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Who Am I?

by Catherine Mitchell 4 years ago in humanity
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Compartmentalisation at Its Best

A writer? A journalist? Student? Musician? Friend? Daughter? Am I completely insane?

The looming questions that keep me up at night are dominated by the scariest of them all; who am I? The answer seems to change daily. When I was a kid I wanted to be a marine biologist; completely obsessed with sharks. Fascination and passion comes easy to a mind that allows it. See, the thing with mental illnesses is they cause you to question yourself and everything you ever thought you were, like the plot to your favourite film changes overnight and you're left confused because you thought you knew the ending.

Am I lucky? I sure am lucky to be able to study at University, to have a roof over my head, and food in my stomach, though I wouldn't call the inevitable alcoholism, that ruptured my life and my amygdala into thinking I am better off face down in the River Irwell, lucky.

Am I privileged? I am a white, working class female studying a degree and living independently. Of course I am privileged. However, the disadvantages of my scar-covered reminders and threads of friendships lead me to forget this.

Am I happy?

"Am I happy?" I wonder, as I roll out of the 16-hour depression nap I took instead of making food or attending one of the classes I've been ignoring exist. My idea of fresh air and social interaction is to open my dusty blinds and virtually stalk an old friend on Tumblr.

Every relationship I have ever had, including friends, partners and family, has given me something to add to my personality; good and bad. I am imprinted upon, I take what I like, and I use it to complement my existing persona. When I was 9, a cousin told me she wanted to shave her legs. I did it first. When I was 15, a stranger to me snorted cocaine off of a 10p coin in my [then] best friend's bathroom. I did it too, with no idea why but curiosity of what it felt like. In high school, I noticed a friend had self harmed. I took the blade out of a pencil sharpener the same night. Not for attention, you must know. I wanted to experience everything everyone else was, to make my mind up on who I was.

Now, in my 20s, more experiences and habits have stuck with me than I'd care to acknowledge. I still drink until I blackout if I am upset, happy, angry, and/or numb. Pencil sharpeners in my blazer pocket escalated to razor blades in the back of my phone-case. I still don't know who I am, but I have these stories that say more about me than a biography ever could.

The fantasies I spend hours mulling over have defined me for the last few years. I dream I could kill myself but without the ripple of pain it would cause through my social circle. I ponder a life living in nature, without the anxieties of social media and conformity. I study the dirty white walls of my privileged life and wonder if there will ever be a time I can manage a day without the dirty white milligrams of Zoloft keeping my eyelids from perpetual rest.

Who am I? Am I my hairless cousin? The attrition of my high school friend? Am I my medication?

The truth is... Nobody knows who they are. To attribute your character to the actions of somebody else is the very definition of bemusement. There isn't one right way to exist, and I am slowly learning that. But I am existing, and for now, that's all I am.


About the author

Catherine Mitchell

Twenty-something-year-old battling modern life with a pessimistic tongue.

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