Representations of Home Creative Journal

ROAM - Spring/Summer 2021 - ROAM 1

Jane Arsenault

“Home, Cave, Mind Trap: It’s All the Same Thing”

My home is not a home. It is, in fact, my parents’ home. They let me stay here, even though I am in my 50s, because they are afraid for me, afraid of what I might do.

My home is not a home. It is, in fact, just a bedroom in my parents’ home. I stay here, even though I am in my 50s, because I am afraid for me, afraid of what I might do.

Because I am mentally ill.

Do not be alarmed. Mental illness is common, pervasive even, and not at all like the ways entertainment and media show it. I am no psycho killer or raving lunatic. I am not even a crazy cat lady. There are days when I do nothing but cry; there are days I am a whirlwind; there are days when I am like everyone else. I appear quite normal in most social settings and most people don’t know about me.

But I am mentally ill.

Since childhood, I have had a cluster of related mental illnesses -- depression, insomnia, anxiety, disordered eating, low self-esteem, and, yes, suicidal thoughts. These affect every aspect of my life. But having mental illness does not prevent the addition of extras for good measure. Now I also have complex PTSD, reliving any number of terrible events in my dreams, in my bed, in my parents’ home. And with a head injury and age, I am not only mentally ill, I am increasingly sanity-challenged.

I tell you this not so you will feel sorry for me, but to provide a background for my home/cave/mind trap conundrum. Because home is not where the heart is. Home is what the mind makes.

I moved into my parents’ house because of the heavy psychological toll of my divorce. I thought I would live in their home for about two years. I have been here for eight. When I first arrived, I spent a lot of time in my bedroom crying, but each day I spent more time in the rest of the house and more time with my parents and eventually more time outside and around town. I even started a part-time job. Maybe, I thought, their home is my home again... a childhood regression to comfort and protection.

I thought I was doing well, and then the Covid-19 lockdown happened. That was fine. We had a lot of supplies and my parents and I get along very well. And I was daily well balanced at the time.

But I noticed that I was changing. Rapidly.

Within two weeks, I was experiencing manic episodes.

At one month, I threatened to quarantine my dad in the garage for two weeks if he didn’t follow my safety protocols.

Three months in, I was trapped in my bedroom. I left only to use the washroom and to eat my meals. That’s it. I spent the rest of my time in my bedroom.

And here I remain, no longer in the home, but in my bedroom.


I am growing ever fearful of leaving this room. Indeed, it is no longer my bedroom. It is my home. No, it is my cave. I am outside of civilization, right in the middle of it. I feel both trapped and liberated here because no one comes in or out, not even my parents. Only I occupy this space. I am safe here -- only my parents know of my existence, if being alone in a cave of one’s own constitutes existence.

But I am not alone in my cave. There are ghosts... not ghoulish spectres but mind ghosts. The thoughts creep in and I am caught in the mind trap housed within my body. And here’s where things get murky.

Each day, my mind removes me further from the sounds coming in through the windows.

Each day, my mind removes me further from the sunlight and nature.

Each day, my mind moves me further from civilization.

I now fear passing the threshold to re-enter the rest of my parents’ house.


Now my mind wants to make this room, my little home and cave, the universe. Already my home/cave bedroom is isolated in space and time, away from my parents’ home, and humans, away from Earth and reality. I have motionlessly moved from the home to the cave and on to the unknown. I am immune in my home/cave/mind trap -- because my space is detached from reality and time. I am secured against invasion, illness, destruction. And it is infinite. I am safe forever. The outside has disappeared. The people are all gone. I am alone in my solitary universe inside my mind, inside my bedroom, inside my parents’ house, inside the city.

The mind trap has taken me, home and all, into a solitary universe where I merely watch the world and wait for it to collapse into its own depravity and degradation.


If I stay here any longer, I won’t ever be able to get out.

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