Deafening silence by juliana johnson
march 15, 2019
This is for the people who hide in their hurt. The loud ones and the quiet ones. The people who have been struggling for years or just recently. You are not alone, so don't give up. Just take it one day at a time.
The quiet room is heavy, the curtains droop. The only light that dares to cut through the darkness is from the clock; red, bright, and eager to interrupt the quiet. There is a desk at the other end of the room that is oddly clean for once, but the floor is a different story. Stacks of an assortment of oddities occupy it: clothes, papers, and trinkets of different sorts. On the desk lies a single lamp that knows the time of early morning twilight all too well. A notebook, pen, and laptop all sit perfectly parallel to the edge of the surface and each other.
The boy enters the room.
It was another late night with no sleep, but that's beside the point. It came back. The thoughts. The monster. The strange, sick feeling. That monster twists inside, seeping the black gunk of hate throughout him—hate for himself, others, the world. There was never a clear end goal with these emotions or why they came around when they did. He wondered when they would ever go away. Nevertheless, he left the thoughts to fester in his head. Letting out a great sigh, the boy gets up from the bed and walks across the wooden floor to the desk, and taking a seat he flicks on the lamp. The slight organization of the desk brings some comfort for a time. Flipping through the notebook that is filled with drawings and journal entries, he picks up the pen and finds a clean page. He adds to it trying to piece together how this episode of emotions started and where it would lead him this time. Slowly, he gathers his thoughts, at first nothing comes to mind, then all of it flows out. All of the pent up anger and exhaustion showing through the rough sketches and scrawled writing.
The alarm clock finally given its time to shine, screams through the heaviness. During this transition between scenes, nighttime to morning, the sun can be seen cutting through the curtains. Last night was entirely unproductive but full of anxiety. While there was always seemingly too much on his plate, he was too worried about the end goal to complete it. You could almost laugh at the irony.
Now the real task, leaving the house and getting to school. All he had to do was muster up the effort to get to school and then let the day carry him away. Arriving at school, he walks down the halls to his locker. Opening and staring at the cold grey box designated his for holding his educational essentials. Taking a deep breath, he strolls over to the commotion. Some laughing, some not totally awake, and some high strung about quizzes, tests, and rushed homework—nothing out of the ordinary though. Putting on “The Smile” he gets ready for a rerun of his most frequent theatrical affair: socializing. Let the games begin and may the odds be ever in your favor.
He travels through the day from act to act, scene to scene seamlessly. A perfectly performed play, a one man show, the greatest show. But pay no attention to the understudy. The boy and the character he plays have no relation to each other. They are just going through the motions of life and stage directions. For this perfectly practiced show has been playing for weeks, months, even years. Unfortunately unbeknownst to the audience, it's a tragedy. A series of unfortunate events. Nobody stays for the cleanup. Nobody stays to get to know the person behind the character. The one man show is left to piece back together what has just been unraveled for his audience. The boy looks out at the empty seats, the spilled popcorn and sticky floors. It's quiet. Too quiet. He can hear his thoughts, and they're loud. The critics have now arrived and they won't go away until the next showing, tomorrow at the same time, same place, same scenario. For now he will have to push through the thoughts and swim through the self hate. As the curtain closes, he is left alone to drown in the deafening silence.
Acting happy and being happy are far from each other. In reality anxiety is waiting around every corner. Every sentence strewn across his planner seems to slither out and choke him, suffering from incomplete work and soon to be failing grades. The weight of hopelessness added to his backpack every day. But there is a spark, something small but powerful. This little hope inside him reminded him to keep going throughout the day. That spark is the only reason he puts himself in this situation everyday. Retrieving the hope in a future with new starts, and enjoying life with less medication. A new lease on life with endless possibilities and no restrictions. In the meantime, it's important to continue on through this labyrinth of life and check off the dead ends.
The boy is home and somewhat relieved. Spending all day entertaining others is exhausting. In turn, coming home can bring along alternate forms of exhaustion. Those of which include, being alone. Opening the door to his room, he is met with the sunken feeling of hopelessness. The critics have been nitpicking since curtain call and they won't stop. He wants to rip them out of his head, anything to stop the negative thoughts. Dropping his stuff, he falls onto his bed and stares blankly at the ceiling. Another day, another Act, another unsuccessful attempt at true happiness.
Mental health is not a joke, it's something to take seriously whether you suffer from it or not. It's just like any other sickness. If someone suffers from cancer we all blame cancer, when someone suffers from depression or anxiety we blame the victim for not winning the battle. That stigma needs to change. Take into consideration the effects that it has on a person and how making fun of it can inadvertently end in killing someone else. You might as well have just placed the gun in their hand. It's not cool to say these disgusting words at each other like “kill yourself”, “emo, goth etc”, or making references to self harm. Build each other up instead of tearing everyone down.
For those of you who have felt like this character or have been through hell and back, take care of yourself. If you haven't already, ask for help, see a doctor, counselor, psychologist, someone. Telling your friends might help but professional help is the most effective. You can't get through it alone or wait for it to fix itself. There's no need to stay quiet and carry the world on your shoulders. Don't sweep it under the rug because “others have it worse”. Who cares if other people have it worse, it's your body not theirs and there is no need to be comparing ailments. If you're on medication that's perfectly fine as well, it's not a sin to need that. God wouldn't provide these outlets and put certain people in your life for no reason. Even if you don't totally believe in God, everything still happens for a reason. Life is what you make of it, and people have opinions and there's no changing that. Just remember to take it one day at a time.
When everything feels like it's falling apart, use this technique to put it back together. Find...
5 things you can see
4 things you can touch
3 things you can hear
2 things you can smell
1 thing you can taste
Wear clothes that make you happy, or brighter colors. Even wearing something you're confident in and normally makes you feel good can trick you into a better mood.
Write down how you feel, you can see your progression of thoughts and maybe what reoccurring things cause you to plummet.
Clean your spaces these including desks, rooms, lockers, bags, anything. It will help you feel like you have more control of at least something.
Fill up your calendar. If you're really struggling, set check points for your life
“I have a long weekend in three days let me wait until then.”
“My best friend wants to hang out next week, ok only 5 days left.”
“I can go to the mall next month with my birthday money. First my birthday in 13 days then the mall 3 days after.”
Get fresh air or change your scenery. Go for a walk or go biking or just walk around the house to a different room and relax for a bit.
Suicide Prevention Hotline:
Kids in RI Emotional Crisis: