This is a journal excerpt from a time in my life when I battled severe anxiety, which was brought on by who-knows-what exactly, possibly a combination of life changes, brain hormones, and personality tendencies. I have since found treatment through medication, but I wanted to share my thoughts from this difficult time so others who share similar struggles could find solidarity. I know too well what it’s like to feel alone. I also think this is an important perspective for those who have not experienced a mental illness. I have had to explain my condition to many friends and family members; it is sometimes difficult for people to emphasize with someone whose wound is invisible. Hence the stigma surrounding mental health. Those of us who have a mental illness know that a physical injury would be preferable. At least if we were bleeding our pain would be acknowledged.
Without further ado:
| Mental Illness. If you haven’t experienced it, you can’t possibly understand. It is different for each person, a unique brand of crazy that makes us feel like we’re alone in the world. For me, it’s like I am trapped inside a dark cave with no way out. It’s inescapable fear. I carve the days in the prison wall of my mind and pray for the day I’ll see the return of the light. It’s being vividly aware of each of my cells. And feeling responsible for each person in the world. That kind of connectedness is impossible and unbearable. It’s the screams of a tortured soul tearing out its hair and thrashing its body. It’s having irrational thoughts every minute of every day; any attempt to stop these thoughts is done in vain. It’s imagining the worst thing that could happen in every situation and experiencing those emotions as if your thought was reality. It’s knowing you aren’t in control of your own body, what you feel, and what you think. It’s the panic that follows and a constant weight on your chest that makes it almost impossible to breathe. It’s a war you didn’t sign up for, but you can’t stop fighting because the cost is your life. |
– – – – –
I plan to write a follow-up post at some point about my experiences as a Christian living with mental illness. That’s a whole other conversation because, yes, people really do say, “If you had more faith, you wouldn’t be going through this.”