I watch people pass me by and I wonder what their life is like. For example, does that guy have a loving wife and does she treat him right or why does that teenager look so worried? What does she have to worry about? She is still so young. I watch people enjoying their lives with smiles on their faces and having no signs of regrets across their eyes. They have the simpler life.
Whereas, I walk around with a weight hanging on my shoulders and heart. Something is eating away at me, a voice. No, not just one voice, several voices. I don’t recognise them. They haunt my thoughts and dreams with statements such as “you’re worthless,” “you’ll never make it” and “no one knows you exist.” Sometimes, these voices take the shape of loved ones I have lost such as my Aunt Anne.
They escape my mind and manifest into real apparitions. I saw my Aunt Anne today. She sat next to me while I was having my lunch. She was so thin that her bones protruded through her skin and her hair fell off into her fidgety hands, leaving bald spots on her head (Cancer is a slow and painful death). She looked at me and said gurgling through blood that was flowing from her mouth “You’re nothing.”
My mother feared these afflictions. She wanted to get help for me. She brought me to a psychiatrist and she got me taking prescription drugs. They make me dizzy and emotionally drained but they don’t stop the wars in my mind. I was called every nasty thing you could think of such as “Crazy”, “the freak”. My particular favourite was the “modern-day Norman Bates.” I didn’t concern myself with the nastiness of young people. I had my own problems. I couldn’t turn it off. I couldn’t turn off the horrid voices in my head. The meds couldn’t stop them and they did not rest. I could still hear them when I slept. There was no off-switch. That is until I met you!
You were a stranger to me. You took a chance with me when you came over to talk to me that Tuesday in French class. You didn’t treat me like an insect that needed to be squished. You didn’t see me as a freak just like everyone else did. You saw me as a person and that felt nice. As time went on, we spent more time together. Your laugh lit me up in my dark days and your touch electrified my body. We went out to bars and drank. You introduced me to tequila shots which caused my eyes to burn. You got me into new music such as Fleetwood Mac and the Killers. At first, I fought off my afflictions when I was around you. I didn’t want you to see the demons that were clawing inside my brain. But, I started to realise that the voices in my head became mute whenever I was around you. I could finally turn it off. I was no longer held back by my condition. I began to laugh more and I felt free for the first time in my life.
But the voices were right all along. I am worthless and I’ll never be able to make it in this world. The voices were gone for now but that does not mean they won’t come back. I didn’t want you to get involved with someone like me. A person who has to see a psychiatrist three times a week, who has to take 5 different drugs to dull their senses, who wakes up in a cold sweat or panics when she sees something that she knows isn’t real but who is still terrified of them. I couldn’t do that to you.
So I let you go by lying. I told you that you meant nothing to me. I told you that I used you to blow off steam. You denied the statements I was proclaiming but I remained strong and continued ramming them into you. It was hard seeing you coming to the realisation that I was serious and that this was over.
Everything started crashing down after that. The walls I built for myself came crumbling down and my demons came back with a vengeance. But they were almost nurturing towards me. They knew I would come back to them and that terrified me. Now, I question myself on whether or not, I made the right choice. I was a fool to let you go. You were the one good thing in my life and I ruined it. You made me feel safe. I guess it’s my turn to keep you safe and keeping you away from me is safe. I’m a ticking time-bomb just waiting to explode! It’s only a matter of time.
This extract is a work of fiction. I dedicate this extract to young people who suffer from mental illnesses. Stay strong and if you seek help, tell someone you trust.