When You Can't Help but Wonder, 'Why Me?' About Your Mental Illness
“Why us?”she asked. “Why do our minds betray us? Why do we go through hell when others walk free?”
It’s a question I ask myself daily, hourly, minute by minute.
Why me? Why do I have to suffer? Why do I have to feel everything and nothing all at once? Why do other people’s minds work for them when mine works against me?
I don’t have an answer. No one does.
I no longer remember what it’s like to be happy. I don’t remember what it’s like to be so excited for something that you can’t sleep. I don’t remember a day when I haven’t told myself, just get through the next 12 hours and you can be back in bed. I don’t know what it feels like to be excited or peaceful or relaxed or content. I don’t know what it feels like to be happy.
Every time I feel as though I’m getting to that place, something always brings me back into the dark. Usually it is a thought my mind decides I need to have. Or a memory of something triggered by a word someone said or a song playing in the background. Far too often it is a person who flashes happiness at me and then takes it away. I’ve gotten to a point now where I believe I don’t deserve to be happy. And the part that makes that worse is that I’ve accepted unhappiness as my fate.
But why her? Why me? Why are we so damn cursed? There’s no concrete reason or explanation. There’s no answer to the question or key to the puzzle because it is a million different things working at once. And it makes me mad. My god does it ever make me mad.
It’s like when your boyfriend breaks up with you but doesn’t provide any explanation. One day everything is fine and dandy, and the next he says, “I think it’s time that we go our separate ways” or “I can’t do this anymore.” And when you ask him why, all he says is “Just because” and walks out your door, never giving you any chance of closure. And for days and weeks and maybe months or years after, you always wonder why, what happened, why did he leave? Was it you? Was it him? Was it you and him together? Was there someone else? Was there a particular incident? You can ask yourself why until you’re blue in the face, but you know you’re never going to get the answers you need. So you’re frustrated and confused and left to live with the open-ended way he left things, never knowing what went wrong.
For me, having a mental illness is like that. The only difference is, chances are, you’ll find another boy who becomes your boyfriend and suddenly those questions you once had don’t matter anymore. But you can’t find another mind that isn’t unbalanced or sick because everyone is given one brain, one mind, one mental capacity, and you can’t just walk out on one to find a newer, better model.
So not only are you feeling sad and lonely and depressed and anxious and panicked and a million other things all at once, but you don’t have a reason behind any of them, you don’t have the answer to the question “why me” because your mind betrayed you like that boy who just walked out, and it becomes up to you to come to peace with it all. But that gets harder when you see people every day whose minds work with them, who remember what it feels like to be happy, who were probably overexcited about something the other day, who will be overexcited about something in the future, and who experience blissful pleasure so much that they take it for granted. And that’s when the “why me” becomes even harder because it then becomes unfair.
So I have no answers. I’ve combed through all of my journals and every scrap of my writing from the past few years. I’ve combed through other peoples’ writing and poems and stories. I’ve taken numerous psychology courses and read self-help books. I’ve heard speakers talk about their own struggles with mental illness, and I’ve opened up with my friends and family. I talk to my psychiatrist on a weekly basis. And I still have no answers.
The only thing I can come up with is that no one has the answer.
And so I have to live in this mind that betrays me minute by minute without knowing why. And I will not lie to you: it makes me so f*cking angry that I have to live like this while others don’t.
People like her and me, we feel things those who live free from this illness may never feel. People who have walked free from this curse may never know how exhausting it is to just get out of bed and put clothes on. They may never know what it’s like to need to be alone because your mind is so loud that the only way you can quiet it is to get away from people and recharge yourself. They may never know what it feels like when they’re panicking and their head feels like it has four walls closing in on their brain so fast that pressure in their head rises and their vision becomes spotty and black. People living without this curse may never understand what it’s like to literally have no motivation to do anything. They won’t understand what it’s like to lose interest in all your favorite pastimes and hobbies and passions. They won’t understand what it feels like to be tortured by your own mind. People free from all this may not know what it’s like to feel numb, to forget what excitement is, to forget what happiness feels like.
But there’s also an upside to the curse: we feel things no one else does, can or ever will, and we feel things in such intensities that when we’re depressed, we are depressed. But when we feel a spark of happiness or joy or excitement or love? We feel it. And happiness and joy and excitement and blissful love are not common for us. In fact they are incredibly rare for people like her and me. But that’s the upside. They are so rare that when they do come along, we don’t take them for granted. When they do come along, we feel every inch of them, every tingle, every spark, every smile. When feelings of happiness and joy and excitement and love come into our minds, no matter how fleeting, we hold on to them with such a tight grasp telling ourselves to enjoy the f*ck out of it because we know all too well it isn’t permanent. People who experience happiness and joy and excitement and love every day become so used to it that it becomes the norm; it becomes ordinary. But for people like her and me, happiness and joy and excitement and love are so extraordinary that when they do come along, we feel every inch of them because we know what life is like without them. We feel every side of these positive feelings because we don’t take them for granted. We feel happiness and joy and excitement and love in such a high intensity because we’ve seen the darkness of the other side.
So time and time again, she asks: “Why us? Why do our minds betray us? Why do we go through hell when others walk free?”
And to that I give one simple answer: “Because we feel things no one else does, can or ever will. And most of the time, that’s a curse. But sometimes, every so often, that’s one hell of a blessing.”
If you or someone you know needs help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.
The Crisis Text Line is looking for volunteers! If you’re interesting in becoming a Crisis Counselor, you can learn more information here.