I have been living with an immense ache in my chest for years now. An ache that is 3 parts dread, 2 parts fear, 4 parts exhaustion, and 1 part rage. I have been carrying this ache, managing this ache, soothing this ache, on the daily; and for the most part, those around me don’t know this ache exists.
I have been living multiple lives. I know what I look like on the surface. I come off as just another queer brown person, dealing with the usual struggles of racism, sexism, homophobia, etc., but I’m thriving too, right? I’m going to school, holding down jobs, holding down relationships with friends and family. Things can’t be all that bad. But they are.
It feels really good to see folks becoming more and more open to talking about their anxiety and depression. It feels really good to see folks becoming more and more open about the not-so-happy thoughts and feelings that live inside of us, and that we are learning to share with others what it feels like to not want to live.
It’s still hard to talk about delusions, hallucinations, and mood swings. I know what that behavior is read as: dangerous, violent, unpredictable. And so those of us who experience these symptoms feel an undue pressure to hide these symptoms, to manage them, to control them, to constantly police ourselves lest a sliver of our crazy shines through.
I am exhausted by the self-policing I engage in. There are so many ways in which my body is marked as dangerous: my brown skin, my masculinity, my visible queerness. And to top it off, I have had to learn how to ignore the voices in my head. I have had to learn how to make all those beings that exist inside of me as invisible as possible. I have learned how to hide the pain that exists inside of me, day in and day out. And I am tired.
I don’t have a solution to this. It’s not as simple as just letting go. It’s not as simple as just letting my crazy show and not caring about what people think. I am not a stranger to the state sanctioned violence against visibly unstable brown & black folks, I am not a stranger to the ways my life would be in (more) danger if I just let go.
I don’t have a solution to this, but I do have dreams.
I have dreams of living in a world in which I could sit outside and talk to the voices that live in my head and not have to worry about being shot or institutionalized.
I have dreams of living in a world where disclosing that I have been hearing voices since I was 16 was met with compassion, care, understanding, and not a blank face; or worse, violence and/or rejection.
I dream of a world where I don’t have to fight to be understood by those who claim to care for me.
I dream of a world where the language used to talk about these experiences isn’t so foreign to the majority of my community.
I dream of a world where everyone is invested in learning and understanding those of us who are experiencing multiple realities at the same time, those of us who carry a constant sense of uncertainty about our experiences.
I dream of a world where the labor people like me put into existing is recognized, celebrated, honored, and is met with patience and care.
I dream of a world where my mental health isn’t seen as a problem, where those around me think proactively about how to best show up in my life and the lives of those like me.
I dream of a world where I don’t feel like such a stranger, even when I’m surrounded by folks who look like me.
I dream of a world where my pain does not have to be invisible in order for me to be read as okay, and for those around me to feel at ease.
I dream of a world where I can be visibly crazy and be safe. Where I can be crazy, loved, and my full, intense self.
I dream of a world where I don’t have to silence major parts of my being in order to be in community. I dream of a world where I can bring my full self into any room and know that I will be okay.
I dream and I dream and I dream. In the meantime, I sit with this ache that grows with each passing day. In the meantime, I work on helping those around me build compassion and patience for struggles they do not understand. In the meantime, I do my best to get up every day and keep dreaming.
Bio: cbk is currently a student, trying to achieve the American Dream that doesn’t exist. I am doing my best to make it to 30, and change the world for the better.