**TW: contains mild references to self-harm and related behaviours. Please proceed only if you are comfortable with the subject matter.
The last couple of months have been a bit rubbish, which I shall elaborate on at a later date. One tell tale sign (and one that was pointed out to me the other day) of such times is that I withdraw and struggle to maintain eye contact with anyone who isn’t immediate family/a very close friend.
Eye contact is something I’ve always struggled with, mainly because I’ve always been socially inept, if not mentally unwell. There are/have been spells where my self-esteem is less cripplingly low than others and eye contact is therefore less of a problem, and I usually find it easier to look at someone while they’re speaking to me than I do while I’m speaking to them.
But what’s hiding behind my eyes that I don’t want people to see?
There’s guilt. Guilt that I don’t look more ‘unwell’; I’m not dangerously underweight, and I sleep relatively well (albeit with the help of a cocktail of medication) so don’t have huge black shadows under my eyes. And guilt that I have periods of respite where I can laugh, study, read, run, play with my Nephew.
There’s shame; shame that the only way I know to cope, to stop the dominoes falling, is to inflict gaping, painful wounds that need urgent medical attention. Shame that, at the age of 33, I still live with my Mum and Dad, unable (and untrusted) to manage alone.
Behind my eyes is the reason I rarely look nice, wear loose clothing and no make-up; I’m excruciatingly uncomfortable in my own skin, and do anything to avoid drawing attention to myself, blend into the background, anything to hide my shape and size.
Behind my eyes are the set of criteria under which I don’t want to continue to exist, and the many versions of my escape plan.
By now you’ll be thinking that this is all utterly ludicrous, nonsensical, irrational thinking. But you need not concern yourself with any of it…so long as you don’t look me in the eye.