobotomies. I pictured myself laid out on a table, Nurse Ratched or whoever sawing my skull open, pulling the soft gooey brain matter out. I couldn’t stop thinking about how horrible it must be to get lobotomized, and I kept thinking about the people throughout history that it had actually happened to, like Rosemary Kennedy; I kept thinking about poor Rosemary Kennedy and how scared she must have been. I was very sexually anxious, I was chronically afraid of being slipped a roofie and I didn’t stop to think that I hadn’t even been offered a drink. I wore multiple layers to cover my breasts as if wearing something more form-fitting would incite men to rape.
I slept very little, I was obsessed with getting ahead and I was convinced that if I let my guard down for a minute I would fail all my courses. I felt like I was a slut, I kept thinking about sex all the time, having sexual dreams about everyone; men, women, family members, actors on TV. I realized I wasn’t going to be able to outrun this, this was who I was. So I put on my prettiest dress, the soft pink one Dad had bought me for a birthday present, with white lace and a ribbon on the front. I wrote a note to each member of my family and swallowed a bottle of sleeping pills.
It was the perfect, classically feminine suicide attempt; I was Virginia Woolf, I was Sylvia Plath, I was Susanna Kaysen, I was all those moody alienated female writers I idolized. But ultimately I failed and was committed to a psychiatric facility, and looking at the faces of my father, mother, and sister, I knew that I needed to live, no matter how miserable I was. And oh, I was miserable. I once spent four hours straight studying, listening to Joy Division and grinding my teeth obsessively. The funny thing was I was studying hard enough that I probably could have done really well for myself, but instead I had to ruin it for myself by trying to fucking commit suicide. I threw away my chance because I couldn’t deal with the persistent, blistering pain of being alive.
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