under pressure

So, pressure, right? Pressure’s a lot of things. Air pressure is what we studied in science, is what should have made that very cool rocket propel forward, had I not constructed the rocket incorrectly. Pressure is what finally made that balloon you needed for your own rocket explode in a million little pieces, because you overfilled it (remember, you were supposed to watch the little nose at the end and make sure it didn’t disappear, like that terrible rhyme I made up to remember it by, when the nose goes, no more blows— yeah yeah but even though you popped your balloon I bet you still remember it, and now, dear readers, you will remember it too, you’re welcome.) Pressure is also what society puts on us to be both thin yet not so thin so as to make yourself a topic of discussion amongst your friends, to be strong and assertive but not a bitch, to be honest and always tell the truth but actually don’t do that ever, mostly that’s a terrible idea.

Pressure is when your future looks uncertain yet again, and even though it’s pretty much always been uncertain you’re so very tired of not having any clue what you’ll do next. Pressure is feeling fairly sure you’ve done everything right, and that you should be proud of who you’ve become and what you’ve accomplished, but you have nothing to show for it and you wonder if your father would have thought you were a failure. Pressure is feeling old, is looking in the mirror and thinking that maybe your prettiest days are behind you, and that you wasted them on someone who was never going to be the love of your life (pressure is wondering if maybe that’s the only love you’re going to get in this life anyway.) Pressure is watching your friends grow up and leave you; pressure is the loneliness of wondering if you will always be the one left.

Pressure is when it all starts to leave its trace on you. It makes its way under your skin, and it’s so small, so very small; it’s just a bad day at first, a bad week. Maybe you’re getting sick; maybe you are so exhausted because your immune system is fighting something off. You let yourself sleep for those 14 hours one day, a handful of days. You make your green smoothie but you leave it in your bag, you don’t even open it; you opt for the stale piece of banana bread in the breakroom instead. You try and force yourself to work out; on the rare occasion you make it to a class, you find yourself so angry halfway through from the sheer idea of being there you have to work harder than you have the entire time just not to walk out. You cry during stretches afterwards.

Pressure is that, the more your body shuts down, incapable of keeping up, your mind speeds up, in a panicked attempt to compensate. You haul yourself up the stairs to your apartment four, maybe five, times each morning just to make sure you didn’t leave the stove on, even though you haven’t used it for days. Every social interaction is full of potential slights that you obsessively replay for hours, days, parsing every word and every gesture for hidden signs of annoyance and disapproval. Your day is filled with nothing but confrontation, and overwhelming exhaustion. The first few times you fall asleep somewhere inappropriate it’s almost funny, the ensuing times are not. The only thing that gets you out of bed every morning is the idea that, eventually, you will be able to return to it. You begin to have nightmares.

Pressure is when it isn’t the first time you’ve felt this way, and you knew this day would probably come again, but the knowing of it turns out to be not nearly as comforting as you thought it might have been. And then, one day, when you come home from another painfully long day pretending everything is fine, you come home to see that pressure is also the thing that builds in your container of green smoothie that you completely forgot about, because you were too busy feeling miserably self-indulgent, that began to ferment and fill the remaining space in that sealed, magic bullet container with carbon dioxide until it too exploded. All over your apartment.

You call your psychiatrist and you wipe down the walls.