Fear of the dark, nyctophobia, paranoia or whatever you may call it. It’s been my loyal companion since I can remember. It is worse on some days and some days it’s not even there. It is all about how much space it gets, to occupy my mind. To fill itself inside my head and take over everything else.

Let’s break it down…

May 2016, my classes get over and my summer break begins. Despite the thrill, everything was dull. That’s how it began. There was something crucial that was missing and it made me have days ranging from horrible to bad. It’s fair to say that I was feeling lonely and tired most of the time. There was nothing to do, absolutely nothing, and this has never been the case for me. I know well how to keep myself happy and going. I’ve never had a day where I failed to do at least one productive thing. Then there was the first month of summer holidays, where I was absolutely grief-stricken for no reason, at least none that I knew of. Let us say I was missing the busy and joyful times of the university, and being so free and all by myself was a change I hadn’t yet accepted.

What about the next months?

June 2016, nothing changed. I expected the inner emptiness to go away so I could enjoy this and the next month, before it was time to prepare for classes again. But what happened? This following month was worse than before. Not only did I begin feeling more distressed, I was having severe relapses and unhealthy thoughts. 

It took no effort or time for me to recover from my horrendous past because I had no memory of it until I turned 15. Yes, I paid a visit to hell even before puberty. From 15 until this year I had no understanding of how to deal with anything or how to sort it out with myself, so I locked away the memory and everything related to it. This summer, it was as though I relived the whole thing. It was like reliving and understanding it only to realise the depth of injustice and the damage it has done. It was the worst thing ever. To have nobody to understand or share the pain with and have no distraction at all. I kept sinking into the pain, guilt, shame, fear, thoughts and more. Nobody to tell me “Hey, you’re drowning. You need to swim back up”. I had to tell that to myself, but sometimes a shoulder or a hand is what you need the most. I began having thoughts, worse than ever and due to that I couldn’t sleep. I simply couldn’t sleep. I’d be screaming inside with fear, but my body remained frozen as ice. It was a real torture I had bestowed upon my own self, unintentionally.

You can only imagine, but I lived it. An unknown, unnamed condition that only kept getting worse and I had no way to get help. Every night was another terror and every day was a useless attempt at holding myself together.

July 2016, an ugly replica of the previous month except that now, there was someone. Someone who happened to come into my life claiming to provide help but doing nothing of that nature. A person who read my sadness, but instead of helping me out of it, she made a generous contribution to it. For which I have already given my thanks. After knowing that I’ve been upset about things related to my past in addition to the present unknown gloom, she decided to give me the best solution ever, “Ze, it’s all because you’re not heterosexual”. I forgot to applaud. Presenting me numerous videos, facts, periodicals, and religious stories to prove to me that if I change my sexual orientation, everything in my life will be happy and bright. By this logic, every single person who is a heterosexual must be quite content with their life. Doesn’t explain why such a large number still is suicidal or under therapy. Seems to me they chose to be so, right? She added a pointless mix to the already rotten recipe and made it worse than it could have been. Making me feel more stressed by wanting to read more and prove myself and get away from her nagging. It didn’t end until I met her the last time I did, over a coffee, and told her the actual thing that was the problem. To silence her childish claims and end her aimless arguments. We never met after that. She was an old friend and we were on good terms until this incident. Speaking about it, do not ask what I went through. I deny it till date. I screamed and cried, I broke things and ran off to God knows where.

August 2016, the month that God pitied me and brought a smile in my life. A smile in the shape of a person. A woman. Someone I had been working with for a long time and also fancied in a strange way. Where I would want to stay around her all the time even if I didn’t communicate or spend time with her. I guess this emotion is the bizarre thing called “love”. I wouldn’t know, I was too busy getting consumed by my melancholic disposition. By the time August came around, I was getting more reasons to talk to her and spend alone time with her which increased my liking a lot more. On the 25th of August, I confessed my feelings to her and surprisingly, she did too. After a week into being in a relationship with the woman I’ve fancied for over two months, I realised something strange. I slept by 11 pm and woke up at 8 am. I was sleeping, laughing, eating, smiling, and feeling happy. It took me 5 days to notice the change, the unexpected improvement. I couldn’t decipher anything until yesterday when I realised that love fills the emptiness and your mind feels content with the emotion of love. It no longer wishes to torment you with evil thoughts because now there’s a kill for it. Love is a strong word and a strong emotion, so, if you are willing to admit feeling it for someone, you’re halfway through proving it to yourself. Proving the realness of it.

Can I tell you that this is the best bad choice I’ve ever made? Yes, I can. It definitely is. Jumping into well where I see no land as far as my eyes go is easily the stupidest thing ever, and I did it very happily and I’m okay with falling deeper.

My months of unhappiness and paranoia came to an end. One person, one week, one kiss.

I have no idea what the future holds, but for now, being with her has given me myself back and I cannot lose it again. It was terrifying.

Published by Zainab Kousar