There’s this part of me that’s never been okay. It’s a slice of my identity that can shapeshift and grow without any water or sunlight. Sometimes it disappears, fading into my skin, becoming a dormant killer inside my bones. It’s this parasitic cluster of cells my body can’t fight off. I try but it’s no use, it’s there and I can’t remove it. My depression and I have developed this symbiosis of sorts. I exist alongside it, and it within me, waiting for when it can overtake my soul, devouring me inch by inch.
I think it may have started as a bean I choked on as an infant because I can’t remember a day it wasn’t there. Over the years I’ve managed to live with it, ignore it, keep it out of my mind. But it circles, prowling and waiting for the right time to strike, the right moment to infect everything.
When it first ran it’s course, it wasn’t just a small part of me that wasn’t okay. That part became my whole. That once tiny grain of doubt multiplied and grew across me, turning me against myself. And the worst part of the process was when I wanted it to consume me. When I wanted to stop trying to force it into it’s small, forgotten shape. It was then I reached the depths, when I was tired of existing and there wasn’t an ounce in me that gave a shit anymore.
At some point in this tug of war I found a mirror, a reason I didn’t need to feel so alone, a reason for the beast inside to shrink and fade. Someone who made me believe life could be more than a constant shadow. Someone who was fighting, too. Together we could keep the sun out during even the darkest of nights. Together, our tiny seeds would lose their roots and the not okay part of us would be just a memory. Not okay would be something for other people, not us. And for a time, I forgot every hint of how it had been to feel not okay.
So what do you do when they prove you wrong? What do you do when they go away? When their belief in you goes up in smoke? You become that small part, just as I did. I transformed into the shapeshifting glimmer of who I used to be. I welcomed the infection, knowing I could not fend it off anymore. After all, if my mirror couldn’t see me, if I was translucent and undetectable, the definition of nothingness, how was I supposed to believe in anything else?
So I sealed my hope for happiness into a box and buried it deep inside, somewhere I couldn’t reach. A place where it could never hurt me again. I locked it in such a way that only my mirror could open it. That treasure, that possibility of never feeling not okay was a dream I kept for myself. A dream we didn’t share. I thought if I could be seen again, if I found my reflection somewhere else, that the infection inside me could be kept at bay. What I failed to realize was you only have one reflection.
So I often find myself wondering, what if I’m never okay? What if the only times I’ve felt okay didn’t actually matter? What if they were illusions of okayness and nothing more? Clearly this isn’t something to outrun or outwit, it’s there for life no matter how much I wish it wasn’t. I swallowed it years ago, when it first became me, and I cannot regurgitate it.
Once again I’m reminded of it’s poison creeping through my veins, darkening everything until I can no believe light exists. This is where I turn everything on it’s head and get back to writing, because words are the only thing that keep me feeling kind of okay. It’s why I write. To stay afloat, to let my box of hope run free across the page, to convince myself maybe there’s a way to be okay without my mirror looking back at me. I have no idea if that’s true or not, but it’s the medicine I use to tether myself to reality. It’s how I cope with a place where my solution no longer believes in me and maybe never did. I don’t know and that’s the worst of it all. Never knowing.
I’ll be the first to admit I live for these illusions, but at least they’re not delusions I convince myself are real. At least they’re not lies I’ve wrapped around myself so tight I can no longer see the truth. My writing is a looking glass to the future, or the past, or somewhere else entirely. So I keep typing, keep fighting, the only way I know how. And sometimes I write for fun and for the joy of world-building, storytelling, and the magic of words but sometimes I write to survive. To forget that there’s a part of me that will never be okay.