Shadows are such sneaky things. They are always there no matter what time of day, but sometimes you can see them and sometimes you can’t. Sometimes they imprint themselves on the heated pavement not to be affected by their surroundings, or over the beach chair to so kindly block the sun out of your friends’ eyes. They even stick out into the hallway just to give away that hiding place you thought was so perfect. However, sometimes they act as our alter-ego; our silent reminder; our invisible persona. The ever-so-faint outline of our bodies that follow us everywhere are just a silent reminder of a friend you have; another you, someone that is more visible at certain times rather than others.
My shadow has introduced itself and been a bit more pervasive these past 10 years, exposing a darker persona that has followed me everywhere. Sometimes fleeing for a few days at a time, but otherwise lingering always making me aware of its presence. Thinking that I have a constant “friend,” I have pushed away a lot of people I care about, including someone who was, what I finally learned the meaning behind, my best friend. I have spent days silent, not wanting to do much of anything except for workout, drive, and be alone, and I have spent days where I am my loud and obnoxious joyful self, almost as if anxiety and depression were not a shadow that silently walked around with me.
I know a lot of people suffer through the crippling nature of mental illness, and those who identify with this know exactly what I’m talking about when I say: we struggle not to identify with it, we fight its powerful force trying to make us someone we are not, and we call upon the deepest buried strength that we have to manage and live with it. I regret to say that my battle with an anxiety disorder has become more of a characteristic for me than I would like it to be. Now that I have identified and named my shadow, despite it being my enemy and a long-time “friend,” I hope I can fight to dim its presence and sever some ties because I know shadows can be comforting and friendly too.