Content with the Monsters

Dealing with mental illness


1. ...

The monsters had existed since she was young. She didn’t remember not having them. They quiet down sometimes, but not often enough. When her thoughts become unbearable, she shoves them down with those monsters and they joined the whispers. Sometimes those thoughts develop into their own monster.


She was content with the monsters. She knew them all by name. OCD, Anxiety, Depression, Bulimia. They were weak. And she was strong. Every morning, she pushed them down. They resurfaced at night, and she allowed it. After all, she couldn’t push forever, and in bed, alone, she could deal with them. The tears would fall. The anxiety would suffocate her, but she was safe. She lived to fight another day.

Until they began to push back. It started small. She struggled to speak in class, something she usually had no trouble with. Her teachers called on her every once in a while as they noticed, and she would respond quietly, hiding her shaking hands under her desk. It passed and she was fine. But they were growing stronger.

She pushed harder. They were growing stronger, but so was she. She had more power than they did, she could control them. She was fine.

They pushed harder. There were moments in the day, moments when her thoughts would try to control her. They screamed about the ugly, messed up makeup on her face or about the things her friends were probably saying about her behind her back or the way she walked made her look like a toddler, especially because she was so short. Then her hands began to shake and she pushed those thoughts down with the monsters. They still screamed, but quieter, muffled by the groans of the monsters. Every time a new thought arose, she pushed it down, and the screams slowly gained volume. She eventually found herself having lunch in the library alone. It was hard to handle the noise of the monsters along with conversations among her friends. Only one was avoidable.

Her friends noticed she was not around as often, but she passed it off as homework. Stress. A busy schedule. Her friends didn’t know, and the monsters pushed harder.

It worsened every day, it seemed. She used to light up every room she walked into. Now she stayed in the back corner and just tried to get through the day. Most people she talked to would get maybe two words out of her and it would leave her shaking with anxiety. The pushing was taking over her life, it was all she could think about because if she stopped pushing, she knew she would fall apart.  The monsters were pushing, and she was struggling. She was outnumbered, but she was strong. And she was fine.

Every once in a while a new monster would form. She pushed it down there with the anxiety, her poor body image, the million and one other thoughts that ran through her head that she couldn’t bear to address. She’d push them harder and harder and they pushed back harder and harder and they were growing and she was weakening and they pushed and she gave in. Just a little bit. But enough. A small crack formed, down under her feet where no one saw, and like the monsters, no one knew.

Slowly the crack webbed its way up her legs. She wore jeans and no one saw. The crack spread like ivy, overcoming her, but she was strong. Every morning she pushed, the monsters stayed hidden, the cracks spread and no one knew.

Until the monsters stopped pushing up. They stopped pushing up and started pushing out. She pushed down but they were pushing out so all it did was help them. They kept pushing out. She kept pushing down. The cracks stopped spreading but began to fall apart and all she knew was to push down so she pushed down, the monsters pushed out and they broke her. But she was strong.

She picked up the pieces. One by one, slowly, she put herself back together. It wasn’t perfect. There were a couple pieces missing. But the monsters let up, just enough. She could deal. She didn’t have to push. She was okay.

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