How the light gets in

Over Sea, Under Stone by Martin Johansson

Over Sea, Under Stone by Martin Johansson

14 March 2016
2:16 PM
Manila, Philippines

My dear M.–

I’m not sure I’m what could qualify as a strong person. There are so many things that I’m scared about; I sometimes stop and ask myself, when have I become this human being? Someone who has a lot of anxieties and can scarcely go a week without spiralling into some kind of panic attack. I want to say, I don’t know. It’s so much easier that way, maybe, to shrug my shoulders and sort of helplessly laugh, I don’t know! And then go about my days.

But I do know the hows, and the specific when of it. See, all my life I was living with good days and bad days, until about five years ago when the bad became worse. And then it was simply a matter of letting yourself slide deeper and deeper into the pit because the rest of it—living—was such a shit alternative.

Any one thing can make me strong: the way the sunlight beckons at my desk at eight in the morning, the memory of the sea, the knowledge that I am loved and wanted, finishing writing a poem I think might be worth a read, letters from friends, coming home from a trip, and so on.

But the one thing that has made me stronger: digging into myself and finding the desire to be here. To occupy space, and to know that I can be, just be.

I realise that a lot of it has to do with having a mental illness and accepting that I am not a lesser person because of it. Oh, there are some nights when everything would be inexplicable and I know for certain how broken I am. Some afternoons though, like this one—I can almost live with it, not being put back together as I used to be. I’m chipped and scarred, and who knows how many ways I can still shatter. But that’s the thing: that’s how the light gets in.


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