Mental Health

but this is worse

*Content Warning: This piece contains a reference to abuse and assault, which may be triggering to some.*

To all the people who have gone through everything, but are still getting pummeled by this:

In moments of great kindness, I acknowledge that I have been through a lot. I’ve been abused, beat and discarded. Twice have I tried to take my life. I’ve had more surgeries than I can count, have had my brain and spine peeled open and exposed, sewn back together with the pieces misaligned. Lost friends and family in more ways than death. Been raped. But, somehow, this is worse.

I like to think that I have seen the pits of hell and dragged myself out — smoking and scarred, but breathing. I like to think that I know just how bad life can get because I’ve lived it before. I like to think that I am invincible. But I’m wrong.

This, this virus, this pandemic, this tragedy, is exposing all of my vulnerability (which I first spelled out as weakness). Because, despite years of therapy, I could give two shits about what happens to me. No, I don’t want to die. I don’t want to be robbed of the individuality of death which happens to all those lost in a mass tragedy. But doing so wouldn’t break me. I know how to weather storms, I’ve come to terms with death and established a bond that will see me to her doorstep one day in peace. But I’m not the point. You are. No, this instance, this moment in history, is so much worse than any other moment I’ve faced before because I can’t protect you.

This is wrecking me because the only thing I can do is nothing. The best thing I can possibly do is stay home so that, if you get sick, there is one more bed available in the hospital. But staying home while lives blink out goes against everything I hold inside of me. 

This is a shit show of emotional turmoil because the virus has rendered me useless. I’m intimately familiar with lying in hospital beds and hearing doctors speak in low tones reeking of pity. I know how it feels for your body to fail you. But you don’t, and, my god, I never want you to. I have been preparing for this my whole life, preparing for the unknowns, for the resignation of surrendering my state of embodiment. But no one has shown you how to do so, because no one thought you’d ever need to know. 

I don’t know how to fix this for you. I don’t know how to train you in the art of radical acceptance; a skill honed over years, alone in rooms of white walls and blue, non-slip socks. It’s like teaching your child about heartbreak before they’ve even felt it themselves. Impossible.

So I do the only thing I can: nothing. I call you and check-in. I remind you to shower and eat, to wash hands and sleep. I pretend I have any control over the universe, that I can protect you from something smaller than a grain of sand. All the while believing that we were always meant to be temporary. That I am temporary. But, despite this, I never want you to be. 

This is worse because it involves you.

by alex0fallon

Born and raised in Atlanta, Alex Fallon's work focuses on their experiences with religion, mental illness, queerness, and disability.

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