First person: Past tense vs. present tense?

So I'm running into some tense issues with first person.

How do I differentiate between what the character is seeing/experiencing and what they're thinking?:

The room was dark. I couldn't see a thing.


How the fuck am I going to get out of here?

Without any kind of indication, it seems far too easy to get confused by what the character's thinking and what they're noticing.

I'm not a fan of using special markets (i.e. [thoughts]), or italics. The latter kills italics as a point of emphasis and the former feels clunky to read. I think the solution is stylistic? But I'm not sure.



Nevermind, found a solution.

Turns out I can just make the thoughts past tense. Who knew?

Apologies for the spam!

no spam at all. its a good topic. one thing I always think of for first person, its someone telling a story. so while the events they describe will be in the past, they will be describing them as they happened, so you CAN get a weird juxtaposition of past and present. If you don't balance it carefully, it can get really tense.