Once I described myself to my therapist as 'skinless'. I meant that I felt raw and exposed, like a person whose body is a mass of unprotected nerve endings.
I wish I could be calm and composed at all times, no matter what. I wish I were able to take everything in stride and withstand all assaults upon my sensibilities with equanimity, like a hard and practiced warrior-philosopher.
But I'm not. Nor does it seem I ever will be. I will always have this short fuse, this defensive streak, this mutable temperament -- and more timidity than I like to admit. And I will keep on wearing my heart on my sleeve and getting angry and blowing up at people I love, only to feel guilty and apologize 15 minutes later.
Sometimes, when I lie in bed trying to go to sleep, my mind will insistently wander down desolate, terrifying crevices, and I'll need to shock myself awake with a shout and a fist to the head. I'll sit up and take in my dark, reassuringly solid surroundings, then lie back down, only to have to keep my eyes open because if I close them my mind will replay long-ago traumatic dreams and fantasies.
I've always derived particular pleasure from reading descriptions of delusions and hallucinations experienced by schizophrenics, preferably accounts written by the patients themselves -- perhaps it's in part motivated by the desire to set myself apart from them, the need to reassure myself that, despite my brittle fragility, I remain sane.