Diagnosis Guilt (Part 2)
Each slight movement of her friends, her ears picked up. Darcy’s fingers tapping on her thigh. Aimee’s fingers combing through her hair. Lila’s steady breathing. Roarke’s thumping leg. Paul’s shifting against the couch. Comforting yet the most nerve wracking sounds in the world.
Emma’s eyes locked with Darcy’s, blue into brown, ice and water into earthy soils. She lost herself in those eyes, finding the confidence she had lost long ago. They seemed to send her messages, of hope, of courage, of strength. She dared not break her concentration on them for fear she would back down. She couldn’t afford another back down. Not after last time. Not with the time they have left before the great graduation diaspora.
“Listen,” she began, her voice foggier than she had hoped, “we’ve known each for a long time now…”
”Four years and counting,” Aimee chimed in. Always the one to deal the show. Regret welled up inside Emma’s chest. Why did she invite Aimee again?
Darcy’s snapping her fingers refocussed her attention. “I think it’s important that you all know this about me. We only have a couple months left together before…” She choked over the words, you leave me. A sensitive subject. Thinking about it caused Emma’s pulse to pick up. She could feel each beat coursing through her veins. Her fingers clenched, a ball arming inside her too-long sweater sleeve.
Emma breathed in, the air rushing in in measured gulps. Each one, she paced to a beat, in an attempt to calm herself. It didn’t always delivered the desired results. “I have this–this thing. People call it a disorder. And before you ask, yes, I’ve been diagnosed.”
She felt the unease ripple through the room. Eyes closed, she ignored it. An ungainly silence fell over the group as the silence within surrendered to the newfound but not unfamiliar chaos. Everything became personal. Her subconscious teased her body– back, shoulders, neck, even her wrists and fingers felt the weight. Cracking her knuckles, she heard her wrists begin to pop. Each new turn of the wrist brought an unpleasant symphony of the sounds. She winced.
Again refocussing on Darcy, Emma steadied her breath. Her next words, she addressed to Darcy, in every way but uttering her name. “I know some of you claim you do, too, or that you know what it’s like, but I also know you’re self-diagnosed. Any idiot can type those letters into a Google search box and get the same results. You wouldn’t self-diagnose a brain tumor or a deadly disease. Why should this be any different?
“I feel guilty for bringing this up,” Emma said, turning away from Darcy’s gaze. “I know it isn’t easy. I know it might feel like you do have something, and you might, I don’t know. I’m as qualified to diagnose you as you are to diagnose yourself. I’m not trying to disregard you or your struggles. I know this is delicate. Trust me, I do.
“And as much as I wish I could say I believe you one hundred percent, I can’t. It’s hard enough to do that with an actual diagnosis. I’ve been diagnosed several times and I still find myself in denial. I’ve been on medication for it several times. I’ve had therapists mention it. I have a real diagnosis and I often choose to deny it. Out of fear. Out of a wish to be normal.
“So please understand when I say this: hearing you offhandedly mention it upsets me. You don’t really know. It could be a coping mechanism for you to believe it, an excuse. But please understand that it isn’t for me. For me, this is very real. The overwhelming fear I experience on a daily basis…”
Emma raised her eyes and for the first time in her whole speech, she glanced at everyone. Her eyes made contact with every other pair of eyes. Each held emotions she only imagined she would see: pity, empathy, sorrow, caring, love. A wave washed over her, a wave of affection flooding her systems, causing her to collapse.
Each friend stood to join her. Darcy. Roarke. Lila. Paul. Aimee. Each embraced her like the world had died. No one said a word. Their affection said it all for them.
And in that moment, for the first time in her memory, Emma feared nothing.
* * *
Prompt: Finishing yesterday’s story. I would have finished it yesterday, but I was half asleep at my keyboard.