What’s wrong?”

I’m so fucking happy.

Can’t you see it? It’s oozing out of every pore. No. For real. If I squeezed myself like a tube of toothpaste I’d probably projectile vomit joy out of my mouth. I’m so happy I could die. Isn’t that what they say? I’m so happy I could cry. I’m so happy I could sing. I’m soooo happy I could kill you right now. I could –

“I can’t help you if you don’t talk to me.”

Fuck. Off.

No. Even better – fuck yourself. Fuck yourself with two foot long piece of splintered wood. Although let’s not pretend you won’t enjoy it because even your husband doesn’t touch you anymore, does he? It’s written in the sad lines around your mouth, in the coffee-stained mug you hold in your hands, in each crease of your turtleneck. Fix your own sex life before you try to sort out my train of thought, honey. This train derailed a long time ago.

“Don’t you want to make your family happy?”

Happy. Happy. Happy.

I’m happy.

I take a deep breath and smile. Mouth closed. There was a time I smiled and showed my teeth. But the happiness I found at the bottom of the bottle, the happiness I found in stomach acid has rotted them away.

“My parents think I’m depressed.”

Time passes slower than my nightmare last night. Last night I dreamt I was running from a serial killer. But I was running as if I was wading through water. As if my legs were tied down by weights. And I kept on screaming and trying to run but I was so slow that the killer caught me and hacked me into several meaty pieces. The silence passes slower than that.

Then she starts to explain depression – like I haven’t googled the symptoms a hundred times, even though I’m happy – and she reels off the standard advice:

  1. Write a journal
  2. See friends
  3. Don’t drink too much
  4. Sleep well
  5. Eat well
  6. Be happy

Wait, sorry what?

“Have you tried being happy?”

I’m too bemused to laugh. I’ve been to several counsellors in my time. All of them as full of shit as the last victim in The Human Centipede, but she takes the proverbial biscuit. Ninety-two.

But I get it.

Sometimes you just need to try being happy, you know? Sometimes you just need to think positive thoughts. And they’ll be enough to knock the bottle or blade from your hand.

Guess I didn’t try hard enough.

Gotta meet them halfway.

Dad always says that. You’ve got to meet us halfway Tiffany, he says. We’re trying and you’re giving nothing back. Why bite the hand that feeds you?

I’d cut off his fucking hand if he tried to feed me and he knows it.

Mum just cries. She cries and tells me I’m the apple of her eye and why am I doing this to her?

My brother just looks at me like I’m crazy. “You’re as flat as a pancake,” he tells me.

Well at two hundred and sixty three, they’re hardly flat.

Although, to be fair, with Tesco, it’s ‘only’ one hundred and ninety nine.

By the time the counsellor lets me leave, the sun is blistering and the surrounding sky is Second Degree pink. She says she’ll see me next time and that I should definitely meet my friends this week.

She says it like my friends actually give a shit.

I go straight from the counsellor to my doctor’s appointment. Parents’ orders. I think the aim is to get me some happy pills, like happiness for people like me can only be found in artificiality.

“Have you ever tried to commit suicide?”



Bloody hell.


Probably shouldn’t have said that. No happy pills for me. Smooth.

“Do you self harm?”


“Can I see?”

No means no. We’re in the 21st century, damn.

I show him my thighs. He sighs.

Well they’re not deep enough. You’ll be fine.”


You know what you should be worried about though?”

Enlighten me.

 “Keloids. People like you – black people – can get them very easily. You don’t want ugly skin do you?”

Blink once. Blink twice. Wait, the bastard is serious?

No, I want skin as smooth as a baby’s bottom. That’s why I draw a blade across my skin. That’s why I burn myself. Pure as the driven snow? The Bard was thinking of my skin. Clearly.

“There’s a lot going on here, isn’t there?”

I wish I could simplify it. I truly do. I thought the first diagnosis would be the end of it. But my life feels like an endless game of pass the parcel. I unwrap paper to find even more delightful afflictions. The music somehow always stops on me.

“What did you eat yesterday?”

I make up enough crap to add up to exactly two thousand – the average diet of the average person within the average household. Or so it says on the back of mum’s Cornflakes box.

He offers the same old advice.

Next time I feel the urges, I must count to fifty. I must write in my journal. I must go for a run. Then all will be fine. See? It’s as easy as nine hundred and eighty five pie! (But six hundred and seventy eight with Weight Watchers.)

He takes a blood sample – something about checking I have enough iron in my bloodstream. I roll up my sleeve and wince when he plunges the needle through my skin. He tells me not to be a baby – because it’s not like I’m unused to the pain.

Well fuck you very much.

I thank him for his useless – ohsohelpful-advice before leaving the surgery. I should go straight home. I don’t. Instead I go to Max’s.

Max’s fridge is always full. Stepping into his apartment is like dying and going to hell. He opens the door and before I have time to say anything he draws me in by the waist and kisses me.

When we pull apart he grins, running his hand through his hair.

“I’ve missed you.”

He puts an arm around me, shuts the door with the back of his foot and guides me inside.

“Want a drink?”


“What would you like?”

“The usual.”

He fixes the drinks while I wait in the living room. He’s always been private about his kitchen.

I drink in fifty-fives. He drinks in four hundreds. I WIN. We drink until the sun bleeds.

“Burn me.”

No questions. No strange looks. He takes his lighter out of the pocket. I hold my arm out. I swear time passes like a nightmare. I swear I watch the flame burn my skin for several seconds before I feel the pain.

He loves me more than I can handle.

I need – I need to puke. If I don’t puke I’ll have a hangover tomorrow. Hangovers are my least favourite form of torture. And the fifty fives are now five hundred and fifties.  I stagger up. Max takes me to the bathroom. I tell him to wait outside; he doesn’t need to see me throwing up.

I beg him and I’m crying but the bastard won’t leave. I squeeze my eyes shut, shove my fingers down my throat. It’s easy now. Disordered perks. He holds back my hair.

I’m shivering. I swear – I thought I was in control – not tonight, evidently. He carries me to his bedroom, tucks me in bed. We fuck. He bites me, slaps me. When I tell him it hurts, he doesn’t stop.


“Shit. I hope you don’t – think I took advantage – cause you’re drunk – I really like you.”

No. Of course not. But I can’t see him. I think there’s two of him. My teeth are chattering.

S-sorry. S-sorry. P-pathetic.

“You have nothing to apologise for…”


I wake up in the middle of the afternoon. Sunlight bursts through the clouds in yellow bruises.

“Did I eat last night?”

“Shhh, no.”

“There’s crumbs. On the bed. There’s crumbs.”

“I ate. Calm down baby.”

He’s rubbing my back. He’s kissing the skin.

“I…hurt myself again?”


I hold out my arm. The skin is puckered and ugly in several places. Your body is a temple. To be loved. To be nurtured. Not to be burned down. Not to become the charred remains of a family scorched apart.

“Fuck. I’m meant to be getting better.”

“I know. I’m so sorry baby. I just want you to be happy.”

I’m happy.

If you’re happy and you know it, count to ten.

Write a journal.

See your friends.

Have kissable, keloid-less skin.


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