I see you.
I see you sitting in front of your baby’s school convincing yourself it’s safe enough to go in, even though the anxiety of so many different corners and hallways lurking throughout the building scares you to death.
I see you.
I see you dropping your child off at school, still in your pajamas, a beanie hat on your head to cover up the fact you hadn’t brushed your hair yet this morning. I see how you literally needed to pull yourself out of bed with every ounce of energy you had in order to drive your kid to school despite the depression weighing you down.
I see you watching Facebook and seeing all of these amazing, free events going on in your area and, you being a mom, you want your child to experience as much as they can, and then your mind stops thinking of the possible smiles and laughter from your child and starts thinking of how many ways someone could hurt you or potentially your family.
I see you going to these events despite your anxiety telling you not to. I see you looking behind your back every few seconds to be sure you’re safe. I see you staying close to your spouse or significant other so that if something does happen, at least then you’ll have a partner to help you stay safe. I see you entering a building, looking around and leaving because there’s nowhere you can sit comfortably without feeling unsafe.
I see you. You need a nap after that field trip because it took all of the energy out of you. You need a nap after being the mystery reader at your kids’ school because of the potential danger lurking behind every corner, even though you know there isn’t any. You need a nap after taking your kid to the local parades, whether it be celebrating homecoming, Halloween, Christmas, whatever; I see you.
I see you smiling on social media pages; that bright, big smile and that twinkle in your eye as you make sure to document this moment with your kid. Behind that smile, I see the amount of energy you’re using to fake that smile and fight against having a panic attack or dissociation.
I hear your whispered cries, your secret gestures for help, your quiet begging for someone to save you.
I feel your exhaustion, your heart pounding in fear, your eyelids getting heavy because it’s just too much to see in one large area.
I taste the “what if” floating in the air, the sound of silent screaming is felt on every single one of my taste buds, the words “help me” never being said and leaving a horrible taste in the air.
I smell the air that seems so crisp but has a dangerous undertone to it; I sniff out any danger in every situation no matter what; I smell the cologne of the enemy waiting to hurt me.
You see, Mama, I see you, and I hear you, I feel your exhaustion, and taste and smell the same things in the air as you do. Because, Mama, I understand you. I understand your depression, your anxiety, your constant wanting of a life but being too scared and anxious to go after it. I understand it, Mama, because I am you.
Mama, I’m you. And you’re me. And if there’s a “we,” Mama, then, well, at least then “we” are not alone. At least then we are together in the fight.
This story was written by Katie Washkowiak and originally appeared on The Mighty.