Every morning when I wake up, there is a rock in my bed.
Sometimes it’s a pebble. This is the best case scenario. I sleep on my back on the left side of the bed. My right arm stretches across the mattress. The pebble will usually be underneath my palm, never digging in, but a comfortable pressure on my skin. It can be smooth, or a little pointy. Either way, it doesn’t affect me much. I can roll out of bed and leave it there. I can easily forget about it and go about my day. I wish I could wake up next to a pebble every day.
However, sometimes the pebble is instead a rock. The rock can be either a quick fix, or something that weighs my mind down.
When the rock is the size of my palm, it isn’t too bad. It can scratch up my hand and arm when I get up. The rocks are always a bit jagged. When I sit up, I can see little bits of dirt and sediment that have fallen off, dirtying my sheets. That’s unpleasant. When I’m lucky, I can brush them off and simply throw the rock in the trash. Other times, the black residue clings to the sheets and needs a go in the washing machine. When a rock in my bed first appears, I know the next few days will most likely bring rocks too. I don’t know why, but they come for about a week or two at a time.
During these stretches of rock appearances, there are always a few days when the rocks are larger. They can get to be the size of a soccer ball. At this size, they roll into the dip in the bed made by my body. I wake up to an uncomfortable stabbing against my ribs. It feels like the sharp edges have cling to the fabric of my tank top, seeking to latch onto skin. It feels like my body is sore and bruised from the rock. I have trouble getting out of bed these mornings. It takes me longer to gather the strength to move. The rock’s weight, though agitating, make my body feel heavier. I’m stuck to the bed, and the day can pass me by. I can pull my comforter up to my chin and curl around the rough stone. My body feels too weak to move. Eventually, I muster the strength to stumble out of bed and start the day. It sets things off on the wrong foot, and I feel off the rest of the day. Sluggish, lethargic, detached.
But that is nothing compared to the boulder. To be fair, I’m not visited by the boulder too often. Unfortunately, when it does come, I know right away. Unlike its smaller brothers, the boulder wakes me up earlier than usual. I’m forced to roll to the center of the bed from the weight of it. The large mass digs into my skin, the backs of my thighs, the sensitive area at the base of my neck. Sometimes I’m facing it, my stomach crushed against the course surface, and my face staring at grey and brown nothingness. I am glued to the bed on these days. Moving is not an option. When the boulder is in my bed, every time feels like it will never leave. I’ll be lying here forever. No one will come to pry me away. I’ll lose everything because I’m stuck next to this anchor of a stone. All I have to do is roll away, plant my feet on the floor, and take one step, I know. But it’s so difficult. The boulder is almost three times the size of me, and no adjustment I make can make the boulder move.
I used to accept the boulder and let it win. Some days, it still does. Other days, I say to myself, I can do it, and, Won’t it feel great to get outside and take a breath of fresh air? Or I simply claw my way to the edge and throw my whole body overboard. The first step is to get out of that damn bed, away from that damn boulder. It’s hard, but I’ve taken to writing myself notes that I tape to the ceiling. Remember you mostly wake up to pebbles, they say. Not every day will bring a boulder.
These are true, and reminding myself of that truth can feel impossible. But I’m starting to look at them and smile.
Sammi Curran is a Writing, Literature & Publishing graduate from Emerson College. Her work has appeared in Corridors Magazine and Gold Dust Magazine. She has a blog where she talks about her struggles with living with mental illness and promoting positivity to her lovely readers. Visit her at simplyotterlysammi.