October 22, 2023

Graphic by Vy Truong

Please, make it stop.

I’m begging you, it’s going to drive me crazy.

My ears… crackling and popping like a firecracker,

Who is Ammu now? Am I you?
Or am I here to complement your thoughts?

The voice of inner monologue, juxtaposed with my psyche and my lobes, all at once…

Ammu, what does silence sound like?

8:32 a.m., a dim-lit room, a window facing a brick wall, a class at noon, a soft comforter, a vent blowing air, a ceiling fan, and my body sinking into this bed. My brain flickers like a firefly without any fire left, as I remind myself…

“Look, I know you don’t want to, but we need to go to class”

Bed, rest, sleep, snooze, shut eye… just five more minutes!

11:47 a.m., I’m in a complete daze, spinning out…

staring at my phone … only 13 minutes … to get to class.

I have 13 minutes to get to class.

Utter dread prickles my goosebumps as fear ruffles me to jump awake.

With newfound energy from the shock of time rinsing out, I jump out of bed-and-brush-my-teeth-and-wash-my-face-and-use-the-restroom-in-about-two-minutes-and-run-out-of-my-apartment…

My version of silence is sound. Reaching satisfaction and stimulation to hear noises like the splattering of rain drops to the foggy moans of vents. It's all commonplace that blends frequency into the background. Silence is unrecognizable to my ears and to my brain. While static snares away at my eardrums, my mind is running at a million miles a second – thinking about everything at once, grabbing onto attributes of things, simultaneously forgetting and remembering, echoing my thoughts to hear my voice…

My chest, huffing, and my breaths, puffing, I run at the tug of my heartstrings, and the static garbles my vision as I nearly faint, punching the ground with every step…

Ammu, it feels like you’re calling for help …
like you wish to shriek and cry
but the tears won’t come out…

During class, it felt like TV static. Tuning the frequency between convulsions and sharp pains, I wanted it to subside.

I was a soulless, inanimate being – a vessel that carried the name, “Ammu”..

My ears kept ringing, and it wouldn’t stop. Teary-eyed, clamping teeth… I couldn’t bear this pounding in my head, this swiveling around the orbit of my body; this ringing won’t stop.

Please, just stop! Go back to the way it was!

It was blistering hot on the yellow brick road.
Sweat was dripping down my forehead and I was running on fumes in my stomach.
I only had to survive one more class before finding peace.
Airpods in, I turned my music up to eight, soothingly murmuring,

“This … this … this is why they left you here …”

“They thought you were a good [gal] ... 

so did I, so did I’ (Good Guy, Two Hearts and No Brain, Kane Strang)”

Mumbling under my breath, softly, “so did I, so did I… so did I… so did I,”
I was an emitter of this sorrow,
surrounded by people walking with me and against me,

I could only imagine the sensation of crying.

The strums of the guitar, the medley of the tune … this song was the epitome of non-feeling, of all my feelings at once, the fear of abandonment, the static when my words don’t make sense to the ears of another, and the abject horror of being misunderstood.

Ammu, I still love you.. even if you’re not-here-yet,
I’ll take care of you when you do arrive.

ADHD and Autism, the tinnitus monsters under my ears —  they control me all at once... I couldn’t help listening to music chronically for the past five years to ignore myself. I love the cacophony of the world;  each pluck, each clap, and each human has unique resonances that resonate in my ears, spiraling into patterns for my brain’s quench for processing.

It’s more fun to distract myself than to face a symphony. But the resonances of silence are scratching the inside my ears, picking away at a scab that won’t heal.

These ears didn’t come with an extended warranty, the damage is irreplaceable. 

Rocks crunching, keys clicking, shoes tapping, and water flowing... Nature has its own melody that turns the static into background noise. But the music produced by the visionaries of Hip-Hop, Rap, indie, alt-rock… it all became so much more … every polysyllabic tone dotted like icing from a ziplock bag.

When no one else wanted to be around me, music was always there for me, 
no matter the occasion...

Oh Ammu… I’m so glad you enjoy sound.
Why is there a connection between your brain and ears?

Graphic by Vy Truong

“Lil Uzi Vert. Flooded The Face. I could go bar for bar. That song… it scratches my brain wrinkles!”

Spacey melodies, high-pitch harmonizing, it was too perfect for my neurons.

I could never experience any more sound euphoria than listening to the cadence that blesses my ears.

Intersecting in the right space, at the right time…

July, around 9:25 p.m., fabric seats, cracked windshield, cool conditioned breeze,

I was anxious, all of my energy was spent to maintain “vibes” in front of my new best friend.

But when I hear the tunes of music, I extinguish anguish in my brain and find an outlet for happiness …

In the midst of my thoughts, they interrupted me with their words that stuck with me:

“Ammu, you should try to be yourself more, I feel like you should express it more, it makes you such an interesting person”

I should try to be myself… more? Where do I even start, it always feels gray and patchy to surmount to half the things I’ve experienced and…

I saw an ambulance come by and someone I knew entered the ambulance on a stretcher, and I started sobbing.

I didn’t think it was even possible for me to sob a monsoon after a five year drought of tears.

Tears flowed from my irises uncontrollably, and my ears gave out to a high pitch dog-whistle as I tried to make sense of what happened.

Please, stop it… stop it, stop it, stop it...
I'm broken, a shell of my former self, and I'll never find peace…

What if it was me on the stretcher? Why am I back in this place again? Why do these ears swell and pulsate? I just want to tune it all out and forget it all...

I’m trying,
I do want to be myself.
I hate being vulnerable.
The unknown unknowns keep me in constant fear.
It’s hard to let your guard down
if the person that’s behind the veneer is shattered.
I didn’t want to be coddled,

I just wanted to feel like myself.

“God, I feel like such a mess, I’m so sorry you have to —”

“Please don’t apologize, Ammu,

it’s not your fault

you’re doing amazing,

just the way you are”

The pitch and consoling tone of their voice gave me relief within my brain,
but it was not enough to match the velocity of thoughts hurled at my psyche.

They were there for me on a night where I couldn’t make sense of myself, one where my ego is the antithesis; the lack of any self restraint.

And then it became all so clear for me.

Ammu, I learned so much about myself.
Why did you feel like Static?

Static is the equilibrium that codes for the constant streams of data that plug my brain into its unconventional methods of processing and the auditory flows of information into my ears.

Static is a psychological exchange with audio-sensory input — the interference of audio from the frequency and interruptions of flows from my ears to brain.

It’s not so bad now, I’ve gotten better, and after all, you may just need to tune and find the right frequency..

I understand now.
I hope you find solitude within Static.

Love you lots, and see you soon,

Ammu (as of now)

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