Something happened a few years ago now that caused me to collapse. It wasn’t a collapse in the sense that I fell down; rather, it was a disintegration of the person I used to be. The world I’ve existed in since then has been fraught with danger and I am ever watchful. Not that I didn’t used to be “ever watchful” before—I was always a careful person, looking for hidden dangers, cautious in new situations—but after my incident I became anxiously watchful.

Who I used to be no longer exists. Who I am now is really the question I struggle to answer each and every day. As I gaze in the mirror I see a person staring back at me who is undefined, the face stares back with pity in its eyes. My mind is filled with images of that face laughing, smiling eyes, dancing and teasing in jest. The eyes staring back at me are blank, bereft of the life that once flourished there. For now, I have the memories.

I feel nothing. Oh no, you can’t see this, this is inside, this is not the face that smiles back at you and guffaws, nor is it the person who places their hand to their chest and feigns exhaustion from laughing. Nope, that is the theatrical show. That is the expected behaviour. I’m very good at it, it is what society demands, a show and who am I to lurk in the shadows and “not fit in”? You are all used to me fitting in.

Now tell me, what would you say if I told you that I no longer feel I fit in? Would you scoff at me because I appear fine to you? Because you cannot see the pain lurking behind these eyes? Or would you simply accept me for who I am now?

I feel no happiness in laughter; at least, it is extremely rare these days for me to truly feel the joy inherent in the act of laughing. I don’t know what that means anymore, when I try to feel it, it evades me and I only remember instances when I used to feel happy. I feel disconnected from the life I once knew, the people in that life and the things that used to give me joy. It’s not really depression, believe me, all the medications in the world do not change this odd lack of feeling, it is simply that… a disconnection. I exist as an alien now to a life that I once flourished in, as if pushed aside from that life and placed on the sidelines to merely watch.

I struggle to fit in most days. After all, putting on the show can be quite taxing. For the most part, I prefer to sit watching a world through virtual eyes, a distance that I can relate to…. one that I’m comfortable with.

Have you noticed lately my lack of participation? I no longer generate the ideas, I no longer make the plans and I no longer make decisions of any kind. I find these activities stress filled now. Decisions are time sensitive and in a way, I’ve become sensitive to this fact (chuckle). Decisions are pressures that quickly overwhelm my ability to cope with other demands, so I defer to others. I’m no longer a decision-maker and I’m OK with that fact… oddly, no one else seems to be.

I sit staring out a window, book in lap struggling to remember the last three pages I’ve read. I used to enjoy reading but now it’s quickly becoming a chore and yet, I don’t give up. I have faith that one day the fog that steals my concentration will clear and I’ll be able to remember once again. I apologize if this all seems depressing… I can tell a joke or smile if you want me to.

My mind does not function well in situations of stress and lately it’s interpreting everything around me as a stressor, all the while working away at something just below the surface, something even I’m not aware of. Tick, tick, ticking away at something, processing as a computer does. I’m left out of that action and in a way I’m thankful. I can hazard a guess as to what it’s working on. I get glimpses in my nightmares. I get glimpses in my daily activities and I work hard to not allow these images and scenes to surface into consciousness. It’s really a wonder that I have memory space left to work with on a daily basis, as I forget why I was mounting the stairs in the first place! The brain is such a complex and fascinating organ that I find myself perpetually in awe of it.

I know I am a person. I know I am still whole, but inside it’s difficult to accept these facts. I grieve the person I once was. I struggle to get that person back and steadfastly refuse to accept this person who exists now. I’m unfamiliar with this person, and I’ve never been really good at making friends. I know this person is what some people wish for, tabula rasa, a whole new template to work from, but I’m tired and I want to simply fall back into old patterns, feel old emotions and carry on with life as I once knew it.

I have difficulty living from day to day. I feel I’m living in a minefield of traumatic memory. I navigate as best I can and this is all I can do. I’m not a magician… oh but if I was. I have faith that my mind will one day find its way out of the processing room and rejoin this person here who struggles to read, struggles to feel and lives in a world that few understand. Or do they?