My bones feel soft in the morning, pale under the light and the soft glow of the streetlights as they flicker out. Through the sun painted on the window, like well-formed letters of meaning obscured, I trace the shapes of semi-circled scars, gracing my skin like primitive tattoos.
It’s not shame I feel in the quiet reflection of my soul. It’s simply memory – the echoes of battle-scars trembling half-steps across my mind. In the darkness, bodiless voices whisper for my name, but I let the sound reverberate into nothingness, as it slips away – I’ve taught myself not to listen.
When they see my body, starved and marked and pale, the whispers start, and strangers turn their faces away. But when I’m alone, I stare into my naked flesh with painful clarity, and see past the horror, into the blue. I know that one day, I’ll be beautiful.
I read the words of an unknown author, once, the carer of a mentally-ill child. She said a sick mind is red, while a sane consciousness lies in shades of blue. I thought only of my time in hospital – in room eleven, my mind changing colour with every medication. Soft waves of memory while I lay in a blue hospital gown, under a CAT Scan, and nurses traced the curves of my skull with their hands. I know that sickness is beyond shades, and colour and shadow.
And I wonder, what is the colour of my soul?
The nurses always said, “You shouldn’t be ashamed.” But in the next breath, they misspelled my name, and I heard them hush their voices behind the curtains. They called me “The suicide”.
But for every moment of madness pressed under my skin, and every horror I repressed, and re-lived in tormented sin, I learned to forgive, and search for meaning. Because for every person that made me blush with shame, I hated myself more, for letting them make me feel that way.
Disease makes you strange. It twists your soul, and slides cold hands around your chest. It robs you of your reflection until you’re just a patient in a hospital bed, without a name. It steals your sanity, and leaves you touched and scarred, by death. But the ones who whisper into their hands; you owe them nothing. There is no shame in having to fight for mental health.