I Am Not A Disease

Matthew Henry
Matthew Henry

A poem of mine starts with the lines,

“I’m tired of being haunted
and even more exhausted
of being the haunting,”

and I go on about how this sadness, my past and I are the same, how we wear each other. I swear, sometimes I can’t tell who has the skin and who is the disease. Sometimes I feel so distant and unfamiliar to and with this body, sometimes I feel like I am the disease. There’s days I am not sure if I wear melancholy or if she wears me.

When you struggle with anxiety and depression in general, or as symptoms of something else, the lines between who is who and what is what can get blurred.

Deep down I know, in my heart, in my soul, that neither of these things own me or define me, but try telling me that on a bad day. I won’t believe it on a day even the sadness has been overcome with the emptiness, on a day it’s hard for me to feel anything, or on a day the only thing I can feel is the rampant rhythm of my heartbeat and I can’t control my breathing, because, well, the emptiness isn’t there, it’s just that dread of a feeling over, well, nothing. Try telling me I am not my disease on a day I’d walk through fire just to feel anything, or on a day I imagine what it would be like to sit at the bottom of the ocean and be drowned in its silence. On days like that, I negate any intricate and essential part of myself, I feel as though I’m almost not real, I feel as if my diseases and I are the same.

I feel like the next lines of that poem, I feel this way:

“we’re the same,
this sadness wears me
and I’ve got her
stuck between all teeth.
I’m wearing destruction
like a pair of skin tight
leather jeans
and this loneliness
is tattooed on my skin.
melancholy kisses me
with red lipstick
and leaves her perfume
spread all over me.”

And like I say in the last two lines:

“I’m sick of being haunted,
I’m sick of being the haunting.”

Maybe what I should realize, what I need to realize, is that by reducing myself to a thing, by dehumanizing myself, I cause myself even more self-harm and self-destruction that I would on a normal day. I become more haunted, I am turning myself into the haunting, because I am becoming the hurricane that comes and leaves everything in wreckage, because I become the problem and I act more in ways I shouldn’t.

My hands are unclean, and it’s not just the people I hurt around me, the people that care, the people I don’t think about because I’m too busy trying to overcome this toxicity, too busy trying to learn to stop being so unkind to myself, my hands are covered in my own blood, and it’s about time I wash them and stop acting like my own assailant. It’s time to be kind to myself, to be my own ally in my struggles, to kill any parts of myself that bring me more harm than good. I am a person, a flawed one, but an imperfectly flawed one, and I am not a disease. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Houston-based writer and artist.

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