I think the best way to describe what I have been dealing with regards to my mental health is through a story. In February, I went on a well-planned out trip to see the long-sought city of New York for the first time. Our second day there was riddled with spontaneous visits and decisions that strayed from our hourly plan, but matched exactly what we wanted to feel during this trip. I felt alive and present that day.
We went to a musical on Broadway that night called Kinky Boots about a man finding his purpose in life with the help of a drag queen after taking over his dad’s shoe company. I debated before leaving for the theatre between heels and a pair of low cut boots. Obviously, in pure Carrie Bradshaw fashion and in honour of the musical we were seeing, I chose to wear the heels. I remember that during the entire walk there I could feel my shoes slipping off and my hesitation as I waddled over grates in the sidewalk.
The curtains rose and lights dimmed. I watched a group of strangers up on the stage, telling this triumphant tale of accepting yourself, giving me an overwhelming sense of being okay with where I was at. I felt so comfortable in my skin and fueled by bravery to finally go after my passion of wanting to write. In the final song, there was this one lyric that just got stuck in my head. The entire ensemble belted out “celebrate yourself triumphantly” and it gave me chills. That’s when I knew I needed to get it tattooed. After the show, I walked around in my heels with a sense of confidence around Times Square and a bigger smile on my face. That lyric was resonating in my head with every step.
But then I woke up the next morning with absolutely no attachment to any of it. I felt so distant from that feeling and hope, like I was looking back on someone else walking in my shoes and carrying out that night. I clung onto that feeling so much that I went to have the lyric tattooed anyways. I wanted so badly to feel that again, even just a shred of it. I remember walking around that day feeling distant and out of it. There was a clouded feeling covering my brain that made the darkness of every blink last a second longer, and made the world around feel like a scene from a movie that I missed the casting call for.
I got the words wrong in the fog of the day that was my mind. I never thought to look them up in every leading opportunity before the walk to the shop. I felt a senseless panic to feel grounded in the feelings past again. On my left hip, a tattoo I often forget about, reads "love yourself triumphantly". Unfortunately, when I look down at this tattoo, it reminds me more of the distance I felt from the world that day.
Over the Christmas break is when I felt it the worst. I would look at old pictures and feel like I was looking at a stranger. Conversations with family held a dialogue that didn't come from my tongue. It felt like someone took hold of my body, mind, and words, and I was merely an observer.
That’s how I feel a lot of days. It's gotten better than it was. I have less nights in bars with tears in my eyes knowing that in moments those memories would be gone. I have had fewer moments where I don't feel present in the current situation and less mornings where I wake up feeling so far from everything that just happened. But still, I wake up most mornings with what feels like a reset button in my mind. Like the memories of yesterday slipped away as I lay my head down to sleep.
I guess that is the best way I can explain what I mean when I say eveyrthing feels so far away.