by Jess Glaisher 

It’s there, buzzing through you, you can feel it.

But there’s a block; there’s a wall. Or is it a force? Something heavy pushing down, stronger than you. Sitting on your chest.

But the feeling is there, the need to do. The need to have done. 

And there’s so much, so much that could be. Endless lists, tick-boxes left empty, squares on the page that yearn for a mark of completion. But it’s not up to you, it’s up to them.

And you become irrelevant as the forces fight it out between them. You watch, from the very centre of it, the epicentre of it. The fight is you, and is outside of you. The strain makes you jerk up, flop back down. Your muscles tense, unsure.

It wasn’t always like this, was it? You weren’t always a conflict. You used to run and dance and jump. And you used to sit, and sulk, and cry, and crumple in corners. Maybe it has always been this way.

The forces fight, but you can feel something else. There is no room for panic but it’s elbowing – sticking, pointing – shoving the others aside. And there it is, alongside the forces, not picking a side, just making each fighter more desperate to win.

The sitting force, the incubus, the heaviness of the everyday: it’s winning. The buzzing is there still, you can feel it, just beyond the panic, but it’s weaker, it’s confused. It doesn’t know where to go, what to try next. It wants to battle on; it wants to win the war.

No one wins the war; the end of the war, of the fight between the buzzing and the heaviness, is the end of your energy. The end of their battleground.

Panic burns out, and the buzzing runs out of momentum; the heaviness gives way to sleep. The greatest force that shuts off the fight. Everyone must sleep, surely, even the forces in your mind.

You know that’s a lie. You know they never sleep, all they do is change shape. They morph into darkness and light; into a desperation to wake, and a need to stay in the dream world. One holds your legs so you cannot run; another urges you, tells you that you must move forward, you must escape. And there’s panic again, forcing one eye open, closing it straight away; it doesn’t understand that opening your eyes will end the inertia but will start a new day of battle.

They seem so real, so tangible, at every stage. And no one else sees them. They are your demons, your clouds, your life force. They are you, and your spirit, and its lack.

There’s no other way but to fight with them. Some days you fight on the side of vigour, of that need for vitality. Some days, you wrap yourself in the ponderous blanket of the other side.

You cannot step away, all you can do is exist in the no-one’s land between the factions.

All you can do is continue.

Jess Glaisher | @jglaisher |

Jess is a writer and theatre technician, living and working in London. She is a queer feminist and activist, whose writing focusses on LGBTQ+ character representation, mental health visibility, and the lives of women. She can often be found procrastinating with cake.

Support Dear Damsels

Words are empowering – not only for the women who write them, but those who read them too.

Join our Patreon and help us continue to offer an inclusive and welcoming space for women to come together, share their words, and get a resounding response back.

Sign up to our Patreon