“How are you?” has always been a difficult question for me to answer. How am I? Physically, I’m fine, but am I still considered fine if there’s a big crowd inside my head telling me that I don’t matter, and that the best thing for me to do is to end my life? Because that way, everyone, and I mean everyone will be happy.
That voice has haunted me the last few years, it’s still there even though it’s not as loud as it used to be. I remember lying on my bed for hours, feeling like my body was sucked into a vacuum. I couldn’t feel anything. It was one of the darkest days in my life. Or those days when I would not forget to carry a razorblade in my wallet just in case.
I have social anxiety. On my best days, I’m scared of being surrounded by people. On my worst days, I automatically think that people hate me, overanalyse situations, and always blame myself for every mistake. I think that I’m ugly, not talented, forgettable, bad at everything, and I got my ways because of luck. I hate myself, that’s for sure.
I have self-esteem issues, and I always beat myself up (sometimes, literally) for not doing things right. Some of my friends have no idea that I’m suicidal and suffering from anxiety because I’m always the quiet one. I look like I have no problems, and they always tell me everything about their problems, and ask me for advice. They think I’m the sane one, while in fact I’m losing my mind.
On the first day of high school, I ate my lunch in the bathroom because I was too scared to make friends. I pretended that I wasn’t hungry during lunch at the first organization that I worked in to avoid contacts with other employees. Some people told me that I’m too arrogant because I laugh compliments off, when, in fact, I find it hard to accept them thinking there is nothing admirable about me.
I’m currently in a healing process, trying my best to forgive myself for hating myself. I’m trying my best to shut all the voices inside my head. I’m trying my best to go out and meet people (even if I must vomit beforehand, and will overanalyze the conversation right after the meeting, presuming that they would hate me by now). I’m trying my best to fall in love with my madness, and most importantly myself.
I started using street photography as a self-therapy. I find it very helpful to distract myself from suicidal thoughts and help me work on my social anxiety. Watching and talking to people that I met on the streets has helped me slowly learn to appreciate life, and realize that not everyone hates me. Maybe. I’ve always had good conversations with random strangers on the streets. Now, I try to find happiness and calmness in simplest things that I find on the streets, and in the kindness of strangers. They’re my therapists.
There is a man who used to a sleep on the side of the street on the way to my office building. I had never had a chance to talk to him because he was always sleeping when I passed by. He became a part of my routine for the past four months, and then, suddenly, one morning the pavement was clear and he wasn’t there. To this day, I’m still looking for him. I miss seeing him in my day. Where did he go? I’ll probably never know.
It’s crazy how without you even knowing, there’s a person out there who may feel like you’re a part of their life just because of the small things that you do. You might be always sipping your tea in the corner of the same café, or sleeping on the same side of the street. You might be just a shadow figure that can be watched from a distance, but when you’re not there, someone is going to miss your presence in their life. That means, you matter.
So every time you feel like you want to end your life because you think that you don’t matter, please remember that you matter. Even to just some random passerby who thinks that your hair looks good that day. Give life a chance, we matter.
Fieni Aprilia is a socially anxious misfit. They enjoy people-watching, reading, and street photography.