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How I'm Finding Meaning in the Meaningless of My Mental Illness

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I have been struggling for the last few weeks. Scratch that — the last four years. I’ve been trying everything, believe me. Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), painting, drawing, coloring, singing, exercising, reading, being outside. It all seems to be repetitive and to be honest, I’m growing nauseous trying to keep trying. That doesn’t mean I want to end my life, it’s just that I’m overanalyzing and trying to plan my happiness. It’s not working.

I find that my feelings relate to those of Margo Roth Spiegelman from the John Green novel, “Paper Towns.”

“Here’s what’s not beautiful about it: from here, you can’t see the rust or the cracked paint or whatever, but you can tell what the place really is. You can see how fake it all is. It’s not even hard enough to be made out of plastic. It’s a paper town. I mean, look at it, Q: Look at all those culs-de-sac, those streets that turn in on themselves, all the houses that were built to fall apart. All those paper people living in their paper houses, burning the future to stay warm. All the paper kids drinking beer some bum bought for them at the paper convenience store. Everyone demented with the mania of owning things. All the things paper-thin and paper-frail. And all the people, too. I’ve lived here for 18 years and I have never once in my life come across anyone who cares about anything that matters.”

Realistically, I know people have their stories that make them human. It’s why I plan on becoming a psychologist and why I’ve always loved reading and writing — my love for people who share their stories.

I feel that everything and everyone in my life that holds meaning is the paper version of themselves. I leave for college in 11 days. I keep thinking to myself that once I move out of my hometown, away from all the people and places that are too familiar, I may begin to feel different. But I am relying on an experience to help change my perspective, an experience that is completely and utterly unknown.

I ask myself too many questions that overwhelm me. I need to stop doing that.

“What if you don’t know how?”

“What if you can’t?”

“How will you cope when…?”

“What if no one likes me?”

“What if you never lose the weight?”

“What if you never get better?”

“What if no one thinks you are pretty?”

“Why don’t I feel beautiful?”

These are just a handful of examples that go through my head every minute. I worry about the unknown to the point where I just don’t want to deal with it anymore. I return to the quietness of my room, to the aloneness of obsessing over a planned future and to the bitterness that comes from calling people who don’t answer my phone calls anymore.

I don’t have any hopeful words of wisdom for anyone who is struggling like I am. I don’t want to tell you something that I don’t genuinely feel… yet. My hope is hanging by a thread. My anxiety and depression is screwing with the logical part of my brain that knows this won’t last forever.

Finding and creating hope is one of the hardest things we can ever do as human beings, in my opinion. Especially those who deal with chronic and/or mental illness. The medications, the therapy, doing whatever it is that brings us some temporary gratification or happiness, it really seems like it’s never going to work or get better.

But it has too. By God, it does.

I know it will, but I don’t think I want it to, to be honest.

I want it to get better, but I don’t.

I want to feel different without having to do anything differently.

How will I live a meaningful life if all I want is to do is live meaninglessly?

Follow this journey here.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

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 Unsplash photo via Alex Boyd

Originally published: October 10, 2017
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