a straight face sometimes. an occasional grimace. a smile more often. laughter, a loud one at that, always.
ask me the requisite “how are you?”, and i’d tell you “i’m ok i guess”, only short of saying “never been better!”.
people like to assume, that if a person looks okay, that person MUST be okay. i have a hard time accepting this fact of life. it isn’t any easier when my family, my parents especially, are like that too.
how do you tell someone that you have 20 joints that are in pain, or flaring for that matter. that you’re trying your darndest to function normally, and the least to say, be okay with that? that you are struggling with a chronic disease that eats away at your joints, and have been doing so since you were barely a year old? that you take medications everyday to try to quell it, but that even these medications affect your liver and ups the chance of liver cirrhosis everytime that happens? that there is no cure, and that you have never been in a remission in 22 years of your life?
how do you tell someone that you are depressed, not by choice, but because there are just too many things tripping you over, including many dysfunctional mindsets and a brain so fantastic it continuously replays once repressed and traumatic memories? that you are (again) trying your hardest to get better, that it really takes time to right the wrongs which were never your fault in the first place, and that you cannot simply just “snap out of it”? that you take your medications, see your psychiatrist and psychologist without fail, and that you try to deploy every single method there is to be “more positive” and to “think less”? that everytime you take a step forward, you end up going 10 steps backwards because you “tried too hard” and you end up getting “eaten alive” by other people, just because? that you are NOT weak, or NOT not strong enough, and that the converse holds more truth? that in your self-preservation struggle, you go as far as letting them run electric currents through your head? that because you are such a danger to yourself, you get locked up in hospital for lengths of time that add up to more than a year? that life grinds to a halt with all of these- life, school, work, pleasure- and that all that time you’ve wasted doesn’t ever get returned or paid back to you?
how do you tell someone that you are eating disordered, not because you are vain or attention-seeking, but because there are legitimate reasons why you fell into it? that you keep hearing people around you, even those whom you love, tell you that you have gained weight, or that you are fat? that society dictates that it doesn’t bode well to be even just a little heavier, and when that happens, all you see are the heads shaking and the fingers wagging? that in ballet the leotards and tights wrap around your body and legs so tight that every inch that is not muscle or skin glares back at you in the mirror? that you had to take medications (refer to first point) that made you put on weight, and that you got a lot of shit (i.e. body-shaming) for that? that even when your body mass index is in the normal range, or even nearer to the underweight range, it is still not enough, and people still stare at you and tell you that you are “not thin enough”, or that you are fat? and that in the end you become your biggest critic, and nothing ever becomes good enough then, that you’d go to painful and great lengths- even if it means destroying your own health, or killing yourself slowly- just to be “thin enough”?
i could go on and on.
everyone struggles. i wouldn’t say i’ve had it worse than others, really. i think i am fortunate enough despite everything.
but just because i smile, laugh boisterously, talk like life’s good; just because there are no tears, no breakdowns, no frowns, no whining; just because i appear normal to you; it does not mean that i am okay. it does not mean you can dig at me, insult me, or tell me things that are so very irrelevant to you and painful to me. everything’s wrong, but life carries on. the world stops for no one, sadly.
and if you happen to be one whom i’d tell one of these things (all 3 even) to, i hope you never judge me like all the people (including my parents) whom have hurt me so much.
this is my story, and i am lucky to be able to tell it on this platform. many others don’t. but if you take some time to look around you and get to know better the people around you, maybe you will get to know of the stories left untold (for the very same reasons) and appreciate better the people you love or are friends/colleagues with.
it’s not difficult to be kind.
rule of thumb: if you don’t know what to say, don’t, don’t i repeat, say anything at all.
be helpful, not hurtful.