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Daily Struggle of Mental Illness

Inaccessible Normalcy & Unable to Root Self in Reality

I’ve been looking for these answers for seven long years, & finally I was diagnosed. But now that I have answers, I want to go back to having a puzzle to solve, rather than a serious problem to deal with. I want to forget I ever asked questions & searched so diligently. Or maybe I wish I’d found the answers sooner, to prevent such great loss. All I know is that I hate where these answers have left me.

Of course I look fine: that’s part of the art I’ve mastered of concealing the condition of my soul, the status of my sanity, the uneven patterns within my throbbing heartbeat. I stitch a smile onto my face so tightly that no quick movement may unravel it. The second eyes are not upon me, I rush to the corner & break down, tears bursting uncontrollably, the ache in my chest growing evermore intense. My carefully stitched smile comes undone, but only when there is no one to witness it.

Every single day is a fight as I struggle to experience “normal,” stable emotions, to ignore the lingering paranoia accumulated over seven years from depression, voices, anxiety, & events resulting in PTSD symptoms. It’s wholly exhausting just being myself, especially to bear my burdens while also needing to sustain a job. It’s so terrifyingly overwhelming that I honestly want to kill myself most days.

I don’t feel deserving of love; I seek it because I am insecure. When I am not given love, it hurts; when love is proven illegitimate, I am completely crushed. Maintaining friendships alone proves challenging because my reality is so drastically different from theirs that I feel unable to relate to them. While conversing, I grow even more lost in thought as I mentally compare my circumstances with theirs, envious of their “normal” life problems. I also become self-conscious, more aware than ever that my life has in no way been “normal” for quite a long time. It’s impossibly lonely as I remain disconnected from people, a huge issue of that being the months I was trapped in psychotic depression, disconnected from reality entirely. I’ve truly lost sight of the purpose & practice of interacting with & functioning in society.

I can’t even imagine what happiness might feel like because I’ve been drowning in depression for so long. It’s difficult to believe that the help I receive from people is genuine because, on average, everyone leaves my life in a cruel & devastating fashion.

I rip at my lower lip until the skin is scattered in pieces & I begin to bleed. I lick it up casually to avoid being detected as I wince in pain—pain enough to ground me in the present, root me in my current reality that seems to escape my brain as I delve into the bitter anger & terrified pain lingering deep within my soul. It’s such a maze—a fascinating, enslaving maze that provides more questions with every brief answer I uncover. Once the bleeding from my lip subsides, I slather Burtz Bees lip balm across the damaged area, even within my lip. The red stains on my fingernails mean nothing to me; I continue on with my day.

I welcomed this new year resolved to quit cutting myself. I’ve been successful thus far, routinely massaging scar-healing cream over my tiger stripes in hopes of making them disappear forever.

But my desire for pain during intense emotions never leaves me. I recognize that there’s an issue with my core thinking, the essence of my mindset, the root of my perspectives. Even without the terrible habit of cutting, I sometimes seek ways to harm myself. Sometimes I can feel the emotions building within me. I recognize the spiral of my thoughts yet am unable to stop them, so I seek to ground my mind in reality by inflicting pain on my body. When available, I punch tile walls; when unavailable, I bite myself or pull at my hair. I have no idea what coping skill could possibly take the place of pain to relieve the unwanted intensity of my thoughts, but I am definitely searching for one.

Unruly Psychosis Versus Mental Control

This life terrifies me. On January 25, 2015, I was at work when I began having psychosis symptoms in the form of rapidly developing derealization. It began while driving to work at 1:20 PM, & developed through the first hour of working. It’s most terrifying because it usually lasts for several hours, if not days; I feared it wouldn’t end soon enough.

After the darkness had lingered for a couple hours, I took my fifteen minute break at work. For the first ten minutes, I hid in the bathroom, crying hard as I quietly could, & for the last five minutes I curled up on a bench in the lobby, soothing myself with reminders that this was not actual reality & that this awful, disturbing feeling would end at some point. Ending my break with breathing exercises, I returned to work, still shaken by my episode, & still remaining in my episode. I felt a little better, but not much, & my confidence in my ability to end the episode was very weak. The humourous conversations of my coworkers & the tasks at hand slightly helped ground me in reality, as much as my mind would allow. The episode eventually ended, & I was hugely relieved.

Many friends repeatedly say that I create my own reality & am responsible for the outcome, including my happiness & ridding myself of depression. But this has proven untrue in my life for quite awhile: my mind is not my own during an episode. I struggle to understand the boundaries between mental illness & my own habitual thought patterns: one is me losing control of my mind, & the other is me controlling my own mind; one is an explanation for my dark side, & the other is an excuse for my dark side. The more I think about it, the more I embarrassingly recognize many things as “episodic” behaviour, things that drove people away or bore some unpleasant consequence. Where is the line? What is in my power, & how the hell can I take control of it? When attacked by psychosis of some sort, I become terrified of my mind; when the symptoms subside, I still am terrified & feel out of control of my own thoughts. Am I letting the dark side take over, in the sense that I have control to stop it all?, or am I legitimately out of control of my mind due to an actual illness?

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