Minds are complicated. Trap doors and long hallways are complicated. It’s hard to know what dark hallway is a black hole of nothingness, and which one will actually lead you somewhere. There are mazes, sharp corners, and millions of cobwebs and locks over ideas with no keys to open them.
Isabelle’s brain is just like this. There are staircases that lead nowhere and hundreds and millions of files. These files contain her whole life, from her first view of the world, to her thoughts of every second of every single day. These files are constantly increasing in quantity. This is not my mind; I am not Isabelle. Her files and long hallways are not the same ones that occupy my thoughts and “brainspace”. Isabelle is not happy. There are problems going on in and outside her mind. Outside it is loud. It is loud and bright and there are other people. Feet tapping, knee bouncing and knuckle cracking are out there. The sounds of nails on a chalkboard. There are hurtful words, and fighting and yelling. It’s a crazy place.
So Isabelle is usually quite quiet. She let’s the outside world do its thing, and she focuses on her own mind. Sometimes she’ll open up one of her files.
In the middle of her brain, at the very top of her skull she finds a file. It’s marked with a black X over it. This file is surrounded by chains with locks and keys. She knows why. Isabelle opens up every lock, one by one. Then the file opens.
Her eyes open. The first thing she sees is the stark white of her ceiling above her. Immediately she feels absolute hopelessness. Another day where she doesn’t know how she will feel and what will happen. What will make her feel bad today? Most likely everything.
She slowly unravels herself from her warm cocoon of a bed and steps onto her cold hardwood floors. She makes her way to her mirror and looks closely at herself. Immediately she turns away, not happy with what she sees. She thinks to herself “just an apple for breakfast, and have a salad for lunch”. She then turns around to her dresser and ruffles through her drawers trying to find something. She picks out the closest things that she can find, because really it wouldn’t matter to anyone if she wore her pajamas or a prom dress to school. In the bathroom she goes to brush her teeth, then her hair. It’s more of a “ripping strands out of her skull” motion than brushing, until it looks almost okay. Isabelle doesn’t really feel the pain, she’s used to it by now. Then makeup. The only thing that makes her feel presentable. She runs downstairs to take her meds, the little capsules of chemicals that are supposed to make her feel okay, but really don’t.
She drives herself to school and the entire day breezes by. She’s a good student, but for her own standards, not good enough. Her first five classes seem like they take forever, but once they’re done it was like they only lasted a minute. Before she knows it is her lunch period and she remembers to get a salad. As she walks down the aisle she hears idiots shout cruel words at her. Catcalling. Everyday she gets it and she has learned to live with it. She sits with her friends at the same table they sit at everyday, but she doesn’t feel like speaking today. She will put a fake smile on her face and laugh at a joke, but really on the inside the only thing she hears is the deafening sound of her own heartbeat. All of her friends are so happy, why isn’t she? They are all so pretty, and funny, and great. Why isn’t she? Before long she finds herself in her last period of the day, math, and then the day is over. Usually she meets up with her friends before going home, but today she decided to skip that part of the routine.
When she gets to her house Isabelle slowly makes her way to her room. She opens her notebook and starts writing. “My head is pounding. My pulse is racing. I am screaming and burning up inside. It seems like there is no place to hide. The inside of my cheek is worn out. From biting it instead of crying out. I prefer to be alone. It’s not for attention. It’s where I’m at home.” She puts her pencil down and looks at what she just wrote. God, her handwriting sucks. That’s not even a clever poem. Homework, then dinner, and then shower. After everything she picks up her guitar. She tries to write. Nothing comes out. She has so many emotions, but she can feel nothing. She decides to just go to sleep. Maybe she’ll get lucky and not have to wake up. There are ways. She thinks about it for a minute, but she doesn’t want to hurt her family or friends. Just suffer. Just hate yourself, she thinks. It’s better than hurting other people. She turns on music from her phone and listens as the melodies and lyrics wash over her. She goes to sleep with the last lyric in her head “no one gets out of this life alive.” If this is true why should she try?
The file closes, the chains return around it and it locks back up. It returns to the very top of her brain. What a day yesterday was. Maybe tomorrow will be better for Isabelle. Maybe it won’t.
This is not my story; my name is not Isabelle. Our stories are similar as are our names, but they are not the same.