I wrote this for a short story contest. I had been kicking the idea around in my head. Not necessarily a short story format, but it gave me a deadline. Honestly? I need deadlines. I can procrastinate something fierce without one....even with deadlines too often I wait until the last minute....or close to it.
So, I didn't win. However, in the long run, I'm ok with that. If I had, I couldn't use it for a year. I'm hoping it will help others to read it as much as it helped me to write it. It is a bit more non-fiction than I would probably admit most days.
The Daily Mental Walk of Shame
My name is Cera. Cera Bellum. My age doesn't really matter. Overall, it doesn't. By most people's standards, I am pretty smart. At least I am usually. On the days when the brain fog is not quite so foggy, I can seem quite intelligent.
Every day starts out pretty much the same. I wake up. Usually much later than I planned on, and after hitting snooze at least one time more than I should. Should. It's like could and would. I really don't like those words. They make me feel guilty. It's early yet. Too early for guilt. Moving on.
It has been awhile since I jumped right out of bed ready to take on the world in the Land of Overwhelm.
When I make it out of bed, sometimes even before I'm out of bed, I mentally climb a ladder. The ladder leads to the platform that will begin the daily walk across to the other platform known as the end of the day. The other platform that signifies the end of one day blurring into the next. The platform that leads back to a bed and insomnia's version of sleep.
Sometime during that walk there will be the dip into the prescription bottle that makes the tightrope connecting the platforms not quite as narrow. More like a bridge. My time has become measured by the filling of the med boxes from the bottles: 2 fills of 2 boxes and it is time for more refills and another month has passed. I didn't even always need meds. Now? Meds help. Most days. Most. Days. I also found out it is much easier to talk to a doctor about other family member's prescriptions than my own.
Some days, the better days, the walk can start on an almost wider bridge. However, sometimes the space narrows to a tightrope as the day goes on. Then the real balancing act begins.
Some days the ladder leads to a roller coaster with ups and downs and loopy loops. The goal is to not have so many downs. I don't like roller coasters, especially the big drop at the beginning to allow for picking up the speed.
A wide walkway is better as I do not walk alone. I have "friends" traveling along with me. I would not have always called them friends. Sometimes I still don't. I don't know what else to call them either. Maybe just by their names.
Dee Pression and Ann Xiety
Dee and Ann each hang on to a hand as I make the daily crossing. Some days are easier than others.
On a not so easy day, Dee tries to whisper slowly droning in my ear even before we are fully awake. "You don't really feel like getting out of bed today do you?" "Shower? Why? Too much work!" “These PJs are comfy! Why get dressed?”
Ann says in a rushed, panicked voice, “There will be people out there! They will have expectations and you might have to answer the phone, Cera! You hate answering the phone. You would rather text. Here. Don't forget your smartphone, dummy. Oh and by the way there's a new game app you should download so you can avoid your fear of roller coasters. Hey, look a cat video!”
Along the daily walk, sometimes we meet others that also know Dee and Ann. We covertly nod as we pass, but we do not talk. Besides not everyone can see Dee and Ann like they would a broken leg or glasses. They just think we do not try hard enough or we are lazy. How hard is it to get out of bed and shower?!?!
We see cutesy or scary ads and social media posts that state “reach out for help”. “You are not alone.” “Mental illness can become mental wellness.”
Dee and Ann whisper loudly past those with taunts of “You don't really want us to leave do you? People would see the real you! What if they don't like you? You know not everybody even believes in us. Do you see what happens to some of those celebrity people when it is a mental illness and not physical? That could happen to you.”
So, I hold it in and somewhat together another day. Not reaching out. Feeling alone. Dealing with mental issues people do not always acknowledge. Mental issues that I don't always acknowledge.
Dee, Ann and I near the platform at the other end of the tightrope as another day closes.
There I introduce Dee and Ann to some new friends waiting there for us: Hope and Faith. Maybe those meds, ads and social media posts do work.
Tomorrow's walk.....and all those to come will be better. At least mostly, right?