she tells me as she sits opposite me holding my hand. “it’s valid, and there’s no because. it’s valid, because it’s just as important as physical pain. it’s valid, just because it is and it doesn’t need any justification.”
my mouth goes dry in the midst of tears trying to fumble out the right words, but I just can’t seem to find them. I can’t tell if a bomb has just been dropped on my heart, or if a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. it feels like both, and I don’t know how to accept or respond to what she was saying. her eyes remain on me, and all I can do is search for some sort of hidden lie beneath them, but there aren’t any.
I pull my hand away from hers and bring my knees to my chest, wrapping my arms around them. my mental pain is valid. I didn’t even know that it could be, I didn’t think it possible, but here I am, and it is possible. I shake my head, “I’m not sure if I can believe that. I don’t think I can.” still watching me, she draws her hand back to herself and crosses her legs opposite me, “why?”
I take a deep breath, feeling the air fill my lungs and I finally sigh, “because, it can’t be seen. I’ve been told all my life, that pain is physical. it hurts, it’s tiring, it’s unpleasant -“
she cuts me, “but isn’t that how you feel? doesn’t depression leave you in pain? crying at 4am, every morning. doesn’t anxiety give you panic attacks? doesn’t it leave a tight feeling in your chest that leaves you unable to do anything? doesn’t depression leave you in bed, all day, for weeks? sometimes months? don’t eating disorders leave you feeling like you aren’t enough? don’t the symptoms show physically at times? don’t they cause you discomfort? how is your mental pain not physical, tiring or unpleasant?”
I wish her words were coming from a place of anger, but all I can see is love and empathy. I let go of my legs and stand up. I sit on the floor and lie down. my head feels foggy today, that’s why I came to see her. I didn’t know where else to go, or who else to go to. my eyes fixed on the ceiling, I finally reply to her after a moments silence that feels like it’s filled the room for 10,000 years.
“you’re right. it does hurt. it hurts, and the problem is, that I can’t describe it. I can’t describe the pain I feel, when my emotions shut down, and all I can do is lay in bed for the day and watch the sunrise and set, while I bury myself in my thoughts, and hide away from the world. while I feel angry and frustrated at myself for not being able to be who I was. it hurts, when I start crying at 4am for no reason, only because I’m tired of wanting to kill or hurt myself, just so I can get rid of this pain that never seems to leave. because, it’s easier to feel it physically, than to have this dull ache following me every single day. and, on the days that I am okay, it’s euphoric, because I don’t have to think. I can just get on with things and be the person that I so desperately want to be.
“I am so exhausted. I’m tired of having to spend 2 hours preparing myself to leave the house, because I’m worried that people are looking at me, and when they do talk to me, I’ll freeze and won’t know what to say. and I feel like it sounds stupid, I feel like all this is just in my head, but it’s so real and not being able to escape it, is the scariest thing. it’s scary and I just wish I wasn’t like this. I wish I could just breathe; just breathe, for a second and forget who I am, and who everybody else wants me to be. I’m so tired, and that isn’t even the half of it. tired, is an understatement.”
the words leave my mouth in anger, and I know that my body feels my pain too, because tears start to fall from my eyes again and I’m still here, laying on the floor, wishing it could swallow me up and just take me there. but, I don’t move. I just let myself be, and I let my body do what it needs to do. I let the water fall from my eyes, because it’s been a while since I cried. it’s been a while, and it feels so good to know that my body understands me, that it’s been feeling my pain too.
the room stays silent for what I guess, is about an hour. all I can hear is both of us breathing, our bodies making it clear to us that they’re on our side, and they’re fighting for us every second of the day.
I hear her get up, her feet pad along the wooden floor, and then I feel her next to me. I turn, to see her laying next to me with her head in her hands. she doesn’t smile, she doesn’t touch me, she doesn’t say anything; she just lays there with me, and it’s the most comforting and warming feeling that I’ve ever felt in my life. and without her even saying the words, I know she gets it, and I know she’s here when I need her. she gets it, and just to remind me, she opens her mouth and utters the same words she did 3 hours ago,
“your mental pain is valid. there’s no justification. there’s no because. it just is, it’s pain, it hurts and it matters. it’s okay if you don’t understand that now, but it’s a fact and it can’t be changed. your mental pain is valid, just because it is. you don’t need to justify it.”