Dixit Writing Challenge Day 2: I am Atlas

My card today was a woman who is also a cello and playing herself. My writing led me to an exploration of my own mental disorders. Point of fact, while part of the reason I come and go from blogging is that I get busy with schoolwork (Yay! I’m done with my M.A! No more homework!), another is getting overwhelmed by anxiety and depression, a topic which I’m sure to be talking about more in the future.

Anyway, this piece is kind of odd because it starts in one place and goes to another. And I guess that’s bound to happen with a lot of stuff that’s written in an hour’s time. Anyway, this kind of talks about two different issues with mental disorders, both of which I think are pretty important. I feel like it kind of passes between the stigma of mental disorders–that if you can’t see the problem, there isn’t one–and the relationship between anxiety and identity. But enough talking about it, this is what I wrote:

I am Atlas
Every day for the last year, I have stood in front of the mirror after taking a shower and looked my body over for flaws. Instead of my friends asking “what’s wrong?” each time I fall silent or they don’t see all thirty-two of my teeth, instead of my mother telling me my tears are caused by lack of food or sleep rather than offensive words, instead of hearing my doctor say pills are the only solution to my problem, my reflection tells me, “you are not broken.”

I live in a society that tells me that I am wrong to be hurt when I am offended, that I am wrong to worry I will offend others this way, that I need to be fixed. But I am not an instrument with broken strings or a severed neck. I may play in a different key, but plugging my sound holes will not change the way I am tuned. Yes, I tend to think my brother’s house will disintegrate because I have my own apartment, that my unkind words to my neighbor will cause her to pick up her kitchen knife, that global warming will melt us all because I bought the wrong pens. And if you think this is self-righteousness, I will lend it to you, like Atlas handing the world to Hercules because most days, the weight makes it hard to get out of bed. But you better give it back to me.

Because though I have no wish to bow to my feelings, I wish to bow them, to climb out of bed using the stanzas of my own music as a ladder because the chords of pain are comprised of the same notes as the chords of healing. When others tell me, “you are good at making people feel welcome,” “you always see the best of them,” “you will make a good teacher,” they are all too ignorant that it is my flaws that let me see the ripples of the ripples of my actions. The abilities to play in and hear the world in another key are the same, and fixing me by removing my anxiety is about as useful as fixing a cello by smashing it. Because I am not broken.


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