The bubbly air cools my bedroom windows, leaving frost marks around the edges. The broken window frame, repaired no later than the 70s, has a large gap through which cold air enters my room. It mixes with the heat from my space heater, turning the room into a humid mess. My posters, consisting of my latest random crushes on bands and movies, pasted crookedly on the wall with old blue putty I reused from my last apartment and the dorm before that, are peeling off the brick walls, hanging in one or two corners. The papers on my desk were half scattered on the floor, all intact. Clothes were half hanging on hangers, half on the floor, lamps that had not been turned on for more than a week, mugs with daily water were collected on my table. And in the middle of it all is my warm cozy bed, with silky sheets that slide down to the carpet, and an unmade rough quilt that I’ve convinced myself I love because I spent way too much on it just because of the cute lace trim. It is ready for me and ready for the next few months. He feels empty without me and craves me almost as much as I crave him. He calls me when I’m at work and when I’m in class. So when I finally go to see him, how can I leave when he is so desperate for me? Where when I finally lay on it, I sink, too far to float back up. Where the sheets tangle around my legs, anchoring me and my pillows create a pit that spirals down far past where I can see. So what’s the appeal of leaving, getting out of the spiral? Class? Cold air? Darkness in the sky?
And so I fall into the pit, looking at my splotchy painted ceiling, at my friends who reach out to me, and close my eyes. Because in my mind, if I can’t see them, they can’t see me. I will be left alone with nothing but the warmth and comfort of my heater and the depths of the pit I am in slowly closing in around me. And when it closes, it wraps around me like a rope tying me to a chair. And as it gets harder and harder to breathe as the rope pulls tighter and tighter, I feel strangely comforted. It’s like I’m a kid coming home from school again, and the ropes are my mother’s arms, lovingly and warmly embracing me as I lie on her lap after a long day.
I don’t want to leave my IUD for most of the day. I want to lie in that cozy silken cocoon that I spun so easily, in the giant hole in the frozen ground that I dug myself into, in the branchy nest high in the trees that I ripped out. But then I hit these dark moments. The realization that I’m wasting time, rotting in bed, bored. It’s a shame I’m failing the classes my parents worked their whole lives to pay for. The guilt of abandoning my friends and family, leaving them in the dark with no explanation of what’s going on, turning my phone into seven unread messages with “goodnight, I love you” heart emojis, five missed calls, and three “are you eating? Are you okay?” opened messages only from mom. But my phone has been sitting on the coffee table charging for the past few days, so I can’t reach it to answer it while I’m in my hole. Where my headphones interrupt my numb but soothing playlist to let me know she texted again, but I’m too weak to get out and see what she said. Where I know that if I continue to ignore them, she will stop, frustrated that I am ignoring her. And in those moments, I want to break free and resist the weight of the blanket holding me down. I want to go outside to feel the first big snowflakes of the season against my cheek and my fat giant mittens. I want to walk slowly with my friends on the sidewalk while we laugh and try not to slip on the ice. I want to go to class and pay attention enough to pass the class. I want to start reading my overdue library books and crocheting my creepy drawings again. I want to meet new people and have silly conversations that I usually try to avoid. I want to sit in front of the fireplace in that strange room on North Campus that I’ve recently grown to like. But I just can’t. I can’t get out of the spiral, break the cocoon, get out of the ground, climb out of the big tree and start my day, no matter how hard I try. I can only lie there and imagine what it would be like if I could. If only I could dispel this black cloud that floats above, escape and lose its dark shadow that does not stop, lift the bar of sorrow that weighs on my shoulders. I can only imagine how liberating and relieving that would be, and how I could finally think about the future without immediately falling into a pile of stress that was tied up and thrown at me. I can only imagine the day I wake up without a heavy heart filled with unwarranted sadness. Where I can get up and get ready to meet my friends without thinking of all the fake excuses I can make to get out of it. Where I can pay attention to my surroundings without getting lost in my thoughts, ignoring my responsibilities and the people around me. A day with bright sun that warms my skin the second I step out of the shade, enough to take my coat off.
It’s nothing new to wake up one day glued to your bed. And it’s not something out of the blue where I’m panicking about being stuck. It’s something I knew was going to happen months in advance, so sure that I even counted the days before I expected it to go off, like a timer on a bomb, but with an explosion filled with tears and hopelessness. But when November came, I felt nothing different. Every day I would get out of bed and get to class, spend time with friends, pack before going out. And with that I felt a sense of relief, like the last few years were a fluke and I really was okay. I thought the last two years were exceptional circumstances, the first year I couldn’t get out of bed, probably because of the isolation I felt from COVID-19, and the second year because it was the first time I was away from home , and everything was completely different. But this relief slowly turned into defeat. Because on that cold Saturday night when I got home, hung up my scarf and jacket and put away my mittens, I knew. It was darker in the apartment. It was cooler and quieter. Too quiet to be a normal night when I didn’t hear the line to the nearby bars that usually passes my windows, the crackling of the old heater, the hum of the fridge, or the voice of my roommate. Instead, I heard my bed calling me upstairs, whispering in my ear to hurry up. I knew what that meant. I knew what would happen when I got into bed. But tired from a long day and a long year of forcing myself to be in order after the last fall spiral, I decided to lie down. To just give yourself a tiny taste just by putting on the covers. If I don’t go under the water, I won’t be stuck. Nothing will weigh me down. But the taste was too warm, too exciting, too comforting. So I put one foot in. Only one leg. The heat hits the leg. So I slide the other one in and pull the folded covers up to cover the rest of me. My body sinks comfortably. She disappears – in the sheets, in the mattresses and finally in this bottomless pit. Here is another autumn spiral.
MiC columnist Roshni Mohana can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.