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mind is a prison // alec benjamin
"sometimes i think too much, yeah i get so caught up, im always stuck in my head"


We all have a voice in our heads. You know the one I'm talking about. The one that tells you you're not good enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough, not thin enough. The one that keeps you up at night, forcing you to revisit every cringe-worthy thing you did that day, that week, that year. The one you would do anything, give anything to rid yourself of.

Each and every one of us has been privy to this pestering voice at one point or another. Only difference is, some know how to harness it, how to keep it at bay, how to tell it to shut the hell up.

I, unfortunately, do not.

Believe me, I've tried. Tried countless, grueling therapy sessions. Tried drinking myself into a stupor. Tried a variety of drugs. I've even tried listening to screamo music with the volume turned all the way up.

Here's the problem. Once you give this voice enough attention, it's pretty much impossible to get rid of. Feed the monster and the monster shall grow. Soon, it's all you hear.

The worst thing about this voice is the way it makes you doubt everything—not only yourself, but everyone else. You'll meet eyes with a stranger across a crowded room and draw up the worst possible conclusion. Why is this person staring at me? Do they think I'm weird? I'm weird, aren't I? Do they hate me? Of course, they hate me! Oh god, oh god, oh god.

What should have been a brief, inconsequential encounter turns you into a heart-thumping, palm-sweating, hyperventilating mess.

Deep down, you know this stranger has no ill intent. They were probably looking at you because they thought your outfit was cute. Perhaps you remind them of someone they know. Maybe they were glancing around the room, taking everything in and just so happened to look over at you at the exact time you looked over at them.

Still, despite your best efforts, the voice in your head makes any logical reasoning impossible. Often times, this voice gains too much traction, becomes too loud. Today, for instance.

When I woke up this morning, tucked away in the Malibu rehabilitation and treatment center I'd called home the last six months, I felt okay. And okay is monumental for me. The day was off to a good start.

I never expected I'd end up here. Fully clothed, submerged in the Atlantic Ocean, hiding from my welcome party.

After a long morning of travel, all I wanted was to arrive at my uncle's quiet Southampton's estate in one piece. Draw a bath, finish what was left of the chocolate cake I'd purchased at the airport terminal, relax.

Instead, I was thrust into my worst nightmare; a surprise party. A crescendo of cheering and clapping, confetti flying haphazardly in every direction, hundreds of beaming faces (most of which were not familiar in the slightest) watching me in anticipation.

Anticipation of what, I'm not sure. Had they expected me to be thrilled? To feel honored? To put a hand over my heart, let my mouth gape in awe, gasp something along the lines of, "What an unexpected surprise!"

I couldn't do any of that. All I could do was run. Past tightly packed bodies, through open patio doors, across the winding garden, down the wooden pathway leading onto the beach. As fast as my legs would take me. I didn't stop, couldn't stop, until I'd dived headfirst into the ocean.

Now here I am. Cold, and wet, and cursing my faulty decision-making skills. Kicking myself up off the ocean floor, I break through the surface and suck in some much-needed oxygen.

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