If I were to think of my life as a book, it would be infinite. I would never run out of pages to write new things on, nor would my pen ever go dry. If you would have asked me just a month ago what my life would be like, I would have simply said “Nothing…I can’t see any hope right now.” Or I would have put on a brave face and tried to look happy—pretending that I wasn’t thinking about suicide or dying; Pretending that I was okay and I could “handle it.” Each night I would go to bed and secretly hope that I wouldn’t wake up in the morning so I wouldn’t have to face my life again, so that I could get some real peace and rest because I was so tired. I was tired, I was beaten down, and I was beginning to think that death was the only release from all of this.
On the other hand I was still grasping on to the that tiny little sliver of hope that maybe, just maybe tomorrow would be better. That I would wake up and actually be okay—that dying was easy, living was harder and I could do this. I had to do this. I didn’t really want to die, there was a desperate part of me that wanted so much to live…no matter how painful it was.
This is the real struggle of someone with a mental illness. Someone who is trying each day to try to see the positive through all of the fog and muck, through all of the intrusive and obsessive thoughts—the feeling that you “should” be able to control this but can’t. The facade that you play a part in is society thinking that mental illness isn’t really a thing, it’s not real—and if it is you’re really crazy and belong in a home. If you can’t see it, then it can’t be real right?
Society doesn’t give people who suffer from a mental illness nearly enough credit. Imagine having someone follow you all day long and say things like:
“You are not enough.”
Then imagine this person getting louder and more aggressive, and there’s nothing you can do to defend yourself or make them go away. You can’t get away because they follow you where ever you go, and they continually berate and taunt you. Pretty scary isn’t it? That’s the closest analogy I can use, that’s what it’s like—those voices, those thoughts—they can be dangerous and all encompassing. You start to believe them even though you don’t want to, because it’s woven into your very heart—or so you think.
“You are not enough!”
That’s what I kept hearing over and over again, no matter how hard I tried to not think it—I did. I had no idea that there was any other way to think except negatively about myself. If I was too confident I was arrogant, if I was too humble I was annoying and didn’t know how to take a compliment. I wanted so much to just run away but you can’t run away from you—no matter how hard you try or how fast you run. I hated the person in the mirror, I hated the person in the shoes I was wearing, I hated everything about myself because I had sunk so low in my depression that I couldn’t really think of anything I liked about myself. I couldn’t really do anything that I wanted to do because I didn’t want to be around people and bring them down either. So I isolated, I regressed slowly into solitude because that was where I thought I belonged.
That’s when things really got bad.
Human beings are not solitary creatures. We are not meant to isolate and escape for long periods of time. I would spend hours upon hours in my room alone, either playing video games or sleeping because those were the only things I was good at. I sunk deeper and deeper into depression. I became more and more anxious, and suffered from more and more flashbacks from my past that I had pushed away in hopes that it would just go away and I wouldn’t have to face it. If I hadn’t continually went to my doctors appointments or lived with my dad, I shudder to think what may have happened. It was about the end of September when my therapist flat out said to me: “Lauren, I’ve never seen you this low...” That’s when I realized that I was in desperate need of help. I knew that if I continued down this road it would lead to my suicide. My consciousness had become so warped and collapsed….
You are not enough
That I believed in my heart that I was worthless and there was no point being here in this life because I really had nothing to live for. Even though I knew it wasn’t true, that I had a family that loved me, friends devoted to me, and a future ahead of me (even though I wasn’t sure what it held)…I still had to fight with this demon that told me:
You are not enough
That is depression. That is anxiety. That is mental illness. You feel so much and you love so much that you’re so afraid of loosing it all.
I enrolled in a local partial hospitalization program for mental health. Basically it’s 2-3 weeks of intense group and individual therapy that gets you to look at what you’re real issue is. The big issue for me was unresolved trauma, trauma that I don’t want to go into here, but know that it was bad enough for me to be diagnosed with PTSD. That’s the other thing I struggled with was acceptance. I didn’t want to admit that I had PTSD because I felt as though I didn’t deserve it because I hadn’t been in a war zone. The truth is that PTSD can happen outside of a major war zone, it’s called “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” for that exact reason: It happens after someone witnesses or experiences severe trauma. That trauma can be sexual assault, witnessing something deplorable, etc. Society has no right to dictate what is traumatic for some and not others—we are human but we are also very different. It has taken me a long time to accept that I will have this illness for the rest of my life and I will always have to monitor it like someone has to monitor their blood pressure or blood sugar or diet. Acceptance is huge in the path to wellness, and I am learning that I can’t just run away and avoid past trauma. I didn’t get here overnight, and my journey is still well on the way—however I’m in a much better place than I was a month ago.
I’ve become fascinated with the semicolon. The purpose of a semicolon is to start a new sentence where a period would go. There’s a project named after it and as a writer I have to say I approve, because it’s an excellent way to promote hope.
To those of you struggling right now I have this to say to you:
You are enough. You are validated. You belong. The best part of your story is still being written my friend. Stay and find out what you were made for and find out what happens after the semicolon. Turn that page, I promise you it will be worth it.