What the fire burns: Stay Strong & Keep Fighting

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BY STUKGIRL TAZEEN

“How unfair it is to degrade such beauty, carved by God, into nothing more than an unprepossessing mannequin. The beauty that I talk of is, you.

Yet we helplessly continue to do so. The important thing to understand here is that this isn’t intentional. You lose control over your thoughts. Imagine driving your car, but you’re not the one controlling the steering wheel.”

It has a specific power, mental illness (anxiety, depression,etc.), to make you feel unworthy, burdensome, and ugly. As though it channels all the negativity from a reservoir in your mind that you try so hard to suppress. It triggers your insecurities, even gives you new ones, and those further trigger your mental illness; a never-ending spiral.

I drew inspiration from the experiences of living with a mental illness, and being a victim of bullying, to create a story that would possibly resonate with a lot of people, and also shine some hope into their lives. My book, ‘The Fire You Don’t See’, sheds light on the silent struggle of living with a mental illness. It focuses on aspects that are most often not visible to the world. The story revolves around two young women, one suffering from a mental illness while the other is a victim of bullying. While on individual quests to protect their sanity, they come across one another and things begin to take an interesting turn.

The reason for having female leads was to put an end to the vague concept of girl-on-girl hate, and to make people believe in the power of the bond that women share.

The story has a lot of ups and downs, it has points where the characters hit their all-time lows, it has laughter, love, friendship, and most importantly, the story is structured realistically, so that people can relate to it.

Here is a little excerpt from Chapter 3-

“Back in her dorm room, Eira kicked off her shoes, dropped her bag on the marble floor and stood in front of the mirror. Staring deep into her reflection, she saw what a mess she had become, how every step she takes must feel like an ache to the ground. She let her hair loose from the pony tail and looked at the strands that stuck to the rubber band. She ran her fingers through her hair, and found a bunch in her palm. She swiped a cotton swabbed in remover all over her face to take off the makeup and reveal her naked skin. Looking closely she saw her skin in a bad state, acne marks covering her forehead, cheeks and running across her jaw in enough numbers to duplicate the constellations in the sky. She traced the spots with her fingers trying to see if they’d actually form one.

She found something that sort of resembled the constellation Ara. Ara is associated with the altar on which the Gods formed an alliance before going to war with the Titans in Greek mythology. In honor of the Gods’ victory, Zeus placed the altar in the sky. Eira was also at war, a war where she was the God and the Titan. And the constellation was placed right across her skin, regardless of who won or lost.

It was only natural that her body bore signs of her depleting health. The drop in appetite, loss of sleep, and disturbance in hormonal balance, all because of her upside down life, was taking a physical toll, a visible physical toll. And that in turn made it all the more worse. It was a vicious cycle.

She looked at the difference in tone between her under eyes and the rest of her face. Her dark circles were darkening and spreading like a Californian wildfire. Her eyes looked bigger now that the rest of her face sunk in.”

How unfair it is to degrade such beauty, carved by God, into nothing more than an unprepossessing mannequin. The beauty that I talk of is, you.

Yet we helplessly continue to do so. The important thing to understand here is that this isn’t intentional. You lose control over your thoughts. Imagine driving your car, but you’re not the one controlling the steering wheel.

It takes courage to simply, exist. I acknowledge that courage, so should everybody else, and so should you.   

Have you had days like the character Eira? Do you also suffer to cope with your mental illness? Are there days when you indulge in self-hatred? Are there times when you can feel yourself spiralling into oblivion?

Just know that the fire burning inside you is recognized, and keep holding on to your belief in better days no matter what, because it, in fact, does get better. 

If you do happen to read the book, let me know about your favourite scene, a moment that touched your heart, or any other part that you could relate to.

Until then, Stay strong! Keep fighting!

Love,

Tazeen

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