PERSONAL STORY BY JONATHAN KOHANSKI
IN MY HEAD
I spend so much time bobbing around in the waves. Waves that set the stage for beautiful scenes and captures of friends smiling, having fun surfing or swimming. For those handful of hours in the water, I get to temporarily forget everything that’s back on dry land, my crappy balance, my bum leg, the heat and fatigue, numb hands, etc.
The beach and the ocean have been playing a special and integral part of my life for the past few years, but even more so recently. It serves as a short refuge from some of my physical issues as well as helping me to balance out my thoughts. Spending time weightless in the water, the taste of salt on my lips and at times the cold biting at my skin feels like a completely different world. It reminds me of how much the body can endure and keep going, and how suffering can be more mental than physical at times. Just like the waves, I continually bob my head in and out of the rabbit hole of self-defeating thoughts, the thoughts I know I should avoid, but never seem to manage to. In a way, I’m the proverbial squirrel crossing the road, unable to decide which way to go, sometimes it’s the right direction, but other times clearly not.
“It’s hidden under smiles and jokes, behind an outward appearance that looks like everybody else…”
I can capture the beauty of the outside world with a camera, even the ugliness of it. The radiating orange glow of the sunrise, the soft beauty of crashing waves frozen in time, the happiness of friends engaged in hobbies they love. What I can’t capture is what resides within me, and words are no better at conveying those feelings and emotions. I can’t hand out a picture that would allow anyone to understand what goes on in my head or how it affects me. That’s why mental health can be so hard to comprehend. The outward appearance a lot of times looks like everyone else. It’s hidden under smiles and jokes, behind an outward appearance that looks like everybody else…going to work, going out with friends, and pursuing hobbies. There are shadows that lurk behind us, even in the darkness, there are deeper holes.
There’s an almost constant battle, light and dark, highs and lows, chaos, and calm. You can wake up one day not wanting to get out of bed, dreading the day, to feeling completely unstoppable the next. Feeling peace seems to come in the form of isolation away from the noise of the world, away from the distraction of people, of energy, away from the reminders of the conflict within and the triggers that lie in wait. Having people in my life is both a blessing and a curse, feeling at times happily overwhelmed by the support and kindness of friends and family and at other times confused by the amount of interaction and complete sensory overload from being around too much. I don't let too many people close enough to understand what it is that follows me and can be so difficult.
89 AWARENOW / THE OUTSIDE EDITION