Sometimes, I feel like I exist in two different places.
They aren’t simultaneous – often. Generally I am either in one – the waking world, the world of other people, the world where the mundanity of life exists – or I am in the other. The other is safer. It is contained entirely within my mind. It is imagination and thought and story. It is tempting to think that one of these places is truth and the other a lie, but I don’t think that is how it works.
Of course it’s happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?
There are days where that waking world is my focus, tasks and realities and normal things. And then there are days where I fall into my mind and I cannot get out. The problem is that to be there makes me feel truly alive; but to be there makes me feel separate from all of the things in the world that are real. Except the things in my head are also a part of my reality.
Depression pulls me violently between them. I long for the safety of thought, but am shackled by the responsibility of waking. Sometimes it is the other way round. I want to push for things that are real, but I cannot escape the safety of that ephemeral world. Sometimes it traps me in one and excludes me from the other. Sometimes I spend so much time in one, I forget the other exists.
I call it the waking world because going back into it feels like that. Like waking up. When fully immersed in thought I feel submerged in it – coming out makes me drowsy. Waking up is hard, but necessary. Being pulled from one to the other can be jarring.
And it is the place I go to when I start writing.
Perhaps this is a common feeling, and the complexity of it is one of the reasons that people think that sadness and pain are a font for creativity. Because the truth is, I cannot always tell the difference between being depressed and being held within that world of imagination by my desire read, to write, to create.
I don’t believe that I lied before, when I wrote about finding space within your mind to write. I do need those things – that emptiness, that room. But this is what I need the room for. The other world, where things are imagined – where they are both inconsequential and revolutionary. I need space to fall into it, and room to not have to fall out straight away.
If I haven’t got something to daydream about, or I haven’t escaped into my mind for a while, I start to need it. I’ve never suffered addiction, but the need to imagine things in my mind is sometimes so necessary that I think I might understand it in the smallest way. A grain of sand amidst a beach, but still sand.
All this, of course, leads to the question. What do I do, when all I want is to stay in that world? Do I let myself, and worry less – for a time – about the responsibilities of the waking world? Or do I force myself between one and the other. Which is best for my work, my life, my mental health?
I don’t know. I don’t.
All that I know is that when I step into this other world, no matter how I get there – whether it’s by choice or by illness – I never want to leave it.
Here I am safe. Here, I am anything.