She sat by herself at the familiar coffee shop downtown, gazing out the window, sipping an iced caramel latte. Her favorite part was the drizzle of caramel that swirled over the top. The sun occasionally peaked through the clouds and made it’s way to her tattooed skin. Her dark, wavy hair, with tints of red, glistened in the light. She had an array of sticker-filled Apple products she couldn’t really afford spilled out on the table in front of her and a to-do list a mile long; but she couldn’t steal her gaze from the world outside. Nothing in particularly interesting was happening, but she found herself wondering about the passerby. Where were they going? Were they happy? Do you think they struggle with mental illness too? Are they stressed, worried, or anxious? Are they in love? Are they a genuine, kind person? A young lady passing by with a well-loved and curious mutt made her shyly smile. She sighed, thought of all the things that needed to be done, and checked her phone to see how much of the day had escaped her. 3:26pm. A text on the screen read, “I love you and hope you’re having a good day. What are you doing?” She was doing a million things and also nothing. She was restless and wanted to go. She didn’t know where she was going, but she was bound and determined to get there.
I haven’t felt the need to write lately, mainly because I feel like no one cares what I have to say. But tonight, I have that heavy, anxious feeling in my chest as if words are slowly filling up my veins, and if I don’t let them bleed out, then I will undoubtedly explode.
There are so many topics, sentences, and questions flowing through me – how do I pick out what to write down? After months upon months of nothing, why is this happening now? Words often flow through easier through my veins when I am in a state of depression, so my mental stability comes into question. I know I have been feeling more down and emotional lately, but surely my body realizes that I don’t have time to fall into a state of depression. Right?
Time has made a habit out of making the loss of a loved one easier. Time, this time, has failed me. It has been two years, three months, and six days since I lost my father. The longer he’s gone, the more of my life he’s missing, and the more it hurts like no pain I have ever experienced before. I can feel the emptiness swell through my body like a disease that eats every ounce of energy and happiness that I have left. Mannequins enjoy life more than I do sometimes.
I earned my Associate’s Degree (although useless, it’s still somewhat of an accomplishment), graduated with honors, on the Dean’s List, and a member of two National Honor Societies. You weren’t there, and honestly, I didn’t really want to be there either. I transferred to the university that I swore I’d never go to. I got into the Social Work program, and I’m a member of a couple of organizations. But I haven’t been able to tell you that. You haven’t been able to tell me that you’re proud and that you love me.
That’s what hurts so deeply, Dad. My life is moving forward without you in it. Some days, I want to just stand still. I want to quit, go back to bed, and never wake up. I want to be where ever you are. You are supposed to be here, at least until I’m done with school and get married. No twenty-four year old should have to lose their father. I’ve thought I was an adult since I was a teenager, but losing you was a harsh slap in the face. I still need my daddy, so come back. Come back and guide me, love me, and show me all of the things that I still need to know.
I live in two different realities:
- Depression, anxiety, sadness, irritability, anger, swollen eyes, exhaustion, migraines, aches, and pains. Nothing is worse than the sound of my alarm. I dread the thoughts of simply existing. I lack motivation. What is the point in all of this? Why do I stretch myself so thin all of the time? Why do I try so hard and care so much? We are all going to die anyway.
- My passions overwhelm me and I have too many things I want to get done. I am ready to start my day with a shower and an iced latte. The weather is beautiful and I want to sit outside, feel the sunshine, and listen to the birds sing. I feel my depression awakening, but I’m able to put her back to sleep. I put my anxiety back to bed as well. I’m able to overcome my negative emotions and everything is okay. I am going to change the world for the better.
To those who don’t struggle with mental illness, I may seem like a manic mess. To those who can relate, they know that this is a normal part of life. To outsiders unaware of my internal struggle, they would never assume anything was wrong. I seem like a ‘normal’ person. Some days, I even feel sort of normal.
My veins no longer feel like they are going to explode from the accumulation of unsaid words. Self-care is important, necessary even. Writing is self-care for me. I am still learning to love and respect myself.
Time. Everything takes time.
I latch onto things. I cling to people. I hold people too close to my heart without their permission. I care too much, and I feel too deeply. After all of the pain I have endured, you think I’d be able to detach, but that isn’t the case. There has never been a point in my life that I haven’t latched onto another human being. There has never been a time where I go to sleep without someone on my mind. There is never a time when I look at my phone without hoping I have a message from a certain someone.
I’m a hopeless romantic, as much as it pains me to admit that. When I’m sad, I dream of my prince charming showing up at my door to comfort me. When I hear a car, I hope it’s him surprising me just because he wanted to see me. I wish for flowers just because. I anxiously await a sweet good morning text message. Each person I meet, I dream of these things that I know I’ll never get.
While I’m falling asleep thinking of you, I’m not on your mind at all. While I’m dreaming of sleeping beside you, you’re probably sleeping beside someone else. When I wake up and text you that I hope you have a wonderful day, you’ve probably just sent that same text to another. I think of you throughout the day and hope you’re well, meanwhile, I’m still not anywhere on your mind. As I’m writing this, alone and rather sad, you’re happy. You’re happy without me or anyone else, and I’m angry. I’m angry because I’m not only bad at being alone, I just don’t know how.