I feel dizzy and my eyes sting, I’m close to falling asleep. I don’t know what time it is, I’ve lost track of time and created a bubble outside of it. The light seeping through the blinds dims after a while and then lights up again slowly. I barely notice it. I’m looking at life through broken glass and I need to know how to fix it. Or at least I don’t want to make it any worse. I need to be alone because every fake smile breaks my heart a little more.
I have my ups and downs, right now I’m more down, almost more than I’ve ever been but I’m still somewhat calm. It’s a fragile calm. A weak, brittle calm that can shatter at the slightest breeze. But for the moment I’m keeping it together. My double bed has become my safe place and my room is a mess and I’m just sitting watching films or series or videos, anything to distract me while I’m awake.
Every time I stay awake a little longer, and every time I wait until the last moment before crashing into sleep. It’s not the sleep I’m afraid of, it’s the moments in between, those moments when it’s only you and the darkness, there’s no music to drown out the unwanted voices, no video to concentrate on, only you. That’s when they whisper…
You’re all aloneNobody caresAs if anyone would notice if you just diedThey don’t want to knowThey’re better off without youYou’re so indiscreteYou can’t keep a secretCan’t be relied onYou’re a terrible friendWhat did you ever do to deserve someoneYou’d be better off dead…
Ringing forever in my head. The voice of self-loathing and all that goes with it. I contradict it at every turn but it gets harder and harder and it finds proof of my uselessness and everything I do wrong crashes down on me and I feel a thousand eyes crushing me with judgement. I never asked for this.
So I look up films to watch and I nibble on my tomatoes and crisps and chocolate and whatever else is lying around. And I stay awake until I’m too tired to think. And I crash into sleep in daylight.
I know I can’t keep this up. I’m riding this moment out but there’s always this little voice saying what if it doesn’t stop?
My heart and mind are in pieces. I can’t think straight and I’m too tired to care. My eyes sting too much.
I’m going to clear my bed and sleep now.
Some days are better days, some days are worse days. This has been going on for about a month now, it’s never been this long or this bad. But there are different days and not every day is necessarily bad; there can be better days, or good moments even during the bad days. I’ve cried but I’ve smiled and laughed too and that’s part of what makes this bearable. Some days are roller-coasters where I can be happy in one instant and devastated in the next. One thing people might not know though is that some days are just waiting days.
Some days you wake up and you know you’re not going to do anything, sometimes out of a lack of will or motivation, but also sometimes out of choice. Sometimes you just don’t know what to do so you just focus on staying quiet and calm even if that means lying in bed all day. Or you could want to give people a rest, you could be feeling like you’re bothering the world with this and you don’t want to bother… so you waste a day, because you feel like the world is better off without you. It could also be that you don’t or no longer know who to turn to, so instead of burdening or frightening someone you’d rather contain it so at least you’re the only person it hurts. Or at least you hope so, because you can never know how other people are feeling. For me I guess the reason is a bit of everything. So I just move around, usually with music or watching a series to distract me from the deeper thoughts because I’d rather not hear them right now.
It’s sad, I think, how feelings other than “like” or “don’t like” quickly become taboo. How people are afraid of love or depression. Those are things rarely talked about in real life, things kept hushed because strong feelings scare people away. We’ve come to a point where emotion is weakness. When my friends see me mentally unwell most of them just ignore me, are they embarrassed? Are they afraid I’ll drag them down where I am? Or are they just afraid I might break if they touched me? They must know that isolation is a bad thing for me if I’m depressed but they isolate me anyway. No-one prepares you for this: they don’t prepare you for depression and they don’t prepare you for handling people or friends who could be depressed. Maybe something could be done, at school maybe, to talk about feelings instead of making children suppress them. I don’t know.
I’ve thought about dying. And yeah I know that’s not something you’re supposed to say but it’s true. I’ve never completely wanted to die, because I know to some extent what that could do to certain people. So I’ll stay alive to protect them. And I keep telling myself that it’ll get better, it has to, I can’t live like this forever and besides it always gets better. I try to hold on to that hope as much as I can. And I’m trying to be less harsh on myself, the depression is doing more than enough about that. I haven’t tried dying, and I’m hesitant to add “yet” at the end of that phrase, I can’t know what will happen, I can only hope I’ll stay strong enough for it to never happen. I don’t want to die. But sometimes it can be hard to want to live too. It tears me apart, mainly at night, it reminds me of all the times I’ve been rejected, all the bad things said about me, how people must feel about me, all the mistakes I’ve made and I feel like the world would be better off without me and it hurts. It hurts so much. I try to fight it, find counter-examples, but mostly I just try to make it stop because at the time I know that I can’t find enough examples to win. And then I think of what would happen if I died, and I see it happening to the people I love, the tearing apart, and I think “I can endure this for them”, because I don’t want them to feel this pain, ever.
People can be quick to tell you what’s wrong, to tell you off for some mistake you made or yell at you because they misunderstood your actions, people are better at accusing and blaming and insulting than telling others they love them. So it can be hard, when no-one tells you they love you and you have all these voices in your head, and outside of it, telling you what’s wrong with you. People take love for granted, but sometimes we need to hear that we are loved. If someone told me that, I might feel a little better, it could help fight all the bad things. But no-one tells me, because those who love me just take it for granted, they figure I don’t need reminding, but I can feel myself slipping and I’m desperately trying to hold on to anything, and everyone seems to be pulling away. If I just let go now, who would catch me in my fall?
You can’t understand how hard it is
You can’t hear me
As I say
You can’t see exactly how much
It tears me apart
When I smile for you.
You can’t feel what I feel,
How much it hurts
Just to breathe…
And to contain
All the thoughts,
Spinning out of control
I know it’s my fault,
I won’t hold anything against you,
But my heart’s in pieces,
And I just want to stop.
I want it all to stop.
I keep screwing things up,
For me and everyone else.
It’d be better if I just
I don’t deserve to live,
No matter how much good I may have done
The bad always seems to overshadow it.
I don’t deserve to die,
I would just be causing people pain.
I’d rather keep that pain to myself.
And maybe it’ll be enough…
To stop hurting people…
And maybe one day it’ll stop hurting me
My angel and my demon
Live side by side,
It’s not very stable,
But it’ll suffice.
My angel and demon
Aren’t balanced or fixed,
They waver and wander,
And move quite a bit.
My angel and demon
Are quite close when you think
One and the other
Are white silk and black ink.
My angel and demon
When one wanders too far
No, I don’t like that
I won’t think about it
I felt funny. I guess I was just the right amount of drunk to be able to dance without overthinking my movements. I looked around the place where we were dancing; it wasn’t a castle nor a cave but a comfortable thing in between the two. My eyes darted around. Dancing this close with someone wasn’t something I’d done often before and I wasn’t very comfortable with it, so I distracted myself by looking around.
“Why won’t you look at me?”
He sounded a little hurt. It wasn’t particularly against him, I avoid eye contact with just about everyone I can avoid it with. I know it makes people uneasy, I’ve often been told to stop staring. My eyes are awake and always staring without any kind of veil in front of them, they don’t hide anything and they seldom miss a thing.
I shrugged the dreaded question away and made a very conscious effort to look him in the eyes. I made a point to stop looking towards the person I’d rather be with, I supposed this guy wasn’t too bad. I tried to shake the uneasy feeling I had about him, I was probably just overreacting, he was my friend right?
He held my stare while we danced and I realised he had a similar look. The song lasted a too long forever, but at least I was comfortably staring the devil in the eye. Unknowingly.
I don’t regret dancing with him. I regret some of the other things.
“Does she even know how to be a girl?” A female voice despaired.
“I don’t know… How did you do it?” Replied the man.
“Well I did it to impress boys because I knew that I’d never get married if I didn’t set a good impression… do you think she understands that?” Asked my mother.
To which my father replied, “I don’t know… I think she might, I mean it’s hard not to… I’m afraid she might just not care.”
“But how on earth does she think she’ll find a good husband like that?!”…
I stopped listening to my parents. My dad was right, I didn’t care. I looked at myself, my jeans had once been too long and were now scuffed and torn around my ankles, it had taken a while and I could finally walk around without stepping on them. I was wearing a red loose-fitting unisex T-shirt with a dragon on it, because who doesn’t like dragons? On my feet were my converses, I always had converses and these ones were a nice sea-turquoise, I’d had many colours: purple, green-turquoise, yellow and black leather ones (for when it rained). Converses were known for their bright colours so getting bland ones defeated the point.
I wasn’t about to start dressing all nice and girly waiting for a prince to sweep me off my feet. I wasn’t sure I even wanted a guy. I figured one day I’d meet someone and I might fall in love and they’d like me for who I was, regardless of how boyish my clothes were, or how messy my hair was. Anyone else wouldn’t be worth my time. I figured ” how to be a girl” wasn’t universal, I knew what my mother meant by it and wholeheartedly rejected it. I wasn’t in any kind of hurry to spend the rest of my life with one person. I wanted to explore a little before I decided to settle with someone… if I ever decided to settle with anyone…
Maybe I’ll get married to a girl? I suppose time will tell.
I wish I could always be 18. That was the best year. It was the year of beginnings. It was the first year of studying something I’d chosen, the year I first drank beer and vodka, the year I met my best friend who I love with all my heart. The first year I skipped class, the first time I lived away from my parents and not on holiday, the first time I felt like I belonged in a place, the first time I got tipsy. First time having money, first time being broke. And I was just starting to find out slowly who I really was. When I realised that I’d never be this young and I did crazy things like cycle halfway through Paris with friends ending up watching the sunrise in front of the Eiffel Tower with no idea of how to get home, not feeling the cold. I wish I could spend my life being 18.
When I was 19 I finally understood that I had friends who I loved but, more importantly, that they loved me back. I had my highest moments surrounded by friends feeling safe and invincible. But I also had my lowest moments, because once you acknowledge that someone can love you, you can suddenly be afraid that they won’t. There was a little voice in my head that would surface telling me that I was bothering people, that they might be better off without me. As long as I had reason to believe otherwise I could ignore it however if I annoyed someone and they stormed off or if I was ignored for too long it got harder to fight that voice. It could bring me down as fast as in an afternoon. I’ve had times when I couldn’t get out of bed, barely keeping the depression at bay. I’ve spent nights crying. It’s driven me crazy some days. 19 was the year everything got a little more complicated. There was that. And there was the separation with my some of my best friends as they left for more or less time. One of them I’ve know longer, he was there when I had no-one else. We weren’t the best of friends, we were both awkward then, I think we still are in some ways, but we were friends. We’d both wanted to escape, he drew futuristic cities and I wrote stories about dragons. We both read and I liked to just sit next to him and read. But now we’re so far from each other, I don’t know how to reach him. He was my best friend once, and he’s still dear to me but I’m afraid that soon the thin string linking us together might break and I’ll lose him.
Then there was the other thing. I’ve thought a lot about the other thing and it still isn’t clear in my head. I can’t be sure of how I feel but I can take a pretty good guess. It makes everything so much more complicated. I can’t tell you about the other thing yet, because I still don’t know, I’m still confused. It’s one more thing to figure out and it’s been turning around in my head like a goldfish. It’s slowly taking shape but it can also move backwards. I have so many questions for myself. There are so many things I’ve yet to learn about myself. I’m not ready for 20 just yet. I have to figure that thing out before. At least.
Since I was young I’d never had many friends, and I was never good at keeping them. Every time I got to a higher part of school people would tell me “It’ll be better this time” but that was never really true. Until university. I’d moved a lot growing up (which didn’t really help when it came to friends), by the time it came to uni I was in Paris, “the land of love” as some call it, well Paris was a lot of things but I didn’t know about love. It was definitely a fun place to be though.
Since I was 16 or 17 (I couldn’t pinpoint exactly when it started) I’ve been thinking a lot about the world, about feelings, about myself. I wanted to understand how it all worked… and how I worked. I was usually really happy and optimistic, I always saw the bright side of things but I’d realised, mainly during holidays, that sometimes I’d get sad. I wouldn’t really realise it at first until I went out and saw friends and I’d think “Shit I hadn’t noticed how sad I was before”. Sometimes it was just seeing something beautiful, like the sun reflecting a certain way on some leaves and then I’d feel happy again. Being with friends made it alright, and it could go as suddenly (or even more so) as it came. After having asked myself all of these questions I now have a good idea of how my mind works.
So I went to uni. This uni was a particularly messed up one but everyone was nice, we could empathise with each other because we were all in the same hellhole. That’s where I met her. Mia was normal and strong and kind and funny. I never found her, she found me, if it’d been up to me to go up to her I would’ve probably wasted a lot of time finding the courage to talk to her. As it happens it took no time at all to build a friendship. We got close faster than I’d ever gotten close to a friend before. Her arms were comfortable and when she hugged me it felt like nothing could hurt me, externally or internally. For some reason I felt safe, or at least safer, when I was with her. I felt stronger in her presence, I don’t know if she felt the same way. I hope so but I have no idea.
For our second year we decided to live together to be closer to school. We found a 2 room apartment. It wasn’t much but it was the best we found and the furniture was already there. Mia wasn’t sure about the double bed but I shrugged, “it’s not like anything could happen” I joked with a mischievous grin. She looked at me with her intrigued puzzled look, It was cute and I liked to tell her that because she’d get embarrassed and confused and it was hilarious.
She’d been trying to kiss me for a while, it was a game and I kept avoiding it which would explain her startled reaction when I kissed her for the first time. We both understood there was nothing sexual about it. We’d already slept in the same bed and neither of us thought much of it. I never loved her that way and I’m pretty sure I can safely say the feeling was mutual.
I was thinking about all of this on the train home. It had two levels, I’d never thought much of it beforehand but the idea of a double-decker train was rather odd considering there weren’t even any double-decker buses in Paris. It made me chuckle; London was so far away. A lady walked in and started a hello-ladies-and-gentlemen-I-need-money-please speech, she had a daughter and needed money to buy her books but she wasn’t just begging she was selling bracelets for 2€. While she finished her speech I fished a 2€ coin out of my pocket. I’m not very good at choosing things so I just picked the one that stood out most.
I’d been thinking a lot lately, especially just then, I was thinking about it again. The sadness. It felt like every time it came it was a little worse and it had already been really bad. I was afraid of what worse would mean. I knew I hurt people when I was like that, even though I tried not to some part of me always wants to lash out. As a desperate call for help maybe? I’d always been bad at expressing myself and it wouldn’t come as a surprise if the way I instinctively asked for help actually pushed people away.
I was fiddling with my new bracelet, pulling it around my fingers and feeling the beads almost unconsciously. I always fidgeted when I was nervous, doing something with my hands helped to minimize the storm of thought in my head by feeling something simple: wooden beads on an elastic string.
To drown out the thoughts I liked to sit on my desk, grab some headphones and paper and just draw. No matter how bad it was, drawing could always make it better. Unfortunately I wasn’t near my desk at that time.
I got out of the train and started walking to the bus stop. How much worse could it get I wondered. Would it ever stop? Or at least stop getting worse? I looked down at my bracelet, it was Halloween coloured: orange purple orange purple… but there was one place with two purple beads side by side. It wasn’t particularly pretty but I liked the colours. I leaned my head back and stared upwards, I probably looked more than stupid, I didn’t really care. I was ignoring the hurricane of thoughts in my head and I could just about see the next stops like that.
I was going home to my desk. Mia might be there. Mia was probably the one I’d hurt the most. Maybe I should just leave, I thought, but that would’ve broken my heart. So I kept walking home. The bracelet was surprisingly comfortable, it wasn’t bitey like I thought it would be.
What would she think, I wondered, if I just left and never came back. Gone with the wind. I know her well enough to know that she wouldn’t just be fine with it. The analytical part of me pointed out how she’d been there so many times and all the things we’d shared; moments, secrets, thoughts… But maybe she wouldn’t be that bad. Maybe she’d be better off without me. Why did I tear my own heart to pieces? Orange purple orange purple orange purple purple. I liked it. “I’ll keep it” I told myself.
My friend Zampano asked for a follow up story on Passing Moments so here is Tina’s point of view 🙂
I didn’t have a word limit for this one so I could write a little more ^^
I was facing away from her, seemingly calm. She was in a cage. I’d put her there so she couldn’t hurt anyone. I tried to ignore her.
“She doesn’t want to know!” She screamed. “You’re always there when She needs you but suddenly when you need help She’s not there!”
She was banging her fists against the bars. “Why can’t you see?! She thinks you’re just having a not-very-happy moment and She doesn’t care!” She was yelling. “She never cares about how you feel!”
I whipped around, “You have no right to say that!” I screamed back. She took a step back. I continued more calmly, “She could be feeling bad or even depressed and here we are with our problems or She could just not have even read our message, you have no right to make such assumptions. If She feels bad her troubles come first.”
“Can’t you see?!” She was shaking, “She never pays attention to how you feel it even annoys Her sometimes when She knows you’re not OK! Can’t you see how one sided this is?!” She was desperate.
“Just let me be unimportant OK?!” I yelled back, “let me go back to being the one no-one cares about! Let me be there for Her if it can help and if She doesn’t want to know when I’m not OK then never mind! Let me be no-one, because it doesn’t hurt as much when it’s normal. Letting you out would only make things worse. I’m sorry.”
We were both shaking now. We were both crying. I suppose we were both in a cage.
“I’m sorry” I whispered to myself, “I’m sorry.”
• • •
I woke up and watched my phone finally connect to WiFi. I had new messages, from Her.
“This is why I put you in a cage” I whispered, “I was right.” I felt ashamed, “She’s been there for us so many times, how dare you say She doesn’t care about me?”
I turned around to look at her. She was no longer caged up, she no longer needed to be. She just looked at me. “I hate you for that” I told her. She knew better than to answer.