Catrina Shaina Marie O. Sacares

Disclaimer: The characters and events portrayed here are merely works of fiction. This essay contains sensitive content such as suicide and self-harm.

I looked at myself in the mirror. “Day 100”, I whispered and touched my skin.

It pained me to see how my eyes were swelling and yet, my head feels empty. How could such a thing happen? How can one heart be full of searing unbearable sorrow while your mind feels like an open hole with nothing but air?

“How are you?” The automatic response from the bot made me feel as if someone really checked my condition.

My eyes teared up again. God, how should I deal with this? I clicked the suggested response on the bottom of my screen. I felt like I was the robot and not this application.

How long has it been since you felt sad?” I smirked at the bot’s question. Like how a normal person would answer, the bot is doing a good job. “What seems to be a problem?” The bot was now asking me for a free answer where no suggested answers were given. Sadly, Mr. Bot could not figure out that I am the problem. I was not gas lighting or anything. I just knew that I was the dilemma. I stopped the conversation because it did not make me feel any better. It has been 100 days and I think I’m about to lose it. I have been counting since Day 10 and every day got harder to get over.

I walked out of the house to feel the air touch my wounded skin. As I stood, the cold breeze welcomed my body as if giving me a comforting hug. Oddly, it felt so warm. “Damn stars”, I said, while looking up and feeling the tears travel the curved peaks of my cheeks. I envied how the stars, moon or anything away from earth was oblivious of the chaos that was happening here. How could they continue to shine brightly as if nothing has changed?

I watched my neighbor smoke, curious of how freely the wisps lingered in the air before it vanished. I felt the smoky air enter my system and it was not a good idea for someone who had asthma.

“You smoke?” he offered when he noticed I have been watching him since he lit his cigarette. I smiled and shook my head in reply. Kind neighborhood, I must say.

I hate how being stuck at home made me feel lonely and my condition worse, day by day. Don’t get me wrong though, I have a family to cherish but there are just some things I never happen to tell them–like my growing anxiety and this mild depression. I’m afraid they might not understand me–or worse, judge me like I was some lunatic.

The quarantine was a death sentence to my sanity. I felt like every night was a war between me and my undefined emotions that created dark thoughts inside my head. There are some days when I want to stop and end things the way I want–the emergency exit for people like me who cannot see any bright light within us.

But why do I feel like rushing to that emergency exit is something I will regret?

Don’t do it… We’re still far from dreams.”

I always remind myself how happy and wonderful it would be to see that the people I love would be proud of me and happy to see whom I have become. And so I choose to continue–because of how I love those people–even though being inside the same four corners makes me want to erase these thoughts of hopes and dreams.

The world continues to rotate and every revolution is like a poison. I cannot even explain why I feel this way. Every time I wake up is like another death toll and another opportunity to battle with my inner demons.

I went inside my room again. I saw the same scissors I used last night and shifted my eyes unto my arms and their fresh wounds. Why couldn’t I feel anything last night? If I tried doing it again now, would I cry in pain? I giggled with the thought because it sounded absurd.

It doesn’t make sense for others but there are nights when that sharp tool helps me to feel numb and beg for more… more blood… more wounds… more scars. At times, I would feel like I was traveling under the deepest trenches, not minding how I could drown underneath it all.

I stopped thinking about it when my mom called me for dinner. I pretended to be as enthusiastic as I could. I had to conceal how torn I was. I didn’t want them to see and didn’t want them to know how I was suffering. I was afraid they would judge me–and then also blame themselves. It would hurt them more than it hurt me.

“Wow, this meal looks delicious,” I smiled and hid the tears. My mom smiled back while my Dad laughed at my comment. My sister teasingly complimented my mom.

It was a good sight. It made me feel like it was home. I was home.

Maybe it was the emergency exit I needed, to feel my family’s warmth that made our house a home–not just a four-cornered house used for quarantine–a place where my sanity comes back at the very crucial moment.

I need to remember why I held on for 100 days fighting with my own demons inside my head–seeing them with eyes of hope and happiness kept me sane.

Quarantine was harsh, not only for those who are physically weak but also, for those who had their minds in a similarly unstable state.