I wake up, wide eyed and ready for the day. My mood immediately lifted when I open the blinds to sunlight hitting my skin. I take a deep breath, turn around and play my favourite song to keep my mood going, brush my teeth, wash my face and jump in the shower. All the while singing along to the lyrics and words, singing an octave louder each time I feel my mind drifting. It’s going to be good day today I tell myself. Making sure that I say it with enough conviction that I believe it, and it is. I prance around the room, moving in tune with the songs in the background, ready to tackle the day.
Getting into my work clothes and heading outside, I take a deep breath in, imagining that I am breathing in a new sense of confidence, a new sense of freedom and I breath out the sadness of yesterday, the pathetic wallowing that is my life. I take one more hopeful deep breath in and begin my commute, effectively, beginning my day. Still swaying to the music playing through my earphones, the silence won’t get to me. As I leave the elevator, wrapping my scarf around my neck to tackle the cold once again, it gets caught on one of my air pods and it drops out of my ear. The music stops. Silence. I panic. No, I cannot let the silence get to me. I scramble around the neck of the scarf to find the rogue air pod and shove it back into my ear to the music replaying again. I sigh with relief and let my mind get lost in the song once more, the sound of the bass and melody of the beat steadily pressing over my thoughts.
The day at work is a normal one, I sit at my immaculately ordered desk. I guess my well kept desk and appearance at work keep me away from the real horror of my mind, the other side of the real me that nobody else sees when I the I allow the plague of silence to take home. Everyone in the office knows me as ‘The one with the OCD’, the one with the immaculately ordered desk and thus, an immaculately ordered life. If only they met me during one of my episodes, what would they think of me then?
Adjusting the angle of my work phone and office supplies that have been disturbed by the cleaners the night before, I plop onto my seat and turn around for the daily afternoon gossip that usually accompanies starting the late shift at 12pm. “Sally’s at it again” murmured Julia “She’s been coming out here every hour with something to moan about”. Julia’s desk is stationed right next to mine at an angle that doesn’t allow us to lean over and talk to each other but rather have to turn our entire chairs around to do so, and the other desk dwellers comply. There are 7 of us in total, sat in a separate corner of the office, in what can only be described as a misshapen boomerang. On most days we are busy actually getting work done. This silence is OK. This silence is still keeping me busy, my mind is occupied with endless tasks, emails and never ending phone calls. My thoughts don’t linger when I am preoccupied, almost like my mind can only have so many tabs open at a time so I am able to push it to the back of my head and not have to think about it too much. Some days are harder to force to the back of my head than others, but today is not one of those days.
I go home in a rush, as always, navigating through the London Underground system. Commuting during rush hour is like something out of a fast paced thriller movie, you never know what kind of people you will encounter and how much you will take part in passive aggressive physical altercation. It’s the kind where nobody says anything but there is extra force in their shoulders, pushing to get on or off the carriage, the silenced ‘move out of my fucking way’ in their actions but not a word comes out. The ever internalised battle of the rush hour commuters. Of course, the lack of fresh air down there probably adds to the frustration. This is what makes London, London — a hub of angry, passive aggressive commuters rushing to get from one place to another, so much so that nobody cares who you are or where you are going, ‘just get out of my fucking way’. The odd day you might find someone has boiled over enough that they muster the strength to shout at you or try and start an argument, but then of course there’s that awkward journey where you’re stood less than a metre away from each other after the confrontation that you have to deal with. There’s enough on my plate for me not to dive into my own head, so I am thankful for the commute.
‘It’s so peaceful here’ I say to myself after a long day, I have eaten dinner, watched my daily dose of Netflix shows and I am ready for bed. I sit upright against my pillows for a few minutes to reflect on the day when I realise it. Here it is. The silence, It catches up to me. Burying myself in my duvet to force myself to sleep it looms over my head, I can’t think of anything else. Every single effort I made today to stop it creeping up to me has failed. I have failed. It looms heavy on my heart and tears begin to fall from my eyes when I realise, it is not the silence I am running from. It is how it speaks to me, how I speak to myself when the silence arrives. I have failed. I roll over and shut my eyes in an effort to ignore everything until I fall asleep, only to fight again the very next day.