Young, Brown and Mentally Ill
There are usually a few moments in a persons life when they feel they have lost all control. They might have lost a job that they needed to pay the bills. Maybe a lover has betrayed their trust and the relationship spoiled. Maybe the only person who was a true friend passed away. These tragic events set off a firestorm inside of a persons belly, stretching far into their throats and finding a small space to occupy the mind. Imagine your tragedy. Imagine the the emptiness that grief leaves you with. Slow and aching, and seemingly never ending. It wraps itself like a vine inside you, threatening the body it harbours to give up, pushing on the bones relentlessly to collapse. Now imagine that feeling stays with you forever.
There is no real tragedy, just the absence of your brain, for a few days, maybe a few months, perhaps a few years. The ship is sailing off without you, and you’re left behind, becoming a shell of the person you use to be. The things that once lit you up sit in the corner of the room, like an old toy you grew out of, no longer finding room in your home. And you must accept this version of yourself. The less optimistic, the less adventuress, the less happier version. You convince yourself you weren’t this type of person to begin with.
Friends begin to leave. First in small increments, then in large quantities. They travel. They find love. They have success. You watch in silence. You feel a need, but no want. You try to reach out, but your bones are so fragile now you can’t raise an arm to pick up the phone. So you go to sleep again.
You finally muster up the courage to tell your mother. She is old and cultured, and doesn’t understand what it is you are seeing when you say the sun is a painful sight. She calls it weakness, and tells you this is a problem you have made up in your mind. She has lived through hell, and dares you to compare your pain. You tell her the presence of one isn’t the absence of the other. She tells you this is the outcome of not praying. She begins to pray.
She doesn’t know you left god many years ago. You visit him from time to time, hoping things will be different. Hoping that since nothing makes sense, maybe a miracle is needed. You feel like an imposter when you kneel down at gods feet. You wait for your heart to fill up with the same excitement you felt when you learned your first surah. It never comes.
After so many years, you know what comes next. You will feel better, eventually. You will lose out on time, and your eyes will be softer, but you come around again. You will no longer imagine laying in the waves, letting them trap you under the current and ripping out your last breath. You won’t imagine your bed as a safe spot, or sleep as your weapon. It will all feel like a bad dream and you wake up a little foggy, but functioning.
And that’s the irony of the game. You’re functioning again, without anyone understanding why you couldn’t all this time. You can only celebrate with yourself, a birthday party for one — and you must be OK with that. You must be your own best friend, your own survival story. There is no hero in this, only an unwanted lesson. It’s time to invite the sun into your room and get up. It’s time to start over again.