[10 PM, Jiujiang]
“He is so horrible that I sometimes wonder how he was selected for the Chinese Super League!”
“If you are reading this, I want you to know that I want you to die so that someone who actually deserves that position can replace you”
Those were the messages that Chen Yi, the former striker for Jiangxi Liansheng F.C., a professional chinese football club, was reading on his computer. All this hate was directed towards him, all those people hated him to the core. All those people hated him because he underperformed in an important match in the CSL.All those people hated him because they couldn’t find anyone else to blame but him.The last message was the straw that broke the camel’s back. That message was what led to Chen Yi’s decision of ending his life
We live in a society that almost revolved around appearance, wealth,connections and talent. People could become famous on the internet just for their looks. I was one of those people, but it was neither wealth nor connections that got me onto the path of sports. It was talent. Talent and hardwork.
When I first played internationally, I was full of confidence from all the compliments and support that I had received from my parents and teachers. However, the existence of nasty rumours that were fabricated and spread by people, from both my team and the opposing, began to reach my ears. At first, l brushed them off, thinking that they would slowly go away. Boy was I wrong.
Seeing that they had no effect on me, they made more ridiculous and controversial statements. The demeaning, untrue comments made me slowly lose my confidence. Slowly but surely, they changed me. It was so slow that I did not notice at first, but soon I began to be influenced.
I started thinking that people were lying to me or they said things and didn't really mean it .I began to change my standards.
They commented on my gameplay and my supposed use of “dirty tactics” and “disgusting methods” so I strived for perfection in my sport. I began to have longer and longer training sessions, shorter and shorter free time. At the same time, people began to notice me more, saying, "Wow, you're doing so great! You're so talented." I replied with a brusque thank you every time and left to criticize myself and my actions.
It was synonymous with climbing a staircase where the top kept getting further away, and the ball and chain attached to your ankle got heavier and heavier . But I persevered and kept trying.
Eventually, my aspiration for perfection branched out to more that just what I was doing. It started seeping into my self-image. It was telling me what I was doing wasn't enough and I wasn't enough and that's when I started wanting to fix it.
I started eating less, trying to be happier with myself. I was naturally very thin and I had never had issues with weight before. However, it was like a switch in my brain that all of a sudden said that my lanky frame as not good enough either.
It became all I could think about. My whole day revolved around what I ate, what it was, when I ate, how many calories, every detail. I wanted complete control,, like an unstoppable control freak on the verge of madness. At one point, I had lost control of myself so much that I only ate a slice of bread and some water for the entire day, thinking it was my punishment for my poor performance the other day. I also felt happy about it.Look how in control I am but I wasn't.Now, it’s not like no-one noticed or cared, they did. Its just that I never ate around others and when people did ask about my diet, I lied saying that I had eaten and that I was full. Just to be on the safe side, I even cut my food up into smaller pieces to make it less obvious that I was starving.I even took diet pills to show my mind how determined I was to reach its ideal body size,weight and type.
I was in this downward spiral. I built up fears and rules and my head got foggy and foggier every day. Lack of nourishment prevented me from being able to think clearly and I was making irrational decisions.
I was telling myself this was what I had to do to be happy. Of course it was extremely painful, starving myself. Eventually I decided I would go the entire day eating as close to nothing as possible then eating a bunch at the end to stop the pain followed by erasing it. This whole awful cycle went on for several months.
I don't even remember anything else I was doing in my life. It all just became a blur. The only thing I can truly remember looking back now was just being so tired and cold and sad all the time. I wasn't able to see I was getting thinner and thinner.
Nothing was good enough. My brain didn't let me see how horrible it was getting as it thought I was on the path to its conceived notion of “perfection”. It did not let me see the jail cell that I had created around myself.I tried to escape from the extreme, life threatening habits that I had built around myself but it was almost in vain. My mind was the puppeteer while my body was the puppet , at the mercy of my master’s every command. The deathgrip was too hard to escape from, especially because I was trying to recover on my own.
I kept telling myself that I was on the right path but the voice was still there. “You're a disgrace. Look what you've done. Look what eating has done to you. This isn't what you want. Come back to me. I'm here for you” it kept saying to me, continuing to poison me in its disgusting, seductive tone. I didn't want to listen to it. I kept telling myself everything was fine. I'm doing the right thing, I just have to give it time over and over again, to the point that it was seared onto my mind.
I wanted to believe it so badly but the voice wouldn't go away. It's always there.When I was selected to participate in the SCL, I agreed as that was what I had been starving all those months for. However, the voice inside my mind disagreed with my decision . It told me that I was still useless ,regardless of all the training that I had put in, that I was too skinny to play, to weak and that there were many more people that were more deserving of the position, that I was being pitied upon by everyone else, which was why I hd been given the choice.
However, news of my acceptance had already been announced and I didn't want to let people down by breaking my promise to be there. I wanted to see all my friends after all the excuses I had replied with, that I was too busy, that I had a match, that the captain did not allow me. But I was in such a terrible state. I didn't know what I was going to do. I was panicking. I wasn't ready.
I wasn't back to normal yet but I was approaching so quickly and there wasn't any time to go back. I told myself this was my punishment. I did this to myself. So I put on a mask and pretended to be fine.
I was trying to act like myself so much that I wasn't even me anymore. I became a stranger to who I actually am. Even though I was horribly uncomfortable, my weight was higher than my average from starving myself. My cheeks were swollen from making myself throw up every day for so many months.
My mind was telling me I was a letdown to everyone. My self-image and esteem was at an all-time low. I tried my hardest to push through it. Every person and Yi I met, the voice inside me said you're such a disappointment. You're aren't good enough for them.
I felt like I could feel every single person's discontent through their embrace but I didn't let the mask slip off and I kept truckin' through. I let people take pictures and my signature but I really wish I didn't. It was the lowest I've ever felt in my life and I felt like I was a lie to everyone. It was almost like I wasn't even there. I wasn't present. It was just a daze.During the league, I was so mentally torn to shreds. I wasn't okay. I felt like all the progress I was trying to make to get better had just been ripped down. The voice was louder than ever drowning out the one that was telling me everything was going to be okay. I didn't want anyone to see me.
I felt like I was a disappointment to everyone and didn't deserve to be in front of people. I could feel their judgement in my head. I didn't deserve food. I was unacceptable. I never wanted to leave my room except when it was absolutely necessary. I fell for its hostile and spiteful remarks and began to have suicidal thoughts.They were random thoughts at first, but soon, they began to appear more frequently. It was due to the fact that people saw me for the first time when I was at such an awful point mentally and I felt so much deeper into darkness I've ever been.
At the same time, I felt like I was drowning in my own emotions. Every time I tried to get back to the surface to breathe, another wave would crash down on me and pull me right back under again. When I started having these darker thoughts, I knew I should have been scared of them but I wasn't and that's what scared me. The voice was echoing in my head almost completely muting out the other one. I just wanted to be happy.
However, not a single day passed without me hating myself. I couldn't find a reason to get out of bed. I felt broken and that no one could fix me. Black fog surrounded me everywhere. I went and I couldn't breathe. That was so stretched thin. I was trying so hard to swim but the waves kept coming. Each one stronger than the last.But I kept persevering. I don’t know why. At the time, I felt like I was just a waste of space, water and food. I just did. The voice kept telling me that there wasn’t a point in living anymore, that even my hardcore Yis would not want to see me.
But the other, more rational voice began to push through and it made me hesitate, telling me that the sport I was playing did not require me to be thin, or massive, it just wanted people to have fun, to win through teamwork and coordination. It told me that the losses were not completely my fault. It was a team effort. I began to believe it, not listening to the poisonous mutterings of the other one.That was when the attacks started. More and more people were bullying and harassing me on social media, which I had been long inactive on due to my low self esteem. They called me a disgrace, that I was horrible at the sport. That was enough proof to the poisonous voice in my head. It began to taunt me, unabashed, as it knew it had proof to support its claim. I knew that It was time.
Time to leave this unappreciative place. Time to die.Chen Yi sighed and arose from his chair. He looked around him , as if he was mentally saying goodbye. Then he opened the fire exit door and looked up.
The stairs were twisted in a perfect spiral. Each stair was likely deep walnut in colour but it was hard to tell. The inner edge was painted antique cream, and the paint underneath was perfect; no dirt, flaking or dents. He let his hand fall on to the black iron rail and he placed his weight on the first step. He walked swiftly to the top leaving his shoe prints behind as a record of his last few moments on earth. He opened the balcony door and entered the balcony.
The balcony at the top of his apartment was a concrete ledge. It had square rough edges and bottles of wine and beer that graced you with their presence as soon as you entered the balcony. Chen Yi looked around and reminisced about those moments he had spent here, sitting on a wooden chair, overlooking the picturesque sunset.
At those moments, the clouds were cotton-candy, as though they blushed at the warm touch of the sun that was half into the water of the Yangtze river .However, its reflection in the river made it look complete .Silhouettes of birds flew home across a magenta sky.
Soon, the mauve of the dusky sky would intensify, and in just a while, the biggest star would set, giving way to a thousand others. Sequin-silver stars like the glowing embers of a dying fire would wink down at me, illuminating the atramentous curtain of sky, and then suddenly the clouds would part, and I would find myself looking at a lustrous, argent disc, casting brilliant rays of moonlight onto the dark grounds...
Chen Yi looked at the sunset one final time and after taking a deep breath, he went off the concrete ledge.
His perception of time, that was originally distorted, became even more distorted. Everything slowed down until there was nothing.Nothing but him and the ground below, the ground that seemed to swallow him whole.For a full half-minute he went downward and his throat was constricted so that he could hardly draw a breath.
Everything was a blur, a blur that swirled out of existence. Suspended in the air, he closed his eyes and surrendered himself to the ground below.He knew the pain was coming.