Marred & Burning

i have been deeply, desperately anxious these past few days. it is worse than it's been in a long time—hands trembling, panic attacks, unable to write in proper capitalisation or leave the house without my earbuds in. it's a dream-state of sorts, fevered & abstract, heavy & running. my poems are made of question marks. a teacher of mine who knows me better than most looked at me closely the other day & said with something like wonder: it feels like you've been getting better lately. i almost burst out laughing—not at him, certainly, but at the idea of getting better. the concept drifts further & further away the more i think about it, something bittersweet & sore, like tonguing the gaping hole of a lost tooth. these days it feels the only thing i'm getting better at is pretending to feel okay.

& it's easy, ludicrously so. i don't have the kind of illness that is obvious to others—my constant listening to music can be explained away to teenagerhood instead of hyperacusis, the lining up of pencils on my desk to perfectionism instead of ocd. when i'm suicidal, i don't tell the people in my life that i love them. my warning signs do not fit the mould & that makes it so much easier to slip beneath the radar, some twisted sanctuary in suffering.

i can't help but wonder whether it might be some shade better if i were worse at pretending. there are days when i spend hours & hours convincing myself that i am in fact a neurotypical monster who has fooled everyone into believing i'm ill because i want the attention; it is utterly easy to believe when my mind is stubborn & wily, my disorders manifesting in ways that appear so very, beautifully normal. my hands were shaking violently today in class; when a concerned friend broached the question, the only thing i could think to do was make a joke about it. what is a safe distance from the aching that sings in my throat, & how many people must i fool until my brain believes the endless i'm doing great, & how are you?

to be honest, it feels disingenuous even to complain about such a thing, considering this particular dilemma is only of my own making. it is so much simpler to walk with a smile plastered on my face, yet i have never felt more alone in this fight than when it occurs deep within myself. some inconsolable place in the centre of my chest, glowing bright only for me. some scream that no one else can hear. there are hints, of course, whispers that escape—but i am so quick to suppress them even when some part of me longs to let them exist. i want to broadcast my lostness to the world. i want to take up space with my inexplicable hurting. i am so tired of apologising for every method i know of emulating happy, for all of the ways my body curves in & hushes itself bare, marred & burning.