I’m in that coffee shop I can’t seem to leave, suffocating on the air I swear is thicker today, and applying for disability services with my college. There’s a sad song playing in my headphones and I’m trying to hold back the tears, even though I know it’s not really about me. Right? Can anyone else confirm this? Are the sad songs about us too?

I never wanted to admit to myself that I may need some extra help. When I failed out of nursing school, two months before graduating with my license, I told people it was because “I got sick.” But now I’m trying to get my degree in human services, missing deadlines, and having to acknowledge that, Madi girl, you are still sick. Things are still so hard. Surviving is still one hell of a task.

And a lot of people will say, “It’s okay.” But today doesn’t feel okay.

I sometimes dream of holding a forum for those close to me, one in which questions are encouraged, but people mostly have to listen to me describe what it feels like to carry a shadow without interrupting to say it doesn’t make sense. I know it doesn’t. I’m the one who has to do it. Please let me talk.

The movies often show us scenes of distraught individuals crying in the shower, piano music softly covering up their hiccups and sniffles. The whole thing almost seems romantic, the way it’s portrayed like that. So, when I cried in the shower this morning, I was annoyed by the reality. There was no beautiful song playing in time with my sobs, the hot water eventually ran out, and the crushing weight of life was still clinging to my shivering back as I tried desperately to warm up underneath a damp towel.

Sadness isn’t as pretty as others would have you believe. It’s like being the subject of a goddamn crime scene all the time, with people who believe they’re qualified to stand over your bloody body and analyze the how’s and why’s of the thing that killed you instead of making time to show up before it ever got to the point of you taking a gruesome last breath. These same people might say I sound bitter. They’re very observant, what with all of their musing over my dead body.

The tears are flowing freely now, and I just, for one day, wish I could listen to hauntingly beautiful music in the corner of my favorite shop without being crushed by a sadness so deep, I have to write about it. I don’t know how to be the person sitting across from me, laughing at whatever it is they’re looking at on their computer screen. I don’t know how to be the person beside me, speaking on some sort of video conference call and making notes at the same time. Didn’t they have a shitty night of sleep too? Haven’t they kept up with the news? Don’t they know everything hurts?

In high school, I had a reputation of frequently crying during class. I wish I could go back now, years later, and explain that I am not just some fragile, delicate thing who cannot get a grip on her emotions; I am merely trying to survive. I cannot help it if life catches up in the middle of a classroom discussion. It is not my fault if everything is so deeply painful, if I cannot catch my breath in the middle of concert band practice for reasons other than the obvious.

My brain is sick. That’s easier to say now. And when I wake up to my own body traced with chalk tomorrow, I’ll attempt to ignore the onlookers who don’t understand. I have so little energy already; I’m not going to waste it.

I don’t really know if this is a letter or a confession or a plea. I have not been able to breathe for days now, and I’m catching myself wishing for people more willing to take care of me than understand why they need to. I know I’m a grown woman now, married and contributing to society. But, I’m still just trying to survive. Aren’t we all? Why aren’t we making this easier on each other?

My tea is cold and the air hasn’t cleared, so I suppose I’ll stop now, try to survive in other ways. I hope you’re able to as well.




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