Going to outpatient therapy every damn day did something to me that hasn’t happened in a very long time. It gave me a reason to get up in the morning. Get in the shower. Do my damn hair and put some makeup on. Every morning. That might not seem like anything to you, but for me, it’s huge. I was used to going from the bed to the couch, the couch to the bed, every day and every night smearing together into an infinite loop of depression. Sure I had moments, where I would put on a happy face and take a Klonopin and face the world, but I was very seldom true to my smile.
There were real moments of happiness. I even shared them. They did exist, at one point.
I get up and get ready to drive through rush hour to sit with other damaged people who are just like me or you or the person in the next room, I get ready to talk to rooms full of strangers for five hours at a clip, strangers who become my fellow soldiers in the foxhole, these precious strangers who know things about me that I dare not speak in the real world, people who know what it’s like to spend a week locked behind two steel doors, watching the sky from an airless room full of childlike artwork and board games that somehow are supposedly therapeutic. If you say so, sure. Roll with the punches, meet with those in charge and then go back to your foxhole with your brothers and sisters in arms. They understand. Who else could?
“What was it like, in there? Were you scared? Were you lonely? Did looking at the sky from behind the reinforced locked windows make you cry? Did you dream of fresh air and sidewalks full of people and real food and coffee and birds and your own blanket and shoes with laces? Were you so very scared?”
I can’t tell you. Because you don’t dare ask. Or don’t want to know. Or don’t care to know. One of those. And I understand, I do. No one wants to be behind the doors and the reinforced glass. No one really wants to know. But we do. We who survived on gallows humor and writing notes to the cafeteria staff and getting chocolate cake for breakfast in return. We were our own world, in there. We survived. And no one else will ever know what it was really like. Is it scary to ask us?
Now I see the same soldiers on the outside, where there is real air and the sky is bright and there are people on the sidewalks and real coffee and my own blanket and I put on my red lipstick like warpaint every day to remind myself that I’m back in the real world now. That I may feel like I’m completely alone and abandoned, but there are people out there that I shared a foxhole with, my brothers and sisters in arms. I see them now as we enter through unlocked doors and talk and cry and leave, and get in our own cars and get back, slowly but surely to our lives.
Changed. I’ve changed. I see my old self haunting my apartment, alone and despondent and scared and I want to hold her tight and tell her everything is going to be okay. I want to believe that things are happening for a reason and a purpose and even when all is completely lost and I’m all alone, I’m not. I have moments in which I’m kind to myself now.
Asking for help was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, and it’s bitten me in the ass pretty hard. I’ve been left to fend for myself and there are wolves at the door. But I see the faces of my comrades from the inside now on the outside. We made it through, broken and wounded and bleeding, but we made it. Even if all seems lost and I’m crippled with fear of the outside, I know that there’s a band of us who have been inside. And outside may be lonely, but there are birds and grass and cars and you can eat whatever you want and please, don’t ever take anything for granted.
I guess that’s what this mess of a ramble is all about. My comrades and I, we know now. And we don’t want you to ever go through what we did. Asking for help is terrifying, and you will have people who abandon you at your weakest moments. But there are always others in the foxhole. And you will always be irrevocably tied to them, and you’ll never be completely alone again.