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I Used To...

April 05, 2017

Written by: Fatou Balde // @fatoubbalde

I have always hated talking but people always wanted me to. They wanted me to talk about what was wrong, what I needed, what they could do to help. But I never did.

Talking makes you vulnerable. I’ve been told I’m a good writer but what makes me good is pain. All the pain and anger that I could never get out of my mouth came out on paper. If I talk, I cry and I hate crying more than talking.

I used to wish people would care less about words. That way when I said “I’m fine,” they would understand that I’m not. They would hear how quiet and shaky my voice was. They would hear the sigh before the words. They would see that I look tired and like I am barely holding myself together.

I hated talking so I let my actions speak for me. I skipped school, hoping people would be worried about me. I stayed in my room, my parents knocking at every hour to check up on me. “I’m fine” I’d say when I really wanted to say please help.

The first time I cut myself, I went to school the next day and showed a friend. I didn’t say anything, just raised my sleeve and showed her. I ended up skipping school that day and just never talked about it. I used my knife but I could never use my words.

I needed to talk to someone, I needed to get all of that pain off my chest. But I was scared that every time I told someone something I was giving them a reason to hate me.

Why? Because I had this horrible belief that no one will like the sad, messed up girl I am. That if I told people what was really going on in my mind I would be seen as someone crazy. Or just someone who is making a big deal out of nothing. I believed people hated me for being attention-seeking, my parents would eventually get tired of me and kick me out, and that I would end up completely alone.

It doesn’t make sense to me now. I know people generally have no problem with me. I know my parents love me unconditionally. But it’s different when you’re in the deep, dark hole of depression. It’s too deep for you to get out alone and too dark for you to see how you’re not truly alone.

I started talking. I decided to lie less and share more. I try not to use the phrase “I’m fine.” I try to assert myself even if it’s for little things. Yes, I need money. No, I don’t want to see that movie. I’m staying home, I’m not feeling well today. I started talking and people actually listened. No one left me. No one told me to shut up. Even better, people started talking to me. People showed their support for me.

People matter.

I would wish for someone to notice me and come to my help. But I pushed everyone away. I blamed them for not caring when I never gave them a chance. Humans can’t read minds but they can surprise you. Sometimes you find support from an unlikely source.

Just a few days ago, I received a message from someone on Twitter that I barely knew. She told me my writing made her feel less alone and that I could always message her for anything. “Thank you so much!” was how she ended it.

I used to wish people cared less about words.

But those words, they meant the world to me.

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