When somebody asks the question, ‘what would be your favourite superpower?’, I always say that I’d love to be able to teleport myself to anywhere in the world. Unsurprisingly, I can’t do this, and indeed my superpower is something quite different. Instead, I have this amazing ability to be hyperaware of my surroundings. My hearing is impeccable – I could hear a tap being switched on from the other side of a house, or a person coughing in a room next door. I can even hear my own heartbeat, if I’m in full superhero mode.
Like fictitious supernatural characters, I didn’t want the rest of the world to know about my ‘odd’ behaviour, and so a long time ago I pretended to blend in and act ‘normal’. But for me, hiding my superpowers only strengthens them…and not in a good way. Society likes to call it ‘anxiety’, but I hate that word; and I certainly wouldn’t describe myself as ‘anxious’. It all started to make me ill.
When I first got my superpowers, I was a young teenager. It wasn’t quite like Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and I sadly couldn’t change my outfit by clicking my fingers. Instead, my body started to quake and move by itself, the hyperawareness always kicked in at night, and little did I know then that this was the energy building up inside me. Next, my lungs started to do strange things – I became aware of my automatic breathing (like when you think about blinking and suddenly can’t do it properly). I would go through phases of feeling like I couldn’t breathe at all. Then I couldn’t swallow. It was a rough transition. My hair thinned, and I started to have scary thoughts.
Another odd thing happened; I began to see the same number everywhere. For years and years, I’ve been seeing this number, and I would see the same precise time on the clock every single day. Right down to the minute. This used to unsettle me, until I grew to like the number. My mind just chose it, and my body seemed to know when that time was approaching, so I would just glance and there it would be. I’m probably not seeing it anymore than all the other digits, but my mind decided to remember it and make it my lucky number.
How did I come to have these superpowers? Like so many other people, I evolved this way. My body is designed to cope with scary things, but in reality, I don’t encounter a lot of scary things in my daily life. I’m incredibly grateful for this. But it leaves a clever mechanism of my body with nothing to do…so sometimes, and often all of the time, it malfunctions and tells me that I’m scared, or that there’s danger around – when really there isn’t. You might know this as fight or flight mode.
If I’m feeling particularly vulnerable, my superpowers can turn on me and convince me that there’s real danger. I might think I’m ill (society calls me a hypochondriac), or I might become scared of the knives in my kitchen (society tells me I’m depressed). I hear so much that I can’t stand the sound of people eating (it’s got a name too, misophonia). For others like me, I know that their superpower means they feel the need to hide. They might not even be able to step outside their front door (society calls this agoraphobia). Society feels the need to label everything, because they don’t believe in superheroes.
What have I done to call myself a superhero? I mean, I could just as easily feel like a villain. So called ‘mental health’ can do that sometimes – it can make you do bad things or speak without thinking, and you might perceive yourself as a bad person; even though you’re not. Well, I’m a hero because I’ve become really good at harnessing all this energy. I understand how to control it, and I don’t mean by stifling it. I can talk to my friends about this too – those who are experiencing similar feelings. We help each other.
We’re not all the same though – there are all kinds of superpowers. You just might not realise it’s a superpower until you learn to embrace it. The movie hero with super strength always begins by breaking things, feeling different and believing he’ll never get better. But that’s just how his body works – and when he understands this, he can use his powers for great things. I use mine to be creative, and to help my friends. My superpower even found me my best friend.
Maybe just consider that instead of there being something wrong with you, there might be something right with you. Don’t underestimate your superpowers, whatever they may be.
So I’ll leave you with my favourite song right now. My brother maybe doesn’t know it, but what he wrote meant something pretty significant to me. Listen to it here.