How is it that air, our most essential shared resource, can serve to harvest the lungs of some - silently catapulting them into a life of stability and contentment - while it pierces the lungs of others, holding their lives in complete contempt, every breath mockingly threatening to be their last?
It seems my demons are too present, too loud, too intrusive - with their grip on my soul too strong and their hold on my mind increasingly relentless. My lungs can not but collapse under the weight of the depression whose gravity continues to crush any semblance of a life to which I could have clung. My share of air seems to have expired; my desperate search for a breath proves futile, no matter how hard I try, no matter how deeply I inhale. There is only indescribable suffering: a gut-wrenching emptiness no fast food binge can satiate and no dosage of medication can subdue; the harrowingly incessant suffocation that leaves me withering in invisible anguish. My tears find refuge in bloody sheets and empty pill bottles; a fate reserved for what could once provide me temporary relief, but whose such powers have been shackled by a greater, more ubiquitous force of despair.
I choke on the second meal I binged on and purged today. A rush of lightheadedness and the throb of heart palpitations promise a transient end to the excruciating hollowness inside. Their efforts are supplemented by the lazy meandering streams of red, outlining patterns on my skin. It's a welcome distraction from the pandemonium of paralyzing numbness. Why won't you give me all your love? Why won't you cut me down from this noose of my emotional starvation? Is there anybody there? I scream into a room filled to the brim with well-wishers and good Samaritans. A room, full of concerned acquaintances and hopelessly drained friends, whose population density paradoxically depletes my air of its sparse oxygen. Rooms, across cities, across continents, of past, present, and future loved ones. I'm sorry that I can't see you. I've never been able to. I can faintly make out the outlines of your shadows, eclipsing onto the auspicious light of bittersweet self-destruction, whose magnetic pull drowns me in the hypnotic prospect of a painless end.
I lose myself somewhere between the tidal waves of euphoric disillusion and inexorable self-deprecation. A different version of me, a contrasting persona assumed every day, and it sucks out what little energy I had left. Who will I be today? Will you cast me your disapproving glances as your words shower me with affection? We exchange pleasantries. We speak, then we talk, deep into the night, and I wonder if you realize that you're speaking to a shell of a girl. I wonder if you can see the tears behind the laughter and the pain behind the smiles. I wonder if you can feel the heaviness of each breath that weighs on me with the force of a thousand bricks. You won't. I make sure you won't. This ironclad façade, a fortress whose towering fence has been carefully welded by years of emotional repression, keeps me hostage within its walls. I throw you a bone, and you don't question my authenticity. What has helped before, you ask, could it help again? How could it, I think to myself, when my life comprises of a soul-crushing series of intermittent crises? The realization comes as a bitter, but unsurprising, bitch slap. I scramble, like a deer in headlights, to get away from my mind. In my haste, I fall deeper into it.
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday? Is it the weekend already? I don't remember. I can't think straight. Scraping by in a blurry amalgamation of dissociative memories and maladaptive daydreams, I remind myself to follow the traffic signals. Put one foot in front of the other. Smile at unsuspecting peers through the pain of the fresh scars rubbing against my clothes. Stop feeling sorry for yourself, you ungrateful sack of shit. No, no, wait. I'm allowed to feel this way! No, you're not. You are the embodiment of privilege. Look at what it's made of you. Look at how far you've fallen. How does it feel to peak at fifteen? How does it feel to know that no one around you cares enough to push back against your emotional manipulation? I promise I don't mean to. Bullshit. Take responsibility for your decisions. You did this to yourself. This emptiness is self-inflicted. How could you say that? It's the result of years of emotional neglect and -- No. You're hiding behind a privileged perspective on life. How many people have your financial stability, your level of education, all these opportunities at your disposal? No. Yeah. You're right. You're right. I'm sorry.
So I swallow the pain down with the pills that fight to medicate it. Now you can take what's left of my heart, and cash the fragments in for a fleeting whiff of hope. Treasure it with the delicate courtesy I failed to extend to myself. Maybe one day you could show me the ropes, and this time I won't tie them into fatal knots.