I know a girl and she put a gun in her mouth.

This girl, she’s otherworldly. She dances all by herself, 7th glass of wine in her hand, eyes closed, moving like she’s harnessed destiny. Sometimes sensual, or funked to the Chili Peppers, sometimes drifting slow and sweet with Adele. Always enchanting.

This girl is different. She doesn’t need anyone, because she carries inside her the same lightning others can only see. She feels the lightning glide through her like rubies and mercury, down and in through her sweet, lithe neck, while it gently tracks its way through her veins, across her chest and her abdomen and directly into her beating, hot heart. The rubies then have her. They make her dance, like a banshee and like a ballerina.

In her small English home, there are rugged forests, fireplaces and bonfires all hiding behind those closed dancer eyes. It’s this girl’s gift. The rubies are a gift from a mystical, faraway place the girl is still trying to understand. But this girl, she earned her lightning rubies. She pays for the rubies and the price is high. So very high.

Let me tell you a story about this girl. Because It isn’t always lightning and rubies for her. One day the girl reached her limit, her edge. The black walls leaned in and closed in, forcing her down, and down. The reason why doesn’t matter. She was lying on her dank bed, eight days into the depression grind, head wedged into and hiding under her soaking pillow, bawling into another kind of death. That death that comes before the other death. Essence crushed, and the spirit leaving her, her body shuddered as in seizure, while she cried a thumping cry for mercy; she cried for an end to her agony, as her soul bled out, helplessly. No-one answered. Nobody heard the girl’s cries. It was just the girl, and all of the world, in all of its misery.

The stars and the magic were hiding from the girl and she couldn’t find them anywhere, no matter how hard she tried. In her clenched hand the girl held a bottle of pills. The killer pills, her shotgun, the doorway out, a simple and effective escape plan; an end to too many years of suffering, a genuine and excruciating pain she had been unable to contain. A one-time addict, imprisoned by what her doctors called borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder. The girl was in the midst of tragic, invisible loss. Always torn by fallout from magnetic, yet dreaded impulsivity where her mind would leave her behind and her primal self would take her, while self-loathing would overwhelm her.

Potent mood swings and bursts of uncontrollable outrage, and occasionally psychosis took her down too. The girl never knew when one, or both, of those demons would own her, and especially when there would be elusive mercy. Never peace. Never tranquility. Forever vulnerable, forever under fire. No acceptance or understanding from those she cherished most; those who were supposed to love her unconditionally. Her life defined by turmoil and tumult. So there they were.

The killer pills, the shotgun. The answer. The solution. But this girl, she put the pills down and she got up. She got up, again. Again. Yet again. Like those 10,000 times before. A 36-year-old woman with two serious mental illnesses running wildly inside of her mind, ferociously and menacingly in tandem, but she never once failed to get up. Not once has she failed to get up.

This day would be the same.

This is why I will now only have a relationship a woman who has serious mental health challenges. My decision has been made for a series of important reasons. Mostly it is because I know immediately how brave those women are. I firmly believe you do not know what another human being is made of until they have been confronted with a genuine crisis of the soul. Death, betrayal, addiction, madness and beyond. Any woman who has a mental illness and is still here has my immense respect and admiration. So do those who have gone.

Those women have stood on the cliff’s edge. They’ve stared it down. They’ve searched themselves in that ink black way where you ask that question. “What for, what the fuck for? Why the fuck should I keep going? Why? Why the fuck should I? And who the fuck are you to tell me that I have to stay here, that I am weak to choose the shotgun? Who the fuck are you?” And yet somewhere in there they all found something. It may well be something they aren’t even able to articulate, but they found something. Something where the soul moves, that made them double-take, turn around, walk away from the cliff’s edge and wander homeward, mesmerised, disoriented, but somehow, all but inexplicably, emboldened.

Because confronting death fortifies. It does. And I am quite sure those reasons are not about backyard barbeques, dinner parties, sports matches and conversations tarnished with dangerous gossip, wine, lipstick, lingerie parties and limp, boppy, pop music. And frankly, the answers they found out there on the cliff are not my business. That is, by definition, women’s business. I’m simply enamoured and enraptured by the fact they found answers and a reason to stay in the face of sustained torture. To keep moving, to remain, to carry on. To endure. To live.

Some of the women I know with serious mental health battles are brave like Vikings, they have insight like sages, they have depth like monks, they search for their truth and they know the truth when they see it. They are oh-so-vulnerable and yet oh-so-strong to endure. Yes, they endure. They are my kind of women. They are my kin. They are my authentic friends and sometimes, just sometimes, one becomes my lover.

I know a girl and she put a gun in her mouth. I know a girl and she dances with lightning, mercury and rubies coursing through her heart.

I know a girl. I know a girl, and she understands.

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