I have had an incredibly long and difficult journey with mental health and neurological issues over the past 42 years. On top of it...
“Mrs. Amna..a word?” I ask hopefully, an apologetic look on my face. “Saood…again?” she questions, lifting up yet another failed exam. “Saood, if this continues, your grade is going to drop to a D!” I detect traces of threat in her voice, alongside the weight of a boulder being placed on my shoulders. “Next time I’ll make it up, and do even better” I think to myself as I saunter out the door frame. It is only seconds later when I am greeted by Mrs. Shaza, the MIST (Muslim Interscholastic Tournament) coach. “Good afternoon, Miss” I mumble politely before she stops me in my frustrated march to the cafeteria. “I’m sorry, but due to your grades, you’re ineligible to participate in MIST or play for the basketball team.”
I choke back tears before calmly explaining how I’ve just turned in some previously missing work and that I should be eligible as soon as its graded, only to be met with a measly “Why didn’t you do your work? It’s your own fault, hun, sorry.” A familiar force possess me, and I am at a loss for words. “I’m…just not good enough,” I whisper before making my way to a bathroom stall. There, I release all my pent up emotions in tears and sobs. It is only after fifteen minutes of catharsis that I force myself to face the mirror, and a plethora of negative energy spews. It is then that I decide that I cannot take much more, and recover my car keys from my locker.
I roll the window down in an attempt to breathe a bit of fresh air, as the sun shines brighter and Coldplay plays on the stereo. I slow to a stop at a stop sign and check both directions, parallel parked cars blocking my view. I creep forward to get a better view when, *Screeeeeeeeech-BANG*, I feel an abrupt jolt on my left side and am dazed for a moment. Moments later, I examine my surroundings, my ears still ringing from the sound of the impact. It is only then that I realize that I had been hit by another vehicle. A wave of panic overcomes me as I comprehend that today, I had driven my father’s car. My vision blurs as a police siren sounds. Once officials arrive, they account for and report details as I await my parents, pacing on the sidewalk in frustration. I kick an empty glass bottle nearby to meet my reflection, and am reduced to tears once more. I struggle to recognize the monster staring back at me as my vision begins to blur. “Why me?!” I ask between sniffles. The monster does not respond.
Later at home, as I sit in my dimly lit room, I press a blade to my arm with increasing pressure and repeat the following like a sick and cold mantra; “You’re a failure. You deserve this pain and nothing more.” I had been falling down the mountain, and it was only a matter of time until I hit the very bottom, where the sharpest boulders lay. The landing came sooner than expected.
As I stand at the base of the mountain, I look up at it’s intimidating beauty, searching for the strength to make my way back up when my train of thought is interrupted. “That’s a stupid thing to let ruin your life” reverberates within my head in a familiar voice. I look at myself in the mirror and ask myself why I’m not broken from the fall, and in the same voice I hear “You’re unstoppable.” This is the sound of recovery. I pair the noise with the visual of a face, glaring back at me with conviction, disappointment, sorrow, and a hint of exasperation. The very face that set fire to the charcoal that was my potential. The face of life, love, freedom, self-expression. The sound of a proud yet hideous laugh, a throaty yet confident voice, an apprehensive yet determined tone. This is the beauty and symphony, of accomplishment and acceptance.
Today, I find myself somewhere up the mountain, not sure as to how high or low I am, and that’s okay. Throughout my fall and beginning of a new climb, I’ve realized the power of the human mind. A thought or two leak, and they can severely impact other sectors of one’s own life, such as academic performance. However, the single most humbling, and frankly quite frightening fact of the matter is, that an individual can destroy oneself based on how they think. Couple that with the fact that some people lose control of their minds, and you’ve created a recipe for disaster. However, through the pleasures and torturous tests life can toss, there’s a story behind every smile or frown, fake or real. After all, if at any given time there is one seed sprouting on the planet, the wind will do the rest.