My time at the sessions is now a period of confession, an outpouring of emotions, before moving on to assist others.
Not everyone is doing as well as me, particularly the members who have been coming for more than a few months. They haven’t totally regressed in that they are more enthusiastic about life than before, but it’s the visions that are creeping back in. I do my best to circuit the room and tell them to also express their mood when not in this room. I tell them what Dr Chowdry told me; to talk out loud, speak to anyone they know, to write things down, anything that removes the stopper and allows negativity and harboured doubt to escape. I’ve taken to hanging around after the subsequent session to impart my knowledge to those patients as they exit. Look at me, a Samaritan.
There’s one thing that jars them though and, I must admit, me too. None of us have any stories to tell about what happens when these invaders in our dreams actually reaches us. We are all watching our deceased gradually invade our space. What exactly are we up against? Being the originators of this condition is keeping all of us on edge. I can’t deny I’m concerned that goodwill seems to be diminishing for some of us, but I refuse to flick the first domino in that particular effect.
Concern will help to self-perpetuate my condition.
No, I’m staying positive.
I needed the session tonight, like a drug, a shot of positivity to the heart to pull me out of this mini-crisis of confidence brought on by the pessimism of last week. Personally I still feel good (though the days have felt longer) but the others injected the idea of regression into my system and I’m determined to see it off.
I enjoyed the short walk to King’s College as it was a pleasant evening, but from some distance away I could hear shouting and general noise at the front entrance. There were many, many people there, and not all of them were scheduled to be, either; I recognised a few faces from the session that follows mine there early. They just seemed to be gathered there for no discernible reason. They weren’t protesting, or causing major unrest, but the mood was unquestionably tense. I would be lying if I said I was relaxed myself. I squeezed through without making eye contact with the faces I knew and hurried into my session.
We began with questions that John struggled to answer. Who are all of those people? Are they from other sessions? If so, why are they here tonight?
John’s just a volunteer, not an expert. He asked us all to focus specifically on our problems and not concern ourselves with external elements we cannot influence. The session continued as normal but during the quieter moments you could hear those outside. When it was over, we exited through the front as usual and there were groups formulating modest camps, as if intending to wait it out there.
I have no idea whether this is a consequence of PZSD. I have no idea if this is even related to PZSD. The lack of information drags the optimism from my very soul and I don’t know where to go to find it.
I’m trying my very best to remain in the ascent. I don’t want to go back down there.
In the space of a week, the scrum outside of the hall has expanded considerably. Hundreds of people are congregated there; there are tents set up and sleeping bags unfurled alongside them. The pedestrianised space in front of King’s College has been seized by squatters. I had to barge and push my way through the crowd to reach the steps and it reminded me of something you’d see on the news when aid is dropped into a war-torn territory and civilians are frantically clamouring for relief. It appeared that very few, if any, of the crowd that I bundled my way through had the requisite access to enter, if that was indeed their desire. I tried to approach one or two of them, my journalistic instincts stepping forward to find out what their motive was, but I was dismissed as ‘Preservation scum’ for asking questions. I was struck; that’s the kind of phrase you just wouldn’t have heard six months ago. A possible reason for the reaction confronted me as I reached the entrance.
Four Preservers, positioned either side of the door and with automatic weapons wrapped around their shoulders, were checking identification and turning away, forcefully, those who shouldn’t be there.
I made my way to the door and asked the first guard, a young man, early 20s I would suggest, what they were doing here. He verbally abused me, quite deliberately in front of others, asking to ‘see my fucking papers or get off the fucking steps’. Embarrassed, I could sense eyes boring through my back, so I flashed my driving licence and sheepishly staggered into the session. As I looked behind me, I don’t think I’ve ever personally seen so many desperate faces staring up from the crowd.
John told us not to concern ourselves with the turbulence outside. He reminded us that the Preservers are only here for our protection and that this was a safe, friendly environment. We began to discuss the travails of the week as usual, though, strangely, it was unanimous that everyone had had a troubling time. There were only stories of despondency, of suicidal thoughts, and visions of departed friends returning to resume their quests.
It is therefore fair to assume, diary, this was not an experience I appreciated. I feel strange and I don’t want to write any more.