By Cherise Oosthuizen

No one ever said I was nothing. Not in so many words, anyway. But I could feel it in their stares, in their judgements, in the way they held themselves, so strong, so true.

So unlike me.

Sometimes I feel as though I’m invisible. I feel as though I were a drifting phantom in a sea of empty potential. No contributions to the world, no saviours, no welcoming embraces or kind words.

Being invisible is not like being nothing. Nothing is something, in its own right, and in nothing there is power, purpose, understanding.

Being nothing is like being everything.

But being invisible, among this sea of fish and ants is something to be feared. Something so much worse than nothing. Because it’s something. It’s something real, and reality is weak. It has no power, nor does it have any pull. Insanity, like humanity, is chaotic, unfocused, but preferred to the grey sea of nothing.

A grey sea of nothing breeds invisibility. I wish I were nothing. Then I would be something. Like death, like life.

They are nothing. They are a concept in the wind to fine, they are an ocean of wonder and life and possibility. Invincibility, in something so real as visibility, in something so real as humanity, as me, is nothing more than a forgotten shell washed away on the beach of nothing, picked up every now and again by an anxious familiar stranger who couldn’t possible even begin to understand what it feels like to be hollow, empty on the inside.

To be surrounded with love, to be surrounded by people who care, who want to help? You know they want to help. You know they care. But every time they tell you to “snap out of it” that your “only imagining it” you feel guilt and uselessness well up within you once again, and you wonder why I am like this? How did this happen? Why can’t I just be normal?! And the aggravation and hopelessness that assaults you when no one wants to hear it forces you keep your mouth shut and like the forgotten, hollow shell crumbled in the sand as time goes by faster and faster.

You don’t know what to do. You don’t want to do anything.

Becoming another brick in the wall of society, being a good daughter, a good son, father, mother, niece, and nephew.

Because you’re something to someone but you feel as though that maxes out in title, that you’re no one to nobody.

This is as close as I can get to your pain.

I am a familiar stranger. I am the girl who watches you from across the classroom, cowering in the corner, shrinking inside yourself.

I am the girl who doesn’t know.

I am the girl who wants to take your hand and take you away form the monster that you call reality, that wants to hide you away in the deepest trenches of nothing and with my sword banish all the walls that deem you unworthy, all the obstacles that make you struggle and wish that you weren’t here.

But I can’t.

Because I don’t see those walls. I don’t see those mountains you must conquer, I can’t see how you struggle, how simple things to me take the courage of the world for you to do.

And I wish I could.

Because I would climb those mountains if it made you smile, I would thrash those monsters and cruel words inside your mind.

I would be your dopamine, if I could. Chase away all the neural connections that don’t make sense in your mind, chase away they endless black and grey within your viewpoint and bring only endless colour and vibrant hues.

But I can’t do that.

I don’t know how.

So when you shut your door, and social media tells me that you’re battling your monsters alone in your room and you don’t show up to where your meant to be for your daily activities, I feel this endless anxiety, this endless depression, this endless fear.

I feel it for you.

And my battles are nothing compared to yours, I know.

My battles are gentle waves in your raging storm.

But I want you to know.

Need you to know. I’m here.

I’M RIGHT HERE.

And I know I can’t fight your battles, or change your mind, or banish your demons like the overgrown weeds in my back yard, I can, however, hold your hand.

And I could tell you a bad joke that could be so bad you want to curl up in a ball and just laugh for eternity. Because I can’t take you to the rainbow, that’s a battle you have to fight alone.

But if you let me: I who knows nothing, who can never understand the pain you go through, the struggle that you are forced to endure, if you let me, I can bring you a ray of light every now and then.

And if you let me, I will hide underneath the covers with you until the thunder calms.

And if you let me, I will be there, when you finally cross the line, when you finally overcome the endless night and the dawn’s colour washes over you like an old friend, to smile at you as you repeat my own words: it will all be ok.

But most of all, from ignorant me to you, I want you to know that I’ll be there.

And you, beautiful, intelligent, purposeful, magical piece of evolution that you are, will be OK.

Because?

You are not alone.