I want you to imagine this – one day of your life. In a dark, never-ending dungeon. Let us start at midnight. I let you sleep for half an hour in the most uncomfortable bed with very little ventilation. When the half-hour is up, I punch you in the stomach, hard. For the next half hour, I let you go around doing whatever you want, but you have to carry with you a backpack filled with stones and gravel, while speakers around you scream all kinds of discouragements – “You’re not good enough” “Nobody gives a damn about you.” “You look ridiculous.” “They are laughing at you.” “You are fake.”. Sometimes all you hear is a loud, mind-crushing high-frequency sound. You scream back at those voices, but it doesn’t make any difference. You can try to ignore them, but you can still hear them, loud and clear. You want to say, “I don’t care. It’s okay.”. You want to let it go. But eventually, you get exhausted. Ultimately, it gets to you. When the half-hour is up, I punch you hard again and then let you sleep in the same uncomfortable bed with the least amount of ventilation. This goes on and on, till the end of the day.
Now, imagine doing this every single day of your life. Imagine having to fight all of this, and then finding the energy to go about doing things that you need and want to do. You’re exhausted. Sleep doesn’t help because the voices and the pain never loosen their grip on you. You want to free yourself. At some point, when you close your eyes, the voices become demons trying to pull you apart. And just sometimes, you can see them clearly, even when your eyes are wide open. When you scream for help, you realize nobody hears you or at least they pretend they don’t. You know you have got to save yourself, but nothing motivates you to do the same.
Days go by, and you’ve found a way to not feel a thing. You have managed to block out the voices, which has unfortunately managed to block out every other feeling as well. One day, you look around; everything looks bright and chirpy. Your heart skips a beat. Maybe things do get better. Maybe today is the day. You smile and laugh, and dance around. Skipping and rejoicing. You’re happy. Or so you think, because out of nowhere, the skies darken. Out of the shadows come the hungry demons, laughing and consuming you with hunger and rage. You let them eat you because you’ve nothing to hold them off. You desperately try to breathe and hold on.
And then you rise.
Because if you don’t, the world walks all over you. So, you get up and put on your mask. Your facade.
You find a hole in your chest. It feels numb. It feels empty. Like you’ve been shot. Nobody sees anything because they can’t see your demons. They choose to believe that they don’t exist because they simply cannot see them. A few will believe you. But all they want to do is pretend that they are not as bad as they look, thinking that saying it enough number of times makes it true. Nobody wants to stay by your side while you fight your demons. Nobody understands that by standing next to you, they give you enough energy to fight the demons off. Nobody understands. They want to but don’t really try. Some people think you’re just lazy. Or plain rude. Or just a little bit whiny. And extremely annoying. That you complain a lot. They ask us to open our eyes and see the infinite beauty the world has to offer. But guess what? You know there is beauty out there. What they don’t realize is that sunlight doesn’t reach the insides of a dungeon.