“Science may never know.”

(The following is written from the point of view of a character I have created named Lydia who suffers from anxiety and depression and uses her self-awareness and humor as a coping mechanism to excuse away her feelings. Though the exact scene is fiction, the feelings are pulled from real experiences.)

It feels like a tired metaphor, but it really does come in waves. It hits me and I am immediately underwater, suddenly I feel the need to apologize for every word out of my mouth, every mixed emotion, every insecurity. Apologize for being there, for opening my mouth, for existing.

“I’m sorry I bothered you,” is what leaves my lips when what my mind is actually screaming is ‘I need your help, but I don’t know how to ask’. Not that I would know what I needed from someone if I ever did end up asking for help. Besides, I used up all my energy trying to get out those few words and now my throat feels like it is in a vice. Fever spreads from my cheeks to my forehead as the vertigo hits and my mind goes blank. I focus on his face and watch his lips move but no sound comes out, at least none I can here. Not that it really matters, everyone gives me the same variation of encouragement anyway: “You are not bothering me. You are fine. Don’t worry. It is okay.” But these words have little effect on me now, the tide has come in and I am under. There is nothing I can do now except wait for the water to recede again.

I say something to him, excusing myself, depression has taken the wheel and is steering me to the only place I have ever felt safe: my bed. I float down the halls trying to remain numb long enough until my head hits the pillow. It is there and only there that I unleash the floodgates (yes, another tired metaphor) from behind my eyes and allow them to pool onto my pillow. Snot running from my nose, chest heaving as I hyperventilate under the covers, trying to let it out while fighting not to be pulled down so deep I cannot swim to the surface again. Breathe, yes, always remember to breathe. We wouldn’t want to be panicked and depressed right now, would we? This might sound melodramatic, but in these moments, it is kinda what I imagine dying to feel like, and who knows maybe a small part of me dies with each “episode”. Science may never know. 

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