Chapter 1:Jane’s story
“In through the nose and out through the mouth.” At least that’s what my therapist tells me when I’m having a panic attack, reliving all the memories I try so desperately to forget.
But there are some things that stay ingrained in your mind. Attached to you even. Like a birthmark that can’t be scrubbed away.
Mom says these sessions are supposed to help me through it. We tried dance classes which were somehow supposed to rebuild my confidence but flailing across the stage like a goldfish was not the highlight my short lived dance career.
Then, we tried singing classes to help me “find my voice again”. But all I could let out was a croak, “sing from your diaphragm Jane!” Shouted my singing teacher. She soon gave up, much to my delight. And so, that’s how I eventually ended up in therapy.
That is where finally I spoke up and said “it hurt me”. I’d never really addressed anything that happened other than in my head to myself. There was something freeing about it all.
On my first day back to school in seven months I looked in the mirror, and for the first time in a long time, I recognised myself again.
My mom walked in, smiled and said “don’t ever let them dim your light”. And that was that. It still hurt, but not like before.
Chapter 2: Tom’s story
My Pink socks should always be exactly in the left side of the first drawer and my green ones should always be in the centre of the third one.
The plants should always be watered at 8am and my to-do list should be completed by 5 pm sharp.
I like having a structure and a routine. It helps me feel like I’m in control again. My parents split up recently, and ever since then I’ve been trying to keep everything else in my life together. Even if it just my socks matching.
Chapter 3: Sophie’s story
I didn’t always have a stutter, it kind of just came about.
Then started the shaking and trembling.
Then the paranoia and panic.
I don’t know why it happens, it just does.
I feel like everything is happening too fast and there’s nothing I can do to stop it. I can’t breathe I can’t sleep and sometimes I can’t even eat.
I am constantly looking over my shoulder just in case it happens to me again, even when I know no one is there and blocking my ears, even when I know no one is whispering anything.
Chapter 4: Alice's story
Some people count sheep.
Some count up to ten
Some practice breathing exercises.
I take pills.
The blue one is to be taken every morning,
The red one is to be taken every afternoon
And the white one is to be taken every evening. Sometimes twice, if it gets really bad.
It’s not even that I’m not tired, believe me I am. In fact I’m past tired, every ounce of my being is exhausted, terribly exhausted. It’s the kind of tired sleep can’t always fix.
It has gotten better, but in other ways it’s gotten worse.
When I do finally get to sleep, something as simple as a thought or a dream that’s too close to a memory wakes me up. And I stay awake for what feels like an eternity. The lines between what is day and what is night are completely blurred.
I wake up and sigh while changing the sheets. The bed is wet again.
Chapter 5: John's story
I struggle to let go. Be it People, places or things.
Everyone always thinks I just moved in when they visit my house. And that’s the excuse I usually give because it’s easier than explaining.
I couldn’t possibly throw away the grandfather clock in my living room, it was a great vintage find and looks swell next to all the posters I collected of all my favourite superheroes when I was 10. That was 40 years ago now, but I can’t just tear away my childhood. Ah that brings me to my coin collection. I started to collect them since I was a kid, it gave me a sense of accomplishment saving all those pennies for a rainy day. That reminds me of all the kitchen china gifted to me by my grandmother.
As I walked over to the kitchen, several items fell in my path, my wilting plants, baseball caps, mountains of overdue bills, newspapers, blankets and other items in various boxes.
It was an utter mess. “I need to get rid of all this”, I thought. I began picking up everything off the floor, then I came across a watch I got in the market once, it was a bargain! I better keep it, just in case an offer like that doesn’t come up again.
You will get through any challenges you are facing in this present moment. Read this as many times as you need.
Thank you for listening.