Anyone

Dear Anyone,

I know you haven’t slept in awhile. The dark circles under your eyes and the blank stare give it away. Your eyelids are drooping and you yawn every 10 seconds or less. Tired and defeated, that’s how you look. 

Tired. Ain’t it funny to feel sleepy but unable to actually sleep. The body is begging for you to rest, but your seemingly rabid mind refuses. It spins around and around until it collides with your sanity.

The mind. It goes to places it should not go. It explores creases and nooks that have been hidden for a reason so long ago. It challenges your reality, banging on doors, and peering on windows. Rousing the demons shackled within.

You tossed and turned in bed while the time on your bedside clock rolled on. Finally, you gave up. You sat on your bed clutching your comforter to your chest. You prayed, like you do every night when the monsters have decided to leave the dark place inside your head, –  to crawl on your bedroom floor , on its walls, and ceiling. They leer at your inability to rest. 

First you beg, then you negotiate, and then you demand, and finally, like the real loser that you are,  you beg some more. 

But God probably had no problem going to sleep.

The fear is real, even if the reason for the fear is absurd. Your heart is pounding like it would jump out of your chest any moment and leave you. Everybody leaves you. 

Your teeth chatter, your body shakes, and your vision tunnels. You can’t breath. The air around you is cold and hot at the same time. Your mind orders you to run! And you do as you are told. 

You  run to the door, but it’s bolted shut as usual. So you cower under the table instead, trying to remember what made you so scared in the first place. But the sense of doom is so thick you can almost taste it.

A voice calls your name.  It sounds so far away. You strained to hear, but the beating of your  heart is too loud it cancels out all the other sounds. 

And then a hand touched you, and you screamed.

You recoiled, and then you tried to fight. You beat on his chest, tried to claw out his eyes. But he was so much stronger. They were so much stronger. 

The feel of clammy skin, the stench of unwashed hair, mouths that smelled of cigarette smoke and stale coffee, makes you want to gag. The filthiness of it all is almost as unbearable as the pain. 

The pain. It burns. Like fire licking flesh. Like a serrated knife shoved ever so slowly through your heart, only to be pulled out again. It’s like electricity wired directly to your soul. It left you empty. 

He approached you slowly, and tried to calm you down. Finally, your eyes focused and you saw him amidst the fog. By then, you were no longer screaming. You are whimpering like an injured dog. 

“Look at me. You are okay.”, He said in a soothing voice.

You looked into his eyes. They bought you back. 

It was never the same was it? After the trauma, nothing was ever the same. Not the sunrise, nor the sunset. Not the air you breathe. Not even your dreams. 

Nightmares are dreams too.

Your hate is married to your misery, while your fears take over everything else. 

Fear is so familiar, it’s like a mirror of yourself. It took over, and you faded away.

I know you struggled to get out of bed today. Eventually however, you were able to summon enough strength to assemble all your parts into place, – then you put on an armour. 

All the accessories the world expects you to have are clipped, tucked, hanged or smeared on a carefully constructed persona. Intelligence and skills, humour and confidence, drive and patience. For good measure, you even sprayed enough compassion to make anyone dizzy. 

That made me chuckle. You made quite an impressive mask

But you don’t fool me a bit. 

I see through your camouflage. Your brokenness, though masterfully hidden would sometimes peek out through your eyes, or your lackluster smile. 

Sometimes, you shove your hands inside your pockets to hide the tremors, just like how you hide the cuts behind expensive clothes.

You are broken.

I know, because I was there too, in the dark, – with you. 

I’m broken too.

                                       Just Anyone

6 years

6 years.

I went through the process.

I am now as fine as I can be. Not whole, but stitched together by the lessons I learned along the way;

Pinned by arrows that would now tell me which way to go when it gets too foggy;

Adhered in place by the scars, that mapped my journey from one battle field into another.

6 years.

I lived through the flagging, the mockery. I lived through self hate and instability. I walk through the fire, not around it. I felt the burns, and it was good.

I walked the process. I did not skip a step. And now I am my new version of whole. Chipped, and rugged. Imperfect. Stained.

But here.

Amidst the nights of wanting to be lost forever,

Amidst the need to cut to feel something, – even just a little bit,

Amidst the engulfing terror I can not explain,

Amidst the nothingness, the meaningless journey, the worthlessness, that would always come after the avalanche of strong emotions;

Amidst wanting to jump into oblivion, to disappear, to be gone,

I am still here. And I am thriving.

Time makes a difference. Journey on. Trust the healing process.  Patent your own version of happiness.

We don’t have to be complete to be whole..

The Colorful Confetti

She had always seemed happy. Her name had always resonated positivity and achievements among her peers. Her family adored her. She had everything in abundance, and she never failed to show the world how grateful she was. Her Instagram and Facebook page presented color and vibrance. She is out living a charmed life…, or so it seemed.

So, why was she found dead in her bedroom, overdosed on sleeping pills?
Depression does not always sound like Eeyore, and a scream for help isn’t always loud enough.

Depression often has no face.
It is an invisible but potent toxin that consumes the soul. A hovering darkness; a persistent pain; A shameful vulnerability that is vaulted in, but never contained.
She tried to hide the imperfection just as one will try to hide an acne outbreak. She covered it with laughter and vibrance.
Her achievements were a facade to her weakness, while she filled her emptiness with friends who never once tried to look closer.
She is a colorful parade in a busy, noisy avenue.
But she felt like the leftover confetti, strewn along a deserted alley, and dirty gutter floor.
She didn’t want to die. She simply did not feel like there was any other choice. It was like choosing the less horrendous way to go. She is dead whichever way.
She was not ungrateful, infact, the reason she tried so hard to feign normalcy was because she did not want to seem any less than happy to be a recipient of good fortune. Depression however proved to be such a deceitful foe.
A cry for help is often muted by the noise of shame; muted by the close door. Muted by the party music and empty laughter. Muted by showmanship.
Her cry for help will never be loud enough. It will always be a whisper into the night, a teardrop on her pillow, or a subtle “Hi” on your phone screen at 3am.
Depression makes a person a clown, with leftover confetti for a life.

Doctor, heal thyself

We find ourselves under glaring lights. It used to make us proud, but now it only dries us out. The spotlight that once highlighted success now only serves to define responsibilities. And the warmth that used to emanate from the attention, now became a strange coldness that leaves us wanting to hide under a blanket of darkness.

Our white cloak, once proud, now haphazardly strewn over our rickety chairs, stained and discolored and seemingly ashamed. The Stet we once carried with purpose, now hangs heavily on our shoulders, no longer an instrument but a reminder of the role we must continue to play amidst frustrations and defeat. To swim against the tide with nothing but a remnant of a dream, hoping that it would be enough to spare us from drowning.

Most of us no longer wear watches. We are no longer governed by night and day. Time is of no essence except when declaring someone else’s time of death. Yes, time punctuates one defeat after another, until it no longer made any difference.

We fix broken hinges while we fall apart. We stitch together what had been torn off while we kept losing some of our parts. We help others regain strength while we collapse; While we grapple; While we lose who we are within the tangles of roles and holograms. Until there is nothing left in us but a dying dream, a forgotten essence, and a disillusion.

Doctor, heal thy self….

Darkness

It follows me around, this darkness. It hovers over me, like a ghost from a long forgotten life. Like old bones sticking out grotesquely from some unmarked grave. It haunts like old photographs no one owns.

It makes me remember. It corrupts the present with the disgusting stench of the past. It taunts my glee, it mocks my wholeness. And it pulls me back to a time when I am neither a person nor an essence. When I am just the ash in a dying ember, scattered by the cold wind, buried between the creases of forgotten moments.

I stitched me back together, haphazardly like a discarded rug doll maybe, but together, as I began to showcase my very own version of wholeness. Me with my scars and nightmares; Me with my stitches and burns; Me with my fears and recklessness; Me with my anger and love; Me with so many broken dreams and a few triumphs; Me with my falling stars.

Me and my darkness…

I walk with broken hinges they say, and I accept it. I am an anamorphosis of who I used to be. A person I no longer remember. I walk with pieces of me peeling off, like old paint they say, and I accept it, because it’s true. I have learned a long time ago however, that being able to pick up pieces of who you are after being blown up by circumstances, is strength like no other.

Being able to keep my soul even after losing most of me is triumph.

Darkness follows me. It knows my name. For we are one and the same. But I look forward for the glitters of falling stars.

The soul of our profession isn’t what people see from the outside. Because most of our battles are fought behind closed doors.

The medical world isn’t glamorous. It is a battle ground. A war we don’t always win. Being a doctor isn’t about the polished appearance of a person in white coat. It’s the blood stained scrubs, the uncombed hair, the day old beard, the bags under the eyes after being on call for 35 hours that define who we are. It’s leaving the family at 3am to save someone. It’s being absent in most family celebrations and holidays because people needed doctors and nurses. It’s looking in the mirror and realizing that the years had passed you by and life is slowly slipping away.

Each time we show up in the ER, in the D.R., in the OR, in the NICU or ICU or in the wards, each time we see you in the clinics, we give a huge chunk of our lives to you. The least you could do is not shame us on social media just because you thought you have not been served right.

In the ER, you don’t get served first just because you have money. In the ER, we rush to the person whose life or limb he or she can lose at any moment. If you take pictures, make sure it tells the whole story. Entitlement has no place inside an emergency room.

Erratic

Last night, after a manic bout of cleaning and moving around, I sat on the lounge still very much restless and itching to move. I decided to distract myself by browsing through my WordPress entries, and ended up deleting almost half of what I shared through the years.

I have not really shared much of my actual story. Just like when I am journaling, I write in a way that it showed my state of mind at the time of writing, in a kind of detached manner, like an observer of some sort. It felt like I didn’t really want to share much of the actual events other than the emotions the moments invoke.

My writings lack details. It lacks orientation and ground. It is ambiguous, distorted and floating, much like how it is in my head.

Maybe, that’s why group therapy never worked for me. I mean, I know it for a fact that it is the reason why talk therapies fail.

I cover my head, while the rest of me is naked. I share my heart but I remove the face. No matter how straight forward I want to believe I am, the reality says I am hiding. An anamorphosis of the real me.

Like a liar who wants to tell the truth, but fearing judgement. So the half truth suffices.

But you see, I am mostly my emotions. My moods set the phase of my days. This gives me no solid ground to stand on.

My emotions collide with the person that I am. That leaves me with nothing much. No self. No story. Just an abstract universe with a lot of black holes. It had been that way for as long as I could remember.

So I deleted the faceless ghosts that are evidence of my dissociations.

I am not a story teller. I am a lurker in my own world, ashamed to be recognised as the grenade that I really am.

A few years back, after I have been to a number of doctors and therapists for depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and inability to sleep, one doctor actually told me that she thinks I have BPD.

I didn’t take that well. I told her to “go fuck herself”.

There you go. That’s me.

There are days when I feel too much, and then there are days when I feel nothing at all. I shift from being on top of the world to being beyond low in a matter of minutes. I’d be thinking about the various ways I could kill myself , and then cowering in a corner in panic because I am so convinced I’m having a heart attack. I could love and hate, idealise and mock the same person in an interval of a few short while. I’d smoke and drink myself like crazy now, only to strongly regret it later.

Yes, I am that kind of crazy. I have no middle ground. Just a toxic cycle of thinking, feeling, and behaving.

Don’t get me wrong, I am highly functional. I thrive as a doctor. I thrive in a lot of roles, just not as a person with a solid identity, standing on a stable ground, with consistently clear perspectives. On that matter, I have failed big time.

So, this is who I am, – depressed, anxious, suicidal, reckless, dependent, angry, and manic. The rest of me seem merely incidental.