Some days, I am allowed to like the things I like. I have the glorious freedom to approach life in an unconventional way and to be someone that I have never seen in other people. Some days it’s like I have the permission to celebrate and embrace and relish in the differences between myself and others. It is at these times that I know a deep connection to the earth and all of its inhabitants big and small. I can see clearly that all beings are accompanied by suffering. That for absolutely everyone, some days pain thunders through the door without invitation or warning. At these times, I can accept without envy that for some, the pain most often comes as a soft knock asking politely to share the afternoon and some tea.
Some days, I remember that even those who can turn away the unwanted guest with a courteous “no thanks” may only know how because the suffering has visited countless times before. These experts have learned sufferings’ tricks. They know that it can be very convincing. That it preys on insecurities and doubts all while promising that it knows what’s best. It can scare its victims into paralysis, because it knows they are more vulnerable while standing still. The suffering is good at telling use it’s our fault it has overstayed its welcome. Like an abusive lover, its main tactic of preventing us from leaving is to convince us that we wouldn’t deserve its cruelty if we were only more. Better, smarter, more disciplined. So we contort ourselves into an impossible expectation and when the abuse persists we obsessively count and recount the things we should’ve done better.
For me, the pain comes almost exclusively as sadness and anxiety and he is good at convincing me that because I do not know anyone else who endures his visits nearly as often or as violently, I must have invited him in. He’s a cunning liar.
It’s easy to forget that people who need help look a whole lot like people who do not need help and there are burdens that I have never had to hold and therefore do not know how to recognize. Burdens whose telltale signs don’t present as tears over morning coffee and one-word conversations. It’s easy to forget other people suffer differently when you’re drowning in missed meals and isolation and shuffled feet. and low eyes and vodka sodas and nails dug into thighs on stressful days at work. Its easy to forget others’ struggles when we are all hiding and disguising them as best we can.
But despite the drowning and the contorting I still have very good days. Sometimes, I still feel that you and I and all of the people that we know, and all of the people we don’t know yet have felt some degree of all types of suffering. We have all known wet, boiling anger burn down the back of our throats and felt acid bubble at our cores. We have known the paranoia of shame and the empty pit of jealousy. The fairy flutter of excitement and the safety and grounding of confidence. On the good days, I know that through this suffering and this joy lies the core of what ties us together.
On the good days, I accept that to some, anxiety is like a small child who grasps softly to a pant-leg and occasionally inquires why things are the way they are and why they do things the way they do. I know that to many, like me, anxiety is a savage and ravenous wolf that is easily startled into a rage by any minor misstep of our own doing.
On good days, I know that for some, it is not possible to understand my pain because they have never seen it before. It makes it hurt a little less when I’m nearing my tenth minute of being 15 feet under and people are trying to give me basic swimming lessons with frustration. There are still days when I’m submerged and everyone I know seems to be yelling their current favorite version of “happiness is a choice” from the pool deck and the water is too dense to hear almost anything but muffled groans. There are still days that I can’t stop thinking that maybe if I was a better listener there wouldn’t be so much water in the pool.
But still, I try to remember that my pain is the very thing that allows me to connect to the creatures of the earth. I try to remember that to do anything worth doing at all, one must risk looking completely ridiculous. That being broken is how the light gets in. Some days, I feel like a building collapsing into a purposeless mound of dirt and some days I feel like an explosion of possibilities and stardust reaching and extending to the very ends of the known universe. On good days I see the fine line between destruction and creation and remember that every ending is also a beginning.
Good days part 2:
Dobby’s ears and cappuccino Sunday mornings and your soft neck you let me nap in. Twirly dresses and soft blankets on cold mornings and incense and new friends. Coffee shops with big old couches and a $90 typewriter at the vintage fair. Vegan donuts (surprisingly good ones) and soft big sweaters and watercolor cards from far away friends. Thank –you notes written by hands that are just learning to write. Holiday parties with gingerbread house decorating and sparkler birthday candles. Being significantly drunk and planning trips to the desert and Portland and to downtown art museums. Possibility. Purpose. Warmth.
I am a nineteen-year-old art student from San Diego, California. I have been diagnosed with anxiety and depression about a year ago and have been sharing my journey with others as much as possible in order to fight stigma and teach others about what anxiety and depression really look like. I love my dog (Dobby), painting, playing ukulele, adventuring, and lots of hugs