She Was Cloaked in Bravery

She was cloaked in bravery
And dressed with a smile
She was full of love and experiences
and a sense of expectations for more to come.

She has experienced the lowest of lows,
and yet, she knew that there were more to be expected
and still, she wore her smile, even on her darkest days.

While she remained haunted by certain faces and memories
She knew that eventually, at some point,
she would have her demons on their knees.

Self-Love in Moments of Chaos

We live our daily lives in a constant state of chaos – sometimes it is just a more controlled chaos. Sometimes it is a calm chaos and the other times it feels like there is no end to the craziness in sight.

Our chaos can come in many different forms – whether it be endless deadlines on top of bills to pay, it may be as a waitress with the tables that just keep coming in, working while knowing there is an exam to study for on top of three other homework assignments. It may be having three exams in one day and you were so busy studying that you forgot about the three homework assignments due as well.

Whenever we get caught up in chaos sometimes we are so focused on other people’s needs. Your boss receiving what they want on time, your professor receiving the paper on time, your tables getting waited on in a certain amount of time, etc. These are the times where you forget about the most important person to take care of – yourself.

You do not even have to be a personality that is high strung and constantly stressed out to forget about things such as self-love and care for yourself.

It has been 10 days since Valentine’s day, and I planned on writing a whole blog post on why you should be primarily concerned with being your own ‘valentine’. While I ran out of time endlessly, this is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to even open my laptop in weeks – probably since my last blog post.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the craziness of life.

As mentioned previously – it is easy to forget about yourself. It is easy to just go through the motions and to do what you can to meet deadlines, to be friendly with everyone, to be there for your loved ones, to study, to do work, to go to appointments, etc.

Sometimes it is hard to come to terms that sometimes you just need to step away from everything. To put down the book for an hour or so.

Self-love must always come first – among the chaos.

Sometimes you need to step away – even if that means just sitting in the tub for 30 minutes in the middle of the day.

Find time to love yourself and to care for yourself.

It is whenever we forget about ourselves that we become our most stressed, our most unhappy, and the problems of the world seem to push on us until our final breaking point.

So put your bills and deadlines down for a moment. Do whatever it is you need to do to make yourself calm again – even if it’s just for fifteen minutes.

Healthy Boundaries and Why They Are Important

bound·a·ry
noun
a line that marks the limits of an area; a dividing line.

Not every person in this world is out to take advantage of you. Very few people wake up in the morning with the intentions being to hurt us and to pass over our boundaries.

Boundaries.

When is enough, enough?

How do we know and understand the threshold of the line we set for ourselves and for others?

Deciding your boundaries is always a long process with a lot of blurred lines.

It is looking at a toxic relationship (friendship, romantic, or family), knowing that your boundaries were violated, and trying to decide where and when the line was crossed and how you will prevent it from happening to you again. Sometimes, you need to have your boundaries overstepped many times before you are fully capable of understanding just what your boundaries are and locating the exact feelings you experienced whenever someone crossed the line you had set for them.

Then whenever that line is crossed over, you know the familiar feeling of  being irritated, violated, and you know what you need to do from then on to either terminate the relationship or at the very least state how and why your boundaries were crossed – and what that person needs to do in order to avoid it from happening again.

It is hard for a person to know your boundaries if you do not verbally state them. Unfortunately, even if you set your boundaries early on and you continue to let small maneuvers over the boundary line pass, eventually you will only be left feeling violated but also feeling as though you have no control over what is okay and what isn’t.

Boundary setting is one of the most important lines to set in a relationship – no matter how major or minor that relationship may be.

It is not only important in a relationship – but an important movement to be made to ensure that we as humans remain happy and remain stable in what we stand for and what we don’t.

In many relationships I allowed people that were close to me to violate my boundaries. Most commonly, though, I was never clear about how much it upset me until way down the line. In their defense, it is impossible for them to know that they hurt me in that way if I never told them it upset me to begin with.

It is hard for those of us to set boundaries with other people. As long as they aren’t hurting us, it’s alright to let it slide, right?

That is when the vicious cycle begins.

We have mental boundaries set, someone crosses them, we keep silent about it, we have a build up of emotion, a fight breaks out and emotions are tense and feelings are hurt, and then the cycle continues whenever we let it pass again.

Maybe it is fear that keeps us quiet.

Maybe we think that the original line that was crossed was not that big of a deal.

Maybe those of us with anxiety just cannot speak up about their emotions.

No matter what the problem is – learning how to set boundaries, and doing it vocally (and meaning it), is an important building block to being happy.

So set your boundaries. And mean it.

Don’t let anyone cross them – no matter what the reasoning is.

If a person leaves you feeling violated, like no matter what you say – things will never change, leave you feeling upset, like you have no control – it is time to terminate the friendship, relationship, etc.

You are the most important person and keeping yourself healthy and happy is forever supposed to be your number one thing of importance.

The Art of Losing Yourself

Who are we, really?

This is the existential question that I feel many of us put ourselves through and ask ourselves a lot of the time, especially now that it is a new year, and we are forced to live with the “new year, new me” mentality.

By the age of 18, you are generally supposed to know what is going on in your life. At that point, a large majority of us go to college, have somewhat of a steady job, know what we like, what we don’t like, what company we like to keep, and so on.  We at this point are solid enough in our foundations to know our core values and what we expect to give and receive in the relationships that surround us.

We are still vulnerable to losing ourselves at this point.

We are not expected to keep our friends that we had in high school and eventually we are expected to move on from our part time job that we worked at for so long. By the age of 18, most of us are graduated and headed off to college where we will meet new people and have a whole sea of new opportunities. Some of us find ourselves in our first serious relationships, and sometimes those relationships last forever or they abruptly come to an end. The people that you once considered your best friends are now strangers, and sometimes you look at the company that you are choosing to keep and know that something isn’t right.

You begin to feel as though you lost the person you once knew, that person being yourself.

It is as though you fell asleep and whenever you wake up – you are a completely different human in a foreign body that does not belong to you. You begin to ask yourself – Who am I really? What happened to the person that I used to be?

It is okay to lose yourself.

It is okay to forget who you are. It is okay to think about the personality you used to be in high school and forget what it feels like to be that person.

It is okay to look at yourself before you were in a relationship and forget what it feels like to be strong and independent – to not rely on anyone but yourself.

It is okay to look and not like the person you have become. Maybe you used to be a kind and respectful person, only to realize you lost those traits somewhere along the way.

The art of losing yourself is a beautiful one because once you find yourself again you feel more alive and empowered than you ever did before.

The art of losing yourself does not mean the person you once knew is gone forever, they just need to be found and awoken again from their distant slumber.

All things that are lost are eventually found again. You just have to fight to find it, and you will – with time.

A New Calendar Year and Expectations

The beginning of 2018 started with a strong mentality. I was convinced that a new calendar year equaled out to a new me. I told myself that it was going to be the best year yet and that this was my year, that this year would top everything else – and definitely not be like all the other ones.

Who doesn’t begin every new year with this mentality though?

2018 began great – I was involved in my first serious relationship and was happy in it, I was back into dancing, and I had started a new semester at college. A bad blow hit our family whenever my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and would have surgery and radiation to get rid of it.

Due to the stressors of life, I had slacked on getting my college loan situation figured out and before I knew it – I was getting emails essentially telling me I was taken off all rosters until I paid tuition or got a loan. Every place I attempted to get a loan from rejected me and my parents when they tried to co-sign. Within the week a professor told me that I could no longer sit in on their class, despite knowing my situation.

I wound up dropping my minor which was computer science shortly after those first few weeks at school due to the way that particular professor treated me.

That rattled my second semester quite terribly – after I got my loans figured out, I dropped the class with said professor and that wound up taking me down to just 12 credits, barely reaching the required amount of credits to remain full time.

It was also around this time that I became obsessed with the way I looked and began to overwork myself in an attempt to lose weight and have a better body. I pushed myself so hard that I wound up in the hospital – essentially pulling the muscles and enflaming the tissues within my chest wall. This ‘injury’ set me back not only in my workout journey but also affected my daily life for a long while.

Around this time my mental stability began to dip and I returned to therapy after not going for several months. It was the first time in a long time that I felt as though I really needed to return and talk to somebody and for a while it helped me.

My mother had her surgery which was successful, she began radiation, I performed in my performance at my old dance studio, I was still happily in a relationship, and eventually I scraped by in my second semester of college.

Most notably, with my depression and anxiety, I do not get seasonal depression in the winter months like a large majority of people do. I have noticed that I get my most depressed come summer months and I have never been able to figure out why. I cannot seem to grasp if it is the large quantities of ‘free time’ which gives me too much time to think or if it is because I work so much that I push my mental and physical strengths too far.

My summer began with a lot of concerts and a lot of work. I had seen the big names such as Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, Weezer, and The Pixies. Come July I had met my favorite Youtubers, Dan and Phil, and began to gear up for the last year of Warped Tour – and many more concerts to follow that.

This was around the time that my anxiety began to come back and the things that were not big worries for me began to return. I found myself not wanting to go into convenience stores and I found myself retracting and not wanting to leave my home. I stopped going to my boyfriends’ house and generally stopped socializing. I began to work more and more and was working two jobs at the time. On top of going to concerts near weekly, juggling a relationship, and two jobs, I quickly overworked myself to the point of exhaustion and wound up missing work due to overworking myself into exhaustion.

The months of July and August have mainly been repressed. I was still working and enjoying life, but my mental state was at the worst it had ever been. I can remember going to concerts – laughing, smiling, having a great time, just to get home and cry myself to sleep for reasons that I did not understand or comprehend.

What started off as weekly therapy appointments turned into considering going twice a week which eventually turned into several visits to the psychiatrist – along with several shifts in medications.

After an extremely life changing week or so, I began to change near the end of August. I returned to both of my jobs, began to consider teaching dance at my old studio (and getting hired), and I got to start up my third semester with a schedule where I only went on Tuesday and Thursday.

In September I had turned twenty surrounded by my family. I spent a nice day shopping and at lunch with my mother, came home, and then had a nice dinner with my entire family. The following Friday my best friends and I got to enjoy a nice night out. A night where I was no longer stressed, I was carefree, and this was the night where tings took a dramatic turn – and even though I didn’t know it at the time, it was for the better.

October was whenever I began a true transformation. I was attending therapy by the weekly. I began to talk to those I hadn’t in a long time. I began to stabilize the relationships I had neglected for many months and essentially returned to a form of normalcy and general happiness.

I was dancing like I used to in high school and was doing another performance. I now not only had my family, but my dance family as well. I began to teach at my dance studio – falling in love with my little children more and more every day.

After our performance in November, I made it through midterms, and I got to enjoy Thanksgiving in Maryland with my family. I got to go back home and work Black Friday with my favorite retail team. November was filled with family and friends – all that I could have ever asked for.

December began preparations for Christmas. By December 14th I had finished my third semester of college – with perfect attendance for my 8AM class. I finished with all A’s and B’s – a new accomplishment. By the end of finals I had started at a new job, my third job, and already loved it.

In December I got to build relationships with unexpected people and got to spend time with those people. I began to feel myself opening up more and becoming less guarded and less anxious as time went by.

Now, it is the end of December.

I am ready to move on from my worst year, 2018, but I am also grateful for all that it taught me and all the things and relationships that came out of it.

2018 was by far my most heartbreaking year filled with confusion, sadness, anxiety, and stress.  It, of course, was filled with heartbreak and loss as well.

I sometimes choose to look at the negatives of 2018 and how horrible it was – breakups, my mothers diagnosis, psychiatrist appointments, therapist appointments, hospital visits, etc.

Instead I can focus on the two most important lessons that 2018 has taught me.

In this year I have ultimately learned how I will allow myself to be treated (and when to recognize if and when someone oversteps my boundaries), and I have learned that even in the most heartbreaking of moments – so much more can come out of it.

I am leaving 2018 with stable relationships. I am leaving 2018 healthy and smiling.

In the year of 2019 I would like to continue the relationships I have made with others and build on them. I would like to stay positive and truly happy – not just to front it for social media and family. I expect to continue to know and understand my self worth – and to realize whenever people cross my boundaries. I expect to recognize red flags and to not brush past them continuously in hopes that people will change.

Most importantly, I expect myself to remain strong and to remind myself of who deserves to be in my life – and to be okay with letting go of those who no longer aid in my happiness.

2018 Review – In Spotify Playlists

Music has forever been my time capsule to take me back into time in terms of memories and moments that are most important to me.

Certain music can take me back to things like a car ride home with friends while others can take me back to making it through my senior year of high school as an outcast.

One morning when I woke up and began to get ready for my commute to school, I saw that Spotify had created a brand new playlist for me that was being recommended on my homepage.

Your Top Songs 2018

Instantly I was intrigued. I wanted to know what songs I listened to the most this year, seeing as my rotation was constantly changing with my music tastes for several months now. I was interested to see if Spotify could pick up on the songs that always made it back into my commute playlists and if they knew what songs seemed to be my favorites.

I found myself laughing at a few song titles such as those that belonged to Youtubers like Tana Mongeau and Gabbie Hanna, songs that I listened to ironically (enough to end up on the Spotify list haha).

I was enjoying the laughter and memories that came along with artists and songs by Rick Astley, Stacked Like Pancakes, Queen, and music from movies like Moana and Beauty and the Beast. I was taken back to all the good and pure moments of 2018. Songs that reminded me of singing in the dressing rooms before a performance and songs that took me back to car rides and singing with my sister.

That was whenever I heard the low whistles of “Asleep” by The Smiths that took me back to my lowest moments.

Immediately I was taken back to sitting in my bathtub – listening to that song during a depressive episode. I knew that the song would make me feel worse and more upset – but I hit the loop button so that it could play repeatedly without me needing to hit the back button.

There was a large chunk of me that wanted to hit the next button in that moment, maybe move onto a happy song from Moana to make me sing and dance in my seat as I drove to class.

I felt as though I was taken back in time and like I was back to sitting in lukewarm water, uncertain as to why exactly I felt so down.

Then there was “The Night We Met” by Lord Huron.

That song already had an emotional place in my heart due to the appearance of the song in 13 Reasons Why. It was introduced to me my senior year of high school and I can remember listening to it to get through it to the best of my ability.

The song followed me through high school, summer, my first year of college, and through my relationships.

It was a song that was forgotten about until the month of June and July where it was played, sang, and danced to on repeat. After July it fell back out of my cycle and had completely been forgotten about – it hurt too much to listen to and carried too many memories of my mental states and relationships beginning to take a major decline for the worst.

The vastly different types of music on my Spotify playlist was a great wrap up an example of how the year of 2018 went for me.

Some moments were pure and filled with laughter and smiles. Music such as Teenagers (My Chemical Romance), 21st century Liability (Yungblud), and You’re Welcome (Moana) come to mind for these songs. Songs that played as I sang to my nephew as I visited him and my sister in Maryland,  songs that were performed in the hot warped tour heat, and songs that I could jam out to in my car while driving to work and school.

The other moments were better suited for songs like “Asleep” (The Smiths), “The Night We Met” (Lord Huron), and Pictures of You (The Cure).

A large portion of 2018 can be explained by my sadder songs, where lyrics such as “Sing me to sleep, I’m tired and I want to go to bed”, and “Crying for the death of your heart” seem to fit better in my narrative than other ‘happier’ lyrics.

2018 was the worst year of my life thus far.

My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, I struggled with major depressive disorder, I went spiraling backwards in all the steps I took towards getting better in the world of anxiety, my grades suffered, I was overworking myself in an attempt to distract myself from the amount of depression I was dealing with, I went through a horrible breakup, and I felt as though I lost a lot of myself for several months.

2018 was also my best year.

It was a year of self-discovery, a year of meeting new people that were like me and accepted me (and didn’t judge me for my short comings), I stood my ground and stood up for myself many times, I fell down ( a lot )  and got up each time, and I learned what I will and will not tolerate in terms of my self-worth.

2018 had been filled with way more downs than it was filled with ups, but I managed to get through it. Some moments and months I was down longer than others – but here I stand.

-N;KK;

Normality

Authors note – This is the beginning to the story of Emerson who is featured in the previews I posted titled “Submerged in Paranoia” and “Alone”. Let me know if you are interested in hearing the entirety of his story.

—-

It is normality that gets us through our day to day life. You could tell me your form of normal is sitting and watching an episode of Friends every night before bed. You could tell me it is normal for a couple to hold hands as they walk together along the sidewalk. All of these things seem like a normal occurrence.

What if I told you my normal was to question my sanity? To question everything I see and touch? I could tell you the stupid details of my life but the reality is that I don’t know them. I don’t even know why I am talking to you.

Maybe it is because I have given into my version of normality that I have tried too many times to change. Maybe I have given into the loop of insanity that tosses me from one side of the room to the other. I must have truly gone insane, you see.

True insanity comes whenever you are speaking to the voices on the insides of your skull like they are a real person. I suppose when you have no one to talk to these are the things you resort to.

I wish that I could change into a normal human that easily. I wish that I could be a mindless drone that wakes up, goes to the gym, goes to work or school, maybe sees a friend or girlfriend, builds relationships, makes small victories on the daily, a brand new accomplishment here and there, and goes back to sleep…but that simply isn’t my normal.

“Emerson.” It feels as though whoever said that was yelling my name through a long tunnel, my own name echoing a hundred times over before it reaches me. I am brought back to earth again. I come to see Taylor sitting across from me as her little boy, Dalton, crawls all over her. His tiny hands tug and pull at the tank top that covers her chest just barely. A half eaten Wendy’s Hamburger sits on a table in front of me.

I stare at the hamburger like it is a foreign object. I don’t remember how I got here. I don’t remember ordering…sitting…eating.

I remember now that Taylor had said my name.

“Hmmm?” I finally hum out to Taylor

“Penny for your thoughts?” she asks me as Dalton slams his sweaty baby fist down on a package of saltine crackers, crumbs spewing from the package and skidding across the table. Some go as far as to slide underneath my tray of half eaten food.

It dawns on me now that Taylor wants to know what I am thinking and where my thoughts lie. What I want to tell her? That I want to die, that the voices are more intense now more than ever, that I haven’t taken my medications in over a week now, and how I was supposed to go to my doctor today but I rescheduled for the third time.

I couldn’t tell her these things.

“I have no thoughts to give.” I reply to her. A simple response – one that she doesn’t like and I can see this visibly. Her mouth presses into a fine line and her thinly filled in eyebrows press in towards one another. She sucks in a long breath and her free hand, the one that isn’t holding her son in place to prevent him from flipping over her shoulders, swirls around the small bowl of chili that she has sitting in front of her.

Dalton is now slapping his hands on the table, more saltines flying up and falling back on the table as he screeches loudly. Few people turn to look over at us.

Screaming children must be their normal.

“You know you can’t expect to get better when you can’t ask for help.” She says to me lowly. “I don’t know how many times I need to tell you this.” She says in a near whisper. I roll my eyes at her and lean back further in my chair, feeling the cheap plastic press into the middle of my back as I look at her.

“I’m not asking you to lecture me. It’s the last thing I want, actually.” I say to her. This wasn’t our normal. I know you’ve lived in the crevices of my head somewhere for a long time and you should know this but I feel the need to reiterate that most of our conversations, from what I can remember, are good ones.

This is where I am supposed to inform you (and whoever is listening to me ramble) where Taylor and I met. Truth be told, I couldn’t tell you. I suppose that being mentally insane can give you a pass on those sorts of things.

She never brings it up or uses it against me when I forget her birthday.

I can barely remember how I got to Wendys let alone what has been happening the past few hours.

All I can remember about Taylor is that she cares far too much, that she has a son, and married her high school sweetheart. Normal is how I would describe her life story.

In attempt to change conversation, I clear my throat and look at her. “How is Cameron doing?” I ask her. This seems to make her angrier and she stands up in a huff, scooping Daltons mess of saltines into her hand.

“I’ll see you later, Emerson.” She says as she grabbed the tray in one hand and held Dalton on her hip as she walks away from me. Dalton squealed out into the shitty fast food dining room and attempted to wave at me as they moved through the exit.

Like that I was alone with just the voices on the inside of my head.

Let me ask you this… are you my normal?

A Change in Seasons

Sometimes a change in season and motivation is what is needed to realize what is really needed for yourself as a human being.

I started this blog as a way to normalize anxiety, depression, and the feelings of darkness that everyone experiences but nobody wants to talk about.

I wanted to be that platform for those who felt isolated, alone, and as though they were the only ones that were experiencing awful feelings that came along with anxiety.

I still want to be that person and that has always been my goal as a someone who is very open with her mental health struggles. I do not hide behind fake smiles and personas. I do not post on social media happy faces and laughter whenever I am feeling at my lowest of lows.

From February to September I was suffering in ways that I cannot even begin to understand and I believe my brain has repressed the worst of it for my own safety. I don’t remember being sad… I remember struggling, but the rest is a blur. I remember specific times where I broke down as a person and anxiety and crippling depression had its arms wrapped so tightly around me – but I don’t remember being unhappy for so long and for so many consistent days and weeks.

Now that I have grown and reflected, I have come to the realization that I am now stronger than I ever was before and the broken persona I had grown into all those months ago is beginning to repair itself and be built back up into an independent and strong woman again.

I no longer feel a need or a desire to place myself in such a darkened mind space in order to force words out of my brain onto paper for the sake of a blog post. I am not in the same mindset I was in this time yesterday, let alone this time in August or this time two months before that.

This original post was going to be about seasonal depression and when it hits people and how no one realizes it unless they deal with it first hand through either themselves or family members or friends, but here I am now.

I still want this blog to be about finding normality in the unusual. I want to help people and help them feel more normal but in all of this I have tried to fit in the mold of normal blogs that I see on the daily. My brain was riddled with blogs about ‘top five things that help anxiety’ and ‘how to find happiness in day to day life’ and the desire to fit into a steady theme. I felt as if my blog was scattered and jumped from point a to point b with some fiction writing in between.

I felt insecure, I felt scared that others would think that my thoughts and posts were too scattered which resulted in too many scrapped pieces to count.

Today while reflecting I realized that somewhere along the lines of insecurities, the name of my blog has been forgotten about

Aberrations.

A departure from what is normal, usual, or expected, typically one that is unwelcome.

A characteristic that deviates from the normal type.

From here on out, I am not going to place myself in a negative mind space to write encouraging words the layout of other anxiety blogs. I am not going to compare myself to other pages and posts. I am not going to force myself into a mold I was meant to stand out from.

If I want to post about anxiety one day, post a piece of fiction the next,  and go back to personal stories, then I am going to do so.

Those who are like me, who are an aberration, are those that will understand and come along on a new journey with me.

I am not normal nor will I pretend to be for the sake of a steady and flowing blog page.

Maybe one day I will find the correct flow, but that day is not today.

N;kk;

And I am Alone

A ghostly hand reaches out in attempt to grab me and I unsuccessfully bat it away from me.

“Get away from me!” I scream at the hand that is nothing but pale white skin with blue tinted veins clinging to bone. I cannot see the body in which the hand belongs to through the darkness. Nothing but an extended arm is extended towards me.

It’s fingernails are long and sharpened at the edges as the nails themselves continue to yellow as each second passes by. I am shaking as I try to back up away from the long extended fingernails to prevent any further harm done to my body.

“I don’t take orders from you…” I yell at the hand. I try to smack the hand away again but the fingernails scrape at my forehead. I feel the burning sensation as blood pools at my forehead and drips at my hands.

“You get away from me!” I scream, chunks of my flesh hanging from its pointed nails.
Dark red blood is falling continuously onto my skin now and it seeps into the creases of my fragile hands. The blood that falls onto my body is unbearably heavy against my soft skin. I can feel the hot liquid as it rolls onto my skin the substances feeling as though it at just the right temperature, enough to burn through my flesh. The hand continues to swipe at me as the blood drips into my eyes, the same eyes that have seen too many horrible things in their lifetime. My eyes burn like a thousand fires have been set to my sclera and my vision is tinted with a red filmy substance.

“Get away!” I scream as I continue to back up away from the hand as my legs tremble and shake. My vision is tinted and blurry, I still cannot see. My bloody palms wipe at my eyes in an attempt to get my vision back but I wipe more of the hot tacky substance into my line of sight. I can feel the whip and the snap of the wind as the hand swipes at me again and again and the nails scrape at my cheekbone, peeling my skin back layer by layer. My hands grip at my skin as the freshly opened wound rips and pulls at my nerves. I scream out into the empty air and I feel the strain and wrench of my vocal cords as my fingernails peel at my skin. My back strikes against something cold and hard. I pull my head back to dodge another swipe of the fingernails and my skull cracks against a harsh surface behind me.

My once red tinted vision suddenly goes black and my body hits the ground underneath me.
The cold air holds onto me as I wrap my arms around myself and hope that doing this will protect me from the outside world. My body shakes violently and brutally. My hands are wrapping so tightly around myself that I am nothing but a firm and bloody ball of human flesh and bone. I feel hands grip at my body arms both firmly, but not hard enough to hurt me, and my eyes pop open and a face stares back at me.

The face is kind and familiar.

“Emerson!” She yells at me. I shoot into an alert as my hands grab at my face but no blood stains my fingers. My fingers glide along the skin of my face and I feel nothing but the flesh that lines my prominent bones. Bones that have gone too long without food. Bones that are heavy and crumpling from lack sleep. No long and yellow fingernails dangle in front of my face. The kind face extends a hand to me again and I try to escape her touch as she reaches out for me. Her touch burns at my skin as her hand rests at my shoulder and I feel as though a thousand needles were jammed down into my fragile skin. I shrink away from her once more.

“You were deep in it, Em.” she whispers to me. “I came over when I heard you screaming.” she says to me as she tries to reach out to touch me again with her hand. I pull away from her as sharply and as quickly as I can.

“I’m fine.” I manage to growl at her.

“Emerson,” She whispers to me. We both know that I am far from okay. Even the voices in my head know that.

“I said I’m fine.” I hiss at her rudely.

She looks at me with that face that she has looked at me with a thousand times before.
Her face is sad, her lips forced into a sad frown. Stress presses into fine lines and her concern is evident in premature wrinkles. Her forehead shows signs of stress and anxiety with wrinkles forming in her face in heavy and thick crinkles and rolls. Were these premature signs of stress there before or after I came into her life? I may never know and I know she would never tell me the truth.

I wipe at my face again in an attempt to find the blood that was just drenching my face a few moments ago, find signs of anything that just happened being real.

“You’re alright.” She says again. Her hands rest on the tops of her thighs now, she got the message not to touch me.

“Emerson, your delusions have come back full force… you’ve been taking your medicine?” she asks me to which I do not reply to her “You know what the doc-” she begins but I cut her off.

“Taylor, Please.” I say to her as I rub at the temples of my head with my left hand, my right hand trying to find the cut that I felt rip into my skin just a few moments ago.

“I’m fine.” I whisper to her as I avoid the stares that she pushes into me. Medications. Doctors. Needles. According to her this is all that I need to feel better. What she doesn’t realize is that I am Emerson Matthews. I suffer from delusional disorder along with depression, and who knows what else. I am a concoction of all things negative in this world. All things bad were pushed under the fragile frames of my skin, compact into one sad human being. What did I do to deserve all of this? My fingers push into my skin harshly and I can feel the movement of the loose skin that blanket my bone. My fingers push and pull at the skin that is there so hard that I feel tenderness that resides there, and while it hurts, but I don’t stop.

“I need to be alone” I whisper to her but that word rolls off of my tongue like venom. It bites at me and puts in a sting in my rapidly beating heart. I know those words hurt her, but they hurt me too, just the same. I watch again as her pink lips push into a line and she stands to her feet without a word. The sadness in her body is evident as she moves through the house and she closes the door behind her. I can hear the slide and the click of the door as it locks into place and I hear her footsteps disappear down the stairs and onto the street. I swear to myself and to you that I can hear her front door slam behind her, making me shrink away from the sound.

And I am alone.

That word wraps around me like hands holding me at my throat. It works its way into my stomach like a virus with its fingernails scraping up my insides. I feel sick to my stomach and try to stand up on my feet. My hands press into the cold stone of the fireplace that I had just smashed my head into just moments before.

Did I really hit my head or did I just imagine it?

I try to maintain my balance but my knees quiver; the pull of my tendons and ligaments cause my knees to cave in.

I am alone but I did this to myself.

The emptiness claws at me and the pit of my stomach grows larger with each scratch and scrape. My eyes land on the white door to my left but the loneliness paralyzes me and I cannot move. My mind is cluttered with a thousand thoughts and voices. Along with a constant repeat of the scene that just unfolded. Blood, hands, and the hurt I just did to Taylor. How, much like the delusions, Taylor came in and left without a second guess.
The feelings of being alone are pervasive and consume me like an infection. Loneliness pushes through me like a wave and eventually it will drown everything in its path. Eventually I will be nothing but an empty shell of bruises and bone. My memories of a time before this one are vacant.

Loneliness is all I have ever known.

The pit extends into my gut and I can feel the twist and pull of this vicious virus that I am trying so desperately to get rid of.

I want to cry and I want to scream out into the empty house. The house that is filled with nothing but empty rooms and delusions – those of which that belong to a mad man. A panicked and rushed gasp escapes the back of my throat and my hands grab at my mouth as if I was going to push the sound of distress back in again. This is all that escapes me as my eyes slam closed. Tears leak profusely from my eyes and begin to soak my cheeks. My stomach concaves inward and I feel the roll of my spine as my body begins to work against me and I hunch over. My knees convulse and I collapse, my bones falling onto the hearth of the fire place. I curl into myself, the stone is cold against my body once more. Panicked and frantic sobs escape from my mouth and the tears soak at my face. I try to quiet the sobs that frantically escape me, trying to silence the weakness that I try so desperately to keep away from the human eye. The stone is cold and my body is empty. I lay on the large flat rock holding myself more and more tightly as more sobs escape into the empty air.
And I am alone.

Submerged In Paranoia

“Mr. Matthews, we are going to ask you to open the door for us.” A voice pelts through the door separating me from them.

I stumble across the floor before losing my balance. Scrambling towards that same door, I pressed my back against it, my bare feet slipping out from underneath me.

“Mr. Matthews if you don’t open up the door, we will break it down, you don’t want that do you?” a voice asks me, the same voice from before.

“Leave me alone!” I scream at them.

“You know we can’t do that Mr. Matthews.” A different voice replies to me.

Heavy red and blue strips slice through my white lace curtains, along with fluorescent white headlights that burn my sensitive eyes to look at, white lights bouncing off the walls and into my eyes.

What did I even do? My face is covered in a hot and sticky amount of sweat. My chest heaves heavily and my heart strains to pump blood through my body. I must’ve been running just before I reached the house. I try to gain my footing again but my feet just slip out from underneath me again.

My arms trickle sweat, beads of perspiration beginning to move and slide down my arms.

That was whenever my eyes caught a glint of red, just for a short second, enough for me to take notice.

My crazed eyes land on the red blood that coats my hands, red blood splatters following up into my arms, near my elbows. My fingers touch at the blood that is already beginning to dry, tacky from an unknown persons body.

“Oh God…” I call out my voice caught and jagged in my throat. The voices outside the door, along with the sirens, on top of the voices inside of my skull begin to stumble and overlap one another.

Where one sentence ends, another voice is there to take its place.

My hands find my ears and grasp at them, tacky blood coating my ears as my fingernails begin to rip at my ear, an attempt to pull them off.

Maybe then the voices would stop.

More sirens. More commands. More voices.

“Emerson, we just want to talk to you, can you do that for me?” A female voice stands out from the others. Maybe it’s because they think I’ll trust a female more than a male. They are wrong, even if her voices are calmer than the other ones, less harsh.

“Just stop!” I yell out to them. More voices are attempting to talk to me. I can no longer decide what is real and what is fake. Voices inside my skull attempt to talk over one another, making me go mad.

My fingers continue to claw at my ears that are now tacky with blood.

Anything to stop the voices.

Again, this time from the other side of the door, they are drawing in closer.
“Emerson, open the door!” Someone yells at me, a man, with a voice that makes me jump.

“Just stop.” I beg as I shake now, rocking back and forth, my spine crushing against the wooden door so hard that it shakes.

Voices inside of my head fight for dominance and figures dance in the headlights that shine through the curtains.

I can almost hear the click of the guns they’ll fire at me.

“Just stop.” I beg again.

“Mr. Matthews, this is your last chance.” The same, meaner voice, yells at me.

“Stop it.” I beg them.

“Mr. Matthews we will beat down this door.”

“Stop.” I whisper, tears rolling down my cheeks and dripping onto my knees, soaking the fabric that covers them.

I rock back and forth. Voices combine.

“Stop it.” I say out loud.

“Last chance!” The woman now yells.

“STOP!” I scream out into the air.

And just as quickly as they came, the voices all come to a standstill. They stop in a dead silence.

My eyes peel open, fresh tears still streaking my cheeks.

No longer do red and blue streaks of light shine in a revolving circle. No white headlights shine almost directly into my eyes. My heart still thuds heavily inside of my chest wall and I can feel the blood as it pulses through veins that get tighter by the second. My throat is heavy and I can hardly breathe.

My spinal cord feels crushed and bruised as I stand on my feet again, my feet still sweaty and slick.

Trembling hands grab at the door knob to the front door and I rip it open, expecting to get shot down in an instant.

A smack of cold air hits me hard, pushing through my hair and sending chills down my exposed flesh. Leaves push against the ground with yellowing grass that now reached the middle of my shins. The air was silent, almost as if no one was around for miles and miles, as if I was the only remaining person in the neighborhood.

Shutting the door behind me, I stumble into the bathroom, knocking over things and nearly crashing my body into the sink.

Broken shards still line the back and the inside of my sink as I glance at a broken reflection of myself. My eyes are distant and hold no sparks of life, those were lost long ago.

Rather, they are just a darkened green, my hair lined with sweat. My ears no longer have tacky blood lining them and my hands are clean.

The blood never existed, at least not this time.

As I stumble into my bedroom, stripping off the shirt that was soaked with sweat and tears and tossing it somewhere on the floor, I can feel the cold air hit my body.

As soon as I lay my head down against the pillow, the same whispering of voices return.
They are further away, in some deep crevice of my mind and brain.

I can close my eyes and sleep, undisturbed by the voices.

For now.