The Weeds Growing in my Mind

Can I tell you a secret? I’m absolutely terrified of being happy. Not because I don’t want to be happy. Never because I don’t enjoy being happy. No, my fear sinks much deeper than that. I’m afraid of being happy, hopeful, joyful, because I know the deep pain that will soon follow.

Think with me now of a roller coaster. The higher the train climbs, the farther and faster it falls. Most people go through the highs and lows of life. It’s natural. The type of highs and lows I experience could only come from an awful disease. A disease that sits itself down in my brain and makes changes. It decides it doesn’t like they way I do things so it changes it. It redecorates.

I spent some time outside this evening pulling weeds. I think the way weeds grow in the ground could be compared to the way my illness sits in my brain. I go outside and plan my lawn just the way I want it. I plant flowers, do landscaping.. just to make my yard and garden enjoyable and beautiful. Then, weeds start to pop up. At first- I begin to pull them up right at the root. For most, this gets rid of the problem. As weeds appear most people can handle them just by pulling them up as the come along.

For some people, pulling the weeds alone isn’t enough. Some will try weed killers, herbicides, along with the occasional pulling to keep their backyard nice. It works for some people.

For other people, people like me, no matter how much work and time we put in, the weeds keep coming. For people like me we work all day, every day to keep the weeds at bay, but every single day they come back stronger and with deeper roots. We try the strongest weed killers available, we mow, we cut, we yank, pull.. nothing works. When we finally see the light. We see our lawn again. Our garden is no longer a forest. We don’t rest, because we know one small weed will turn into a forest in seconds. We can’t enjoy our happiness because we are getting ourselves ready for the next fight.

My brain is filled with weeds and I’m so tired of putting in the work. I’m so tired of the fight. I just want the weeds to overcome me and take me away. But, I continue to fight. When my mind is finally clear of the weeds of today, I prepare myself for the weeds of tomorrow. When I let myself enjoy the garden, the weeds come in like always, and I’m even more devastated because I know and have experienced what a weed free day is like. I’m hit with the harsh reality I may never experience the joys of easy “gardening”. I know I will never stop fighting the weeds.

I’m so tired of fighting, I’m so tired of knowing I won’t get better. But, this woman, won’t give up. I won’t let the weeds control my garden, at least not yet.

Silent Screams

I keep forgetting. My mind runs so fast I can only catch a thought or two before they disappear forever. One side effect of depression I guess. Maybe that is why I write. My thoughts need to be as slow as my fingers can type. Even so, my brain gets confused and mistakes are made. I can’t be perfect.

Since I was a child my mind always ran at the speed of light. Perhaps I can attribute some of my intelligence to this. I’m constantly thinking about something— well multiple things. I’m analyzing, comparing, processing, faster than my body can handle. My handwriting is atrocious I believe because my hand can’t keep up with my mind.

Is this another side effect of depression? I’m not so sure. I believe my thoughts don’t help any. I get trapped in a paranoid state of ‘what if’. Every singe possible outcome plays through my mind like I’m watch an old movie reel. Each real takes up a fraction of my head and they all play in unison. My mind is left trying to decipher alternative realities. I choose the one that makes the most sense to me.

I think and I think and I think and the wheel never stop spinning. I just want my brain to shut up for 5 seconds. I’m focusing so hard on negative outcomes that positive ones seem like trash. All good things come to an end. I’ve learned all things come to a horrible end no matter what, the end. I stopped getting my hopes up years ago. When your hopes are high, your spirit crushed harder. I have no expectation of a good or happy life anymore. Existing is all I can do. Every single day I wake up, I exist, I go to sleep and pretend I don’t.

Even existing is hard work. When your brain runs a mile a minute, when you have no expectation of happiness, when you brace for disappointment, existing can be nearly impossible. I’m not looking for pity, but maybe I am. I don’t think anyone can begin to comprehend so I don’t expect them to. I share my feelings because I need to be heard. I feel my cries of agony are silent. I post the stuff I do because I need to be heard. I need my screams heard. If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

Here lies me

Here lies me

Cause of death: suicide

That can’t be right can it?

At 10 I loved my life

Joyful and carefree

I understood more at 17

A narcissist taught me fear

I was my happiest at 20

College was a world of opportunity

21 changed me

The darkness crept in

Like a smoke it filled every crevice

At 23 the darkness tempted me

I followed it into a trench

When I was 25 I married

I was happy, but never joyful again

Every moment lived is another burned

Pretending until I can’t

Making mistakes

Hurting those I love with my hurt

The darkness controls me

The happiest days of my life have passed

Here lies me

Cause of death: the darkness

Burn Unit


Burning
Sizzling Flesh
Rather be dead
Pain prison
Disfigurement

Depression
Sizzling flesh
Wants to die
Pain Prison
Burning

Suicide
Lost cause
Easy way out
Tormented soul
Freedom

What Should I Tell My Mentally Ill Friend? How Do I Help?

The worst therapist I ever had told me, “You’re a lost cause. No one can help you. You should kill your self because you’re wasting mine and everyone’s time.” Harsh? Yes. Tough love? Maybe. Helpful? No.

The best Psychiatrist I ever had said, “If you’re going to get better, part of you has to want to get better. You may hate yourself and hate this pain. That’s okay. You can be suicidal, but you have to deep down know there is something worth fighting for. I can’t help you if you can’t help yourself.” This changed my whole perspective on my fight with depression and mental illness.

I just gave you two examples. Two mental health professionals saying essentially the same thing. One, made me want to end it all permanently. The other, gave me something to think about- something to work for.

In my illness through the years I’ve gotten some advice that has been extremely helpful. I’ve also gotten a lot of advice that (though well intended) actually has been very hurtful.

When someone you know is struggling with a mental illness, it’s important to know a few very important things.

First, and most importantly, do not think you know what they are going through. You can Empathize but don’t Sympathize. Even if you have had similar experiences, trust me when I say everyone’s journey and pain is vastly different.

This idea comes often with people who are grieving. I lost my father this year and I got well meaning messages say “I know how you feel, I lost xyz” Well no, you don’t know how I feel because you don’t know me, or my relationship with my dad. I also don’t know you and what types of feelings you felt. I can’t imagine my moms grief because she lost her soulmate, her husband. I can’t even know my brothers grief because he had a different relationship with dad and he lives farther away. I’m sure I don’t know how he feels in his grief. In the same way, everyone’s mental illnesses, traumas, life journeys are different. You can’t know the pain I’m experiencing because you are not me.

Second, it’s important to understand the ill person before offering advice. Let me explain. Imagine a man has a tumor in his brain. He goes to the doctor and he recommends chemo and radiation because he is young and healthy otherwise. Now the next day, another man goes to the same doctor. He finds out he has the exact same tumor as the other man. Now this man is the same age and seems healthy enough. The doctor decides that this man’s tumor is inoperable and he is put on hospice. Same tumor, two different recommendations. The one man was healthy and his body could fight and withstand the chemo. The second man found this tumor because he was recently diagnosed with sage 4 lung cancer that metastasized to his brain. Without knowing the patient, we couldn’t possibly give advice to either one.

In the same way, people with mental illness have gone through different things. Some need medication to survive. Other may find therapy is enough. Some respond well to harsh criticism like my therapist above. Others need a gentle push in the right direction. Some people, like me, are treatment resistant, meaning I will likely struggle the rest of my life. Others get hit hard with it, but with therapy and a first line anti depressive can live a normal life in a few years. So, before giving advice, think about the person you are trying to reach. Maybe instead of telling them what to do ask them what they think has been helpful. Ask them if they need extra support and then ask what support you can give. Don’t assume anything. You can offer advice but make sure you say something like, “I’m not sure if this would help you and if it doesn’t that’s okay. I just wanted to share something I have done to help me when I’m feeling sad/anxious etc. Don’t feel any pressure but just know I am here for you if you ever need me and I want to help.” Be kind and loving. Asking questions can help more than giving advice most of the time.

The third and final thing to remember is to respect their wishes. *I will preface if someone is suicidal or homicidal the most loving thing you can do is reach out for help for them* I know it may be hard to see someone you love stay in bed all day. I get it. You can absolutely encourage them or try to entice them to get out of bed for a little bit. In the end though, do no force the person. It will only make them grow to dislike you.

If I say, I’m feeling suicidal but I will reach out for help if I need it. Trust me. I will reach out. You are welcome to check in on me but don’t call the police because I’m working through hard thoughts. It’s all a part of the process. It’s about learning your self and your emotions. Coping is about control urges and temptation. General reminders are good and can be helpful. Always ask what is the best was to help.

Obviously I am not a medical professional and this should be read from the perspective of someone with a mental illness. I can’t claim any of this will be true for all people but my hope is that sharing my experience can help others and help reduce some of the hardships mentally ill people face. Thanks for reading.

Life Is

It’s funny how we come exactly how we go

Naked and terrified

The circle of life

It seems so arbitrary.

Life feels meaningless

When you have family that loves you

but you don’t love yourself

You remember life is just a vapor in the wind..

and no one will remember whether you come or you go

One hundred years from now.

no one will know your name

The circle of life.

It’s so arbitrary

They say give your life meaning

How can one do

as life means nothing to the stranger who’s wealthier than you

And no one knows your face a a million miles away

When your employer thinks your just a number not a name

When the judge says your guilty and you have never done a thing

It’s meaningless

You ask me to live, and I’m living only for you

never for myself

it’s impossible to do.

to be happy, to be content

without power or fame

Even they can’t be happy

Robin Williams and Cobain

The circle of life

It’s arbitrary you see!

Even religious men don’t seem happy to me

Faith in a God that brings peace and light

But I would rather just be in heaven

A perfect place

I dream of the day

Until then we will all wake up

putting a mask on our face

We will find meaning in the arbitrary

We will stay alive because we have to

because we have to

because we have to

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where is Happiness?

It seems I have lost it again

I’ve lost it so many times before

Maybe I’m just not meant to have it

It is easily given but easily forgotten

I found it as an Easter egg hidden under a bush

I saw it light up the sky after a ball game

It has licked my face and wagged its tail

I have felt it’s soft kiss and warm embrace

How could I lose it?

Where can I find it?

Instead, I always know where to find pain

It’s hidden in corners, cupboards, and boxes.

It puts on a mask and pretends to be your friend

I’ve heard it yell insults and threats and curses

I’ve held it’s hand on a date to the movies

I was raped by it in a cheap motel room

I drank it down to forget

Oh I know where to find darkness

Darkness is easy to find.

It sits in my brain waiting for its day

It makes my heart bleed out on to my arms

It speaks to me telling me I shouldn’t be

I have found darkness.

But, where is happiness?

Tomorrow Will Be Better…

Last year was by far the hardest year of my life. That says a lot, as anyone who knows me knows I have been through hell and back. My years in hospitals and through abuse felt minimal in comparison to the hurt and betrayal I felt last year when I lost almost everything to ignorant people and discriminatory actions. I got through it though. I got through it because I knew eventually things would get better.

I often feel like life treats certain people unfairly. Like pouring salt in a wound some people just seem to get life’s pains handed to them on a rusted platter. I’m sure I’m not alone in my beliefs. We sometimes get kicked when we’re down and that’s life. Life is also continuing to try to get back up no matter how hard or pointless it may seem.

My New Years resolution this year was to have a better year than the last. It was an easy target considering what happened, but it’s true that you never know what life will hand you. Everyday I go to bed and tell myself, “Tomorrow will be better.” I repeat that to myself no matter how great of a day I have had. I tell myself this even if I don’t believe it. I engrave it in my mind so monotonously that it acts as an echo in the times I need to hear it most. Tomorrow will be better. If it’s not? Well then the next day will be better.. or the next day, or the next day, or the next.

You see, this optimism is what keeps me alive. It keeps me striving to do what I want, what I love! It makes me better myself because I want that statement to come true, like a prophecy waiting to be fulfilled. If today is not great, what can I do to make tomorrow better?

So far, things have been better! Life is starting to turn around and I see the light at the end of the tunnel. Perhaps, it won’t stay this way. The important thing is I am making moves every day to improve my life. I went back to school, I built my self confidence, I stood up for myself, and so much more.

This technique won’t work for everyone. However, I challenge anyone who reads this to just do one thing every day that can help improve their life. It could be as little as putting loose coins in a jar to cash in later or recycling and composting. Anything to help your state of mind. I know better than some how important it is to take care of yourself, especially when you don’t have the strength to even get out of bed. It is important! I share this because it has helped me so much. I hope it would do the same for others.

So tomorrow will get better! And if it doesn’t? Don’t worry, the next day will be better still. 🙂

I Know I’m Not Crazy

So I am really into shows and movies about doctors, hospitals, and the like. In such shows, there is sometimes a patient that comes in with all these symptoms and the doctors will then try to say “Oh, those are the classic symptoms of insert mental illness here. Let me call in a psychiatrist.” The patient will panic and say the famous words, “No, please! I know I’m not crazy.” The doctor will then perform numerous tests and find some tumor or lesion and it will be removed and the patient will go on their merry way. When the doctors give the patient the news that it’s a tumor or some other tangible ailment, the patient is relieved because it is much easier to accept a tumor than it is to accept a mental illness.

I know I’m not crazy. I’m not. I have a condition in which my brain produces too much or too little of certain chemicals which cause my mind to not function as well as it should. Just like a tumor I have no control over this chemical reaction. I’m not crazy. Why does society treat those of us that suffer as such?

I understand why people would be upset when they hear that they might have a mental illness. I get it. It totally sucks. It sucks because mental illness is hard to diagnose and even harder to treat. It sucks because it takes a lot of hard work and patience to treat an illness. It sucks because you know you’ll be treated differently because of a chemical imbalance in your body. I get it. It sucks. Let me be perfectly clear, however, it does not suck because we are crazy! It doesn’t. We aren’t crazy.

We may feel crazy at times because our brain is trying kill our body. We may feel crazy when the world around us functions with such ease and our world fails to function at all. We may feel crazy when people treat mental illness like a mythical creature. We may feel crazy, but we aren’t.

Do you know how hard it is to get through life knowing you have nothing to live for? No? Well I do. I have gotten through and created a life worth living. My brain constantly try’s to take that away from me and my fist full of pills remind me I am one slip away from losing all hope. However, these things don’t make me crazy. They make me a fighter. I realize that I will be fighting the rest of my life and that is exhausting. I will not, however, let the world tell me my fight isn’t legitimate. It’s the hardest thing I have ever had to do.

I hope one day there will be a Doctor show where the doctors suggest a mental illness and the patient is able to say, “That really sucks, but I’m happy there is treatment. Walk with me while I fight it.”

Suck it Up, Buttercup.

It’s not there, if you can’t see it.

It’s not real, if not everyone can feel it.

You’re making excuses.

No one is going to believe it.

You really should grow up.

Why don’t you just give up.

Stop being so damn lazy.

We are going to have to write you up.

Maybe you should try praying more.

You shouldn’t take all those pills anymore.

You scared your peers with your outburst.

You should just try to be happy more.

You seem fine to me.

You look fine to me.

Suck it up, buttercup.

Your life doesn’t look hard to me.

You’re milking this for all it’s worth.

Maybe if you lose some weight it will help your self worth.

You’re just doing this for attention.

You’ll probably grow out of it, for what it’s worth.

It’s all in your head.

Yeah, you’ve got that right. It IS all in my head.