That’s what she used to proclaim, suddenly, at us, in drama. Obediently, we would pause, statue-esque, awaiting her instruction. It’s a technique I use years later, running children’s parties. It engenders quiet. Still. Frozen in space is time to be.
I want to press “freeze” right now. I want to stop, to be. I can’t keep up. Emotionally, I am exhausted, and I am suicidal. Thoughts come incessantly, unbidden, unwanted, without rhyme or reason. I fight them. I cut more deeply, more often, to try and abate them. They do not stop.
Unable to contact mental health services, three appointments cancelled this week, not seen anyone in a month, I see the GP this morning, in a foggy haze of not-quite-there. She affirms me not being real. Affirms that telling work after what happened last time they were informed, is a wise, if effortful choice.
As the GP knows, the stigma is real-as-real. I am not sure I am. I don’t feel real anymore. The theatre of productivity at work isn’t the real me. I have been told by an Elder not to cry – not to be real with God- at church. I have taken a lower-level, less time-commitment job, to permit therapy, to try to allow me to be real, to be more whole. But it looks like I will not be able to have it anyway, because my timetable will clash with its availability. I’m not sure what counts as real anymore.
This is me, in Reception class, aged 4 years. The expression – the gritted teeth – is me desperately trying to hide my frustration. I remember this photo’ being taken. How the Classroom Assistant kept me behind to sort out my coat sleeves and zip, after the others had gone off to play. How I didn’t want to be treated any differently because of my hemiplegia: how I resented any space or attention given to it – and how I let that mission of “not being disabled” and proving I could do everything just as well as you, thank you very much, rule my life, until I was 22 years-old, and broke down under its pressure. I am trying not to make this mistake with this disability.
I am trying to be real. I am trying to allow space for the mental illness I hate, so that I don’t become defined by it. I am trying to balance work with home with everything else. I am trying to be more whole. But everything seems to be against me doing that. It all feels futile. And I can’t be me. I’ve been told not to be me.
Someone said that God is the fulfilment of being. I don’t have time to be anymore. Let alone to be fulfilled, whole, or real. If I can’t be real, what is the point in being? I am not sure where God is anymore.