Tag Archives: mental health

Comfort of a ghost

I’m sitting on the wooden benches, in Astoria Blvd, waiting for the Manhattan-bound N train. It’s so cold outside that vapor comes out of my mouth every time I take a breath. The tips of my fingers are frozen, and I blow into them every five minutes to keep them warm.

It’s snowing and raining at the same time. My shoes are wet, and I can feel my cold socks cling to my skin, but I can’t feel my toes. The coldness rattles up to my ankles and it’s slowly clawing up to my calf.

For a moment I stare at the rusty, old tracks and there’s a voice in the back of my head, telling me to jump on them as soon as the train comes, but the voice fades away beneath the stress of tomorrow.

I try to focus on the long walk home. It’s getting dark and because of the slippery roads, the buses will take forever. I’ll get home faster if I jog. I don’t have an umbrella, maybe I can buy one on the way, but I don’t have cash; I forgot my wallet at home. The thought makes me curse myself, and the harsh voice in my head scolds me for being careless.

I lean back and divert my attention to the Tri-borough bridge. The cars passing beneath the train station, with their colorful red and white lights, vanish in the fog and reappear close to the blue bridge; but all I can see are blurry outlines and flickering lights.

The day didn’t go well; not like the other days are any different. But today it felt like someone was suffocating me. Like someone had lowered the pressure of the oxygen in the air. Like something heavy was sitting on my chest. Nothing went well. I failed two of my classes, and I won’t be graduating on time. The thought doesn’t bother me, what bothers me is having to explain all this to my dad. What will I tell him? His hopes are bounded to me and my siblings, and my failing is like stabbing him in the chest. Things at home aren’t well either. My parents have issues of their own. It’s like I’m forced into these two wars and ironically, I’m losing both of them. I’m at that point, where everything feels like a burden. No matter how much effort I put into something, I always fail, and I’m tired of failing. I’m tired of trying. Tired of just existing.

I’m in pain, and it’s the type of pain that can’t be explained. That can’t be put into words; no matter what language I use.

The train comes after half an hour, and the walk home isn’t as long as I imagine it to be. Maybe because I run half the way, splashing water all over my clothes.

At home, no one asks me any questions, and I am grateful. Everyone is too occupied with their own issues, that my little problem seems like a minor inconvenience. My blotchy cheeks and stuffy nose are the result of the rain- that’s what everyone thinks, and I don’t correct them. I could easily break down but besides “get over it”, “have faith,” or “I’ve been through worse,” I won’t get any other form of comfort.

I change my clothes and go straight to bed. I have an English paper and a lab report due, but I don’t care. Nothing seems important. My mind is messed up, and I’ll probably break down crying. I just want to sleep. But as soon as I close my eyes, tears as big as raindrops cascade down my cheeks. Searing pain is ripping through my chest and it hurts so bad that I can’t put it into words. I’m wheezing, and I can’t seem to breathe. I want to yank my heart out of my chest and squeeze it until it explodes. A throbbing headache spills through my skull, and I find myself questioning God.

But as soon as I close my eyes. Hands as soft as feathers touch my forehead, and I feel an odd, unexplainable warmth spread through my body. Like someone has wrapped me around in a nice tepid blanket. Like all the negative thoughts in my mind are caged behind bars of tranquility.

“It’ll all be okay,” a voice as warm as the sun whispers into my earlobe and I can feel the warmth of someone’s breath. The voice reverberates in my mind, and I find myself repeating those same words.

For a moment there’s comfort. A one I’ve never felt before, but as soon as I open my eyes there’s no one around me, but I feel like I’m being watched. Like someone, invisible is hovering over my head. I’m too tired to think. Too tired to comprehend.

I close my eyes, and I feel someone massaging my scalp. Someone is sitting next to me on the bed and is whispering “everything is going to be okay.” And for some odd reason, I believe that voice. I feel an odd ecstasy take a hold of my body, easing every cell rushing through my veins. It doesn’t take long for me to fall into a deep, dreamless slumber.

Photo by Syed Hasan Mehdi from Pexels

Destroyed by kindness

Sometimes you have no idea what pain someone’s carrying, or what baggage they’re holding onto, or what demons they’re trying to fight. Sometimes life brings you to a point where you’re standing in front of the person you thought you knew, but in reality, they’re someone completely different. It’s disappointing and confusing because they weren’t honest, and you weren’t supportive. It’s like all your life, you believed in a lie and now that lie is standing naked in front of you, and all you want to do is cover it up because you’re ashamed.

Today I learned something. I learned that sometimes the most beautiful smiles are the ones that rip through moments of doubt. That the shattered souls have the most innocent hearts. The most broken people are the kindest, maybe because they’ve been through hell and they don’t want you to go through it too. Or maybe they’ve given up on life, and they don’t want you to do the same.

I learned that just because you’re kind, ethical and moral, that does not mean the world will reciprocate the same attitude. Sometimes being moral and just will be the reason for your downfall. Being ethical will pull you back. Being kind will destroy you.

Life is only grateful to a few of us. No matter how good and kind you are, the world has its way of dragging you down. It has its way of breaking you and then putting you back together only to knock you down again. To say that you’ve reached the top because you’ve worked hard for it is an understatement. Other factors play a huge role, and life favoring you is one of them. I’ve seen the kindest people break their backs, tear open, and then crack only to drown, and then I’ve seen people curse and laugh only to rise. Why this unfairness? Why does life play hide and seek when it’s wearing a disguise? Why do some people get everything on golden platters while others have to scavenge? Why do some people have happiness dancing on the tips of their fingers, while others are drowning in despair? Why is it that one person’s kindness is overshadowed by another’s cruelty?

Not everyone rises when they fall. Sometimes people drag down the world with them as they plunge. It’s like saying, “if I fall, I’ll take down the world with me.” When life breaks you and tears you open, three possibilities arise.
• You get back up and you try.
• You stay down there and give up.
• Or you pull down everyone else.

Your time will come- I’m tired of hearing this and I’m tired of saying it. You can break all you want, work as hard as you can, spend as many nights awake, but you will get nowhere- not until the doors of your destiny open.

But it is you who has the key. You may be carrying more baggage than your shoulders can bear. Your soul may be joined by twigs as thin as hair strands. Your heart may be bleeding, creating oceans in your chest. You may be the kindest person on the surface of this earth, who’s been broken by the cruelty of this world. You may have blisters on your soles, and your heels may be cracked. Your fingers may be trembling, and your nails might be chipped, but darling in order for the world to see the horizon you see, they’ll be needing your eyes. But that wouldn’t make a difference because the world is blind. Remember a phoenix rises only when it is burned. A diamond is formed only when coal is pressurized. A rose does not grow without thorns. Your time won’t come, you’ll have to drag it to you. Life will break you, but how much you are willing to break depends on you.

Darling, life is tough, but you are tougher.

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Crying…

You know that awful feeling where you cry so much that you can’t seem to breathe, like the tiny molecules of oxygen are clogged in your throat, and no matter how hard you inhale you can’t get the air through your lungs. Your chest aches so bad that it feels like your insides are bleeding.

The organ pumping blood through your whole body gains a couple of hundred pounds, and you can’t bear the weight. It’s like everything in your bosom is about to explode, but it doesn’t, and like a ticking bomb you’re waiting for it to erupt. All you want is for everything to end. Your stomach starts to churn like someone is taking a blade and is slicing through your organs, causing internal hemorrhage. Your nose becomes stuffy, your cheeks become blotchy, and your eyes start stinging like someone is pouring acid in them.

The pounding headache is pulsing through your brain like a stick on a drum. Your temples are aching, and your shoulders become rigid. There’s a storm erupting in your mind, causing all sorts of damage that can’t be undone. The anxiety, the depression, the panic attacks all tear into you like needles piercing through a cloth.

You curl into a ball, press your knees against your chest and drown yourself beneath the sheets. The pillows get soaked, drenched in your tears. The world seems to zoom in and out, and everything around you becomes dark. So dark that even with so much light you can’t seem to see anything. Something human in you breaks. Your soul cracks apart, and there’s nothing you can do to rejoin yourself. A part of you that shined like the sun is now as dark as a pit of coal.

You want to feel something, but there is nothing in you except emptiness and that’s the worst feeling anyone can ever have. It’s like you’re plunging into this pit of nothingness. You’re waiting for the impact, but it doesn’t come. You want to crash so badly, to restart all over again, but there’s no beginning and no end because you’re trapped in between.

That feeling of nothingness just swallows you a whole. You want to be mad, angry, depressed. Feel something, but all you feel is a void in your chest growing with every passing second. Like a singularity up in space, you drown everything around you. Time, space, everything that is supposed to be, ceases to exist. You start losing a part of yourself that you know you wont ever recover.

Photo by Murilo Folgosi from Pexels

Publishing my first book…

I published my first book a year ago, on this very day; I wasn’t thinking right. I published it because I didn’t know what else to do with it. It was like one of those scenarios where you just want to get things off your chest. I wanted to get a book off my laptop. My book was rusting beneath files of essays, journals, lab reports, and textbooks.

I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. How do I get a book published? How do I contact agents? How do I reach publishing agencies? So, I did what any normal person would do. I cried. I cried more than I wrote because it was the easy way out. Because there was something comforting about closed doors, I didn’t have to worry about what was on the other side.

I didn’t write to get myself published. I wrote as a way of relieving stress, as a way to cope with the anxiety bubbling inside of me. It helped until I was starting to fail my classes because I wasn’t paying attention to them. I failed physics and then Organic chemistry and I ended up dropping them both last minute. I would open my textbook, lay it across the table and stare at it until my eyes would hurt. I just couldn’t force myself to read. While taking down notes, in class, I would start scribbling in my notebook, writing poems that no one would ever read.

It was anxiety that stopped me from studying. Imagine having a huge elephant sitting on your chest and you can’t explain it to anyone. Or imagine feeling like the walls of the classroom are shrinking and you’re suffocating. The pounding headaches, the tensing, the stressing and the losing weight. The more I suffered the more I wrote. Most of my pages and notebooks were filled with meaningless incoherent words. I would ignore everyone, skip classes, go to the library, sit on the carpet in between the shelves and I would write. Cry and write. Because I didn’t know why I was feeling this way. Why was an Honor roll, Arista student, who never got below a ninety struggling with passing a class? I loved physics and calculus but solving even the simplest equations seemed so complicated. I wanted to drop out so badly, but I didn’t and that caused more damage. There was one thing I learned though: when you suppress yourself just to fit in, you wreck a beautiful part of yourself and that’s what I did. In my effort to please everyone around me, I forgot who I actually was. I was pretending to be someone I wasn’t, and in that process, I forgot how many masks I was wearing. I’ve realized that now…

I’m odd. Weird. A freak. But this is just how I am. Abnormal. Clumsy. And I’m okay with that.

I’m peeling off my masks, and I’m redefining everything. I’m losing friends, being hated, but I’m learning to accept this part of myself. I’m okay with it. I think.

But through all that depression, all that anxiety and all those panic attacks, I wrote a 90,000-word page novel with grammatical errors and an ugly cover. I put it on Amazon and it was horrible. I had so many errors and the people who were supposed to have my back never told me. I have such awesome friends.

But the people I didn’t know and never met were more supportive. They gave me feedback and constructive criticism. I took down my book, got it professionally edited, made a new cover and I put it back up again.

In this whole process of burning and reforming, there is so much I learned. The most important lesson was to never give up. Fuck the world- but don’t back down.

But that day, a year ago, I promised myself that I wouldn’t back down, not even if the earth rumbled or the sky broke apart. It didn’t matter if no one read what I wrote. I would write because it makes me happy. Because it’s an escape from this world, into a world that runs on the tips of my fingers.

Link to my book on Amazon: The City of Saints

The taboo of divorce…

Her name is not Lena but that’s what I’ll call her. She’s my age maybe a bit older. She has blue strands of hair, but her natural caramel is growing through her scalp and you can see it clearly. She has misty blue eyes, the kind that’ll capture your attention in the middle of a crowd. Lena isn’t the only child, she has two older siblings, a Russian blue cat and two Betta fish that died because no one fed them.

I met Lena in high school, during gym class. We both had one thing in common: our hatred for working our muscles off for a class that wouldn’t even be averaged in our GPA. I leaned more towards the chemistry side, while she leaned toward the arts.

“It’s when I hold that pencil- I transport into this other dimension.” That’s what she told me when I asked her about her favorite subject. I never had the chance to tell her that I felt the same way, except my pencil, didn’t create images or sketches, it created words with raw emotions. 

Out of all the people, I remembered Lena because we both were socially awkward to the point where each of us would find a bench and sit in the corner, so no one would notice us. We were the outcasts, in a world that wanted to be an outcast.

I’m writing about Lena because I have no idea where she is. She could be reading my blog from Argentina or maybe she’s pursuing her dream of becoming another Picasso. Either way, she’s carved her mark in my mind, or maybe I carved it myself because I liked her. 

I remember Lena not because she was the only girl who was willing to be my partner during basketball practice, but because she had a story of her own that she was afraid to tell, and I was eager to hear. A story that still disperses in my mind, like waves on a shore.

Her parents got married because her grandfather was ill and was about to die. So, he decided to get his daughter married to the son of a farmer. Things at first were going pretty well, then the economy dipped, and the married couple moved to America- to make all ends meet. Lena’s siblings were born in Argentina and she was born in the states.

Her mother worked as a waitress and her father worked in a garage. Her father was a good man and her mother was a humble woman. But according to Lena, they never got along with each other. They both had their own issues, their own insecurities, their own flaws but they would always come at each other’s throats, trying to prove each other wrong. They were like two magnets that were somehow joined but always opposed each other.

“Their fights start as arguments on the smallest things, but then they escalate to the point where the whole neighborhood can hear them,” Lena told me once when I sat next to her in gym class. Her eyes were puffy, and her cheeks were swollen from all the crying. “Sometimes it seems as if they love each other, but then it looks like they can’t stand each other. If I take a side I feel guilty because sometimes they both seem right and sometimes they both seem wrong.”

Listening to Lena wasn’t something new. I had heard stories before of parents fighting. Physically hurting each other. Emotionally scarring one another. The effect on the children would cause riots in the families and like a domino, one fall would lead to another.

“I wish they could just get a divorce.” This sentence of Lena was what caught me off guard. I gawked at her, like a small child, with my mouth hanging open.

Why would she say that?

Maybe she was mad. Maybe she wasn’t thinking properly. Maybe – just maybe she was being an insensate little teenager because her hormones were all over the place. I tried to convince her. I gave her false hope because that’s what friends do. They make you believe that the monsters you’re fighting aren’t real.

But later on, when things got worse, when Lena would cry in the locker room and when she eventually disappeared I realized that maybe she was right. That maybe divorce was so tabooed and so frowned upon that I let my hatred of it consume me into believing that it was a bad thing. I’m not vouching for divorce. But when every option runs out, when every boat drowns its better to part ways than to be the reason for someone else’s sinking. Her parents needed space. They needed to let each other go because holding on was hurting them and in return, they were hurting each other, and Lena was the one suffering.  

The effect on Lena was horrible. She stopped talking to me, became a ghost and disappeared beneath the evils of bad company. It felt as if she pulled down her barriers to make herself strong, but in that process, she broke her spirit. She broke something human in her.

Her parents would never understand. Maybe because they were fighting their own battles that her wars seemed insignificant. Maybe they never saw the world through her eyes. Or maybe they just didn’t care.

Love has the ability to heal, but sometimes against odd circumstances, it can also be the cause for pain. Maybe her parents were in that state where they were fearful of letting go just as fearful as they were of holding on. I’m not saying divorce is a good thing, but I’ve seen way too many people around me suffer in agony because they were afraid of the label of divorce. They’ve lived their entire lives in silence because suffering is better than being a divorcee.

Picture from here