You wake up with a scarf around your neck. Sitting up feels like crawling out of a grave but you do it anyway. Then, all of a sudden, the scarf is strangling you. You need to get it off now. You beg. You struggle. Your eyes bulge. Your nails almost break skin trying. Now you understand the fly in a spider’s web. You cry out.
Maybe, someone hears the sound. You explain that you just can’t get out of this awful scarf. You don’t even know how it got here. You just woke up and-
“Why don’t you just take it off?” they ask
“I’ve tried.” you say.
“It’s just a scarf. How hard could it be?” they insist.
You don’t answer. You don’t call them again.
You wake up with a scarf around your neck. Around your WHOLE body. It’s tying you to the bed. You try to shift your legs but you can’t move. You blink up at the ceiling. You open your mouth but no sound comes out. You just lay there.
“Stop being lazy” they shout.
You just lay there.
You wake up with a scarf around your neck. You’d spent all night wrestling with it. Your arms have scars from where it scratched you. You wear a sweater to hide the proof.
You wake up with a scarf around your neck. It’s so tight, oxygen has to hold its breath and suck in its belly, just to squeeze down your throat. To survive you move through the day like you’re wading through honey. S-l-o-w-l-y. One step at a time. One breath at a time. One task at time.
“You’re taking so long to do such a simple thing.” they complain.
You count the breaths it will take to explain and decide it’s not worth it.
You wake up with a scarf around your neck. It moves like a snake and coils around your stomach. Squeezes the appetite out of you.
“ Why you not eating?” they ask.
“I’m not hungry” you say. The kind of fullness you need cannot be found in food.
You wake up with a scarf around your neck. It crawls up the back of your head and covers your whole face. It makes everything look blue.
“ You look different” they say.
You wake up with a scarf around your neck. Fill your best friend’s shoulder with tears. Become a puddle in your mother’s hands. Today you are blessed to have people that understand. People who see what the scarf can do.
“I know you’re fighting.” they say.
For the first time, you do not feel alone.
You wake up with a scarf around your neck. It hangs loose today. You breathe easy (almost). You laugh. And it doesn’t feel pretend. You’ve learnt the things that makes the scarf heavy. You try to avoid them. To dodge the bullet. To bury the gun so no one can pull the trigger. You’ve learnt the things that make it lighter. You try to do them always. To keep the routine. You know things can get bad again at anytime.
You wake up with a scarf around your neck. Reach up and yank it. Today it is small enough to fit in your fist. Today, you look like you did before the scarf arrived. You feel good. You feel well. You’ve fought and bled and sweat for this.
Every single day
You wake up with a scarf around your neck. You can not take it off. The doctors say it’s attached to your brain. And you understand. That some days you can fit it into your back pocket. And some days it can swallow you whole. Some days you can laugh it off. Some days are too terrible for words. But everyday, you wake up and carry on in spite of. Everyday you keep fighting.
To the ones who have learned to live with the blue scarf. I see you. Keep living.
(The Incredible) Photographer: Jabari David
Concept / Creative Director: Alexandra Stewart