[Danae’s Story] The beginning

Translation from greek to english: georgiaath

Illustration: Ertion Selimi

I wake up. I look next to me, there’s nobody. A light in the horizon shows me that the sun is getting up. The clock on the nightstand says it’s six-thirty. It’s a day like all the rest… But a difficult day, like many others. 

My body is not keen on getting up. My brain is numb, I can hardly think, or give my body the signal to get up. My medication is blurring my mornings. I feel heavy and not willing to do anything. I close my eyes for a couple of minutes, hoping that I will get a hold of myself, but I know that nothing will change. It is my first week being like this and my doctor told me that I need at least three more weeks to get used to it. This disease is like your unexpected visitors; you never know how long they are staying for and if you may have to have them at your place for some time… And for how much time? I wonder and I get sad. 

I didn’t choose it. It found me. It came slowly, sneaky and there was no warning. I was fine, but I didn’t know it then. And suddenly, everything fell on me. A dysthymia at first, a state of “I don’t have the energy today” later and then I had anxiety, panic attacks, bad moods and a feeling that was heavy on my throat. It’s nothing, you will feel better, one would say. At your age I had three times your problems and I was doing fine, is what other people would say. Everyone knows better – at least that’s what they say – but nobody is in my body to understand what I feel, what I think… what I am going through.

“A special doctor? Why visit one of those?”, said my mother when I told her my decision. 

“But our family has provided too much care… we have given you everything and you want to go to a shrink?”

So many stereotypes that are still present among older people.

“He is a doctor, mom… and he is called psychiatrist, not “shrink”. And I will visit him to see if there’s anything wrong whether you like it or not”, I answer with as much persuasion as possible. 


I like silence. It calms my brain.

It’s been two minutes and I feel slightly better. One more try to give the signal. It’s pointless… I grab the phone that is next to me and I send a message to work letting them know that I won’t be able to go in today either. It’s the third day today that I will not go to work. A job that does not satisfy me anymore. It is pointless too…

The sun has appeared and it blinds me. I turn to the other side and fall asleep. I may wake up and get up in the afternoon. Maybe everything will be fine when I wake up. Tomorrow I will go to work, I promise to myself. And my day will be full, I add to this important promise for me. But until then, I’ll sleep…


I have distanced myself from everyone and everything. I took the leave I was entitled to at work, but the phone has not stopped ringing. Friends and colleagues all want to ask what happened, each for their own reason. Some of them do actually care, others just want something to gossip about and the rest of them are just doing the social duty. Like I will remember tomorrow who cared about my absence. 

It’s the second week and I feel better. I do not have any illusions. I know though that it is just a small, pleasant flash; a combination of the basic pill and the tranquilizing one. I have not regained my powers fully yet, but sleeping has become easier. I sit at the yard of my house having a coffee and two rusks with honey for breakfast. Don’t drink too much coffee, it will cause you anxiety, my doctor advised me. Me… that consider coffee the big bang of my universe. Furthermore, you should not drink any alcohol for some time, until you get balanced, and then you may have a couple of beers per week. Okay, I did not care much about that. I am past the age when we would compete with our friends about who could drink more. Unforgettable times…

“How are you my child today?” my mom asks and through her voice I can sense fear, grievance and love all together. 

“Better”, I tell her. “Don’t worry, everything’s fine.”

“Do you want to go for a walk in the town today?”, she asks me with a sigh of relief. 

Wrong move, but I know she wants me to get better; she is my mom after all. My heart starts beating faster even at the thought of being somewhere with a lot of people and slightly away from home. People… No, I do not want that. I want to stay here, along with the silence and the sun’s warmth. 

My mom is still waiting for an answer, and I have to tell her something that will not upset her.

“Not today”, I answer. “But maybe tomorrow, we can have a coffee together somewhere quiet.”

My mom smiles, like she can do anything else anyway.

Don’t stay idle, do stuff… anything that pleases you, the doctor insists on this part, even if I complain about not having any hobbies and my job being the only thing that gave me some pleasure. Work is work and pleasure is pleasure, he says. There must be something you can do to kill some time. Get a book. I laugh since I never liked reading. See your friends and have some fun; that’s his last try to move me. Find someone to share your life. Maybe not right now, but in some time when you will feel better. I explain to him that it’s been a while since I have forgotten all about the sport of flirting and we laugh when we talk about the joke about cycling.

I laugh by myself thinking about yesterday’s session while I am looking at my mom’s garden. The weather has been nice this year and everything has bloomed. I eat my second rusk and I find myself getting lost in thoughts again. Do something, my doctor is saying in my mind and I take a decision. To get up and walk in the garden. There, where I used to dig and help my parents when I was younger to plant the oak tree, the jasmine… There, where I used to run and get dirty due to the rain and the mud, while my mom would shout at me to get in the house because I would get cold. 

I go to the storage room and I get a hat and a pair of gloves. Next to the garden, my mom has brought some tomato and herb roots. I get the shovel and I begin. Is there anything better than working on the land? It always appreciates your effort and bears fruit. And the fruit nurtures your family… is there a fairest job?


A month’s gone by. I’m not feeling perfect, but I am going towards that direction.

I can finally wake up normally. 

I can see people even though I still have some difficulty with that.

I can finally tell you my name.

My name is Danae and I am twenty-six years old. You may not know me, but I exist amongst you, among many people who have been through some kind of mental health issue. I am not the only one and we are definitely more than you can imagine. We live with you, free of taboos and fears. We fight daily with a monster inside our head, which we have tamed for now. Do not be scared of us, we are not dangerous. And do not keep distances, it is not good for either of us. Listen to us free of judgment and stereotypes. We definitely have something to tell you and there is definitely something for you to learn. 

I have returned to my job but without giving it my 100 percent. I have started to understand the situations that brought me to this point. Can I change them? No, but I can learn to handle them differently. Will I let myself get back to that point? No, I will fight for me and for what I love. My friends, my sisters and brothers that I chose are here and they support me in this. My family is present to whatever is happening and I am one of the many people who have gone through a different path. Was this all my fault? Maybe… I let it happen, but it won’t happen again. Having this in mind, I move on. Whatever will be, will be.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *