The Woman in my mirror.

An Autofictional story by Freja Gantzler Oschlak.

Disclaimer brought to you, because my mother who was worried, about misunderstandings. This text is work of fiction, about living with mental illness. The character is a personification of intrusive thoughts, I don’t have strong hallucinations.

There is a woman in my mirror. She is my reflection, but she does not reflect me. she does not reflect my ideals, belief, my thoughts. When I stand beside her, my mind and body changes, until I cannot recognize myself anymore.

She lures me in with sweet words and false promises. I fear her, but I love her all the same. I keep coming back to her. She has a hold over me. She takes me in her arms and strokes my hair. She whispers in my ear and tells me, that she knows what’s best for me; for us. She thinks she should be the one in control, I start to agree with her.

The longer she holds me, the weaker I get. I see my body change before my eyes. I am ugly. I am cruel. I look at myself and I hate what I see. I try to get away from her. She tightens her grip. I discover I no longer have the strength to escape her. I look at her. The other me. She is suddenly so beautiful. I stop struggling. Maybe she is right. Maybe she knows whats best for us.

Look at her, compared to me. I cannot compete with her. She cares about me, even though I know, I am not deserving of her love. I cannot lose her. I can’t imagine what I would do without her, by my side. She smiles down at me and softly kiss my cheek. She praises me. She tells me I have made the right decision. She is going to make everything alright.

She takes my hand and says “let us go home and kill you. When you die, you no longer feel. When you die, you are neither ugly nor beautiful. All you will be is a memory. For a second it all makes sense. For that second, I believe her. Why wouldn’t I? I look back at the mirror. The two of us standing side by side, and then I realize, that she is no longer my reflection. That is not me. I do not think like that. I am not in control.

As I look at her, her mask fall. Her skin is falling off, in flakes. She no longer resembles me. She has become a concept without form. Strangely enough, this is how I prefer to think off her. As a thing outside my own head. We are separate, yet alike. Now that I have seen her, for what she is, it is easier to resist her temptations. Still there are days where I look in the mirror, and all I see is her. In those moments I want nothing more than to believe her once again. I want nothing more than to embrace and let her take my troubles away.

This Madwoman, is being burnt alive.

Sometimes recovery seems like an impossible dream. It is a goal I have almost reached so many times in the last two years, but each time I reach the top of the metaphorical mountain something always seems to knock me back to the bottom. I have autism, adhd, anxiety and ocd, it is a long list of conditions that I thought I had learned to live with, but the past weeks have shown me, that the mind is an ever-changing thing.

I was thriving. I went to school. I was meeting with friends, on a regular basis. I was even taking the train (which for me is kind of a big deal). but here I am sitting at home, with a wounded arm from the harm I have inflicted on myself. Sometimes it seems like there is no point in recovering when I always end up back at the beginning. I feel weak and hopeless, ending up in this hole I dug for myself.

I know that I shouldn’t feel this way. Yet I find it almost impossible to stop thinking like that. This is not the first time I have experienced a set back and it won’t be the last, but it still hurts me to end up in place I thought I had left behind for good. I have made this exact mistake so many times before. It is so easy to convince yourself, that life will only get better and never worse. I find there is this hidden stigma around setbacks when it comes to recovery and mental health. We would much rather talk about the good than the bad. We are praised and celebrated when we make improvement, but when we regress, we are mostly met with silence.

I think it is natural to want to celebrate the good in life, but sometimes people’s enthusiasm can seem like a trap. I know that people’s expectations for me have changed, and that honestly scare the living shit out of me. I feel like I am letting people down, by being low functioning this week, when I was fine the last. I feel like people expect a version of me that I can’t always give them. I do not have the energy to function like a normal person all the time. In many ways, I have come to terms with the limitations of my disability. Yet there are still days where I get frustrated and upset about it all. I love and hate my brain at the same time. I sometimes get upset about the symptoms I experience. It seems like such a silly thing to write, but sometimes, I feel like I should be better at dealing with it all.

I do not know why I set so high expectation for myself. It is just so easy to blame yourself for your mental health, and that makes it so tempting, to believe everybody blames you too. I am afraid of the future. I am frustrated. I fear I will never again recover, but at the same time I know that I have been here before. I have survived, this before I will survive again. But what I think some people forget is that that is not enough. There is so much work and pain involved in recovering. Sometimes I feel tempted to just drop it all and never get better. It is safer to feel bad. When you are burning, you do not fear, the flames of the world.

written by Freja Gantzler Oschlak.

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