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.
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.
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.
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.
Depression appears human and comforting but is an empty shell. Through its mask of deception and darkness all that once had meaning begins to stop making sense. Depression plunges its victims deep into dark clouds, and its tendrils keep them captive when they try to escape.
This is a tough one for me to write as first of all it forces me to accept that there is a problem, but it is also important as it allows me to heal and try to move on from some of the darkest days in my life. I am not trying to say that I understand everything about mental illness and the struggles of others as everyone’s story is different. If anyone out there ever needs someone to talk to, ever needs to feel heard or ever needs someone to let them know they are not alone please get in contact with me. It means everything to me to be available to help others, no matter where in the world you are.
1. It’s OK to not be OK and it’s OK to talk about it
I have found this very hard as in my mind I often associate my sickness with personal weakness in a way I would never do to a friend suffering through similar things. Mental illness can drive you to believe that you are making the problem up to keep its firm hold over you, which can make it so hard to seek the help you desperately need to fight. A large part of that fight is learning to break the silence and be open about your struggles with the people you love and trust.
2. Admitting there is a problem is NOT failure
Each and every day you get up and you fight you are winning against your illness. You need to keep telling yourself that you are strong, you are important in the lives of others and you can win (even if you don’t believe these things at first).
3. Your mental illness lies
Promises of being loved, being better, stronger, fitter if you follow a certain path are not true as you are already loved for who you are and already so strong for fighting. Equally some of the things your mental illness might scream at you like “you’re fat and disgusting” or “nobody cares about you” or “you are worthless” are your illness’s often convincing way of trying to keep its hold over you.
4. You are not a burden and people’s lives are made better by having you in them
Sometimes it might feel as though you are only weighing other people down, especially with some of the insults mental illnesses like to hurl at people. Making footprints in the lives of others is inevitable. As much as we may want to slip away there are always ties keeping us in this world, even in little ways, and there are always people who would be torn apart in some way by losing you.
5. Better does exist, no matter how bad it gets
This isn’t a promise that I make lightly as I haven’t believed it until very recently, especially when I was approaching rock bottom. Even on the darkest of days the sun is still hidden behind a cloud. There is always hope and there is always a possibility in this life of something better. You are a part of something important. Hang in there, stay strong and know that the darkness isn’t everything.
One step, two steps, three, four… I’m getting closer. My heart reaches for the freedom, my head gasps for clarity. You see, everything that people say about the first step being the hardest is wrong. It is that last step, that sense of finality, that feeling that you have achieved your life’s purpose… What would I be after that last step? What would my life mean? I pause for a moment until I look down and remember what I was running from in the first place. It’s enough to keep me going for now. I don’t want to be contained anymore. My heart will keep beating and my filthy blood will continue to fight, to fill every fibre of my body with life and hope until the end. But why is it that in this moment, I find myself searching for more time? I have never been afraid of death; in fact, at some points in my life I have welcomed it. There was something I couldn’t get out of my head. I couldn’t die now, having loved, having lost, having been betrayed. Surely there is something more. “I’m not done yet,” I whisper to myself as I race on into the darkness, into the unknown, both unafraid and petrified at the same time.