When you don’t tell people what you go through, it’s like setting yourself up for disappointment from the get-go. You keep your secrets because if they’re too dark for you, you don’t want to drag them down, too. Those secrets start to meld into your identity, to the point where there’s no use in separating them because you lost sight of the differences. If you finally say something like, “I suffer from mental illness,” in front of people you’ve never let into your broken parts, something’s bound to send you spiraling down.
This is my response card for this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day/ National Suicide Prevention Week campaign, from To Write Love On Her Arms. It isn’t a very big card, so I ended up just choosing a few things to write down instead of writing down everything. And in truth, I was having difficulty coming up with what I would write on the card. After all, there are still times when I feel like I’m not here for anything special. I have to wrack my brain to think of my reasons to stay, which might sound morbid, but rings true for me a lot.
On the fourth day of the week-long campaign, TWLOHA invited everyone to share what they were made for. They encouraged us to take pictures and posting them with a hashtag, pictures of us doing what we were made for.
Since I didn’t have class today, and I woke up when the day was just about done, I wasn’t able to take any pictures. However, I still wanted to contribute something toward the task, and I figured that this blog post would be the next best way to do it. I’ll provide all the things I was made for from my card, but also include what didn’t make it onto the card, yet still rings true. I hope that this encourages you to actively search for your reasons, but to also remember that staying opens you to even more reasons—because you stayed.
This is an honest snapshot of what it’s like to feel like you’re trying to fool everyone. I want to illustrate what goes on in my head when I espouse the benefits of living and the words sound hollow in my own ears. These are the times when I wonder if I’m being a hypocrite—encouraging people to smile, to seek help, to live their best life as their genuine self in a do-no-harm fashion, when the clouds descend and I can’t follow my own advice. It isn’t an easy thing to look at, so I’ve put it all under a Read More tag just in case.
If you’ve been on the Internet for any amount of time, chances are you have encountered the word “triggered,” or have seen a “trigger warning.” It became a meme, but as many things often unfortunately do, it was then turned into a disqualifying phrase. To say someone has been “triggered” has been synonymous with calling someone overemotional, their responses overdone, and designating what they have to say as less-than because they responded in a certain way. It has also been used to mean someone strongly disagrees with a stance. I have seen this most often used against the discussion of social issues, namely feminism. Because of course, “overemotional” responses can be disqualified as valid right out of the gate, right?
As someone who has struggled with mental illness–as well as someone who has known sufferers of mental illnesses–I started using this word about six or seven years ago, and it wasn’t meant to disqualify a position or a person. Me and other sufferers I’ve known have used it to alert someone to our mental state, which could mean the difference between a good mental day and a bad mental day. It could even go unsaid verbally, but there would often be clear nonverbal signals that let other people know, “I’m not okay.” Likewise, “trigger warnings” have been used to alert people with certain stressors to avoid content in order to not experience undesired symptoms.
But don’t just take my word for it. Let’s take a look around, shall we?
Tomorrow is the research competition, and I’m hardly excited about it. This sucks because not only is this my first time participating in something like this, but it is also my sponsor’s first time participating in that role. He puts a lot of stock into my ability to give a great presentation tomorrow, and I can’t help but think someone else should be doing this instead of me.
My suit is hanging out so I don’t forget that’s what I’m putting on tomorrow morning, and I’m about to put the finishing touches on my presentation. However, there is only a hint of nerves. Everything else is a dark hole in my head where excitement usually comes from. Other people might think I’m being really calm despite the circumstances, when the truth is that I don’t want to be. I’d welcome those emotions, because they’re normal.
I have exercised caution in telling even the closest of friends about my darker days. I don’t want to mar whatever positive image they have of me inside their head. It could be considered a dishonest thing to do, but can anyone blame me for wanting them to feel okay, even when I can’t muster it? I say this because I opened up to someone, and I fear I’ve lost them. This could be real, or could just be my stupid head talking, but either way I do feel like they’re gone. Even if this person told me everything was fine, I would have to disagree–things don’t feel like any semblance of okay.
There is an abyss in my head where thoughts and emotions should sprout from. A chunk of my chest has been cored out and hidden from me, and the absence is most definitely felt. I feel like less than half a person today, sitting in a classroom full of people who were really super happy. The guy next to me even remarked on it, and then noticed I didn’t exactly blend in. He didn’t ask further, because maybe he sensed I didn’t want to chat about it. It could have also been the fact that class was starting, but either way, it was one of those moments when I felt like I really didn’t fit in.
I’ve started to feel like I shouldn’t have been in certain places, doing certain things. Nothing illegal, mind you—sitting on the bus yesterday morning, talking to people at school, other such daily activities people don’t normally think twice about. It’s like I made a last minute decision and everything somehow feels wrong. All the while, life goes on around me, and no one knows the storm brewing inside me.
I spent today trying to convince myself that it was going to be a good day. I had at least gotten my class reading done for today, even though I had totally forgotten about the minor group speech in class. I don’t know how my introduction managed to “blow away” our professor, but I’ll take it. I wasn’t in the mood to do much of anything today, much less talk to other people and present. I know that may sound antisocial, but such is the nonsense of an addled mind—I can be peppy and talkative one day, and run on autopilot anywhere from minutes to hours to a day later.
I asked for an egg and cheese omelette and got mac-n-cheese, instead. Normally this wouldn’t bother people, but for some reason today this had a profound effect. All I could keep thinking were things like: You should have just gone next door for a burger. No, you’ve been eating too many of those; the sandwich stand is healthier. You could have even just asked for the basic pasta+sauce combo and avoided the trouble. It seemed like just another notch in a day I couldn’t put faith into being a good one.