I had trouble getting out of bed this morning.
“Don’t we all!” you think. “Who wouldn’t want to spend more time under the duvet than face the real world?”
The answer to that is: Me. This morning.
It’s 9am. The day is bright, my boyfriend is getting up and I feel awake. Some breakfast would be welcome right about now. I start to rise, but as soon as I lift my shoulders from the mattress I feel the tension press in and threaten to smother me. I let myself fall back again. This isn’t so unusual, and I can afford another hour in bed if it will make that horrible feeling go away. Maybe I just need some more sleep.
It’s 9.30. I haven’t managed that sleep thing yet. My thoughts won’t run clearly either, so I haven’t gotten anything out of this half an hour. I really do want to get up. I want breakfast. I want to not be stuck lying in this interminable loop of half formed thoughts and guilt. About once every minute I decide that I’m just going to get up right now. Just as often I make that half lift of the shoulders and face that tension.
It’s 10am. My extra hour is up. I need to get up now. But the lack of focus has become a drifting sense of unreality. I move in and out of awareness, like dozing, but without the benefits. Eventually I do doze. More time passes.
It’s 11.30. I can’t count how many times I’ve half woken and tried to get my muddled thoughts in order. I can’t count the number of aborted attempts I’ve made at getting my carcass out of bed. A carcass. That’s what it feels like. A lump of flesh that isn’t mine. I send the orders. “Move” I tell my muscles. “Get up” I tell my body. And it starts to respond. Like I’ve got some comand over it, but not enough. Control slips again and I drift into senselessness.
It’s midday. I’m starting to feel scared now. The hunger has only gotten worse over the hours, and my stomach feels like it’s trying to eat itself. There’s no milk downstairs, so cereal isn’t an option, but I have fruit pots for just such an emergency. I actually like those more than cereal, but they’re for emergencies only. Then, once I’ve eaten I can go to the corner shop and buy more milk.
My brain can work through all of this. It can step through every detail of the walk to the shop, the conversation with the cashier. My brain can’t focus any closer though. When I try to think through the steps of getting up the thoughts just slip away. It’s like trying to grab water. I can’t keep hold of enough of it to be coherent.
12.22 and still I can’t hold onto the thought of getting up. I’ve been trying. I’ve been focusing so hard it’s tiring, but I just can’t. Whenever I try to get myself to move I manage a toss or a turn, but I end up curled like a foetus, gripping myself or my blanket or my pillow like a lifeline. I don’t even notice the fingernails dug into my own flesh. My phone is on the bedside table, and I think of picking it up and ringing my boyfriend. He’s just downstairs. He’ll come up and save me. But I can’t do it. It’s not that I’m embarrassed, it’s literally that I can’t make myself reach for the phone. I think of shouting but my mouth doesn’t respond any more than the rest of my body. Sometimes I manage the voice equivalent of tossing and turning: I open my mouth and say weakly “help”. No one could possible hear it but me. It’s is a pathetic cry to an empty room.
12.30. I’ve managed to grab my phone. I did it in a quick burst before my body could shut down. I grabbed it angrily, desperately. I try to formulate the text I’ll send asking for help. I’ve done it before. He’ll come up and save me. I can imagine him coming up. I can imagine him being here. He won’t even have to do anything. Even his presence will be enough to break the spell. I can imagine it all… except for the actual making of the call or typing of the text. When it comes to that I find my brain whipping away again, trying desperately to think of anything else. I unlock my phone and try. I try to marshal my thoughts, I try to move, I try to act. After what seems like forever I hear a beep. My phone has locked itself again. After all, I wasn’t using it.
12.40. I’ve still not sent a text. After all, is it so much easier to send a text than to just swing my legs out of bed? If I have the energy to consider one then really I should be considering the simpler one. The one that doesn’t disturb anyone else. I know I can move. There’s nothing wrong with me. Hell, I’ve moved all over this bed in the past hours. I’ve been over the blankets and under them, I’ve been upside down, I’ve had my legs hanging out on one end and my arms clinging onto the other. I’ve gone from splayed to scrunched more often than I can count. Feet onto floor. That’s all I have to do. Why is it so hard.
Already I’m forgetting the concept of feet on the floor. Already it’s slipping.
12.55. I feel starving. I feel guilty. I feel weak. Is it just a lack of willpower? But willpower is the ability to do things you don’t want to do. I want to get out of bed so badly. Bravery is the ability to do things despite the fear, but it’s the bed that’s scaring me now, not the thought of being up. And the thought of *getting* up? Well that thought’s still not sticking in my mind. It fades like light snowfall, leaving no trace that it was ever there. I begin to twitch: a reaction to the stress, a physical sign of my depression. I hate twitching. I hate how it start and keeps going until I’m tired and crying and my muscles ache from the effort. I unfold from my crumpled ball in a burst of anger, and I see the split second of opportunity. I carry on that explosive motion in one fluid sweep until I’m sitting on the edge of the bed, my feet flat on the cool floor.
I’m dressed and ready before I even know I’m doing it. My hair is brushed, I’m already on my way to the bathroom. Already the memory of what was holding me back is fading as fast as the thought of getting up faded earlier. Within minutes I can’t remember why I had so much trouble unless I force my mind to think about it, and forcing myself to think about it is hard and unpleasant. I make it downstairs and the closest I can get to describing the horror to my boyfriend is to announce:
“I made it! I didn’t think I would!”
He’s beside me in an instant. He didn’t realise that I was having one of those mornings, and now he’s sorry that he wasn’t able to help, even though there was no way he *could* have known. He hugs me close, and tells me I did good.
He knows it’s more than just another few hours under a duvet.