You don’t know what is happening inside people’s head unless you tear the head open and reach inside and analyse all of the emotions that amygdala generates, process it, observe and understand it and even then, there is a very little chance of knowing because then there is the neo-cortex, the seat of thought, that thinks and thinks and thinks and never really stops if you are anything like me. To put it in a general perspective, you don’t really know if the girl standing in front of you in the stage delivering an amazing presentation without any fear of public speaking actually has social anxiety and she deals with it by wearing glasses that has less power than she needs so as to not see people’s faces. She does it blind. She practices for hours in her head not to shake. Gives herself a time zone where she can panic in the four corners of white tiled toilet and nowhere else. You don’t know that the boy who runs out of the class pretending he has diarrhea actually goes to throw up in the bathroom because he has anxiety attacks and it makes him feel sick. You don’t know the person who is a class clown struggles to breathe when they have panic attack and keeps staring at their hands for hours before they can move. You don’t know how people cope and try so hard to look and act normal when all they want to do is shout how suffocated they feel inside their body and want to get out of it.
And once you know, the hell breaks lose. “I thought you were strong enough not to be bothered by things like that”, “You should not be weak”, “Just think positive and eat healthy”, “Exercise. You don’t exercise much”, “Don’t worry. Be happy”, “Try not to think about it”, “At least, you have *all the things that you have*”, “You are in such a good place right now. How can you feel like this?”, “It’s time to get you married”, “You are not trying hard enough to be happy”, “Happiness comes from inside. Just look within.”
Well, all that is inside is murky muddy water that bubbles and there are mosquitoes of paranoia breeding on it, ready to suck the life out of me. You want me to grow lotus in it? Fine. The seeds are not available in the market of my life even though it is amazingly busy right now. The sun is shining, the moon makes the night clear as day but I just cannot find the seeds because I am all set to drown in this water and I don’t know how to swim! I would very much like to not worry and be happy. But my therapist says that I have run out of serotonin and I am getting some. Truly, I am. And exercise? Well, I run and I walk and I exhaust my body until it stops feeling like my body. And it’s amazing. It works. Thank you for the advice! But I am still there. Unable to move. I am still there in a place I know everything about, trying to find the way because the panic has blocked my senses and I feel lost. And yes I am strong. As strong as I ever could be. Because in spite of every thing that is happening, I haven’t stopped. I did stop for a while. For weeks, I felt immobile. I felt like dying. I cried every day. So much that I got my periods twice that month because my hormones were all over the place and the poor uterus thought it was time of the month again because her person was stressed. Oh, and I even hid in the corner of a sofa while three people who cared about me sat there all night trying to protect me from the shadow that wasn’t there. How about a dramatic pause now?
But I am strong. I am trying to be stronger. It’s just that once in a while, I don’t want to be strong. I want to break down. Once in a while, I want to be. Without any adjectives to describe. I just want to be. Not the person I was before, or the person I am now. I just want to sit down and breathe. I want to be the air that comes out of nose and mouth when someone sits down after a hard day of work and sighs in relief.
And I know it is hard to understand. It is hard for me too. Because all my life, I studied trigonometry and tried to do best in biochemistry (even though I was shit at both). And now, I try to logically justify my condition and nothing comes out of it. There is no “why” to this. And it is frustrating as fuck because I always have answers. I am the person with notes all ready before the final hits. I am the person who is supposed to know. I am the person who prepares beforehand, collects research papers from all over the place and books from the library. I am the person who had stationary boxes, PPV folders and Facilitation folders all ready before anything started. I am the person who knew every volunteers’ names by heart on the second day. And I cannot for the life of me figure out why I cannot breathe when I am having a normal day at work, why I shake like a leaf when there is no storm, why I feel like there is nothing but darkness and hopelessness and nothing, nothing can save me. I just cannot figure it out!!
In my last session, M asked me why I had different response to sadness. Why do I treat it as a friend while I treat anger, anxiety and shame as intruding strangers? As I pondered over it I remembered my godletter book that I used to keep as a child. And a green pen. When I was sad, I used to cry copious tears and write in it, a letter to god (whoever that was). I still have that book and there are tear stains in it. And with anger, I used a red pen and scribbled furiously on every blank page that there was. Anxiety and shame came later and I treated them as anger, I guess. Right now, I am blindly scribbling in my head. All the things that could go wrong, I play it in my brain everyday and exhaust myself to the point where all I can do is cry. So I smell the jasmine oil, rub it in my hand, I pick up the phone and dial a number and ask for help. Even when I feel like they might find me tedious, irritable, paranoid, humorless, lifeless, critical and demanding, I still dial a number. And I talk about it, cry about it, shout and wail about it. They listen. And that is all it takes to calm me down.