I used to feel pretty awkward and anxious being out in public. I felt like I was drawing too much attention, too much notice. Later, as I tried to fight my way out of severe depression and anxiety, I secretly wished I’d get noticed. I felt like I was drowning alone and it would have been nice to have people acknowledge my existence.
I’d go out at night and wonder if there’d be anyone else out. Even the idea of someone unsafe taking the time to talk to me was secretly a welcome thought.
It turns out in a world with almost 8 billion people it’s incredibly easy to go unnoticed, unacknowledged and ignored. This is true in broad daylight, too. I’ve discovered I can just let myself cry while out walking on suburban trails where there will be passersby, in vehicles and on foot. If anyone even notices my distress, they’re never going to say anything. I may as well be invisible or exist in a separate dimension.
This feeling of being alone among billions is always worse on days when my friends aren’t chatty. I feel awkward being the one to break the silence when no one seems to want to talk. First I’ll feel like maybe it’s me, and they need a break from me – and that will be followed by the even worse thought that they’re not thinking about me at all and haven’t even noticed or cared about the quiet.
Years ago I had a dream that blended fantasy and religious imagery but felt more like sci-fi – I was a young woman tasked with defending my world from an invasion. The invaders were some kind of demon, pouring through an interdimensional portal in a park, and I was the only one there fighting. Eventually there was a break in the assault and I collapsed on a park bench. An angel appeared next to me – or at least something that looked like an angel. I suspected it was actually a demon in disguise, intending to kill me now that I was too weak to fight back.
I was too exhausted to care if it killed me. I just sat there and stared at it.
It wasn’t a demon though, it really was an angel, and it had been sent to let me know that the angelic hosts couldn’t step in to fight this battle for me, but it was here to provide me companionship, comfort and protection while I rested. I was overwhelmed by receiving kindness where I expected deception and violence. The young woman I was fell in love with the angel in that moment.
I was thinking about that dream today. How there won’t be any angel sent to give me relief in real life. How the only one really here for me, is me, and how I don’t feel like I’m going to be enough for me for long.
I’m right back where I was all those years that my mental and physical health was slipping away. Isolated, trapped, but never actually alone. I always feel like it would be easier to deal with feeling enormously lonely if I could actually be alone. Being alone in a crowd or house full of people just feels so much worse.
The depression is starting to manifest physically, too. I feel like my strength and energy have drained out of me and like I won’t even be able to fight gravity here before long. I’ll just sink down wherever I happen to be and not be able to get back up.