You don’t know me, and I don’t know you. Let’s change that.
I’m twenty years old. I work in a bar, and recently I’ve been letting out my anger. It accumulates in my stomach and then comes out in dribs and drabs. Most days my housemate will do something that annoys me, or I’ll have a problem with my internet connection, and I let it out by shouting. Hitting. Destroying something.
I never used to be angry. I used to be sad. You see, all my life, I’ve been my mother’s care-giver. She had borderline personality disorder, or BPD, and for those who don’t know, I'll give a short explanation of the illness. It’s characterised by emotional instability, difficulty in maintaining long-term relationships, unexplainable anger and anxiety, fear of abandonment, and suicidal behaviour.
My mother also had a strange black-and white way of thinking. This meant that her opinion of, say, a close family member, could switch around in an instant. One moment, she would hold my father in the highest regard; the next, she would become disappointed or angry with him and berate him for his shortcomings.
For years, her doctors thought she had bipolar disorder and prescribed her the wrong medication, which only worsened the symptoms of her BPD. Nobody in the house was safe from her demanding personality.
One evening, after she'd been drinking, my mother argued with my father and hit his face several times. He instructed me to call the police, and I did. My mother was put in a cell overnight, and the next morning, they told her that she was no longer welcome in my father’s house.
It was around this time she was diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy. For those who don’t know, I'll give a short explanation of the condition. It’s a disease of the peripheral nervous system which limits sensation in the extremities, including the hands and feet, and causes chronic pain. It’s also degenerative and would cause my mother increasing pain for as long as she lived.
She was moved into disabled housing, and I went to live with her. We were on a pittance from the government, and our diet suffered as a result. However, my mother was still able to afford her alcohol and marijuana, thanks to a lump sum of money from my father.
I was alone with my mother and her illnesses. Neither of us slept more than four hours a night, and we ate precious little. The medications my mother took for her illnesses made her sick, and before long she stopped being able to keep her food down.
All the time I lived with her, her BPD symptoms got worse and worse. She descended into a manic episode, and I suffered the same bullying as my father had. Her personality became so much, it encompassed every part of my life. She became everything. I was nothing. I was sad.
But then, I got angry.
I was angry at what she’d become. What I’d become. Everything had been soured because of her bloody illnesses. I reasoned with myself that my mother would be happier dead than spending the rest of her life alone, in excruciating pain. She often spoke of suicide, and in her more lucid moments, she told me that her death would solve everyone’s problems.
So it was an easy decision.
My anger spurred me on. I picked a day when she totally aggravated me, and then I offered to make dinner. I made a curry, hoping that the strong flavours would disguise the bitterness of the medication that I crushed into her dish. She’d told me before what overdosing on her amitriptyline and solpadol would do. It would relax all of her functions, even stopping her breathing. And there she would lie, unable to breath, unable to move, and unable to call for help.
When she finished her food, I treated her to a larger than usual serving of vodka and iron brew, and then I left the house.
A few hours later, I came back and found her lying there. She wasn’t breathing. I called for the ambulance.
In a way, I was right about her passing – it freed me. Her ‘suicide’ freed all of us. My family and I could be ourselves again, and I could make my way in the world, unhindered. But she still haunts my dreams, talking me down, berating me.
I discovered back then what anger can make you accomplish. When I’m sad, I am almost nothing. When I’m angry, I feel like I can bring my fist down on the whole world and crush it. Sometimes I think about killing the housemate that annoys me. Sometimes I think about stabbing someone in the dead of night and simply walking away. I probably will, at some point. Anything to feel like a whole person.
So, now you know about me. Maybe I’ll find you and get to know you. Maybe I’ll kill you as well.
Actually, we might already know each other.