When I was in Primary School, I drew a pencil drawing of my shoe. I must have been incredibly chuffed with it, because I went and got it framed, and thirteen years later it sits proudly as the final remaining decoration on my wall.
I used to have posters, plastering my personality across my room through the bands I liked, through the shows I watched, like most every other child I knew. Eventually, they started getting old as paper does, and I stopped replacing them. Now the walls are covered with tiny marks, disturbances where once blu-tac was affixed, propping up this tapestry of identity.
My face, too, is covered in scars. At age fourteen, like many others, I got hit with acne, but being a red headed kid who once wore sunscreen at night, it really did a number on me. My soft skin hardened up, deep red lines started cutting across my chin and down my neck. I stopped getting new posters around the same time I stopped buying new clothes.
We're linked like that, my room and I. For the better part of the last few years, I haven't felt real, my brain somehow able to conceptualise a version of me that exists purely as words on a twitter page, a voice into a microphone. Yet every day, I would get out of my bed, my hair sometimes sticking to the faded stickers put on by an over-eager six year old who really, really liked Robot Wars. And it'd hurt a little, but I'd probably smile.
When my mental breakdown came, it started in my room, but it waited until I was living in a tiny little student flat, no more than two armspans wide, to really take affect. I didn't talk face to face, I slept through daylight hours, and when I woke I was greeted by these painted white walls, walls that weren't my own. I had never felt less real.
And now I sit, back in that room, at the computer with a bad-for-a-ten-year-old drawing of a shoe hanging over my head. I don't feel good, but I do, at last, feel real. I transferred schools, cleared the desk, and even bought myself a chair, all to return back to the space where I have some control, where I can feel like I exist.
Which brings us to the point of this, and future articles. One of the difficulties of my Asperger's is processing and accepting unfamiliar spaces, which means my connections with the spaces in my life are very intense and personal, and I rely on those connections to keep going each and every day. I wanted to explore that in writing, and through short stories and descriptions document my relationship with the spaces I exist in.
So please enjoy The Real World, an irregular documentation of the spaces in my life, and what they mean to me. It's going to be the most intimate series of mine yet, exploring my lived experience with mental illness openly and frankly, but I hope it's ultimately an uplifting affair.
After all, last week, I put a couple tsum tsums on top of my speakers, arranging them to look as cute as can be. Maybe this weekend, I'll order some new posters, and some point in the future I'll go out shopping for some clothes to wear on my very real, very loved body. And when I do, I'll turn back and smile at that shitty little shoe, and I'll send thanks to my faithful room.