A Letter to my anxiety

To anxiety/fear,

You leave me vulnerable and bleeding; alone, shaking, begging for relief. I would do anything to be free from you and believe me I’ve tried. You make me feel safe while you silently shrink my world until I am no more than a ball curled up on my bedroom floor.

And what of my dreams? What dreams? Who am I to dream when I am so afraid, too afraid to lift my head and face the day ahead of me. Yes, I am safe, yes I am breathing and yet you leave me breathless and panicked, wanting it all to stop, wanting to breathe no more not one single breath… I have now given you control. Even my mind flees from you desperately dissociating, hiding from my bitter and broken reality, one that I don’t want to exist in.

You have been a part of my life since I was young and I know you will always be with me. This I can accept if maybe you can allow me to catch my breath. I know I will never live a life entirely without fear, but I hope to live one where joy, dreams, and hope coincide. To do that, I acknowledge you and respect you but I also respect myself and I know that you will not continue to control me.

Sincerely,

Sarah

 

My name is…

My name is Sarah Carlisle.

I don’t know who I am or why I am here.

I am mental illness, I am trapped, I am barely breathing.

My name is Sarah Carlisle.

Sarah Carlisle means unworthy, unloveable, unfit, unwell.

Sarah Carlisle is defined by within, the demons that unwittingly eat away at all that Sarah Carlisle could have been.

My name is Sarah Carlisle.

I am strong, I am fighting, I am growing.

Sarah Carlisle may not be perfect or worthy but she will not be brought down. The demons will not win.

My name is Sarah Carlisle.

I don’t know who I am or why I am here but

I  am free.

Heartbreak

I never knew love until I knew heartbreak. Love was agony. More than the throbbing pain in my head, more than knowing that I would never fit in, never be free. For once you have known love, you have known true loss when it goes away. When you realise that love was what you had to fight for and without it you are less than what you were before. I’m empty and betrayed.

Imploding

Implosion. A simple word to describe something collapsing into itself. In many ways mental illness is a type of implosion. Whether the pressure comes internally, externally, or a mixture of both, the feeling of eroding from the inside out is inescapable. When this feeling stabilises for a while, you can start to feel like a ticking time bomb waiting to implode at a moment’s touch. Truth is I’ve always wanted to believe that mental illness is an implosion because an implosion only impacts upon me. The reality is that giving up will impact upon almost everyone in your life to a varying degree whether you realise it or not. And so we must fight. Not because of the chance that we will explode, implode or breakdown but because of the small chance that we won’t. The chance that we still have something to offer this world against all hope. Keep fighting. Stay strong.

Happiness

In a world of pain and suffering, why wouldn’t we all be obsessed with the illusion of bliss and freedom? Initially I saw happiness as an unattainable luxury, a state that keeps us naively alive with the promise of a better world that will never exist. While it is true that moments of happiness in life are a great part of what keeps us living, we need not be permanently happy to lead a fulfilling and  “happy” life. To some extent we choose how to view the world each day. We wouldn’t know true pain and devastation without having experienced some state of contentedness.  I am not going to spend my life convincing myself that I am happy when that may not be the truth, but I will make a concerted decision to try.

Emerging

We cannot see the light but when we are emerging from the eternal darkness. Challenging times reveal true love more than any other. To have never felt pain and suffering is to never have felt true happiness and relief or true love and friendship. While the darker aspects of human nature often prevail, humans will continue to amaze, enthral and surprise. Think about some of the small kindnesses you have witnessed in everyday life. A compliment, helping hand, or simply a smile can often mean the world to someone in the depths of darkness. So why not? Why do we spend much of our lives trying to avoid eye contact with the person walking past us on the sidewalk? Why do we seem to never have an extra few minutes to talk to the stranger sitting next to us on the bus? As human beings we all have common traits, emotions, fears and yet we seem so avoidant when it comes to connecting with one another. I like to try to get at least one stranger to truly smile every day. We can make a difference by simply changing our approach to everyday life. Push the boundaries a bit more each and every day. Question the self-criticisms you accept as hard truths. Where did these ideas come from? What do they serve? How can I acknowledge these thoughts yet rise above them to lead the life I wish to lead? Our brains are so much more powerful than we believe and in fact, continue to develop into our late 40s. The day you decided that you were fat or stupid or unworthy in your teenage years thus need not dictate the way you lead the rest of your life. We can continue to grow and rise above even our darkest and most punishing thoughts.

Whisper

Wind whispers to me,

Telling me all I should see,

The sky, the trees, the beautiful sun,

Streaming down the barrel of my gun.

“Life,” it says “life is out there.”

But I am trapped, my soul laid bare.

“Pick me up!” I scream and choke,

It says “I’ve heard this from other folk,”

“My dear you have wings of your own

And from this prison you could have flown.”

I frantically search but no wings I see,

Maybe I was never meant to be free.

Then it hits me, wind streaming in,

My own strength is where my freedom begins.

Darkness

My darkness grows, overflows,
no one knows.

My darkness hides, where it abides,
flows in tides.

My darkness screams, haunts my dreams,
so it seems.

My darkness frightens, its grip tightens,
my fear heightens.

But I am stronger, my light will conquer,

my heart beats longer.

Language

Some days language and words seem so inadequate. How can mere letters cover the giddy brightness that is happiness, the heart-stopping passion that is love, or the cloudy, all-encompassing darkness that is sadness? If words all have set meanings, set connotations, set contexts, how can we fully communicate with one another? Words are shaped by our experience of the world, and will never mean exactly the same thing from one person to the next. Some days it’s hard to find the words to express ourselves, others it’s impossible. And while language ties us together, it can also drive us apart. Some language, however is irrefutable. The warm comfort of a hug, smiling with someone you love, allowing gentle lips to meet your own… If I was to chose one language to communicate with for the rest of my life, this is what I would chose. The language of love, kindness, warmth… The language of home.