I had never been the center of anybody’s world and frankly, that had never even been my aim. I was happy to exist collaterally, having a repute and importance of my own.
I was looked up to by kids from the family, looked on to by adults for help with dealing with tricks of my generation. I had a close-knit circle of friends and teachers who would turn to me when they needed to. Nothing special, exactly like it is with the rest of us.
Until it all changed…
Things changed, and now it came to the point where everything revolved around my mental illnesses. If I was acting this way, it was “because of my depression”; or if I acted that way, it was “because of my anxiety”. I was distant, moody, tired, low, not doing well at school, not socializing, not eating, not sleeping, not standing, not walking… anything. All because I was “not well”.
Depression was my new identity and I had not had the privilege of choosing it. I was constantly living the ‘blame-life’, and somehow my parents, and to some extent me too; were trying to dodge every question and every finger that was pointed at me, blaming my behavior and all actions to this one ‘disease’ that I had now.
No, I wasn’t the same person that showed up at every social gathering; not because it was required but because I wanted to.
I was not the same person who’d plan out vacations well in advance; not to make holidays fun and easy, but because I could not hold onto the excitement.
I wasn’t the same person that the teachers couldn’t stop talking about.
I wasn’t the same person that my friends wouldn’t go out without.
“She’s just not that person anymore, she’s … ‘sick’”, everybody would say.
There came a point when I distanced myself; from people and feelings alike. I developed a fondness for empty things that shouldn’t otherwise be, like vacant school compounds after working hours; or cafes with no customers. Like hushed streets in big cities, or a house that had been put up for sale. I liked the emptiness that was anxiously waiting to be filled; I could relate to them and felt at ease with them.
Maybe because it hit closer to home than I’d ever admit.
I had lost sight of who I really was. I was consumed by the idea that I was a mere reflection of all that was ‘wrong’ in my head, of the sections of my brain that were not corresponding to society’s ‘accepted’ way.
I was tired, but it was the kind that sleep could never fix.
There were days when I felt more like myself, on others I couldn’t recognize the person I was becoming.
Some days I woke up, and found it hard to move. On others, I did not move at all. And it is not just physical movement I talk about here. I was not only immobile, I was immovable.
And with no intent to change that.
It’s weird how we all have a voice inside of us, a voice that we use to talk to our own selves in our head. It is the voice that you hear when the world falls silent and still.
There were days when my voice was so feeble that I could hardly figure out what it was trying to tell me. Then there were some when the loud screams were so powerful that I could hardly hear anything over my own voice. It was difficult to find a way to my own self.
And then there were the worst days. When all I could hear was my own breathing and it grew more and more laboured with every next breath I took. The silence screamed out loud and I struggled with it.
I had been bent and bruised. I now had an identity that I could not associate with personally. And somehow words and opinions managed to reach the destination before I physically could.
What happened then? I stopped looking to save myself; I had honestly lost hope that I ever would. More than anything, I wanted to save people from myself. My family, my friends, teachers; people who knew me, people who cared.
I could see it in their eyes when they looked at me. Their eyes spoke tales of sympathy.
Eyes blinded by tears.
Eyes that struggled to hold onto hope that I would get better.
Throughout the struggling years, I forgot that there was still a person inside of me. There was still a person who liked reading and crying her eyes out over romance novels at 12 am. Who got giggly about weird things that were not even funny. Who didn’t look for a reason to buy flowers for herself. Who got excited looking at balloons, and butterflies and airplanes before they finally managed to disappear behind the clouds. I forgot about all these normal human emotions and actions that I still had in me.
I forgot and soon began to take interest only in things that involved my sicknesses, the things that I thought told me who I was now.
The thing is; I never lost that girl. The person I was before I was consumed by these illnesses was still inside, I just forgot about her.
I just forgot about her but she is still in there, waiting for me to dust off thoughts that had held me captive and continue from where I left off.
I wanted to find myself again. Only, I didn’t know how to.
I knew I was looking for a sign; I was waiting for something that would change me.
What was it, you ask?
I didn’t know.
But then it happened one day. I hadn’t planned it in advance, hadn’t even thought about it. And if I am to be honest, it was the last thing I was expecting.
I woke up, and I looked at myself in the mirror; my dark, round, soft, wounded eyes looked back. And I swear I had never felt so many things all at once.
I woke up.
And that seemed enough at the time.
Today I am both, better and worse, because of myself. I am tidying up. I am no longer living the blame-life, and I am learning to take charge. I am learning to establish a balance; to stay still sometimes but not stuck.
I have been bent and bruised, but not broken yet. I no longer have room for your negative thoughts because I’m busy throwing out my own.
I’m beginning to love the dark parts that are under my skin. I know I have started a little late and that I don’t have forever. But if I take it really slow, really slow, it may just feel like I did.
The month of May is celebrated as the Mental Health Month.
It takes a lot of strength for people to come out and talk about these issues because of the social stigmas that they carry. It is about time that changed.
This post was written only to prod you to acknowledge struggles, celebrate triumphs, and just stand together for each-other. Everybody is capable of helping themselves, but we could all do with a little support every now and then.
Let’s make people feel like they are not alone in this. Let us not feel alone ourselves. Let’s talk about it?