I’ve Been Here Before
By A.J. Johnson
The desire to be understood; the angst when you’re not
I'm sitting at my desk, bawling my eyes out over everything and anything going on in my life. I'm hyperventilating at all of the possible outcomes of my situation, thinking the worst. My mind is racing from here to there to everywhere and back again, trying to figure things out, and it's not getting anywhere. I've been here before.
I’d like to think I’m different. Certainly, many people I meet think I’m unique, or even special. They can’t quite put a finger on it. But I can. And so can many others around the world who live with the same issues I live with. People treat us differently, sometimes with empathy. Most of the time, it’s with contempt, hostility, anger and fear. They don’t understand what it’s like to live with a mental illness, and they probably never will. It’s difficult to get people to understand something you can barely understand or control yourself. I’ve been here before.
I ache all over from the sheer loneliness I feel, even after I've reached out to friends and family, telling them I need to talk, and no one responds. I'm usually so open and verbal about myself, that when I need a lifeline from time to time to talk privately about things, and no one responds, I feel like a shit heel because I'm bugging people too much. And no one wants to hear about my problems anymore. There's always something wrong with A.J. I've been here before.
I'm bargaining and arguing with my loved ones, bawling, weeping, sniffling, begging and pleading with them to just listen to me. They tell me to "get over it," "quit the crying," and to "go get a job." When I tell them I can't because my doctors highly recommend that I don't and I actually agree with the decision. It isn't because I want to be lazy, it's because I don't want to go to jail for killing someone. I don't want to end up on the news as my kid finds me after school one day once I’ve taken a handful of pills. They end the conversation because they don't want to hear what I have to say, because they’ve heard it before and they’ve got their own ideas about my situation. I've been here before.
I struggle with my daily grind, trying to put my best foot forward. But it's difficult at best, excruciatingly painful at the worst. I try to do things that will help me feel better about myself so I can change my mental state and attitude. Sometimes it works. For the times it doesn't work, I'm left feeling flat, hollow and cold. I've been here before.
I try to do other things to make myself feel better. Safe things. Things that I don't have to pay money for, things I can do at home, because heaven forbid I do something like get out of the house. That would be expensive and I can't afford it right now. I've been there before too.
Point is: I've been here before. I keep coming back and I don't like it here. But it's one place I know better than I know anything else. It's not a happy or fun or sunny place. But it's more familiar to me than the lines on my own face. I want to change it in the most desperate ways possible and most of the ways I can think of are morbid, sad and heartbreaking.
It makes me seem selfish, inconsiderate, conceited even. But I'm not. I honestly wonder whether or not my life in any way possible means anything to anyone other than my immediate family. Why should I care? Because I'm one of those types of people; I care about others and I do care what others think of me, to a point. I think about those people whose lives I've touched, if at all, when I try to bring myself out of these doldrums. It brings me to a place where I think I can handle this mess of mental illness swirling through my brain. It helps me calm myself and think that I can move forward, even though I know, deep down inside, I'm really not.
I've been here before.