It can be so frightening to fight mental illness. Having fought since a very young age, I know too well what’s it’s like to sometimes swallow more pills than food, just so you can survive the day. To spend hours crying in terror or deep depression. In the past year I have usually felt brave, strong, and determined. But lately, as I have had a relapse, I am feeling profoundly the depths of my weakness. I want to wake up in the morning and have pancakes, not pills. I want to be able to not carry a big purse, just so I can carry emergency panic medicine with me everywhere. I want to sleep at night without reliving my traumas in my dreams.
Why does the person who victimized me and left these scars on my mind get to be free, while I am a prisoner to my merciless mind? Why is justice so elusive, and a cure impossible?
But after I have resolved myself to accepting my past, then I have to go out and face the world. A world that stigmatizes and stereotypes anyone with a mental illness.
You may recall that I am temporarily in Portugal. Well I still have internet access to american news. I am aware that yesterday, another school shooting occurred. While I am uninformed regarding the shooter’s mental state, I am aware that many of the recent mass shootings in the USA have been perpetrated by someone “a few sandwiches short of a picnic”. Resultantly, American society has collectively decided that 99% of those of us suffering mentally are violent, dangerous criminals who need to be drugged and sealed from public view.
We never take that attitude with someone with a broken arm or a heart condition. Why do we react so cruelly towards the mentally ill and not the physically ill? I wonder if it could be because seeing a degree of (or perhaps total) insanity in a fellow human, who fundamentally isn’t so different from ourselves, forces us to encounter our own flaws and weaknesses. Is it truly so terrible to have an undeniable flaw?
I am forced daily to face my own humanity, to admit to myself and others that I need to improve, that I can’t be SuperWoman, that my mind sometimes betrays me. I can’t deny my fragility. Perhaps, for those who aren’t mentally ill, it is easier to lie to oneself and say you are whole, without cracks in your armor. But when you’re mentally ill you don’t have that luxury. You look in the mirror and hope to have ONE thing on your list of today’s capabilities. And the world continues to kick you when you’re down.
I apologize, dear reader, for this intimate venting session. But I have been pondering these things lately, and couldn’t hold back.
To end…. There is help and hope! Please, talk to a mental health professional. You can overcome. It is a battle, but it is worth it.
If you are in the USA and are considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or the National Hopeline Network at 1-800-SUICIDE. Both of these are free, toll-free, and 24/7/365.
If you are searching for where to start on a longterm treatment plan, starting with your primary care doctor can be a great first step. Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Counselors, Psychologists, and Psychiatrists are probable next steps. Keep your mind open to any treatment; medication, herbs, therapy(ies), hospitalization, anything or any combination of treatments. Don’t let social stigmas or personal fears stop you. YOU CAN AND WILL BE HAPPY. But you have to keep walking to get there.