Imagine a bubble. Or a force field. Or any other kind of perfectly formed, spherically shaped object that happens to take your fancy.
As I like to think of myself the imaginative type, I imagine to be a perfectly spherically shaped raindrop, in prime of its aesthetically sound, if short lived life.
A least before it plummets into the hard, cold ground.
At least before it smashes into a cascade of water.
At least before, having lost all of what had made it so ethereal in the first place, it becomes a heap of sullied water, left to evaporate into the air from whence it came.
My own little sphere…
You see from a very young age , I happened to like spheres – in fact, I was very much fascinated by them. I couldn’t care less when my nursery teacher attempted to explain how this particular object differed from its 2D counterpart; I was instead enthralled by the notion of being inside of it – being a part of it.
True, its exterior was pleasing to the naked eye, but to inhabit this thing and hide from the world within its smoothed surface, to know that I could retreat into its orb like world when the going got tough, was the beginning of a lifetime battle of mine.
This fascination continued well into my teenage years, where, like many other self appointed science fiction and fantasy fans, I relished in the genres – not only did they give me hope that somehow I, a social outcast, could change the course of the future and challenge the status quo, but they depicted my favourite shape being enacted out on the big, silver screen.
Whether this was the Invisible Woman using her force field powers to shield herself in the Fantastic Four, or a certain boy wizard using a Patronus charm to protect himself from a horde of Dementors in Harry Potter , or Gandalf the wizard facing down the demonic Balrog in The Lord of the Rings trilogy; all of them helped to fuel my inner desire to create an imaginary force field all for my own.
More often than not, this ‘bubble’ acted as barrier between the protagonist and whatever ‘evil’ confronted them, whether it be a spell, a stalactite or a barrage of bullets. The ‘evil’ I wanted to protect myself was from malevolent forces of the outside world; little did I realise that much of the feelings of indifference came from the mind of the one person I was trying to protect …
Am I captor or captive?
You see, when I was old enough to realise that the shield I created around myself was doing me harm on a psychological level, I could not control it.
Instead, for a long while, I remained encased within that little world of mine. Not in what I would call a self interested way, but one in which I wanted to care about my family, my friends and my own well being – but I could bring myself to do it.
The world around me felt distorted and unclear, much like if I were just beneath the surface layer of the sea, while some wild and thing disturbed the current of its infinite depths. I was confused and I was lost Even the idea of any kind of physical contact from another person made me flinch. Think of something slimy brushing against your bare foot in the middle of the open ocean. Can you even begin to imagine the fear? the rush of adrenaline ? the desperation?
On really bad days, peoples voices were mostly muffled and barely coherent aside from the odd sentence or two. Now and then I could make out a few words, notably the phrase ‘are you okay?’ or ‘so how have you been lately?’
In short, I was a captive in a prison of my own making;
I did not want to share my emotions with family and friends.
I did not care about what grade I received for a university assignment.
I hated everything about being alive and all of the suffering that came with it.
I chose a face and I slipped it on every time I walked out of the door – the face of neutrality. Happy faces stood out in the face of a world full of adversity and bleakness. Melancholy faces were equally if not more picked up on. Yet the dullness and ambiguity of a placid, disinterested face? Never. It was so perfect a disguise that even I forgot who I was.
The process was as simple as pulling on an overall to protect one’s self against the cold, winter breeze. Beyond the privacy of my own student room, not one person saw a face I did want them to see. If by some chance they did, I was quick to put on a smile, make a sarcastic quip or two and the concern in that had been evident in their eyes disappeared in a space of a heartbeat. It was that easy.
Yet the cracks are beginning to show…
It’s taken me so long to see and experience life as it is meant to be, beyond the perimeters of the ‘bubble’ that l have known for all my existence so far.
So how did I get myself out of this rut? There is no simple answer, yet power was a big factor – I wanted power over my own destiny.
Sometimes the knowledge and ability to withdraw into myself becomes too strong a temptation to resist. Yet, for the most part,the notion of actually being a active participant in my life, rather than a passive observer, is what bought me out of a trance years in the making.
I wanted to decide whether to or grin or pout or cry or cheer in face of my loved ones.
I wanted to care about my future beyond the seemingly endless assignments thrown my way at university.
I wanted to be in control over my own decisions, as I realised that while I live, I will always hold some power over where I go and what I do.
If all of this is not a sign of a better tomorrow, I don’t know what is…
Have you experienced or are you still experiencing some level of apathy? Has any of this resonated with you at all? Perhaps you have some advice for those who are still struggling with their own ‘bubbles’. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below!
Emotional support helplines:
Samaritans :116 123
Rethink Mental Illness advice line 0300 5000 927 (Monday to Friday 09:30-16:00; local rate)
Sane Line:0845 767 8000
Mind also has a useful guide of support and services, which can be found by clicking the link right here