But you seem fine.
You look like you’ve been doing well!
You don’t seem depressed on social media.
Why didn’t you tell me you were feeling bad?
Don’t assume. You know what they say. I’ve gotten so good at hiding how I feel, shoving the emotions down so far I seem to misplace them altogether, that even those closest to me don’t see a thing.
I’m sneaky. I’m clever. I know the right things to say and do and wear. I know how to hide the scars, internal and external, and pretend like they’re not even there (are they even there?)
I’m sneaky. I’m clever. This gets me in trouble.
I’m often in trouble.
I don’t want you to take it personally. Really, I don’t. It’s not you, it’s me (really, it is).
The facade I maintain is one I’ve been perfecting for years, my fears of vulnerability stemming from a long list of disappointments and misplaced trust.
I don’t like to worry anyone,
don’t like to be the center of attention,
don’t like to be the one to drag the party down.
So, if I ask you for help, know that it’s taking every ounce of me to do so,
every last fiber of my being to muster up the courage to let my guard down and stand before you with my heart in a box of doubt, tied together neatly with my greatest insecurities and nightmare-inducing thoughts.
And I’m sorry if I haven’t.
Don’t be offended if I never do.
But you have a great life.
People have it much worse than you do.
I know. Really, I do. Guilt is my middle name. It seeps into my bones and erodes my body from the inside out. What’s left is nothing more than a pile of skin cells and disappointment.
People are starving.
Dying (why do I wish I was dying?).
I’m sorry. I am. That’s all I can say (that’s all I know how to say).
I’m sorry I feel this way.
I wish I could change it. I wish I could fix the world’s problems with a swish of a wand, with a big bandaid stuck across its oceans and continents, one that heals the hurt across the globe.
I wish I could do the same for my own mind, for my own heart,
for the hurt I endlessly feel as the days stretch on and the months stretch on and this life stretches on and on
I wish I could fix my problems as easily as magic or medicine.
Maybe that’s selfish.
Maybe that’s survival.
You can’t love anyone else until you learn to love yourself.
But you see, I don’t think I’ll ever really,
I don’t think I know how (do I know how?).
Will I ever really learn, as easily as I learned how to write my name or tie my shoes or ride my bike across the pavement?
Will I get an eviction notice plastered to the door of my heart, a “Do Not Enter” sign stapled to the aorta?
Will it whisper softly,
As it beats,
to keep me alive?
Will I just be lonely forever?
Why are you on so many medications?
Why don’t you try exercising or eating healthier?
What about deep breathing or meditation?
You see, I know all of that, too. I lose track of the pills in my medicine cabinet,
all the dosages and names and bottles,
all of it blurring in my vision as I count the tiny circles and oblong ovals in my palm each morning and afternoon and night.
But, you see, it’s taken two years to figure out just the right combination of ovals to make the dark things less dark, the bad thoughts less bad.
Two years is a long time and sometimes I worry if it was time wasted (I worry that most of my time is wasted).
And sometimes the dark things are just as dark, the bad thoughts just as bad, anyway.
Sometimes my only exercise for the day is running away from my problems. This kind of running allows me to stay under the covers. Most days dragging myself out of bed feels like a marathon.
Panicking makes breathing difficult. Meditation seems unrealistic for my clouded mind.
I appreciate the advice, really, but I can’t emphasize enough how difficult it is to hear all of it day in and day out,
and day in and day out,
and day in and day out,
always constructing some combination of excuses to make them stop talking at me like I am a child.
It’s just not that simple, as much as I wish it was (I wish it was).
It’s not that big of a deal.
You’re being dramatic.
But, you see, it is that big of a deal. Making mountains out of mole hills is my specialty and crying over spilled milk is part of my morning routine.
I know I’m overreacting. Trust me, I do. I know more than anyone that my thoughts are out of control and my actions are beyond what they should be. I know.
Dramatic used to have a positive connotation for me. I put my extroverted personality onto the stage rather than in my personal life, but here I am panicking under the showerhead because I’ve got six assignments due at the end of the week and my friend hasn’t replied to my text in two hours and 13 minutes but they’ve already opened my SnapChat and I watched a group of girls walk by me and laugh and I’m positive it was because I didn’t wear makeup that morning because it took me over an hour to convince myself to get out of bed and I ran out of time after pulling my limbs into the shower and I nearly died walking to class because I didn’t look both ways before I crossed the street and I haven’t told anyone that I did it on purpose (I did it on purpose).
That stage is now my life and I am constantly putting on a show where people leave at intermission.
Maybe it’s not that big of a deal.
Maybe I’m overreacting.
Maybe I’m being dramatic.
Maybe I’m me.
Maybe I don’t like any of those things (I don’t).
Are you okay?
How are you doing?
Do you need to talk?
Keep asking. Keep asking.
Because I may say,
“Yes, I’m okay.”
“I’m good, how are you?”
“No, I don’t need to, thanks.”
And I just might be lying to you (I am probably lying to you).
But one day I may get the courage to say,
“No, I’m not.”
“Not so good, actually.”
“Yes, I do, please.”
One day I might find the courage to ask for help even though it’s taking every ounce of effort not to run the other way,
not to shove the feelings down like I’ve done so many times before,
not to plaster that signature smile across my face like wallpaper, a sickening slap of paste across my lips that seals the sadness in tight.
So don’t be offended if I lie. It’s not you, it’s me (really, I mean it).
So keep asking. Keep asking.
Please keep asking.
Please don’t stop asking.
This piece comes from our community member Sandra Mercer. You can find her other powerful entry in our Coping series here.
Feel free to leave a comment for Sandra below.
Always remember you are not alone.
You are loved.
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