I’m not really sure what this blog post is going to be about. Unlike everything else I’ve posted in the past, I’ve not made some semblance of an outline for this post. I am writing from my mind and my heart.
The last few months since I’ve last posted have been a flurry of emotions, many relating to my mental health. To make a very long story short, I grapple with invisible illnesses with scary names like depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder and am treating myself for them. It’s not something I’m proud of, but it’s also not something I’m learning to not be ashamed of.
(PSA: #DestigmatizeMentalHealth, #DestigmatizeTreatment)
It’s like getting lost in the woods. The woods are a scary place. It’s big. It’s dark, cold and unfamiliar. There’s no phone reception.
Like Little Red Riding Hood, I don’t ever realize the dangers of the woods until it’s too late and I’m in too deep.
As anyone with mental illness understands, it’s not easy to come to terms with what this means. So many people don’t associate depression or post-traumatic stress disorder as real illnesses akin to physical injuries, and that’s crucial because it dismisses the real dangers of depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder or any other mental illness.
Depression isn’t sadness that you can get over. Anxiety isn’t nervousness. PTSD isn’t just flashbacks. These — like all mental disorders — develop through triggering experiences and debilitate your ability to live a comfortable life. They keep you from doing the things that you love. They can be dormant for a while, which can really fuck you up when they suddenly become active.
These aren’t things that can be cured, but they are things that can be managed. It hasn’t been easy at all the last few months, but knowing that I’m doing the right things to supervise these imbalances eases the pain. Recognizing and accepting myself as an injured person and taking control of my injury were the first steps, and since then, it’s become a lot easier to take my power back.
The biggest casualty during all of this was my love for writing. Before all of this, I had a solid writing voice. But it was silenced once my mind began to go into darkness. All I saw when I looked into the mirror was a broken girl who wasn’t worthy of doing the things she loved. All I saw was trauma, and it ruined a lot of relationships I had with people I loved. I thought it permanently killed my spirit. I thought I could never be the same, person that I once was; I figured, “what’s the point?”
I start wandering off deeper into the woods where only monsters lived. These monsters are manipulative and tell me things that aren’t true, like that I’m nothing but a female body. That I’m unworthy of happiness or feeling beautiful. That I’m too much of a burden for people in my life.. That there simply isn’t a place for me in this world.
The monsters grew in numbers and size, blocking out the seemingly unattainable light that existed only a few feet away. Voices of my abusers (myself included) grew louder while the voices of my loved ones were slowly silencing.
The scariest part? At one point, I didn’t want to be safe. I wanted to stay in the woods and learn to be comfortable in the darkness. I felt like I deserved it, despite what loved ones would tell me. It’s the form of isolation I’ve become accustomed to; hide in the woods and hope none of my loved ones follow me and find themselves lost in the unknown, my unknown.
It was hard to hide all of this, but I did it successfully…but also unsuccessfully. Those closest to me knew what was up. I grew increasingly dependent of some people. I wore them down. I wore myself down, too. It got to the point(s) where I didn’t want to be a burden to myself or anyone else ever again. I tried to kill myself and was close.
I’m not looking for pity. This isn’t to call attention to myself and argue that I’m the most distressed person in the world. In fact, that’s exactly what I don’t want. But I’m saying this because there are a lot of people who know me who would never think that I had gotten to this level. I’d gotten so good at hiding it that it makes me think that there are likely a lot of people I know who are hiding their own battles.
Everyone has their own woods with its own monsters that many may not know about. These woods vary in size and darkness but they’re woods nonetheless. But you don’t have to be alone.
Talk to someone you love and trust. Talk to someone who you’ll know will listen and provide emotional support. Knowing there’s at least one person in the world who understands and empathizes with your struggles. Forever am I grateful for that friend that found me on the verge of death in my bedroom and took the necessary steps to save my life.
Once I established a support system, things have gotten a little easier. Again, taking control in some way is crucial. There are days (or weeks) where it feels like I’m headed towards the woods again. But the big difference between then and now is that I’m learning to leave a trail of breadcrumbs so I can find my way back to safety. It’s inevitable. I will have periods where I’ll get lost. I’ll try, desperately, to leave the woods. Sometimes, at the darkest of times, I’ll want to give up and stay in the shadows forever. But the most honest thing I can say is that it won’t always be this way.
Recovery is not linear. It ebbs and flows; that’s just the nature of the disorders that exist inside me. The sooner I accepted this, the easier it was to start living again.