Human Enough as You Are
What happens when humans start feeling the pressure of living up to their reputation that's spread across the galaxy?
A combination of mental health-related ideas from a few different comments that have been left on here, ao3, and youtube.
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When Chek found the team’s resident human, he seemed… unwell. She’d seen the human do strange breathing techniques before bed or during infrequent quiet moments at their shared station.
But this was different. She couldn’t exactly say why, but it was very different in a way that she could just feel. The way he was breathing was not comforting. Something was wrong.
“Human Dave? Have… have you been here the whole time?” Chek didn’t add that she and the others had been looking for him for the past 30 mentiks, and had been growing increasingly annoyed and worried as time went on. Something told her that it would be counterintuitive of whatever was going on right now.
Dave, who had been staring at her blankly ever since she’d come around the corner into the kitchen, closed his eyes and nodded silently. Chek knew that was a common affirmative gesture humans used, but her worry only grew. Human Dave normally was a very vocal and upbeat character on the team. His silence didn't’ sit well with her now.
Dave gave her no further information, just sat on the floor, propped up against the wall, breathing in slowly through his nose and then even slower out his mouth. Unsure of what to do, and not wanting to just keep standing awkwardly there in the silence, she eventually sat adjacent to him on the floor. Human Dave kept breathing.
Whatever was going on, Chek realized she wasn’t sure what proper conduct she should follow. What were the rules of etiquette when your team’s human was found hiding alone and on the verge of tears?
But how to do that? Well, Check thought, what better way to help a human than to do it in the most human way possible: jump in head-first and hope for the best.
As inconspicuously as she could, Chek sent a message to the rest of the team to let them know she’d found Dave and would return as soon as they could. She immediately silenced her communicator after that, knowing her team members would want more information. They’d get it in time. Her main priority right now was helping Dave get through… whatever was going on right now.
The way Human Dave stared at her, she almost began wondering how best to back-pedal out of this. She knew humans were typically very prideful of their strength and prowess. Had she over-stepped by insinuating that he was weak and even needed her help?
“I can tell something is wrong, but I don’t know what. Dave, how can I best lend aid to you now?”
Dave inhaled sharply in a way that sounded like it moved a lot of mucus around in his nasal cavity. It wasn’t the most pleasant sound, but Chek didn’t really have much time to think about that because she realized Dave’s eyes were leaking.
“Oh no, are you hurt?” Chek was back on her six legs in an instant. “Are your eyes injured? Is that why you’ve been hiding?!” That would make sense, she thought to herself, if something was wrong with his eyes and he couldn’t see, bunkering down in a safe, defensible position was a smart move. She moved forward to carefully and as comfortingly as she could manage, grab his hand. “I can get you to the med bay. I can guide you there if you need me. Or maybe I should go there and bring… someone who… can…”
“I’m fine, Chek, I’m fine,” Dave finally chuckled, though the grin in his voice was quickly fading again. The grin on his face melted away soon after. “Actually, no. I’m not.”
Chek trailed off as she realized, to her great confusion, that Human Dave was now laughing. Well, not quite laughing. It started small and didn’t grow much, nowhere close to his usual loud and infectious laugh, but there it was something.
“Human Dave?” Chek looked over the human in question, now completely lost. Here she’d been only cycles ago thinking she was finally understanding humans and their quirks. She apparently didn’t know as much as she thought she did.
Chek blinked a few of her eyes in confusion. “Not what?”
Chek stared at him.
Dave swallowed and it looked like his chest visibly tightened. After a short moment, he began breathing deeply again in that strange way she’d found him doing earlier.
It finally dawned on her. His breathing. He’s trying to calm down. But unlike before, he’s not calming down for bed or meditating, he’s trying to calm down from something. But what? She looked around at the kitchen. There was nothing here to scare him. There were no attackers or visible danger. What had him so stressed and riled?
“You’re not what?” Chek inquired, her worry for her teammate leaked into her voice. “Please Dave, help me understand. What’s going on?”
The pattern of Dave’s breathing broke. His deep breaths became more shallow and rapid. It was more like he was trying to choke down air. His exhales were mixed with his voice in desperate cries like he was in pain.
“I’m not… I’m not…”
Chek watched, frozen, as Dave balled up his fist and slammed them on the floor next to him. He choked on his breaths half a moment more until he finally was able to gasp another mouthful and began trying to regulate his deep breathing technique again. Chek said nothing. What could she say? She was completely at a loss.
Finally, Dave was able to speak again, though it was quiet and full of pauses as if he was looking for the right words to say.
“I’m… I… feel like I’m a failure. I’m… I’m not… humans are supposed to be so strong and fearless and smart and great and all. And you… when you guys requested a human you… you probably thought you were… getting a good one… like all the stories. I… I’m trying, but I feel like… you could have gotten any human assigned, but instead… and there are so many who could have been here instead. They’d probably do so much better. Be so much braver. I feel like… I’m lying to everyone just by being here… and that you guys just haven’t realized it yet…”
Dave continued talking for a while more. Chek could only understand bits and phrases here and there after a while, but she let him talk on for as long as he needed. He needed to talk. He needed to feel heard. And she needed to process what she heard.
Dave felt afraid. Not only of some of the dangers they had to face in their jobs on the team but also afraid of his team rejecting him. Or rather, afraid that he wasn’t living up to his team’s ideals of humans and that would lead to them rejecting him. It sounded like it had been eating away at him in his mind for some time.
How had she not seen that? How had no one seen that? Human Dave had joined their team decacycles ago. They’d been so excited to have a human on the team and when Dave showed up, his integration with the team seemed so smooth and fine. Sure there’d been odd moments now and again. He’d freeze momentarily before a task, but that was expected with anyone starting a new role. He was friendly and fun, but there’d be times when it seemed like he was zoning out, or that he was physically there, but his mind was partecs away. There’d likely been numerous things that could have been signs of what was really bothering Dave that no one had noticed. After all, humans were known to be a bit weird now and again, so no one probably shook a whisker when Dave was showing signs that something wasn’t quite right. Everyone assumed he was fine. And Dave was breaking under the pressure of making sure everyone kept assuming that.
It was quiet again in the kitchen. Dave’s eyes were pointed directly at his feet. They were still leaking slowly, but if he wasn’t worried about it, then Chek figured it wasn’t something she needed to get a medic for. Instead, she sat down next to Dave. Even though the human, when standing, was much taller than her, while they were both sitting, they were relatively on the same level.
Dave’s deep breathing was more regular now. More like how it normally was, but still not quite right. She breathed along with him for a while. Human lungs take in much more air than Kreechen lungs, but she did her best to try to match him.
After a moment, she paused and smiled. “I remember the cycle you arrived. We’d all been so excited to have a human on the team.” She looked over at him, but he still had his eyes locked on his feet. She continued.
“We’d all done some research in preparation. We knew humans came in lots of shapes, sizes, styles, and temperaments. We wanted to make a good first impression, so we made a bunch of foods we’d read were popular on Earth.”
Dave, while still not looking up, did appear to have the faintest hint of a smile on his lips. He remembered that day too.
“We tried to get as many ingredients as we could that were safe,” Chek continued, “and looked up as many replacement or alternatives as we could that we thought made sense in the recipes.” The grin on Chek’s face slipped almost comically into an overexaggerated scowl. “Oh my stars, I can’t remember what went wrong, but I do remember the smell. Augh! It took cycles to get rid of it! It was terrible!”
Dave chuckled and shook his head slightly. “It tasted even worse.”
They both chuckled for a moment. It wasn’t at Dave’s normal energetic and vibrant levels, but it was something. Even after they both settled back into silence, Chek could feel that something was different now. Better somehow.
Chek sighed and thought of how to continue. She could tell that her next words would be important and needed to be selected carefully.
“It was such a relief that despite our less than perfect efforts, you seemed to think no less of us. Flarg, you even ate most of that dish!”
Dave interrupted with a sound that was a mix between a hum and a whine. He glanced at Chek then back to his feet, then back again. “Actually,” he began, then stopped. His mouth would open for a moment, but no sound came out. Finally, he sighed and closed his eyes. “If I’m totally honest with you, I only ate like three tiny bites. I threw most of it away when no one was looking.”
Then burst into laughter.
“By the stars!” she nearly howled. Her laughter nearly shook her tiny body, but she couldn’t stop it. From the looks of it, it was spreading a bit to the human at her side who was at first startled, then loosened up enough to laugh along.
“You threw it… you threw it… away!” Chek managed to get out between laughs. “Oh gilded moon plates, that explains so much! Ohhhh, okay. Let me breathe a bit. Wow. Oh, we were all worried we’d sentenced you to the medical ward for your first few cycles with us! Then we figured you’d managed to stomach it because you’re human.” Chek tried to catch her breath as she straightened a few errant hairs.
“Ohhhh, stars, okay. Anyway. As I was saying,” she looked at Dave who this time met and kept her gaze. “We’d been so worried about making a good first impression. We wanted to stand up to all the expectations you probably had of us. We felt terrible when that didn’t go as planned, and apparently, it was worse than we thought…
“But regardless of that, you were so kind. You not only got right to work on the team, you went right ahead with befriending and bonding with us. You shared yourself with us and were genuinely interested in our lives and who each of us were, not just what skills or roles we fulfilled. You were like some kind of glue that we didn’t even know we needed. Before you came, we were a team, but ever since you arrived we’ve been more. We’ve been like a family.”
Chek rested a small hand on Dave’s arm. She knew that physical touch was an important and powerful communication tool for many humans and that Dave was no exception. “This team wouldn’t be the same if we didn’t have you. Whatever you need, we’ve got your back covered, just like you always cover ours.”
Dave said nothing and broke eye contact, but didn’t turn away. Chek waited for him to speak, but after a few moments, it didn’t seem like he was going to just yet.
Chek looked down at her feet. She felt a bit of frustration bubble up in her core. She was certainly no expert in Kreechen mental health, let alone mental health for humans, but for just this one moment, she wished she could call upon all the expertise she needed to know what to help. But she couldn’t, so she’d have to settle with what little she could do and hope it was enough.
“I don’t know what all you’re going through, Dave,” she started, “but you should know that this team loves you. We could have been assigned any number of humans, and who knows how any of them would have fit with us? No idea. But the thing is, you were the one that showed up to eat our terrible attempt at making human food. You’re our human. You, and all the things that, good, bad, or neutral, make you you.”
Chek paused to wait for Dave to respond. But he didn’t. She watched his face. She considered herself pretty adept at reading human facial emotions by now, but she had a hard time pinning down what Dave was feeling. If anything, it looked like several emotions were at war across his features.
Without knowing completely what she was going to say, she opened her mouth.
She barely finished the sentence before she broke into laughter. To her immense relief, Dave laughed too. When Dave’s stomach made a strange growling noise, they both laughed even harder.
“It’s okay to not always be running at your 100% you know. No one on this team is, and no one expects it of you. Whatever you imagine you’re supposed to be, or what you think we expected you to be, it doesn’t matter. Because, well, you’re you instead! You’re our human.” She leaned in with a mock-serious look, “And you better be nice to our human, or well, or else we’re gonna have problems!”
“If I’m understanding that right,” Chek started after she settled down a bit again, “you’re pretty hungry?”
Dave chuckled and nodded. “Yeah, guess so. I… I guess I’ve been so upset lately, I kind of forgot to eat.”
***** ***** *****
Chek “tsk" 'd. Leave it to a human to even have the ability to forget to eat. She looked around the room. “Well, we’re in the kitchen now. Anything you want while we’re here?”
Dave’s eyes scanned the area with a hum. A smile broke across his face slowly. “You know, since you brought up that meal you all made me my first day, I think I’m kind of in the mood for some stroganoff.”
Chek’s face scrunched up slightly. “Is that how that dish is pronounced?” Dave nodded with a smile. Chek got up and walked further into the kitchen with Dave following. “Do we even have ingredients to make it now? I don’t really want a repeat of… last time.”
“Just about.” Dave opened the walk-in cooler where various food supplies for each species on the team were stored in separate compartments. “And the ones we don’t, I know the proper substitutions.”
Chek wasn’t 100% convinced, but at this point, the fact that Dave was up and about and seemed to be doing much better than when she found him, she wasn’t going to stop him now.
While she waited for the human to gather the ingredients he needed, she checked her comm device and saw she’d missed several messages after she’d relayed that she’d found Dave. Everyone wanted to know where he was and what was going on.
“Hey Dave,” Chek looked up as the human in question came out of the cooler with his hands full, “the rest of the team’s been worried about you. I told them I found you and you’re okay, but before I tell them where we are, do you feel up to having company right now?”
Dave paused and considered her for a moment. He opened his mouth and for a moment didn’t say anything, but finally nodded. “Yeah, I think so. I think I’m good now, or I will be.” He set his ingredients on the countertop and took another deep breath. “Besides, cooking really helps me calm down, and” he laughed, sounding more and more like his old cheerful self, “if they come, maybe I can teach everyone how to make stroganoff without having to wear a gas mask by the end!”
Chek sent a response to the rest of the team. Their human was going to be okay, but for now, needed a bit extra love and support. Thankfully, that was something the rest of the team could do much easier than they could cook human food.
Sometimes feel like what we're doing or who we are isn't enough. This was in some ways therapeutic for me to write because it's something I feel sometimes too. We all have moments like Dave where we need to breathe deeply and slowly and be reminded, or remind ourselves that we are enough. There is no one "right" way to human. There is no one "right" level of energy, effort, or perfection that we need to be at to human.
I love you, you funky and precious human. You're doing great
To whoever is reading this right now and needs to hear this: You are enough. Right now. Take a deep breath and breathe out slowly. Do it as many times as you need and remind yourself that each day is different, and so are you.
Don't forget to be a Chek for yourself when you're being a Dave.
witchy ways to help with depression!
depression and mental illnesses can be hard to deal with, i hope that what i've shared can help!
1. if you don't have enough energy to get out of bed, research witchcraft and write it down! it doesn't have to be on paper, your notes work just as well. :)
2. charge your drink! put your water (or whatever your drinking) under the sun or moon light. you can also leave certain crystals or draw a sigil on the glass/cap.
3. light candles/incense. cleanse your room of any negative energies.
4. probably on literally any 'ways to fight depression' but open your curtains! open the windows and let the breeze take away the negative energy.
5. connect with nature and go for a walk! it could just be in your backyard but please be grateful of how pretty nature is. :D
6. (my personal favorite) open your door, listen to loud angry music (optional), and yell "GET OUT > :<". maybe light some candles, sweep or vacuum the floor while keeping in mind what you want to banish.
7. keep crystals on your nightstand/under your pillow. (amethyst works well for good sleep!)
8. if you have access to herbs and a little bag/container, keep some rosemary in your pocket! it helps with good health, purification, cleansing, and preventing nightmares :)
9. use knot magic while tying your shoes, a bow, or headbands!
10. if your feeling a little bit better today, make a sigil, do a simple protection spell, or meditate.
11. put a protection sigil on your door to ward off evil and bad energies!
12. for a simple manifestation, write an affirmation on a bay leaf and burn it.
13. if you remember your dreams, start a dream journal! even if you only recall the slightest details, its still good to write it down.
14. if your up to it, connect yourself with the elements every day. [some examples: walk barefoot: earth, take a bath/shower: water, light a candle: fire, singing: air]
again, i hope these will help you through your days! sometimes i feel down too and struggle with even getting out of bed. though i don't know you i hope you get through your struggles! please make sure to take time to yourself, drink water, eat some ramen, maybe even sleep a little earlier than usual. have a good day :)