Sometimes, people are just mentally ill...
Anti-Relaxation from an Unreliable Narrator
1201 Words for the Allergy Zone Contest
Prompt: What happens when a person thinks they are allergic to relaxation?
Generally, the world looks, feels, and is understood completely differently than before. Right now, my world is a dark place and I am terrified of it. What was once beautiful now looks ugly, flat, and gray. Sometimes I feel like tearing my skin off, as I cannot allow myself man’s simplest pleasure in life or I will undoubtedly die from anaphylactic shock. There is no hope for life, for feeling better, and it seems history has rewritten itself over and over again in my mind. This is just to confirm that everything has always been miserable, and it always will be.
When I first came into contact with relaxation, I was a young girl, but when this reality shift overcame me, it wasn't all at once. I suppose there were days when I felt relaxed, but those days turned to moments, eventually into flickers, and sometimes I feel there might not be anything left. It's difficult to remember or believe I have ever been normal because everything I believe now seems absolutely real, and anything that conflicts with that is as unbelievable as someone telling me the sky is red. I don't remember ever falling in love, so I have concluded I must have never felt it. When people tell me I used to be happy and can be happy again, I feel even more misunderstood and worthless because I have convinced myself it's not true.
Before my inability to relax sunk in completely, I felt like nothing was wrong with me. I didn't need help. I was fine. I just had a problem with anxiety and when I felt anxious, I had medicine for that. Yet, when these increased feelings of restlessness descended upon me, I felt as though no medicine in the world could cure it. Suddenly, no one seemed loving or understanding and I felt incapable of love. Most things began to irritate me and work seemed boring and unbearable.
However, when I lost my job I became even more distraught. I thought at least I was being a productive member of society. This only reaffirmed my beliefs that I was useless and didn't deserve true happiness. Not when any task took so much more work, not when what used to be challenging became overwhelming, no when what used to be my definition of sad was replaced with something even more unbearable, not when what used to be joy felt pleasureless, or, at best, a single drop of happiness in an ocean of pain.
These feelings are horrible. They are intense and cannot be identified in any particular part of the body. Sometimes even when a person touches me it makes me recoil because I feel they do so out of pity. I don't know how to be affectionate anymore because I do not feel warmth. People seem so far away from me. Like I am on the other side of a glass bubble, looking in at the world, totally alone and utterly isolated.
My behavior during all this is, at best, tolerable. There is terrible shame about the actions this lack of relaxation has dictated. I
do not accomplish the things I want to do most of the time. I make checklists and write down goals, attempting to establish a routine; I do half the list, but quit in frustration. This does not surprise me, however. I snap at people who haven't done anything, and worry too much about people who don't worry about me. Yet, everything seems meaningless, including anything I have ever accomplished. What gave life meaning before now seems unattainable and pointless to pursue.
Anything that gave me a sense of value or self-esteem has vanished without a trace. These things no longer matter, they no longer seem genuine, they are overshadowed by negative self-images. Adverse thoughts race through my head at such a great speed; I cannot catch them before they reach my subconscious and make themselves at home there. Anything that ever caused shame, guilt, or regret grows exponentially inside me and, like a cancerous tumor, and it feels like this thing my own body has produced is actually trying to kill me.
Being in this state has caused me to feel irredeemably unlovable, I am sure everyone will abandon me once they figure out what's happened. Every time someone suggests I take a vacation, read a book, or do something to wind down I begin sweating, break out of hives, and feel as though my throat is going to swell shut at the mere thought. It's difficult to describe all of this in a way that someone who's never experienced it can make any sense of what I’m saying, but this is my reality, and it is a lonely one.
When people tell me to look on the bright side, to be grateful, or to change my thought process, I immediately begin to get a rash, I start itching like crazy, and must leave the room before they speak any further. I feel they are not only disapproving of my reality, they are minimizing it as well. They are minimizing me, and by doing that, they are unlikely to get a positive response. Instead, I feel frustrated and alienated and even worse than before.
I do not think therapy will help. I don't even know where to begin repairing something that is obviously so damaged. How can I live life when it feels like I am simply going through the motions of it? I do not know. There's only one thing that is clear to me: this ‘inability’…it's got nothing to do with living. In the course of a life, people experience sadness and pain and sorrow, and they are all valid emotions in small quantities. This feeling I'm experiencing is an altogether different monster. I believe the most terrifying part about it is when I try to think about how I got here, to pin down the exact moment when everything changed, I cannot produce a single event which would explain all of this. I do not know where to go from here. I'm lost, and living in a world where people push you out of the way when you don't know which way to go. They shove you in the mud, and stomp on you, and ignore your cries for help. So, after a while, you just stop crying, you just stop feeling, and you just stop asking for help.
Doctors have a name for this monster, the inability to unwind, it’s called Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Yet, with all their treatments, I have yet to be cured, so I have come to a conclusion of my own. It’s quite simple really: when I’m stressed, I break out in hives, my immune system is compromised, I become sick easily, and the sickness lingers on, turning to depression, leaving my mind racing with thoughts I can no longer control. It’s not a mental disorder, this beast is an allergen, one which affects the mind, body, and soul. There are no medicines to treat it, there is no cure, I can only manage it, and much like other allergies, this will never truly go away.