word by Annie Rubin
colour by Garry Tugwell Smith
She’s flying. In wisps of purple clouds, planets whizzing by, spinning and floating and falling. It was this chalky white pill, that kind of separated reality from the extra terrestrial. Worlds weaving in and out, setting apart the frenzied train ride from this spontaneous trip in vibrant flashes.
The notion of the free-fall makes her jump with eyes fixated on the green circles of the metro line, they’re reading something altogether different than the weightlessness of her stomach or her fingers pressing onto what could only be hundreds of pins or the tightness in her chest: rising and falling in bursts of colour.
The same five senses designed to orient are skewed. The scent of the subway, the burn of the wheels against the hot metal tracks, and the chorus of echoing voice, chanting something painfully inaccessible are present, distant.
Fighting to define the boundaries of sobriety, she pieces together the images. There’s an empty seat beside her, she tries to listen to the silence. Wanting simultaneously to lie down and to break through the window of the train.
She’s watching herself hover above ground as the medication kicks in. Limbs go numb and the colours fade to a gentle hum of grey. Mood has been stabilized. The subway lurches to a stop and in the mass of bodies collecting at the doors, she makes her way onto the crowded street where her feet plant firmly into the concrete and her head feels lighter, less explosive.
What is left to believe when perception becomes unreliable?*
From the author: “This futuristic image depicts outer-worldly colours and objects. It inspired a piece that confronts mental health topics of perception, depersonalization and the effects of medication. The mixture of sensations represents the profundity of mental illness in its capacity to debilitate a person throughout daily life and the idiosyncratic experiences of depersonalization in a mental health crisis.”