You feel your eyes roll back as the day fades away to a grain of white noise. The last few breaths of consciousness buzz and nuzzle against your ears, as you begin the night-time ritual of wrestling an over-active mind into submission.
Blinks grow lazy, and one-by-one your lids fail to revive, stammering slowly shut. You slip your focus from your head to your heart; listening softly to the beat as it dulls its way into the sheets, bumping one-way pulses deep into the springs.
You stretch, tired and over-used hands across your face, pulling the hair that has been rolled, scrunched, tucked into rubber bands and twirled tight around pencils, snapping strands and patience as you try to disconnect.
Your eyes are closed, yet all you see are faces and names. You watch, helpless, as the darkness manipulates itself into figures, forming friends and enemies, clusters of unopened emails and yesterday’s to-do list: unsupervised, and bubbling out of control.
The comfort you want isn’t there. You roll left to right, meeting nothing but stagnant air and brick walls; voiceless, lifeless and lonely.
You twist your head and press your face hard against the pillow, collecting clawless cotton-kisses on your skin. You press, paralysed against the material that mops up every drop, extinguishing dusky smudges of mascara that marble the white and make it damp with secrets and frustration.
When the sun makes way for darkness and the moon clambers up over the clouds.
This is how you cope.
When the day closes its eyes and leaves you blinking blindly into the stars.
This is how you cope, day after day, when everything feels too much.
Stress is universal. It ebbs like waves; crashing viciously or slowly rippling, lapping at toes and splashing faces. We can’t escape it, but when it spirals webs into our minds we must learn to let it escape from us.
It’s not failure to falter, it’s not failure to admit that you’re struggling. And it’s not failure to release choked-back tears until your lungs ache and your eyes drip with absolution.
No-one is immune. We live in a time where fallacy is commonplace; where it’s easier to lie than it is to admit the truth. Pull your heart to your sleeve and push the hair from your face. Don’t let yourself finish your days wound in worry and puddled in tears.
Because we all feel the same, we’re just too good at hiding it to let others know our struggle.