Advisory for anyone who needs: This is a post about mental health – mine – yours – doesn’t matter. I don’t make any specific graphic references, but if you just come here for the fiction; there’ll be some in a couple days. Today, I just needed to get this out of my head. Hopefully, someone relates, or gets something from it. I try to be a little silly in places, maybe that’ll help haha.
Now, carry on!
For an incredibly long time, I was pretty ashamed of needing help – actually went so far as to make jokes about it. Innumerable altered medication combinations, almost my whole life in some psych office, group therapy, facility, meeting, whatever. If you changed the paint and degrees on the wall, we could make a montage! See? Even now, still cracking jokes. Because my discomfort bursts through as humor, especially, if not specifically when it’s horribly inappropriate. Maybe that made it less… sad? Less offensive? I don’t actually know, but whatever it did, it stuck. I know there was always a fear. A feeling that if other people knew that I had to talk to someone and take mind altering chemicals, well, that’d be absolute comedy gold! Humiliation could spread coast to coast as each and every person I encountered whispered secrets that they’d magically just know. Distant relatives would stick up their noses and deny they’d ever known me, closer ones would ignore it, they’d be unsure of how to handle it. It’s that eggshell floor they build after they know. The one they’re terrified to step through to get to you; the you they perceive to be a slimy fragile yoke. What they don’t expect is that the eggs might be hard boiled when stepped on and when they do make their way through to you, they’ll find the golden one.
This is my open letter to anyone struggling, trying to find help, trying to find the right combination. This is my statement to say, it’s okay, and you’re not as alone as you feel.
Years passed, and as doctors changed my medications did with them. My extra curricular activities could be chalked up to that of the people ‘they’ always seemed to have warnings about. I suppose those warnings exist for good reason if I’m being honest…
Self medication becomes a grand idea when those strangers you pay to listen, stop hearing you. They start seeing dollar signs and a person trying to live in Never Neverland. You have an answer for why every suggested solution just won’t work. It’s objectively not because you’ve tried them all, several times, and can’t bring yourself to try again – or sometimes, you’re just so utterly exhausted. So you scream, and you cry, and you break the only thing you managed to care about in the last five years (which only makes it that much worse). Or, maybe you don’t. Maybe you sit there quietly, and watch as the cents trickle from your piggy bank into their pocket with every overly loud tick of the doctor’s clock.
If they can’t won’t hear the pleas for help then what else is left for you to do? Your life and mind feel like they’re melding into this overwhelming spiraling nightmare of irrational thoughts and inexplicable behaviors.
Your pain inevitably bubbles to the surface: manifesting physically. You self medicate with things your fifth grade D.A.R.E. officer made you swear you’d never try. Your body now a road map of scars that mirror the way your insides feel. And still, you return to that room, to that same ‘Magic Eye’ print that you just can’t seem to get to work. You sit in that oversized chair, and spill whatever guts you can. After all, you’ve begun a new sort of pain relief. You have to hide the parts that would make you come off as dangerous. The honesty, the openness you once had shifts, and yet, no one notices. If they did, they would say SOMETHING to you, wouldn’t they? But they don’t, so you don’t, and your new cycle becomes a comforting friend where there wasn’t one before.
A n y t h i n g is b e t t e r than how you f e e l right now.
After a while, when you’re in over your head and the drums are scattering any spark you might have had, you remember you didn’t want to feel like this. That the instant gratification of your blood letting or that inhale, or that sip, or those bruises – just doesn’t seem to make you feel as good as it used to. A guilt hovers over you, holding you hostage. How can you trust anyone to help you, when you tried and they missed it the last time? Some self imposed attempts might be made here or there, but at some point, if you’re one of the lucky ones, there will be someone who hears your faint cry for help. They may have been there all along, but neither of you were ready to acknowledge the problem before. Slips are made, ‘relapses’ maybe. “But that’s a part of healing,” they’ll say, “keep with it!” And you’ll hate them, and you’ll hate yourself – but if you do keep with it, maybe something different will happen.
Inevitably, there came a point where I realized I wasn’t alone. Most people will need some kind of help in their lifetimes, whether it’s for the same problems or not.
They too will sit, like I sat, unwilling, uncomfortable, anxious.
A stranger will offer a kind word, a potential solution, even a warm smile and a place to tell secrets with a dead man’s promise to guard them. They’ll offer tissues and a life raft to save them when the waters capsize their boat.
Will it be enough? For some, perhaps, for others of course, and for the rest – there’s more work to be done. But that’s okay. It’s okay to keep trying to find the right way to get help, the right treatment plan, and even the right support group.
This strange stigma that surrounds mental health and getting help is absolutely ridiculous. Not only has it been ridiculous, but it prevented people from getting the help they so desperately needed for fear of snide comments and persistent mocking (myself included). I was scared for people to know the truth about me, to know what I’ve done, what I’ve been through – who I am. I wasn’t ready to lose people, to be forgotten by some and left to navigate on my own. Through my self medicating stages, I did in fact lose almost everyone – the very thing I feared! I reveled in it then. I didn’t care at all. And that’s why it seemed better. That comforting friend quickly became the most insidious enemy I’d ever known. When it finally came time to break through the stigma, the fear, the pain, the guilt – I tried everything, whether I believed it would help or not.
A n y t h i n g is b e t t e r than how I f e e l right now.
And as I found myself, once again clinging to hope that I could get better, that maybe this time it’ll work, I did struggle through my treatment plans. I anguished over the aggravation and frustration I would get from not being heard, or at least feeling as if they didn’t hear me. I kept remembering how I originally just wanted everything to stop. I wanted a break from life, and I got it. This time, what I wanted was to be in it; to feel the highs and the lows, and not hide.
It’s taken more years than I care to admit but I couldn’t care less if anyone knows my full story. I’ll tell you the whole thing from start to finish whether you want to hear it or not. That became such a freeing moment. I didn’t hide where I was going, or make up some excuse for why I was unable to work a certain time. Why did it switch like that? Why did I not care all of a sudden? Firstly, I’d have to say because I wasn’t going to go do some shady business, but mostly, because I learned I actually wasn’t alone. There were an ungodly amount of people who felt just like me and found a way to swim to the surface. They crawled through the fires and found a way to the other side, and I wanted to do that too. I wanted to find the other side. I wanted to help show people they weren’t alone, that I felt their heartaches, that I cried their tears. For me, that was the push I needed.
Trying and failing is something I’m not unaccustomed to. It’s taken 25 or so years of my life to almost find the way to the good side. Yesterday, for the first time ever, the noise stopped. It was like I’d spent my whole existence under water. Like I could hear and understand people the same way Charlie Brown understood adults. The alarms weren’t screaming, the records weren’t spinning. My internal radio that had been blaring white noise and nonsense, finally shut off.
Without treatment, without admitting that I needed help, I never would have gotten here, let alone anywhere else. I’ve been in this absolutely astonished state since yesterday because of it. I can’t believe the difference. I can’t believe how much happier I am.
I felt that I had some kind of obligation to get this bit out of my head (and hopefully into someone else’s). To hold all this in and not share it would be a disservice to not only myself, but the next person who hurts and doesn’t know what to do about it. If you read through this whole thing, please know that I hear you, I see you, and you’re not forgotten. For those of you who feel like there aren’t words to express what you’re feeling, what you’re seeing, how you’re living – I understand.
Seek help if you need it, no matter what. You deserve to smile for real, and not just so people stop asking, “what’s wrong?” (To which, of course, you’ll have no reply. “Nothing!” You’ll squeak, knowing that everything in the world is packed inside so deeply that if you tried to explain, the whole thing would crumble, right?)
Ask a friend, ask a family member, ask a random person if you have to. Don’t stay quiet. And if you don’t have the resources, the money, the referrals – I guarantee at least one person you know d o e s.
In fact.. have some helpful links:
10 Crisis Help Lines That You Can Text (or Chat with)!
National Helpline Database