You are responsible. You take your meds. You go to therapy. You get lots of sleep. You drink water. You exercise. You do yoga for your peace of mind. You keep busy. You take the time not to be busy. You are gentle with yourself.
You tell yourself you love you and are worthy and deserving of love. You are a good person. You have a good heart. You want good things to happen to other good people because it makes you happy when other good people are happy, maybe even happier than when you’re happy for yourself.
You carry the threat of battle every day, every single, single day – some days okay, some days worse – with an emotional tumor leeched onto your amygdala and there is no chemo, no radiation, no remission, no cure, not ever a day when you will not be the host to that leech in your head.
You help other people who are hosting their leeches because it’s too easy to recall what it’s like to feel devastated and hopeless and like your skin is coming off but completely numb at the same time and you want to save someone else from that.
You realize that sometimes you can’t save someone else from that.
You realize that sometimes you can’t save yourself from that.
You are demoralized by the inability to protect yourself at all times.
You curse the shrinks and their thoughtlessly scribbled-on prescription pads. You curse the therapists and their calm voices and the questions you’ve already asked yourself a dozen times and what will it change when they ask them instead. You curse the meds that might as well be strung into candy bracelets for all the good they do and you shake the bottles and the pills whisper, “sucker.”
You curse the leech, the leech, you curse it, you wish you could rip the evil right out of your skull and set it on fire and burn it to ash. You wish you could see it burnt to ash there in front of you and believe it is gone.
You have days or weeks when you love the leech.
You have days or weeks when the leech surges through you, unleashing stored energy, ideas, opening your hungers full-throttle, making it easy to fly on four hours’ sleep a night. You feel your senses honed, your body invincible, it drives you forward forward forward, excited, thrilled and reckless, like free-standing on a ledge bolted to the front of a speeding train.
You have days or weeks when you hate the leech.
You have days or weeks when the leech sucks you down into a suffocating bog. You can’t breathe. You carry a 50 lb. rock on your chest, a 50 lb. rock from each shoulder. You get headaches, backaches, neckaches, eyeaches, stomachaches, heartaches, soulaches. You can’t sleep enough – 9, 12, 15 hours a day, it still can’t make you come alive. You can’t think straight. You forget words, names, events, memories, entire conversations.
You feel things so sharp, every emotion is wrapped in razor wire: happiness – razor wire; sadness – razor wire; anger – razor wire; anxiety – razor wire; regret –razor wire; guilt – razor wire. You walk around gushing from hundreds of gouges that no one takes seriously and you are bleeding to death and no one can see it and you are furious at people’s blindness. You also think you are self-pitying and pathetic.
You also don’t care and think what’s the point, what’s the point, what’s the point.
You go back.
You adjust your meds. You work out harder. You do more yoga. You meditate. You are even gentler with yourself. You try to think positively. You talk to your therapist. You talk to your friends. You talk to your family. You talk until you’re sick of hearing yourself talking and reinforcing the leech’s presence and think maybe if you just ignore it, fake it, pretend the leech isn’t there, it will go away.
You know in the deepest, most inside part of you that it will never go away and it makes you sick and you throw up.
You sit in the bathtub naked and rocking and crying and raging with the shower running until the water goes cold. You hate the leech. You hate yourself. You hate your brain. You hate your DNA, your genes, you hate your parents, your ancestors, you hate feeling like this. You hate feeling at all. You hate thinking, hearing, seeing, smelling, touching, talking, being here, trapped inside yourself with no escape.
You think it will never end.
You wake up one morning, a morning just like the morning before it, and the morning before that, but on this morning you feel normal.
You feel it as tangibly as a change in air temperature.
You wait. You suspect it. You disbelieve. You lay still, waiting for the piano to drop. You hold your brain’s breath. You will not be fooled again. You will not be tricked into thinking you’ve gotten through it because you have done this before and only ended up fighting it again and again and every time the leech reappears you hear the pills whisper, “sucker.”
You are tired.
You are tired of the battle day after day, month after month, year after year.
You surrender. You withstand. You endure.
You wonder how.