You look in the mirror and you’re on the verge of tears. Forget being on the verge, you’re starting to tear up. And now the tears become a slow stream, and pretty soon a steady one. Now you’re bawling and there’s no way to stop. How did we get here?

Just a few minutes ago you were getting ready, and you were excited. You were going to meet up with your friends and have a good time. You haven’t seen some of them in a while, so you were particularly excited. It’s always fun to hang out with a group, especially when you’re going downtown. You might suck at it, but you love dancing, and that’s what was on the menu tonight.

The plans had been made earlier today, and you’d spent most of the day excited and a bit anxious. It’s a little hard seeing that many people at once, but it’s also the best thing in the world. It’s difficult being introverted and extroverted at the same time. Maybe that’s why you struggle sometimes? Who cares, now is not the time for thoughts like that. Now is the time to be excited and to get ready.

You’re a bit of a diva, so you’re going to take some time deciding what to wear. It’s not like there’s an endless variety – you’re choosing between a couple of dress shirts and a couple of pants. You don’t need to rush. After all, let’s be real: you’re just killing time until it’s time to get ready and go.

And now the time has arrived. So, you take 30 seconds to put on your shirt and pants in the washroom. You do your hair just right. It’s no secret that you’re a little bit vain – you like your hair, if you’re being honest. Now you’re just kind of doing nothing in the washroom, once again killing some time.

So, you think about the fun you’re about to have tonight, because it’s been a while. It’s been a while since you met up with your friends. It’s been a while since you really went out. You’re so full of excitement that you’re somehow missing the anxiety that is slowly building up.

I’m looking in the mirror and I’m feeling great. Suddenly, I’m feeling anything but great. I feel almost detached from my own body, as I look in the mirror and see that smile turn into a frown, a frown that gets deeper by the second. I don’t know what just happened. Why do I feel like this suddenly? I feel cold and clammy, like I’m in outside in a Toronto winter. There’s a pit in my stomach and it feels like it weights a ton. I feel weightless simultaneously, like I’m about to collapse onto the floor. I was so excited to go out and to see my friends, but all that excitement has left me. My anxiety is at a 10, as if I’m about to write a university final. But there is no test – there is only life, and the realization that my life will always be different than others.

I’m trying to build up the strength. Please, just let me do this. I just want to go out and see people, I just want to go out and have fun. Please let me be strong, please. I don’t want this. Not again. I’m tired of lost days and nights, and friends and family. Of promises never kept.

I’m tired of texting people to tell them that sorry, I won’t be able to make it tonight. Because it happens over and over and over again, to the point where I wonder if any of my friends still want to be my friends.

I’m looking in the mirror and the tears have started. I’ve lost the battle, and there’s nothing I can do. Once the change starts, there’s no stopping it. My brain feels like it’s not my own – I feel like I’m inside a foreign brain and body, watching it be sapped of willpower and energy.  So I cry and cry and cry, wondering why this happens to me. I don’t understand it. I don’t understand why perfect moments become some of the worst moments of my life.

But it’s not just about this moment. The scariest part is what comes after. All the happiness and joy are about to become something much darker and more cynical. Goodbye friends and family and happiness and joy and hope. Hello Mr. monster, I was wondering when you would show up.

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