The Life Behind Mental Illness

The Life Behind Mental Illness

Mental illness should be addressed for the eyes of the public.
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When trying to figure out what I could possibly write about, I struggled coming up with extremely happy topics. I found out I’ve been suffering from many mental disorders that I think are becoming more common among future generations at younger ages. Major Depressive Disorder, Anxiety, Addiction, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Insomnia, and a mild form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder are all diagnoses I received in the last year.

Hearing the truth I’ve been denying mentally for years felt like I was trying to swallow a boulder in my throat and the easiest solution was to choke, to suffocate. I had to catch my breath again to believe any of it. Coming to terms with something so life-changing is the definition of difficult.

Denial is what caused me the most pain, the most confusion. I knew something was wrong with me years ago, but never did anything about it. My childhood wasn’t awful, but I have witnessed things many people couldn’t even imagine and that is something I have to live with. Finally getting a diagnosis puts a real face over the mask I’ve been using to cover it all up. It’s a terrifying step forward, but at least it’s a step toward recovery. It’s a step toward being a better me.

Time ticks by and moments pass. From the time I was able to understand, I already knew love and happiness. Confusion mainly set in around age 13, when I first encountered death and witnessed a whole new routine. It was a part of life I didn’t really know. “Why did he leave?” and “It wasn’t his time to go.” Soon, anger and sadness became all new emotions. Drinking and writing became my new devotion.

14, 15, 16, were all new years. My father was an abusive man who had one too many beers. His lack of communication brought him a divorce and complicated relations. I gave up around 17 when pills and parties devoured all of me. I lost my will and all of my innocence. But seriously, what kind of shit is love that’s separated by distance? I guess it’s called your virginity but since when did life become infidelity?

One question I asked over a thousand times: What is life and how is it defined? “To be alive and have a pulse,” they said. But can’t I have a pulse and already be dead? From day one I was already misunderstood. To love someone of the same sex was never something deemed “good.” To be straight, gay, bi, or even genderqueer - arguments against it are so invalid and unclear. So many names for something so “different.” When in reality, we are all just really indifferent.

This now brings me to my own present where I just wish everyone could learn to assent. The past is the past and there’s no taking it back. What I did is what I did; I just hope you can love me for that.

We’ve all lived a life that no one else could possibly understand. Different experiences, different tragedies, different emotions and different families. I know on the hardest of days, it feels like giving up is the only option. Mental illness is seen as a sickness. But it isn’t a virus; it isn’t contagious or sexually transmitted. It’s literally a sickness that flows throughout your nerves and up inside your own head. It eats away at you until you suffocate with an overdose of emotion.

Sadness is the drug that tears apart your heart and starts the rotting of your brain. Pain is the endless pleasure and burning sensation you get from being alive. Anger. Anger convinces you to become its slave; it's a constant burden and an endless rage. Mental illness is a sickness. It’s extremely deadly, unbearable, and uncontrollable at times. The sad thing is, no one else usually notices you dying.

The signs can be so unknown to your physical appearance, and yet, so disastrous upon your mind. This sickness can kill you from within. The irony, however, can be that you seem completely happy. You can be content with everything in your life. You can be driven by love and moved by pride.

You could have money and even a well-maintained sex drive. But the deepened truth is that you’re being eaten alive. All of the emotions, the darkest secrets, the constant lies. You’re the monster, your true self in disguise. Your mirrored image becomes your inner sickness. You’re someone whom you truly despise. This sickness can eat you alive.

The trick, though, is that you’re never supposed to act on it. I’ve had many people that I have loved and cared about commit suicide. I think that’s where my personal strength comes in. I’ve acted on an impulse of what it would mean to just end everything. Instead, it’s just extremely painful for everyone involved. Success rates of attempted suicides are low.

According to a study done by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, there are 25 attempts at suicide for every one success. This study also mentioned that the odds for young people ages 15-24 are between 100 and 200 to 1. Young people don’t want to die. They want to be loved in a way they’ve never been loved before. They want help but have no idea how to ask for it. Mental illness should be talked about and not given a negative connotation.

The more aware the public is of how it truly affects individuals, the more we can stop young people from trying to end their lives while they’re still too young to even know what life is about. The more aware we are of the signs and symptoms of many common mental disorders, the more we can try to intervene before it becomes too late. Children and young adults should not have to feel that their only possible cry for help is to swallow bottles of pills or to learn how to tie knots around their necks.

It’s a problem, and the sooner we address this problem, the sooner help can be given to those who need it. One more important note to those who read this and believe that suicide is your only answer: it’s not. Remember that such an act affects everyone around you. Like a rock thrown into a lake causing ever wider circles in the water.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black-and-white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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My Story As A Recovering Self-Harmer

Content warning: Self-harm.

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Since high school, I have physically and knowing self-harmed as a way to distract myself. It has been almost 7 years and right now I have only been a few months clean. In the past 7 years, I have relapsed more than a couple of times. I have gone months at a time and found myself at a breaking point.

I know it's nobody's business and it might be oversharing but this is meant for primary readers. For those who are going through recovery or just began today. If secondary or tertiary readers stumble upon this then I hope it helps you understand from the other side.

I am still recovering. The thing about addiction is that you can never fully be "cured." You can be clean for years and still relapse. The key is to decide to try again.

I call it an addiction because it was. I grabbed the razor before I could even understand why I was numb. I did it multiple times a day and sometimes I didn't need an actual reason.

It was a sort of ripple effect. I couldn't stop the ripples into turning into the next one and instead, I just watched as they spread. One second I was OK and the next I locked the door.

Some people smoke and some people drink. I hate the smell of smoke and can't stand the taste of alcohol but I often wish I could use those as a distraction for my distraction. I do many things now to distract myself from getting too close to another relapse. I let out a scream to alarm my family or I start running. The first few seconds of the attempt are the hardest. It's an internal pain that makes you itch inside out.

After a few minutes have passed I can usually begin to calm myself. I sit down and remind myself that everything is OK. It isn't always easy so calling a friend is always an option.

Sometimes I end up crying in order to release all the built-up emotions. When minutes have passed and I am still filled with tears I force myself to grab something to eat. I have realized that I can't cry and eat at the same time. I grab anything. Sometimes my siblings make me something instead.

I am seeking professional help for those who are wondering. I am almost half a year clean and I have two caring and supportive friends and a family who does their best to understand and support me.

Recovery is not easy when it comes to mental illness because the results aren't always visible like a broken bone. Any amount of self felt recovery is amazing. It's a step towards a better you. Talking to people and seeking professional help are all steps.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

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