Update: Please note that the weekly release of this story is cancelled until further notice.
Solitude is an exaggerated, but personal short story about my life at a very difficult point in my adulthood. For the first time ever on Pressure Ink, I choose to publish a personal story, which I started writing in 2015, following a battle with depression. I decided to release this story as open-access as I do not want it to go unread and hopefully reach others who have experience similar issues.
The topics that I discuss here are sensitive and are at your discretion. If anyone finds the content of this story distressing or are struggling to cope, please know that help is available through the Samaritan helpline. The service is available 24/7, 365 days a year by calling the free helpline at 116 123. Refer to the NHS for more information or visit your local healthcare provider.
I will release chapters every week for the next 7 weeks.
Shadows is the starting chapter of my story. It is the reflection of going to Boots on a Sunday afternoon to buy lip balm and how it quickly turned into studying the faces of strangers that were working and shopping there. I describe how my nature works against me when meeting new people and how I instead choose to create stories about strangers by creating their characters, instead of getting to know them. I come to realise that this is not solely something I experience with strangers but also with members of my family. I then breakdown social structure and family ties, learning to identify lies and misconceptions.
Continuing through exploring my mental state, I try to identify the burdens that are affecting my life. I acknowledge that personal problems might not be understood by others, as some try to convince us that we should simply lead happier lives. I challenge what we perceive the ‘normal’ person to be, while I seek to become something that society defines as normal. I explain how traveling around the world has made me come in contact with other cultures and individuals, but whether there is a difference between the places I visit, I am less sure. I have a hard time answering the question of where am I from, and I wonder about our purpose on Earth.
CHAPTER 3 – CREATURE
I have become obsessed with the darkness and seeing life pass from the shadows. This has become a personality, a character whose story I wish to develop. I talk to others about it, and they offer their thoughts, but I am after the metaphorical meaning and not ready to make drastic life choices. I am becoming more desperate to meet someone new, with whom I can share my life and my possessions. Of this possessions in a love necklace that I have since I was a child. It’s been in my drawer, decaying for over 20 years, as I yet have to find the chosen one. I prefer to stay indoors, and avoid others out of fear of what I want to achieve. But I identify who it is that I want, with little comfort that I will ever find them. I fear if fantasy will turn to reality.`
CHAPTER 4 – ESCAPE
I feel like I’ve hit rock-bottom and my attention turns to ways to escape from this feeling. I am afraid of what I may convince myself to be the solution, and I try to keep an open mind. Days start feeling repeated, as I lose interest in everything and it begins to affect my lifestyle at home and at work. I take a break from writing, but when I revisit the story, I continue feeling like I have not changed. My thoughts on depression now are very different than they were in the past, and I reach my breaking point. Those days I feel better, I try resuming my everyday duties, but I choose to overthink and plan every detail of my day. If only I had the courage to leave my flat.
CHAPTER 5 – PLEASURE
I think I have a corrupted idea of what pleasure and connection is. Feeling emotion to me is like losing control, and that is something that I am not willing to do. I can reason through friendship, but I don’t think I could ever emotionally invest so much in a friend. In fact, I reflect on this and come to think that the last time I invested so much on a friend, they ended up betraying me. I explain how I think it’s a special part of life if someone is able to connect with us, be it romantically or not. But it’s how our bodies are built that helps us to defend against the touch of strangers. I have no doubt that these connections are possible and they feel good, but I come to realise that I am not ready. I prefer to be alone because of a fear for intimacy.
CHAPTER 6 – CONNECTIONS
I seek to better understand myself, and I dig deeper into how I see myself and what gives me comfort. I focus mainly on sexuality, but I am not ready to make conclusions just yet. I think my inability to understand what I seek comes from having little exposure to experiences; growing up I mostly kept to myself. I never did anything to break free of this state of loneliness. Trouble is that I did have opportunities, I just made nothing of them. I have fear of the connections that I do not make and also fear those I might cultivate. I meet new people and continue going on dates, but I feel so fascinated and intoxicated by learning about the person that I don’t know how to advance the relationship. I imagine that it comes naturally when it’s right, and this doesn’t seem to be the one. Perhaps it is time that I stop planning ahead and try to be myself.
CHAPTER 7 – COMPANY
My experiences are not events that have happened, but stories that I created in my mind. Made up of characters and emotions that I thought were logical. I have been very selfish over the years, and despite always thinking that I listened and tried to understand people, I never did anything constructive with this information. I never built a relationship by returning emotions or being acting friendly, I simply did the minimum to get by. I ran away from emotions, always thinking they were weaknesses. As I tried harder to fulfil my expectations, the more I distanced myself from everyone else. The answer to what I was seeking for came when I stopped trying. I let go of social expectations and took control of my actions, though at times I regretted my decisions. Have I been biased in the past? After finding companionship, I found myself.
CHAPTER 8 – BROKEN
I needed to break in order to re-build, but it has come at a cost. While I no longer feel loneliness and see the positive of being alone with my thoughts, I am more comfortable taking part in group events. I continue to enjoy my moments in solitude, and no one can take that away from me. I reflect on the lost friendships over time, and the missed opportunities, but I do not think these as bad outcomes. They are simply the events that had to happen to reach the understanding that I have now. I still appreciate the influence that others have had on my life, and now I look back with a smile as I remember those who I have erased. I consider finding them again, but I am afraid that they will not be glad to see me, and I accept that. Let that history be sealed in writing, and perhaps one day I will have the courage to approach them once again.
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