The vinyl waiting room chair creaks with every minuscule movement. Fluorescent lights buzz overhead. The receptionist’s thick, fake nails clack, clack on the keyboard like an army marching into darkness and the tick of the clock echoes behind, its ammunition detonating.
But all you can hear is the numbing silence and all you can see are the tears welling in your eyes.
Your eyebrows furrow with a dire recipe of confusion, sadness, and self-doubt as you blankly thumb through a magazine in an effort to prevent the tear dam from bursting and flooding the pages.
The receptionist’s nails march faster and faster and the clock detonates louder and louder and all you can do to prevent the champagne cork from exploding off the bottle is to tap your foot harder and harder onto the carpeting.
And then, the squeak of a door. A woman in an ill-fitting sweater announces, “right this way,” the only inflection from the smacking of her gum. Your mother stands to greet her, but you whisper in desperation, your voice cracking like ice on a spring day, “please… please don’t make me go.”
“They never help. It doesn’t do any good.” The dam bursts and tears toboggan down your cheeks. “It’s a waste of time,” you mouth, the sound stuck inside somewhere. Your words cling to the air like a toddler wrapping its body around its father’s leg, crying and begging him not to go.
Your mother raises her brows. “They’re waiting for us. Get up and let’s go.” Her sternness forces your guilt to buoy to the surface and you drown in songs of “I’m sorry to do this to you” and “I don’t mean to be bad.”
You feel like a tidal wave barreling through a city and crushing everything in its path, but you mutely rise and avoid eye contact as your vinyl chair creaks.
“She can’t get out of bed and go to school,” your mother explains very matter of factly. She says it as though you broke your arm, as though a doctor could wrap it in gauze and solve all your problems.
The psychiatrist smiles sweetly and for half a moment there, you feel like a whole person. Like an average high school student who doesn’t roller coaster through highs and lows and obsess over perfection and live this way. For half a moment there, you feel like you may be okay.
But then she opens that thick file.
“Bipolar. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. General anxiety. Social anxiety. Depression.”
She reads off diagnoses as though calling roll after recess. “That’s a lot you have going on!” she jokes, but you feel awful laughing at anything.
The world will label you. It will splatter you with paint in hopes that maybe when it dries, you will transform into some sort of masterpiece.
Darling, you’re already a masterpiece. You’re a masterpiece when you feel your most broken and you’re a masterpiece when the tears dry. You’re the most beautifully broken creature that could ever exist.
Nothing anyone calls you or diagnoses you with will make you any less whole.
It is okay to feel hurt and alone and like your bed is quicksand tethering you to a prison cell. That is okay. Through it though, search to remember that words are just words. They may burn, yes. I’m not here to convince you otherwise. But words don’t know you. They don’t see how your nose crinkles when you laugh or how you light up a room. They don’t see how much people love you.
I wish I could bottle you like a snow globe and sprinkle in flakes of “you are whole” and “there is nothing wrong with you” so that when someone shakes you, the words don’t sting. I wish I could invent a million ways to script this, and I wish that you could believe just one.
I long for you to look into the mirror and boom, “I may struggle, but I am okay. I am complete.”
No words or diagnoses can crumble you into anything less than whole.
You are so much stronger than a few syllables, my dear.