Journal. Short Story.

It feels weird to be writing this, but I was told it needs to be done. Dr. Jacobi said I should write down my thoughts and feelings, that it would help get to the bottom of things. I’m doing what he said, but I’ve changed it a little. He said that I should write in the journal and give it to him, so I’m going to do that, but I also have this one. I feel like I can be more honest here. Besides, it will help me explore my own thoughts and feelings and that is what therapy is all about, right? Hell I might even figure out what’s wrong with me. I know they say there’s no shame in going to therapy, but I don’t believe that. I am ashamed and I am embarrassed. Why am I the only person that needs to go? Everyone else I know is fine, they’re happy. They’re content. Why can’t I be? I’m hoping that if I have somewhere I can be truly honest I can pin down the reasons why. Who knows, maybe if I do figure it out I can finally stop therapy. I might even show Dr. Jacobi this one day and if I do, well, I can always self censor some of the stuff first.

Work was ok today I guess. I feel good, but I’ve been feeling good the last few days. I mean, I feel good and I know that that is good, but there’s something else. Something always at the back of my mind. I can’t really focus on it, whenever I try it goes away or I get interrupted by something. Everyone else is so happy at work, always smiling. I smile too, but I feel like I don’t really mean it, not like they all do. They were all talking about the weekend and how excited they were for the company picnic and I was agreeing and nodding along, but I don’t want to go to the picnic. I want to do something myself. I feel like I’ve lost myself, the core of who I am. I need some time alone, to re-center. But of course, that’s too much to ask. My weekends and evenings are already filled with activities and I can’t back out of them. Well, I could say I was sick, but I’d feel like I was letting everyone down. Besides, I don’t think Dr. Jacobi would approve. He said the last thing I needed was to be moping around my apartment, dwelling on things. That was why the journal. I could let stuff out in controlled bursts and we could dissect it all afterwards, in a safe place.

I’m so tired all the time. I don’t know why. It’s worrying me. I can still do stuff and I can function, but it’s like there’s a haze over me. I’m sleeping and it’s a good seven hours, but I always feel so tired when I wake up. I’ve been having nightmares. Well, I don’t really know if they’re nightmares. I always thought of nightmares like scary movies in your brain, but it wasn’t like that at all. Well, I can’t really say for sure, I’ve never seen a scary movie. But it wasn’t all death and blood and violence, it was just feelings and smothering darkness and a constant heavy pressure on my chest. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. It was terrible. When I woke up my blankets were damp, at first I thought maybe I’d wet the bed. I haven’t done that since I was a teen. Sometimes when the nightmares happen I wish I could just wake up and maybe take a few deep breaths to clear it all away, then go back asleep.

I went on a date last night. Dr. Jacobi thought it was a good idea. I didn’t like it at all. She kept smiling at me, but her smile was too wide and showed too much of her teeth. The smile didn’t reach her eyes either. Her eyes were weird. Like they were too wide. Like she was playing pretend at being happy or something. She always laughed too loud at things that weren’t funny. I don’t know why Dr. Jacobi thought I might like going on a date. I felt like she wanted to tell me something, but I couldn’t figure out what. Like I was two steps behind the entire time. I didn’t like that feeling. It was like being on the outside of a joke. Maybe she wasn’t right in the head, like me. Maybe that’s what it was. I’ve been feeling worse the last few days. Not as happy. I haven’t told Dr. Jacobi. I’m afraid he might want to commit me. They say it’s for protection, that once I’m better I’ll be allowed leave, but I’ve heard about people who don’t come out. Everyone has. People say how terrible it was, how they seemed like such a nice person. I don’t want people talking about me like that. I don’t want to just go away forever. Who will even know I was here then?

I sought out and watched a scary movie last night. It was very, very hard to find. The picture was grainy and not very clear, but it didn’t seem all that frightening to me. Not like I was told they were. I destroyed it after I watched it. I felt bad, but I didn’t want to get caught with it and I wasn’t sure who to give it to. The dreams are scarier than the movies, with their bright red blood and big, sharp knives. The crushing darkness is scarier. I think life would be easier in a scary movie. You can protect yourself, you can do things to make sure you’ll survive. You can do that anyway of course, but sometimes it doesn’t always work. Here you can die for any reason at any time. You could just disappear one day. I don’t want that to happen to me. The woman I went on a date with asked me to go out again. I was surprised. Normally whoever was asked the first time, asks the second. It seems like a good system to me, alternate the asker and then everyone is happy that people want to go out with them. There’s no room for confusion. Her asking has confused me. I don’t know if I want to go out with her again. I haven’t told Dr. Jacobi about it. I said I didn’t really like her like that before. He’d think it weird that I went out with her again and I don’t want her in trouble. I might say yes. It’s interesting. Not a lot in my life has been interesting. Not for a good long time.

Feeling even worse. It’s like I’m steadily declining. I told Dr. Jacobi I wasn’t feeling great. He gave me lots of pills to take. They were bitter and hard to swallow, but I took them. They didn’t help. I told him they did so he would let me stop taking them. I wonder if that was the right thing to do now. Everything is starting to seem different. The days seem less bright, the people overly friendly, everything is just a little too perfect. I think it’s some left over side effects of those pills. I went out with the woman again. Her name was Norma, but she told me to call her Sally. She said she didn’t like her name. She’s the first person I’ve met who didn’t like their name. It’s kind of fun. Like a special secret. I know she doesn’t tell people about her name. I wouldn’t if I was her. She seemed a bit calmer this time. She didn’t laugh as much and her eyes didn’t do that wide thing. We even held hands. It was only for a few seconds, in case someone saw, but it was nice.

Dr. Jacobi and I went over the journals I made for him. He seems happy with what I’ve written. I was worried he might be angry, that he’d know I was lying. He took them away to read them while he was alone. I’m glad I have this journal to write in. I couldn’t bare him knowing the things I’ve written here. I know he’d have me locked up if he knew my true feelings or I’d have to take more of those awful, bitter pills.

I’m growing tired of people. They’re all the same. Always smiling and happy and talking about stupid, useless things. I don’t know why I never noticed it before. I smile too, and laugh when I’m supposed to, I even talk about the same stupid things they talk about. It’s all so shallow. Why can’t they see that? How can they really be happy? How could I have been like that? I don’t understand it. I don’t feel as bad lately. It’s strange. I don’t feel happy all the time, I don’t feel sad all the time. I change. Sometimes I might be happy, then I’ll see something and feel sad or vice versa. I don’t think this is normal, but I have no one to ask. Dr. Jacobi would be upset if I told him. I don’t want him to be upset at me. Dr. Jacobi frightens me a little. He reminds me of my nightmares. His teeth are just a little too big for his mouth, his lips a little too thin. His eyes seem shifty to me, like they’re constantly scanning, searching for flaws and cracks that he can latch onto. I thought about telling Sally about my strange changing feelings, but I’m worried that she might not want to see me anymore. I like Sally. She’s different from everyone. Sometimes she is quiet. I like the quiet. Just sitting with someone, not talking. Everyone else has to fill that void, fill it with a stream of empty, meaningless words.

I never noticed how many lies there were before. It’s constant. All the time, everywhere. In ads that promise health and happiness, in what people say when they speak. It’s not how they really feel. The scary thing about it is I don’t think they even know they’re lying. We were eating in the canteen and my cube mate Doris said that the food was delicious today, and everyone agreed, saying how much better it tasted and how fantastic it was. It tasted the same as it always did. I noticed that every day someone will say how much better the food tastes and everyone else agrees. I’ve been paying attention to it, the flavour never changes.

I realised something today. The people, everyone else, they can’t see it. At first I thought maybe they didn’t want to see it. That they were just playing along so they wouldn’t stick out or be sent away, but now I know that isn’t it. They truly don’t know. They think everything they say is the truth. I tried to speak to Sally about it, but it frightened her. She didn’t want me to say such things so I stopped. My sessions with Dr. Jacobi have been reduced. He said I was making good progress. That scared me. I thought he knew everything, that he could see inside me, but he can’t. He’s like everyone else. He couldn’t see it. I don’t know if he is part of it, or if he’s just playing along. I feel like I’m living in a scary movie now. I don’t like it. I keep thinking someone is going to come and take me away.

I’m not scared anymore. They don’t know me, they can’t. There’s too many people. Once I’m careful they won’t see. How could they? Sally and I stopped seeing each other. She knows. I know she does, but she’s too afraid to talk about it. I don’t know why she came to me in the first place. I thought that maybe she could see that I was different. Maybe she didn’t realise how different I would become. I can see it all now. The lies, the misery. It’s all hidden under the façade of being happy and perfect. I know the truth. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to realise it, I don’t even know how I did. I’m going to keep writing this journal. It might not be the safest thing to keep around, but I’m going to keep going. I need an outlet, somewhere to write out my feelings.

I feel different today. Strange. I don’t know if I like it. It’s like there’s a small bubble of air filling my chest, making me float. My head doesn’t seem to be working to well either. I don’t find the boring conversations so boring. I joined in. I agreed with them. Something has changed but I don’t know what. I’m scared. I don’t want to be like them. I don’t want to go back to that.

I feel better today. Happier in myself. Happier than I’ve been in a while. I don’t know how it was fixed. Some men came to my apartment a week or so back. They said there was a gas leak that needed to be fixed. Since then I’ve felt better. Maybe it was the gas that was making me feel so bad. I read over what I wrote before and it scares me how different I became. I’m glad that it’s over now. Dr. Jacobi was right. I think writing it all down helped me come to terms with my feelings and thoughts. I don’t want to go back to how I was. It was so strange, but it finally passed. I don’t think I’m going to write in this anymore. I might keep it, as a reminder of what can happen if issues go unchecked. In case it happens again. If it does I’ll definitely be more proactive about it. I won’t lie to the doctors either. If that gas leak hadn’t been fixed, how long could I have gone on like that? A small part of me thinks I should get rid of the journal. Throw it away, but I don’t see the point. Maybe it isn’t a good idea for me to have it around. Maybe that’s what my brain is trying to tell me, that it might make me sick again or relapse if I read over the thoughts I had. It seems a waste to just get rid of it though. Maybe I’ll give it to Dr. Jacobi. He’ll know what to do with it. I’m sure he’ll be happy to see what I truly felt during that time too. It might help other people who feel the same way.

Goodbye journal, thanks for all the help!

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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