The Answers

Dear Whatever,

Things were okay the past week. I mean, really okay. Nobody was a dick to me in the halls. Nobody asked me why I was spending all my time in the library, or why I was reading for pleasure. And nobody asked me the question that I just can’t answer honestly: ‘Is everything okay?’

Let’s just be clear: no. Everything is not okay. But I can’t just say that to people. I don’t trust the people in my school. I don’t like them enough to begin building any sort of trust. I can’t turn to them and tell them that I’m lonely, and I can’t turn to them to tell them that I’m miserable. That’s just not the done thing.

If I did – if I actually told somebody that I think about what I think about – I don’t think I’d still be in the school. They’d either get worse, or the school would get rid of me. I’m eighteen. They don’t have to keep me. They wouldn’t want to. And, to be honest, I would want to stay. I’m not stupid. I know they wouldn’t treat me like a normal human being if they thought for the slightest that there was something wrong me.

No, to them I’d be a child or a monster, and I don’t know which is worse.

I can’t deal with that in school, and I can’t deal with that at home. I know what my parents are like. They don’t believe in mental health. They don’t believe in talking things out. They shout at each other, and go to different rooms, and that’s how they’ve always dealt with things. I know they wouldn’t know what to do if I told them anything.

They might blame me, they might blame each other, or they might just say that I’m faking it, or that I’m just sad, or that I should leave home, or they might put me in a home, and I don’t want to think about whatever scenario might be the worst one, because it all just makes it so much worse in my head. It’s like a pressure building up in my brain that makes the room spin.

But, no one has asked if everything’s okay.

No one has asked, so I’m not even sure if people care. I don’t know if people even notice how I am anymore. I feel like I’ve been this way for a long time, too long that people might remember me being happier.

I wish I could be happier. I do. I wish I could tell people what’s going on in my head. I wish I could tell them that I’m feeling depressed, and that the stress of sixth year is getting too much for me. I wish I could have the perfect answer to give someone if they ever ask if I’m okay, one where they won’t hate me or fear me or judge me.

I want to be able to just live my life. I know I can’t just get rid of whatever it is that makes me like this. I know that’s not a possibility. But Christ, can I just get a better life to make things a little bit easier? Is it so much to ask to want to get away from this school, to get away from the people who treat me like crap every day?

I mean, I get it. I have to complete school. If life was a computer game, this is a necessary mission that needs to be completed before I can get any further. I get it. I just don’t want it to be true. I want to just skip this part. I want to get away from this building and its too-narrow hallways, and I want to get away from the behaviour people seem to think is okay, like the punching and the bullying in the toilet and the name calling and the repeated insults and the snide comments. I want to get away from it all, and sometimes it feels like I just have to… you know… end it. But I don’t want to. I think about it, and I don’t want to do it, but I just can’t make the thoughts go away. That’s what all of this is about.

It’s not that I want to feel this way. It’s not that I want to follow through on every thought that goes through my head. Sure, I’m a little impulsive sometimes. I make mistakes because I don’t think things through, but it’s so much easier to just stop thinking about the things that aren’t going to put me in mortal peril, to just let up once in a while. It gets tiring, trying to keep myself away from those thoughts during the day. They make me feel like crying, and I have to try not to. I have to stick to a grimace, or keep my face blank, and that sometimes means paying too much attention to everything because damn it, that’s so much better than the alternative.

I just… I need to know how to survive this. I need to be able to focus on school enough to finish and get into college and get away from the people that seem to make it their goal to make me miserable. I need to figure all of that out, while studying for exams and not really wanting to sit them, and panicking, and reading and playing the ukulele, because I’ll be damned if I’m going to let the next few months be so miserable that I don’t get to do just a couple of things that I love when they’re the only things that make life worth living sometimes.

But I don’t have any answers…

Andrew out, I guess.


About Paul Carroll

Paul Carroll is a writer, born, raised and still living in Dublin. By day he's a student and bookseller, by night he writes fiction and uses social media.
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