I think mental illness has made me scared of writing.
I remember when I could write daily in middle school. I had become almost consumed by passion, days upon days of schoolwork blurring into each other— the teachers called me bright but spacey.
In those days, I was better at feeling pain. I could be repulsed by the hypocrisy of the anti-bullying pledge in my school’s lobby, or feel frustration at the stage makeup for the musical making me look like an orange at clown college. Today, I have problems recognizing my own emotions, and I sometimes don’t know I’m feeling anxious until my chest tightens or my energy level plummets.
Part of me wonders if these emotional issues are what makes it harder for me to write, but I know at least part of it is that my depression has finally caught up to me. I always thought I was going to write myself out of this hole, but I was kept too busy with schoolwork and counting down the years until I could cut contact with my father. Another part of me wonders if I should stop calling myself a writer.
The act of healing itself does not terrify me; I need it on par with oxygen. However, I’m scared to death of the focus I must put on myself to do so. This brain is so much better at essays about the depth of ancient Roman literature than a simple story about myself. So please, for the love of god, don’t expect discussions of my childhood to come easily, especially since I barely remember it.
I am grateful to all the English teachers I had in high school. If it weren’t for them, I might not write at all outside of college. I was bullied as a child, one of them says, almost offhanded. I can still remember the color of ink he used for grading.