Weekdays while I am at work, I feel the most safe and the most at peace. I can easily blanket myself in the distractions of those around me. When others are relying on me to be places, to do things, to engage with them, I can’t be ill. Please don’t think I am under any impression I can take a timeout from my mental illnesses, because they are as much a part of me as my brown eyes. What I can do is temporarily bury my illnesses under the otherness of my daily living.
Giving into my symptoms is a convenience in the absolute most inconvenient way. If I pause to allow the overwhelming feelings, all the feelings in maximum intensities, I will become utterly consumed. This is something I constantly try to outrun, but no matter how fast I run or how clever a hiding spot I think I may have found, my illnesses will always find me. During the day, in the real world, I play a masterful game of make believe, following the cues of my peers to stay in line the way I’m expected to. How successfully can I convince others — and myself — that I belong here?
In the quiet moments when I am alone, I can drop all pretenses. Without an audience, without a myriad of distractions, I find myself in a dangerous place. It is in these quiet moments that I am forced to confront the thing I have been avoiding all day with varying levels of success. No one ever told me the big bad monster I would have to face would be myself — the darkest, ugliest version with a longstanding history of playing dirty and a pretty thorough knowledge of all my weaknesses. The problem with fighting myself is that no matter which part of me comes out the victor, there will always, always, always be a loss.
The quiet moments are the most painful. The quiet moments expose all the bloody, broken parts of me that have yet to heal. It’s in the quiet moments that I have to make the tough choice of tending to my wounds or allowing them to continue to fester, both very painful processes. In the quiet moments, I have to sort through my thoughts with that perfect unattainable balance of rational and emotional. It’s in the quiet moments that I stand before a crossroad, one foot in each direction, dizzy with overwhelming indecisiveness of where to go next before I collapse.