I’ve got two sets of skin. There’s the one I wear most of the time, the one that fits my recently-a-little-wider-but-overall-much-narrower waistline; it’s the one I take with me on a warm day when I can turn up the stereo in my car, open the sunroof and drive a little too fast. It’s the skin I’m comfortable in and lucky enough to have around and available to me most of the time. I like this skin, I feel good when I’m wearing it and I’m a better man with it on.
But there is this other skin. It’s bigger and heavier and I think my hair is probably longer with this one but the truth is that I don’t really look in the mirror when I’m wearing it so I’m not super familiar with what it looks like. I don’t need to know what this skin looks like because I immediately know and can’t fucking stand it when it arrives. It descends like a fog; sometimes I can stave it off, sometimes I can’t. The idea of looking at myself during the time I’m wearing it makes me all kinds of uncomfortable.
What’s worse though is that this heavier, uglier, much more despondent skin of mine is actually a bit more comfortable, like those clichéd jeans you’ve owned for a decade that feel nice but have no support and are not suitable for public wearing and should definitely be thrown out. I mean after all, I’ve spent more time in this skin than any other over the course of my life, and while I tend to beat myself up pretty well while I’m wearing it, at least the scars end up being mostly invisible because they’re on the inside.
This other skin, this heavy, dull, self-despairing skin keeps me from doing simple things like brushing my teeth, sleeping more than two hours at a time at night while tempting me to sleep 4+ hours at a time during the day. It gums up the gears of useful tools like responding to stress in a reasonable manner and being able to stay away from intrusive and self-demeaning thought spirals. I hate this other skin. I hate it so much. The hate feeds it, I think.
My mental illnesses seems to be a miasma of anxiety and depression and while I feel like I live without them often enough, lately I’m noticing the cold comfort of my old, heavy skin more and more, and what’s worse is that I’m affecting the people I love when I have it on.
This post is a sort of letter to myself, a reminder that when this oppressive, gray blanket of awful descends, that there is a way out from under it. I’ve found it before and it’s not a colossal failure of mine to have lost sight of the way out for a while. As long as I can remember that there is a light and it will never go out, I’ll be fine.
(Thanks to Morrissey and Irvine Welsh for the title idea.)