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There Is a Monster Sitting on My Chest

·367 words·2 mins
Mental Health

There is a monster sitting on my chest.

No one else can see him.

But I know he’s there. I can feel him sitting there. He’s comfortable where he is. He’s happiest when I’m unhappy. Most comfortable when I’m uncomfortable.

He comes and goes as he pleases. Sometimes, though, when he’s here, I feel like he’ll never leave. And then without warning, he’ll wander off. Like a cat who has spotted something more amusing and sets off to seek it out.

But he always returns. Sometimes when I least expect it.

When I start to feel like maybe today will be a good day. Like maybe the worst days are behind me. And that the future can be fun, fearless. That I can be free of all the self-doubt. The hypervigilance, the anxiety. The dread.

Free of whatever troubling thing could be coming next.

Every time I allow myself to be hopeful, this monster slips in quietly to upset it. To turn everything I’ve worked to build upside down. And leave me there, scrambling in the dark, cleaning up a mess. Yet again.

And then, once he’s done all that, and once I’m done dealing with the immediate aftermath of whatever I’ve done and feel like I can rest, the monster goes and sits on my chest.

Reminding me that he’s there. Reminding me not to get too comfortable.

I’m not sure what to call this monster. He goes by so many names, depending on what’s happening. Or who’s referring to him. He answers to grief. To depression, anxiety, self-doubt.

I’m never quite sure what his real name is. But I do know that he’s there. He won’t let me forget it.

People give me a lot of advice for getting rid of him. They say if I take deep breaths, he’ll go away. I try this; he doesn’t. That I need to do X, Y, and/or Z.

I try that. He doesn’t leave.

I switch the order. He doesn’t leave.

A long line of people come in, advising all sorts of monster-be-gone techniques. Each one is more confident than the last.

I try it all. He doesn’t leave.

There is a monster sitting on my chest.


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