Recently I have noticed that more and more people are talking about mental health and trying to eradicate the stigma that surrounds emotional and psychological illnesses. These incredibly brave human beings have begun the dialogue on something that many others are still so indifferent about.
Being a part of the percentage of the world that do suffer from mental illnesses, I feel touched each and every time I see someone make an effort to try and understand what it is I (and so many others) am going through. However, there will always be those who cannot comprehend that emotional and psychological pain equal, and sometimes even transcend, the pain of physical illness.
"Yeah, but were you grabbed by your shirt and pushed against a wall? No? Well, then you still had a better day than him."
This was a comment that was made by someone quite close to me. I was telling them about my day at work and how I was treated very badly. As soon as I heard those words, it struck me that there would forever be this illusion that physical pain trumps any other pain - when in actual fact, I sometimes wish I could be experiencing physical pain instead of the rampage that is my thoughts.
Don't get me wrong. Physical pain sucks. Any pain sucks. Hurting sucks. But what people need to start believing is that someone with depression/PTSD/anxiety can be hurting just as much as the person next to them living with cancer.
It was with all this in mind that I decided to write down every thought I had, concerning my depression, for the last month. This is what eventually remained; a brief moment of mental illness for those who do not have to live with it.
"It’s wanting to claw your eyes from their sockets. It’s not wanting to do anything except stare at that grey spot on your bedroom wall. It’s wanting to pull your hair from your scalp – strand by strand. It’s not wanting people to see your dark thoughts but having them encircle your eyes. It’s wanting to be alive but not wanting to live. It’s looking in the mirror and realizing you despise the reflection. It’s standing in the middle of a war zone throwing down your defenses, and voluntarily accepting the enemy’s sword to puncture your heart.
It’s hoping beyond all hope that there is no God because all you want, after this life, is an eternity of sleep. It’s wanting to meet them, but knowing that they’ll realize you are an impostor; faking it in someone else’s body. It’s wanting to grow nails long enough to scratch through your skin to the darkness within; thumping listlessly against your veins. It’s realizing you are just another human being – not at all unique; not at all special. It’s realizing that maybe you deserved to be raped because who else would want the shattered, ugly, hurtful, dangerous mirror that you are.
It’s wanting to die when chronologically you’ve only just started your life. It’s putting your books aside and just staring at them when you once couldn’t wait to be reunited with them. It’s just staring into the nothingness that is your life and knowing those dreams of legacy, love, and life will never realize. It’s knowing you will never be whole enough for someone to be able to love you. It’s knowing everyone you do meet will, at some point or another, leave just as quickly as they walked in.
It’s realizing your tea will always be cold when you finally collect enough energy to get around to drinking it. It’s understanding that no amount of drinking or smoking will bring back what you have lost or who you were. It’s feeling gutted, shattered, and numb to the idea of you having to face yet another day. It’s looking into the eye of the storm and feeling nothing but the void abyss that is your soul. It’s seeing your sister succeed and wishing with all your heart you could give her all the years of your life so that she can have more time to save the world. It’s studying your mum’s minute movements and wishing she had gotten the child she deserved. It’s experiencing a temporary high of happiness and thinking, 'Finally. I am better'; only to go home and crash in bed.
It’s wanting to have the cold snow envelope you so that just once in your life your outside can match your inside. It’s ending the day with a battle between your thoughts, and ending up screaming your throat raw, 'Leave me alone!' It’s their relentless grip on your soul, ignoring your plea for mercy.
It’s wanting, more than anything, to be happy; to belong; to have reason, but it’s also a primal knowledge that those things weren’t meant for you. It’s being born with the blessing of a curse of never going to fit in. It’s knowing your brain works so incredibly different that only a few people will be able to relate to you. It’s knowing that basically you’re on your own, because even the handful of understanding persons will never fully comprehend your version of things.
It’s wanting to be the same as other people but knowing you have another destined death. It’s wanting the ocean, only to have your thoughts filled with suicide, salt, and sacred scares. It’s wanting to run away to England to escape everything in the cold but not being allowed to run. It's knowing you are dying and that you are not yourself anymore.
It's wanting to have a spot to point to and say 'This is where it hurts', but it's also knowing that spot is all over your existence. It's wanting death to liberate you from yourself. It's killing you and knowing they won't notice."
My step-grandmother died of cancer late last year. She was a beautiful and gracious woman. The cancer ate at her. It made her a ghost of who she used to be. It was killing and did kill her. It was not her fault.
How many more have to die before society realizes that any illness, physical or psychological, can potentially kill someone? How many more nights must we spend in our dark, silent bedrooms, dreaming about the sweet release that will come with a cut too deep or one pill too many, before people realize that to get out of bed each morning is one of the biggest victories? How many more children must Mother Earth lose before people stop saying "Snap out of it"? How many more must suffer at the hands of their mental illness and the ignorant people that surround them, before someone brings the light back to their eyes?
In my opinion, we will never be able to completely explain the situation to those who have not experienced it personally. Hell, those of us who suffer together, do not even always understand each other, because there are just as many variations of mental illness as there are people in this world.
BUT it is a beautiful thing to try: to try to understand; to try to listen; to try to help; to try to make it easier. It is a beautiful thing to know that there are people out there who realise the extent of the pain and the illness' reach.
So let's keep motivating each other. Let's keep on trying to understand and help fight of the demons. I can assure you, you can help by trying to make just one person understand that what they are experiencing, is valid. YOU are valid.