For the last week – I think it’s been a week – I’ve felt as if I were inhabiting a Munch painting. Not one of the ones I find pleasant, like “Moonlight on the Shore”, “Forest”, or “Girl on the Beach”; but one of his more deliberately repellant pieces that has a kind of perverse sensibility. “The Scream”, “Puberty”, “Self-Portrait in Hell”, or most closely, “Death in a Sickroom” and “The Sick Child”.
It is an oddly disturbing world in which things seem vague and ominous. Threatening. But it is an unrealized hazard – it hasn’t yet come to pass and may not, and you can’t quite put your finger on what it is. The sense of peril itself is the bad feeling. It makes me irritable and critical, and it dulls the things that should be enjoyed.
I maintain a placid exterior surface, but just beneath, instants of uncharacteristic anger – unfocused rage – seethe. They need only the slightest excuse to break through the skin. I know from long experience that the least bad course of action in this state is to be by myself. That is often misinterpreted by others … they see it as a sleight or snub … they see me as unfriendly, even uncaring. But it is better than the alternatives.
My life does not always allow me that luxury of solitude, however. Commitments loom over my head and take every waking moment. I am forced to be be social to the point of obnoxiousness.
I you were to ask me what was wrong, I would say everything … or nothing.
I would say that in all honesty because it is how it feels. But I know that would be untrue. It follows a pattern. I only get this way when I am sick, run down, overly tired, or under intense or unusual stress.
All of those happen to be true now. But I can pinpoint the start …. I’ve spent the last several days trying to figure out whether I have allergies, a freakish cold, or scarlet fever. OK – I’m dabble in hypochondria. It’s not that I think scarlet fever is a likely option; it’s just that my symptoms match rather closely the descriptions my grandmother and mother gave of that disease. A charming bacteriophage, scarlet fever is apparently making a comeback.
Whatever the condition, its net effect is to make me physically uncomfortable, to greatly increase my sleep demand, to incline my mind toward morbid thoughts, and to render me positively misanthropic.