It’s like watching TV on mute. Life and colour still surround you but they become meaningless, you can’t follow the plot, you get lost and your attention becomes focussed on other things.
It’s like being on a treadmill that won’t stop. You can handle it at first, you maintain your pace; but it gets incredibly tiring, draining, and you eat away at yourself, using your own substance for fuel. You keep going until your feet are blistered and you’re dehydrated, and you’ve no idea how to take another step; but stopping is not an option, so you turn off all of the parts of you that can feel, and you run on as despair slowly replaces everything you have lost – everything that was keeping you alive.
It’s like being dropped in the middle of uncharted territory. In the dark. Alone. There is no map. Nobody has been here before, nobody has seen this but you. They can’t appreciate the things you have and will see here; they can only imagine and compare it to the places they have walked. You’re alone; nobody has any idea how to get to you and you have no idea how to get to them. And yet they all expect you to make your way out unscathed… They haven’t seen the monsters that live here.
It’s like drowning in a river in which everyone else seems to be swimming so effortlessly. It shouldn’t happen (you learned to swim when you were little, it was always you that dived in to save everyone else), and yet it is. You try and reach out to stronger swimmers to keep yourself afloat, but they soon tire of the effort and cut you loose, or the guilt of watching them struggle under your added weight forces you to let go and push them into shallower waters.
It’s like trying to hurdle a wall that gets higher and higher each minute. The impossibility of the task doesn’t stop you trying. You graze yourself and scrape your knees and claw at the rugged surface of the brick until your fingers bleed. And people tell you to “just get over it” without realising how hard you are trying to do exactly that. There are no foot holds, nothing for you to get a solid grip on, just a sheer face that your frustration builds higher and higher. You want to knock the wall down and throw the bricks at them. You want them to grab your hand and pull you over the top. But they have no idea how difficult it is to climb over, because all they’ve ever met are hurdles that fall over if they cannot be overcome.
It’s like falling. You’re out of control of yourself, powerless. And that scares you. All you can do is brace yourself for the impact and hope that you survive it. But you’re not sure that you will this time. You flail wildly to try and change your course, but it won’t work.
It’s like looking at the world from a vantage point that nobody else has. You are forced to view things differently, because things will never be the same again. You can’t see your way out of this mess, and those around you claim to understand what you must be seeing, having never looked through the lens you now stare through. They use microscopes that inflate minor issues into mountains, and you look through a telescope backwards to try and distance yourself from the Everest that lies at your feet.
It’s like being a book in the hands of a toddler. Nobody can read you. You even add imagery to aid their understanding, but all they see is a pretty picture above the chaos.
It’s like being in a foreign country and only speaking your mother-tongue. You say the same things at increasing volume, and somewhere in the world a whole nation of people would understand your words, but here they are meaningless, and the frustration is overwhelming.
It’s like breaking your arm and being too embarrassed to go and get it treated. Even you couldn’t prepare yourself for the pain, and it doesn’t get better but you learn to live with it, learn to function at less than your full potential to protect the injured limb, and to hide the disfigurement from everyone’s view. You’ve left it so late now that the treatment will be so much longer and more complicated than if you’d have approached someone in those first few days, and you feel there’s nobody to blame but yourself. So you just fashion a homemade sling and hope somehow things will improve, while knowing that they won’t.
It’s like looking at the world through a window. The people you need to talk to are there, but when you try to talk all they hear is muffled tones through the glass. They turn and look and smile and wave, and shout a generic greeting that makes your heart sink a little.
It’s like being locked in a tower. You watch the world go by, and wonder when, or whether, you will ever be part of it again. Plenty of potential rescuers walk by, but they simply admire the architecture, with no idea of the torture chamber you’re stuck in at the top.
I finally found some words.