Let me tell you how it feels like. It feels like having a terrible chronic cough and cold, a flu perhaps. But unlike any usual flu, this never leaves for days, or weeks, or months. It is far worse than feeling under the weather. Because weather changes. This is constant.
It feels like having a dreadful cough, one which keeps you stuck in bed all day but keeps you up all night. It feels like torture. Like experiencing the worst cough you could ever have. It keeps jabbing your chest repeatedly, like there’s this monster inside of you clawing its way out of your lungs, forcing to rip open those fragile ribs. It thrives in your suffering, feeds in your pain. And it pangs. Aching unceasingly. It slowly radiates outward from your core, creeps through your limbs, penetrates your frail bones and joints, consumes you, until it becomes all you are: A living ache.
It always feels like a struggle to breathe, always gasping for air as your nostrils keep being obstructed, nose stuffed by this cold. It feels like drowning and never noticing how long you’ve been underwater, discerning if you were ever really up there at the surface at all; doubting if your own buoyancy isn’t enough to keep you afloat. Until you just settle underneath because you are already too exhausted of wrestling with the current which is ten times stronger than you; until you just settle for finding comfort in holding your breath.
It feels like the need to call in sick from work every day, but goes to work anyway because you already consumed all your allotted days of leave for the same reason. And you just wouldn’t want to be a burden to anyone in any way anymore. “I’ll be fine. This will just go away soon enough.”, you told your colleague. No it won’t. Because it never does. You lied. You lied just to avoid lengthy explanations and tedious interrogations. Because how can you explain what you don’t fully understand either. So, you have to live in this world of make-believe that everything is under control; pretend that you do not need a box of tissue, or a dose of decongestant, or just more hours, days, or weeks of rest. Because you still have to keep your composure, while suppressing the need to sneeze or blow your nose in front of them.
I’ll be fine. This too shall pass, you told yourself countless times. You lied. Once again.
Hydrate yourself, they said. So I kept drinking more than two litres of water a day. But this water never retained in me. It keeps finding its way out, like a leak from an old and overused faucet.
Perhaps, My tear ducts need fixing.
Take your cough syrup, they said. So I religiously followed my prescription. Took a spoonful dose every six hours for seven days. But it keeps getting back. So, I take beer instead. Because unlike a spoonful of cough syrup, I can take this by the bucket. This beer, like my cough syrup, provides an easy yet time bounded escape, gives me ample hours of solace. Both are bitter, both taste awful. Both, sadly, are just attempting to mask the symptoms of even larger complications.
Let me tell you how it feels like:
And I am down to my last few sips of my sixth bottle of beer. And I just gulped the last dose of my cough syrup. And everything tastes bitter.
Because at this point, I do not just need a temporary relief.
I badly need a cure.