The messages in my head pull themselves into reality. Thoughts of shame and failure grind away my energy and resources until my life loses stability. It becomes harder and harder to function. Days run into one another, becoming weeks and months of misery.
Every moment is exhausting. All of my spare time is spent sleeping, to ensure I can get through each day. I want to sleep until I feel better, but am never rested. I spend my limited energy carefully.
Watching my wife work harder in my absence is painful. I feel guilty. My brain reminds me that she and my kids would be better off with a healthy man.
I feel like I’m thinking through syrup. Everything is slower than it should be, and every thought feels just out of reach. It takes extra effort to pierce this barrier, which soaks up most of my mental energy.
My speech comes out jumbled. Words and ideas feel like interwoven clusters. I am unable to finish one thought and begin another. I cannot tell which point in the stream represents those places.
I apologize often to those around me about my inability to communicate, and my mixed messages.
One morning, I force myself out of bed and stand in front of the bathroom mirror, talking myself through the next steps of washing my face and brushing my teeth. The face in the mirror looks too real, and I see the entirety at once. Every hair and pore seems over-rendered, like a HD video game character with too sharp a texture.
This face does not feel like it belongs to me. Regardless, I finish my hygiene tasks and continue the day.
I question how much other people can see written on me. I feel stripped bare, all the way to the bone, every insecurity on neon display. I avoid eye contact during interactions, afraid of what I might find there.
I worry that this episode will last too long. I imagine waking up one day, finally feeling like myself, to the rubble of the life I once built. I’ve been there before, on the very edge of losing my family.
I spend every day aware that I live in a world which does not understand or care about my illness. People will wear sad, thoughtful looks on their faces as they remove me from a job for not meeting the expectations laid out in their rule books. They will feign care while cutting away what is too weak.
This is the way of the world, so fear grips me as control spirals away. Somewhere in the back of my mind, a voice whispers, “Death is so much easier.”