Nightmares and Manicures

I was woken up this morning by my imagination, this pesky little thing, that, as I grow older, has developed bipolar disorder I suspect. Some days she’s is an absolute joy, fueling me with ideas and inspirations for words that flow from the tips of my fingers and lines and colors that almost sketch themselves. But then some days, she isn’t very nice. She seems to wander into the darker corners of my mind, and set up shop, pulling and prying at every tissue, diving into every fissure, scouring my lobes for my all-time worsts.

Today she did just that; searched through my history of pain and trauma, dragging out the worst of the worst, and putting her own little twist on it, just to spice it up a bit. Restrained, scared, alone in the dark, I knew what was coming. The dread had set in, and then came the panic. The thrashing started and I twisted and convulsed until the sharp pain of my hand hitting my side table snapped me back to reality. There, tangled up in my quilt, sweating, panting, I tried vigorously to rub the images from my eyes. But they refused to go. Such are the wonders of your imagination, that it can show you worlds that don’t exist, and fears that would otherwise never have been realized, and to top it off, there are some things you just can’t unsee.

Missing my first class of the morning due to sheer pain brought on by the flashbacks of my nightmare, I trudged over to the bathroom to freshen up, then trudged over to the kitchen to make myself breakfast. Hot, and flustered by the constant flashes, I chugged some cold juice, and got about making my usual meal – paratha. As I sat down to eat, my eyes landed on my fingers, as they broke my food into pieces, and the beautifully trim and painted nails.

Over the last year and a half, the depression and occupation with everything negative in my life seldom gave me time for self-care. After such a long period of struggling with the will to continue living, last night, I took some time out to file, buff, and paint my nails my favorite shade of red. To me, red represents the fire inside me, the love I have preserved through the hardships, the blood that has dripped from my arms, and the passion that I search for in life. After such a long period of struggling to find reasons to keep going, I healed enough that I found time to self-care. These painted nails weren’t just pretty to me, they were a beautiful reminder of my journey – from the days slept on my couch for 15 hours a day, not even getting up to eat or drink, to today when I wake up at around 8 every morning, attend all my classes, have a full, productive day, and always take time out for myself at some point, let it be through the indulgence of some chocolate cake, taking a longer shower than normal, or painting my nails my absolute favorite shade of what I have now dubbed ‘Reality Red’.

I have learned a lot these past few months, but the most important thing I learned is that you will fall, and people will criticize you for it, comparing you to others who have succeeded, making you feel worse about yourself rather than giving you motivation to get up. At that time, you may look down on yourself, and think that you are wrong to fall, that you have to get up, but don’t – just DON’T listen to them. You fell, you got hurt. It is not okay to ignore your wounds and try to get up and limp through life. It is okay to fall and it is okay to take time to nurse your wounds. If you have been hurt, it is okay to cry. It is okay to take your time to heal and grow from your fall, and to become stronger from it.

Time heals. And though it may seem like a far reach when you are down, and though some things may take longer to heal than others, time does help heal. My manicured nails gave me a new way to look at my nightmare, not as an image of my insecurities and past trauma, but rather as a reminder of how far I have come from those days. Today, I am healthy and productive, but most importantly I am safe.

I hope you all find ways to remind you of the things you have achieved, and the success that you are.

You are here.
You are alive.
And you can do this – one breath at a time.

Until next time.

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