Did you ever break a bone? He asked innocently, trying to make small talk.
I broke my foot once, a few years back, when I lived in a four story walk-up. Moving around with crutches was tough and forget about trying to get up and down stairs with groceries or any other shit. It was impossible and I cursed the lack of elevator every time I had to leave.
Damn, sounds like a pain in the ass.
It was but I’d still rather have a broken foot for the rest of my life and live in that walk-up again if it meant trading away this depression bullshit. She fiddled with the salt shaker in the center of the table as she spoke.
Really? Why? He watched her absentmindedly pour salt on the table then press her finger into the center of the tiny hill as she avoided eye contact.
People came to help me then. They understood the pain of a broken bone, the difficulty to leave the house and added burden trying to do simple tasks. They checked in every day. They asked how I felt and cared for the answer, didn’t get annoyed even as it went on for weeks. They didn’t get frustrated when I said it was too tiring to go out and do anything. I didn’t feel forgotten. She shrugged and licked salt from her finger, dipping it back into the tiny salt hill and repeating.
You feel forgotten? Don’t they keep in touch now?
She laughed. Not mocking, not laughing at him, just a melancholic sort of laugh. Clearly you’ve never had any type of mental illness.
No, I haven’t.
When you have a mental illness people forget you. They stop checking on you. They get annoyed that you aren’t… she went silent for a moment searching for the words and poured another small pile of salt as she thought. They aren’t as understanding. A broken bone they understand, they don’t understand a broken mind. They get annoyed that you aren’t normal as though I chose this, as though I want to live like this, as though I enjoy barely being able to function most days. Then they are annoyed when you put on a mask because you aren’t being genuine but I’m just trying to make it from one moment to the next without completely falling apart and… she stopped talking mid-thought again. She finally raised her eyes and looked at him.
He sat silent, looking into her deep green eyes, seeing the water along the edges never quite becoming tears. He saw the pain in them; the desire for understanding while expecting none. Is that what you want, to be remembered?
Yes. She responded softly, immediately, without any hesitation.