Mental illness is not something that is talked enough about in a public forum. Sure, when a great star commits suicide or mental health awareness month comes rolling around, everyone seems to embrace the reality that is a marred mind. But the truth is that on the day-to-day it is incredibly hard to talk about the darkness and the shadows that chase our lights. We chuckle at the self-deprecating humor of our friends, we brush off the dread creeping up behind us like a chill from the bottom of the basement steps, and we all in all do our best to be “normal.”
Because we are scared. Not just of others and the way they’ll react, but mostly of ourselves, and the fact that we feel broken.
The 26th of September was a Friday in 2014. It was nice out—I remember that it was somewhere in the perfect range of degrees that sometimes befell Chicago where I could wear my jeans and boots without wanting to rip my skin off, but it was still warm by all standard conventions. Sometimes I think that if I can break down that night into facts, it won’t hurt so much to talk about, and that some of the shame I feel about it will dwindle away into lists of truths, and nothing more. So, fact: that is the night I tried to kill myself.
I’m not going to dive head-first into the pool of emotions that await me each time I tell the full story—that’s not the point of this, not yet anyways. It’s just an introduction of what’s to come.
I’ve been working my ass off (yes, my ass—it is off) ever since to pursue happiness, and most importantly, the relish for life I once had. And I can say that I am happy every day, at least for a moment. The truth to accompany that, though, is that I am also sad every day, for a few moments longer. It’s my reality.
But every day, every day I work at it, life seems to become lighter—the shadows just shadows and not monsters in my darkness.
I thought long and hard about creating this blog series—not only was I worried of the judgement that would come, the stigma attached to my illness, but I was worried about saying the wrong thing, or somehow being ingenuine with those who read it.
In truth, all it took was for it to come up that someone who reminds me very much of myself at their age was suffering the same things I did at their age. And my mind was made up—I had to remind them, I had to remind anyone out there, that they are not alone.
Writing to Wellness is my endeavor to open up the forum a tiny bit more. I know others do it, and I’m going to work to find those others and bring their voices here in any way I can. But, the greatest healing I’ve done, in the shortest amount of time, was done when I was in group therapy—sharing with others, discussing the side-effects of our medications (the shaking was normal), dissecting the roots of our anxieties together. Knowing that I wasn’t alone, and that my emotions sure as hell weren’t some special little snowflake that no one else understood, was the greatest weapon against my depression and anxiety that I could ever hope for. It wasn’t my sword and shield—no, those were forged by me—but it was part of my legion, creating an army of companions as we all fought against the darkness, the brokenness, the shame.
I hope that even just one person will stumble upon these posts one day and find some strength from them. Even if that person is just me.
Writing to Wellness is a personal essay series on mental-illness, particularly manic depression, anxiety, and suicide. You are not alone. There is help out there.