There is so much noise inside of me. Sometimes, it’s screaming. Sometimes, it’s the buzz of skipping through radio channels. God, there is a city inside of me, trying to reverberate out of my body. Sometimes, I think the people around me can hear. Today, there’s traffic in my head. Can they hear? Can you hear?

My mother says she does.

I war with my illness, cleaning out this “stuff.” Rationalization by rationalization. Pill by pill. Session by session. I think I’m getting better. I know I am.

When people tell me that I’m just “being emotional,” I’m left dumb-struck. Incapacitated. In my brain, my mental illness and my emotions diverge at their origins. My disorder is anything but feelings; I feel it so unlike anything else.

This difference becomes most clear to me when I’m actually hurting. It’s corporeally distinguishable. I notice sadness in my gut. I taste guilt in my throat. Anger roasts in my stomach. And, when I have truly succumbed to grief, my brain finally goes silent. The waves stop; there’s no clutching, gnawing in my head or inexplicable thought-clogging. It’s a ghost-town in my head.

My mental illness pulls me into my head, and traps me in illogical thoughts; real emotion, real pain, pushes me right out.

For now, I think living is something like balancing in the middle.

The author is a rising sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania. Photography by Reece Sisto. 


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