Last week was…draining. I spent time with my loved ones but it didn’t provide the usual recharge I’ve grown accustomed to. Even when you spend time with people you like, it’s not always a guaranteed mental refresh. Usually, I can count on certain companions for comfort. Although I felt supported, I let my anxiety undermine said support. It’s funny how having feelings for someone derails your train of thought. This didn’t define my entire week, certainly. Between this interaction and a lack of seeing friends past Wednesday, I was running on low. So I talked to a friend about how I felt. I described it in my best terms. I might write a poem about it one day, but until then I’ll share what I told her.
I described my flat affect, as psychology deems it, as sluggish. Lots of people think of adorable sloths. I’m not cute when I’m drained, thus my characterization of self as a slug. I feel slimy and unwanted, even in my own skin. It’s not a body image thing, as much as every solid belief becomes slick with slug slime. You adhere to the nearest, clearest ideas which usually end up being toxic. This isn’t the worst state to be in, by the way. Slugs, although unattractive and grotesque, still function. They’re not too problematic, just potentially frustrating and agonizingly unproductive.
Salted slugs are worse. Salt melts the delicate flesh of slugs, among other creatures. If you’ve never seen salt on a slug, consider yourself fortunate. I witnessed this in childhood, and it was rather Kafka-esque. The morbidity was tragic and the writhing of this sad, disgusting creature filled me with uncomfortable remorse. I pitied this thing as it vigorously squirmed to death on the pavement. It sought relief, but there was none.
I never imagine relating to something like this. I never would want to. I don’t know anyone who desires to feel like a salted slug. The same goes for mental health issues. Sluggishness is a step above being a salted slug. In a human sense, it’s being uncomfortable in your own skin. You fidget and thrash about because you feel stifled by your own heaviness. The weight of these salt crystals burns clearly through your mind. You feel worthless. You doubt everything good about yourself. You ache for want of change. And you do nothing about it. After all, you’re a salted slug. Those don’t have hands to brush away their demise, so they squirm into pools of melted flesh.
Fortunately, I wasn’t a salted slug for very long. That’s a rather dangerous state to be in, as you’re rather defenseless against any mental onslaught. My salted sluggishness resulted from high bouts of anxiety, which quickly became something else. Imagine if the salt didn’t kill the slug, but crystallized upon its back forming into a multifaceted shell. This casing is brittle and still burns the slug but at a slow, constant pace. It’s a taxing burden on the beast and it cuts those who try to remove it.
The crystalline shell doesn’t protect but deter. It removes opportunities for flexibility. It refracts the light all wrong. It provides too many perspectives at once, overwhelming like a Cubist painting. Everything is all angles, sharp and kaleidoscopic. Nothing fits together in a logical sense. It makes the slug angry and irritable. The slug is now weighed down by its helplessness and burning with quiet rage. Unfortunately, the only way out is through.