If you are new here, you might not be aware that I’m a crazy person.
Like literally certifiable crazy.
I’ve written about my Borderline Personality Disorder and about BigE’s struggles with his own demons. We’ve been working through it all together. Our family and friends try to understand, but for those who don’t suffer from mental illness it’s hard to comprehend.
I can’t count how many times people just say “snap out of it” or “Just laugh a little you need a better sense of humor.”
Laughter is not the cure, empathy is.
To those of you that have no idea how Robin Williams could end his life, or why your wife is curled in the fetal position crying for what appears to be no reason or why the person who seems to have it all together is crumbling inside here’s what mental illness feels like.
You jump into a pool.
Each time you try to swim toward the surface a hand grabs your ankle and pulls you back down. You can see people on the edge of the pool laughing, smiling, waving at you to come up for air, but each time you try you are pulled back down again. Eventually after so much struggling you give up, you sit on the bottom of the pool watching as life floats by. Unable to join in the fun, and unable to reach up to the light you always see. You are trapped in darkness and soon the light at the top of the pool become fainter and fainter. Your lungs, deprived of oxygen, begin to fill with water, and soon you are consumed. Not one person reached down to pull you up, not one person jumped in with you. You were all alone, and suffering in the darkness.
For those of us with mental illness that’s how we feel EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
So often those at the edge of the pool become frustrated or angry because you “just aren’t yourself today”.
Umm, yeah no shit.
I’m not myself everyday it’s just that today I’ve let my guard down. Today, the world feels like it’s closing in on me and I feel like I’m suffocating and the only way to relieve the pain is to end it…end it all.
You want your wife, daughter, mother back, but the person you know is just a farce. There’s so much more and you aren’t ready to face it, and those of us suffering live in shame. We have disappointed you yet again because we let Pandora open the box and all the shit came streaming out. Even though it may be once in a great while when the shit storm hits, it decimates everything in its path.
In and effort to squelch the storm we pop pills and see therapists, but the reality is mental illness is never cured.
It’s wrangled like a beast in a cage. It lurks under the surface always ready to escape. Those of us with brains in overdrive, we see life differently and experiences are magnified exponentially. There are days when we can’t stop the beast from emerging and on those days we need YOU – the spouse, brother, sister, mother, father and friend. We NEED you to reach out to us and hold our hand.
Reassure us that the monster inside is only a small part of who we are that we are so much more than our illness. This monster will not take us and we will not live in fear and worry. Tell us that you will help us slay this monster, and that no matter what happens you will always love us.
I can tell you this as I battled my own monster. I have attempted suicide 5 times in my life the earliest being in High School, I’ve had my stomach pumped 3 times, my wrists bandaged twice. I’ve popped countless pills and visited a plethora of therapists. If my mom is reading this, her heart is breaking right now. I know she wondered what she could have done differently.
The reality is sometimes holding us tightly may not be enough. The monster has already consumed us.
Ending it all is not a selfish decision. I always get angry when people say that. It’s a strong and albeit weirdly brave decision to step off that cliff and let the monster consume you. In a way it’s like you are making a sacrifice, all the pain and guilt you’ve held in forever, and the wake of pain you’ve caused others disappears in that one moment you make the final decision to fall.
I’ve been there and I know.
It’s a physical pain that unless you’ve experienced it, you will have no concept of its engulfing power, and its ability to lure you to the depths of sadness and lock you there forever.
You feel your only escape is the end.
That’s why we need an army.
Those of us with mental illness need our family and friends to stand with us on the battlefield. Even if you don’t understand it or “get it” please just hold our hand and stand by us as we fight this fight. We are strong, but sometimes the monster is stronger and it takes many warriors to wage a war. Even on the days when we appear to have it all together the fight still wages on and we still need you. Together we will defeat the monster of mental illness, so that no one needs to wage this battle alone.
The monster can’t take another victim.