Shudder: A Mind Inside Mental Illness

As tears cascaded down the crevices of your pallid, sunken cheeks, I levelled my gaze on your features. Every aspect jutting and sharp. The bruised, sickly bags under your eyes were so large they eclipsed the blue orbs above them. I held your hand as you shuddered, feeling your pulse slowly beating against mine. That still steady pulse, such a fickle thing. I watched as you deteriorated, the flesh melting away, leaving but a shell of who you once were. I silently watched as you were taken hostage by a sickness you couldn’t escape. The only thing you can’t escape—yourself.

I remember ruddy cheeks and a fuller face that was once filled with rambunctious joy, exceeding anything artificial. Anything superficial. But the light in your eyes burned out, and your body followed suit. I wanted to save you. I wanted to kill the pain; to be a human anaesthetic. To dull the ever-present ache that made its home inside you; a malignancy fed with despair.

You told me once, that the sound you hear when you press a shell to your ear may sound like the sea, but it is, in fact, the echo of your pulse. We listened to our life blood, as it washed through us. We listened to the very life in our veins and it sickened you. I wanted to be a human valium. I wanted to purge you of the pain. But all you were purged of was your breakfast. I was like a tree in a hurricane; utterly powerless to defend you against the force of the mind. The force of the times.

There are many that romanticise human suffering these days. They glorify the idea that these disorders, with their intense physical and emotional pain, gives one a sort of ‘depth’. A third dimension, even.

But here’s the thing:

Depression does not give you depth,
Suicide is not poetic,
Anxiety isn’t sweet or cute,
Self-harm is not a rite of passage,
Mental illnesses are not artistic,
Eating disorders are not elegant.
Is there anything romantic about having to sit back and watch someone you love become a shadow of their former self?
Is there anything idealistic about watching their eyes glaze; their mind so deeply perturbed?
Is there anything ‘cool’ or ‘interesting’ about holding the hand of someone who is no longer there, as they violently shudder, knowing there is absolutely nothing you can do but hope beyond hope that everything will be okay? Hoping, this won’t be the last time you hold them.

I want to be a human barbiturate.

Written by Emma Rose. Photo by n0bodysdaughter

Categories: Stories
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