Pull yourself together or people will think you're crazy. They shut crazy people away in padded cells or strap them to their beds in rooms with barred windows.
Maybe you are crazy, but you don't want to be imprisoned.
They don't want the shame.
You realised something was different in the way you feel, feel, feel all the time. Now you understand it's something wrong. You understand it must be hidden always, that nobody wants to see it. You learn to smile, to pretend, to lie. When your breath won't reach your lungs, when your mouth is dry but your hands are clammy and cold. When your heart races against terrors it'll never outrun and the darkness is writhing, crying, screaming, clawing, you smile.
They must never know.
It's something you don't discuss. People won't understand anyway. They don't care about it.
They don't care about you.
Perfect your mask and pull down your sleeves to hide your scars. I don't care, I don't care, I don't care, you tell yourself, and you hope it will be true one day. In the meanwhile, you throw everything you have into the maw, but it's never full. You stuff the hole, but the dam always breaks. You throw chains around this thing inside you, but they aren't strong enough. You aren't strong enough. One day, the darkness and the pain is going to win this war.
But you want to be strong so you try to win the battles. It becomes an art, this routine of holding back tears and keeping the terror at bay until you're finally alone and can shatter into the thousands of pieces you jam into your shape every morning.
You know how to pull yourself together now, how to hide the festering poison in your heart. Sometimes you wish you didn't, but you know it's better this way. They cannot know because they don't want to see the ugliness through your cracks. They don't want to know when you start cutting your wrists or taking so many pills that you pass out on the floor.
You still aren't sure if you want to die, but sometimes you mess up. There's too much blood, and the pills have made you clumsy.
You just want to sleep.
If you don't wake up in the morning, they'll whisper about how you always smiled and they never knew anything was wrong.
Look at yourself. Look at the scars that cover your body and the tears you can't shed anymore because you're too good at holding them in.
You are already strong. You get up and live every day even though you know it's going to take all your strength just to make it back to your bed in the evening.
You are brave beyond all measures. You have faced off against the darkness so many times and you are still here. It hasn't beaten you. It hasn't destroyed you.
It doesn't define you. They are not their diabetes, their coeliac disease, their heart murmurs, or their asthma. They are wrong to make you feel ashamed of an illness.
You don't have to hide your suffering behind smiles and masks because they won't understand it. You aren't alone in battling the monsters in your head, there are others out there. We need to help each other survive and we need to start by owning our strength and confessing our courage. You've been brave enough to fight alone, now be brave enough to speak out.
I will fight with you.