I felt sick. I was still reeling from the aftereffects of the migraine attack from last night and my fibro has plagued me for some weeks now in reaction to the weather changes. So when my sister told me that my cousin was going to come see me, I barked at her ‘ What on earth does she want? No! I’m not seeing her. I’m going to sleep’. My sister was not used to me being rude or barking like that. She was staggered and mumbled a ‘she’s already here‘ before leaving the room. I sat up. If she was already here, I wouldn’t get away with sleeping ( although I was very exhausted). I was avoiding her because she criticizes me every time she comes around. She’s a sociologist and is a firm believer in higher education and like the rest of my extended family, she believes I have great potentials and shouldn’t be wasting it sitting at home. That’s when it hit me. I’m going to tell her the truth. The ugly truth. That way I won’t be cornered. I’m going to stand in my fire.
My demeanour changed immediately. My irritation dissipated. I wasn’t afraid anymore. I wasn’t ashamed. I realized it was all within me; because I was afraid of speaking my truth, I was afraid of levelling with people. What followed was nothing short of astounding. She came into my room and I hugged her with genuine urgency, as if I was eager to tell her what I was always afraid of telling people. I was welcoming, accepting. I didn’t see her words as a threat anymore. She gently probed and asked what was going on, why I wasn’t leaving my room? At first she insisted that staying in my room wasn’t good for me, that we should go out for lunch next week, that I should join group therapy to meet people who won’t look down on me. When I told her I had depression and it wasn’t that simple she surprised me. She said depression is just like any other disorder just like diabetes, for instance. Don’t feel ashamed.
I was stunned. I had never imagined those words leaving her mouth. I poured out my heart. I stood up for myself. In the past, I wouldn’t even bother telling someone all the progress I’ve been doing or protesting their wrong impression of me. But now I explained to her that although it’s important to go out and socialize, there was some work for me to go through which is even more important. I said I can’t put a deadline on my recovery, but in my one year since I took my ‘recovery-sabbatical’, I’ve done phenomenal progress. 6 months ago, I was unable to think about what I would do next week. My future was dark and murky. And now, I’m looking forward to realize my dreams, to study to become a psychologist, to help others.
She didn’t contest it. She slowly nodded in agreement and a sense of relief and understanding came over; I could feel it because the fear that had been shrouding me unravelled, and literally, everything felt brighter. The room was brighter, my voice was lighter, I felt more air in my lungs. Fear had blocked me and now it was gone. Shame was gone.