Shadowed...

Hey! Sorry there's been such a break I've been crazy busy with A-Levels. I hope you enjoy this piece for mental health awareness week. It just highlights the most overwhelming feeling that comes to me when I think of mental health, feeling so invisible as you fall apart. Although not major I would always rather be careful so minor TW: Alcohol, panic attacks, self harm.

I hope you're all doing okay in these crazy times, reviews are appreciated as always, G x

Ange cradled Chloe in her arms, holding her as tight as she could, cocooned into her body, hoping that her closeness would speak to Chloe in a way that words couldn't reach. She hated when her daughter panicked like this, coming home to her sat on the sofa like a statue, only too aware of everything going on inside her baby daughter's head as she stared, seemingly emotionless, glassy eyed, as if everything with even an ounce of happiness had just been sucked out.

Negativity. Fear. Shame. Only the crippling pain was left.

Immediately, her bags and keys had fallen to the floor, before she knew it, her arms were wrapped around her.

"Hey, it's okay, I'm here Chloe, you're okay" She soothes.

Holding her tight to her chest, she could almost feel her daughter's heart pounding, chest rising and falling far too quick… the words that came next were almost automatic, a routine they've fallen into the last year or so… but it's becoming more and more frequent.. she's watching her teenage daughter fall apart before her eyes and her heart is cracking into a million pieces.

"Chloe, can you try and slow that breathing down for me, it makes it easier doesn't it?"

"Mum?" Chloe's voice is raspy, and the hesitation… has she only just realised that Ange is there?

"Yeah, I'm here darling. It's okay."

She counts in and out, 1…2…3…. desperately trying to get Chloe to slow her breathing down, inhale enough oxygen so that she's not quite so limp and pale. She's desperately trying to keep her own breathing steady, her voice even and controlled. She can't let Chloe know that she's absolutely terrified… she's losing her beautiful, kind daughter, the daughter that she, quite simply, could not be more proud of if she tried. In these moments it's as if she may as well be a glass doll. So fragile, so hollow and empty. She can only sit and watch as Chloe's personality, her bounce and her life is swallowed by a monster. It's petrifying because she can remember herself in a similar place… in a moment, time seeming like it had stopped, and just falling, falling into a pit of darkness where she never thought she'd get out.

May 1990

A night like any other, or any other night these days that is. It couldn't be any different to her evenings only a few months ago. She thought of the nights she'd spend, sat at her desk, notes written up in meticulous detail, a mere parallel of the perfectionist that she was. That fragment of her personality had died along with many others through those last few months. Truth be told, she felt empty, fragments falling away but nothing cascading into place to replace them, she felt less and less alive as they days went by. That was life, she guessed, things didn't just fall into place. Not for her at least, she thought, probably blinded by the haze of self doubt, self hatred that had clouded over, and never left.

She was curled up at the base of the trees, in her safe space, just a tiny slither of woodland between the bottom of the garden and the road. Not exactly serene bliss, dark fir trees, floor littered with pine trees, it scared her a few months ago which seemed purely pathetic looking back. She'd changed. It was her safe space now though. Cars rushing by, lights blinding her second by second..,. a reminder that life was going on, that the world kept spinning despite the hell she was living inside her head. Was that reassuring? Proof of a chance to escape? Or did it make her feel sick, the thought of other people happy, living lives of love and comfort. On the front cover, she had everything she had ever wanted, a lovely new bedroom in her mum's new boyfriend's house, a big garden, friends, grades that she knew many people envied.

That didn't stop her feeling so painfully alone, like she was drowning and not a single soul was noticing. She felt invisible… She felt lost inside the living nightmare that was her own head. Second guessing every move she made, doubting all the decisions, she felt like she'd been branded a failure. Looking in, you might have seen quite the opposite, but she felt a complete and utter failure. In truth, the perfectionism was still there, looming over her like a storm cloud fit to burst.

She cracked open another can of cider, pressing the cold sharp edges against her skin, she hugged her knees against her chest, wrestling against the tears, rocking herself back and forth as if she was a child once more. The alcohol was her elixir of life… she felt separated from all the bad things, just floating in a bubble, she was whoever she wanted to be, no limitations, not held back by her own brain.

Picking at her lip, dragging her fingernails across her skin, she desperately tried to make sense of everything inside her head. She just wished she could understand it, it was suffocating. She felt trapped in a maze of her thoughts, the spaghetti of memories. Mentally, she traced her steps down memory lane, but it didn't unlock the unknown she was dealing with. It was an endless loop, a spiral, a helix, infinity. She felt the worry, the numb emptiness, those fleeting moments of happiness, dangled in front of her eyes like a carrot on a stick, but disappearing as quickly as they'd appeared. She just didn't know how to cope anymore.. she couldn't explain it, she couldn't even understand it.

It felt like she'd had her arm ripped off and was having to carry on as normal, as if nothing had changed. No time to adjust, no help, just her and a loosing battle.

She wanted one thing. Just one. To escape. She wanted to be free from all the rules that she felt tied to, even if she couldn't quite work out if that was within her control or not. She wanted the energy to fight all the limitations in her head. She wanted peace. But all she had was a frayed rope ladder hanging over a pit of darkness that felt like the end.

Digging her nails into her palms, leaving red half moons of pain that just about reminded her she was hanging on in there, she closed her eyes, swimming in the mess of emotions, feeling every single one as intensely as a red hot poker. She waited, for this to all be over, in whatever form that took.