When I laugh, the ‘cloud’ does not disappear

This story has a trigger warning

A beautifully written piece about Lisa, by LI YIXI who joined Sheffield Flourish on her student placement.

When I laugh, the ‘cloud’ does not disappear

The first time I meet Lisa is in the online meeting. She introduced herself and told me that her job in Sheffield Flourish involves managing the volunteers. She asked me “how was your weekend?” At the moment, I feel more relaxed because of her friendliness and smile. Since the online meeting, I have met her in person. She looks very cool, with a buzz cut, beautiful tattoo’s on her arms, and a jade and circle earring that looks like it is embedded in the skin. Most of time when I come to the office, I can hear her laughing and making jokes with others, which makes me calm. I once worked with her in the arts group. She is a great coordinator who remembers almost all the members’ names in the group and chats with them like an old friend. I felt she enjoys the conversation and the work.

There was one day when I was thinking about a difficult situation I had encountered the week before. The whole morning, I was thinking how do I tell my manager about the issue I was facing. I felt like I needed some help. But then I hear “Why are you so silent and just sitting in the corner?”. It was Lisa asking me. I cannot remember my reply but I felt her empathy. We then went to the meeting room to discuss the issue. When we were in the meeting room talking about my problems of the job, the first thing she said was “are you okay?” before knowing all the details. She is so considerate and insightful to notice other people’s emotions. The truth is I felt emotional but how did she know. Maybe, just like she said in the interview, from her “six sense”.

Later in the meeting we discussed another issue I was facing, no interviewees for my article. “If you want, I can tell my story, I have mental health experience.” When Lisa said it, I felt her confidence, calmness and straightforward nature. I wonder what difficulties she has faced.

I drafted a questionnaire beforehand to make the interview goes smoothly. However, during the interview, there were several times I could not ask any questions because Lisa’s trauma is like a giant wolf that can swallow the full moon, just leaving the horribly silent and dark land. She said, “I met the person on the street who abused me when I was a child, I just ran away, all the shopping in my hand falling down on the ground.” Her eyes were red when she said the words. She left her motherland for another country to start her new life when she grew up, and after a long time, she returned to her hometown. However, the misfortune went down again. All of the efforts were in vain when the cruel man appeared again. Lisa rolled up her long sleeves, the marks of cutting like the sharp fish bones, conspicuous and clear on her beautiful arms with tattoos. Suddenly, my brain was empty; the pains, the marks were like a cold wind lunging into my heart. I cannot ask for any details of her pain. I cannot……The clock seemed to stop, the sunshine sprinkled in the room without any temperature, and my hands were still typing, but the laptop did not record anything. I stiffly scanned the questions on the screen and asked, “Could you please give some suggestions to people who found their friends or families who are experiencing mental health problems?How to help them?” “Sorry, what is the question?” She read the questions on my screen and tried to answer them. Even though I still can see she attempted to control her emotion, her tears. “To believe in the person, trust them they can do that,” Lisa said sincerely.

At the end of this day, when I left the office where it is quiet, I thought Lisa had come back home. However, she just sat in the corner without any word.

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