Is this all in my head?
My jaw clenches, my blood boils, my breathing comes out in pants.
Screams in my head and the most agonizing pain in the world take over my body.
Please make it stop, please stop the pain. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.
You’re fucking weak. You’re not good enough. This happened because of all the mistakes you made. Pay your price, bitch. Feel the pain.
Please, I’ve learned my lesson. Stop the pain.
The elevator music plays as I look into my dark eyes, cold, endless tunnels of sorrow. My face has gone gaunt with weight loss, and the bags under my eyes tell stories of my sleepless nights.
I think, “Maybe it’s all in my head. Maybe I’ve made it all up. No one else seems to see it. Everybody lives in a different world than I do, a whole other planet.” I gaze into their eyes, fascinated and in awe at their normality, at how easy their smiles come to them. I wonder what it feels like to be whole again, to laugh.
“Don’t be so sad. Smile more.”
I’m too exhausted to laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. How do I explain how much physical effort I have to put into dragging myself out of bed, when the world scares me, and the nightmares haunt me, and my brain never leaves me alone? How do I explain that I have not eaten properly in weeks because my medication causes nausea and that I simply do not have energy to walk around for fear of fainting? How do I explain that I want to be strong, and if it was that easy, would I not have done it already?
“I do not want to be in pain,” I scream to the world. “I want to be OK.”
I’ve decided enough is enough. It’s about that time I let people understand.
This is my message — and it’s an important one, so listen up.
Those with mental illnesses are stigmatized, so much so that to be mentally ill is equated to the most extreme form of weakness, inadequacy as a human being, and a mind that either voluntarily inflicts pain on itself or is “too stupid” to understand anything of substance.
It’s so fucking hard to build up the courage to tell the world, “Look I have this. This is my problem. I have PTSD, I have severe depression, I have OCD, I have anxiety.”
When you are ridiculed and not believed because your illness is not tangible, when your struggle is completely undermined and everyone remains blind to your extraordinary strength, how much it takes for you to breathe, and eat, and walk and keep yourself alive for the sake of the people you love — you start to believe it. You start to believe you’re weak, that you’re not good enough, that you deserve this pain.
It’s fucking ridiculous. If only the world saw how much strength it takes, how much courage, how much hard work it is to live when you are trapped in yourself, in your own mind. Maybe we’d have better mental health services and just maybe we’d be more understanding to those in pain.
I would just like to say to those who have ever undermined any of my struggles or judged for themselves what kind of mental illnesses I have, you made my journey to getting better so much harder than it should have been.
I am so fucking strong. I went through hell and back, and I made it through. I know I am strong, and I know I will thrive, and I will be better for it. And I am going to stop blaming myself or accusing myself for not being good enough. I just went through one of the hardest challenges I’ve ever been faced with, and I showed resilience.
If you are going through depression or anxiety, as somebody who’s trying to heal, I want you to know it can get better. And I have become so much stronger for it.