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My Brain Has Become a Canvas, Depression and Anxiety Hold the Brush

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So here I lay, staring at the ceiling, completely still. Sounds of hatred pound my brain, reminding me that loneliness loves me. It loves the sounds of a dreadful scream.

I am one of those people who think and think and think. Rarely will you find me directly in the moment, mindfully paying attention to what I am supposed to be doing. I struggle with what is known as “anxious thinking,” which is when you have thoughts of “what if, shoulda, coulda, if only…” playing on a continuous loop in your mind. No matter how hard you try, you can’t let them go.

I, myself, would consider them more like anxious screams. Most people don’t understand the impact and strength these screams have. For instance, I will say something to someone and get a weird vibe off their reaction, a vibe I usually misinterpret.

Automatically, my brain starts to shout, “You are a f*cking idiot! Why did you say that? Who is the fool now?” As I start to examine those screams (not by choice, by the way), the physical symptoms of anxiety appear, sweating, racing heart, upset stomach, irregular bowel movements and tremors. The more I dwell on the negative, the more escalation in power the screams get.

Of course, depression tag teams with anxiety. Depression stitches itself into my body and keeps me in my bed. My self-hate makes it impossible to be around others. Yet, it also makes it impossible to be alone. The two always have me hiding away inside the repulsive world of my head, a world that depression has been creating since the age of 3.

It strategically places the idea in my head that I am the definition of ugly. You see, I will never be pretty or so my brain always tells me. Most days, if I’m in front of a mirror, the loop screams, “You are ugly,” over and over again. It is these screams I prod daily, a true version of self-esteems hell, a road to several suicide attempts. No fairytale ending here.

When depression joins the nonstop worry and physical anxiety, the screams become true. They become so ingrained that my brain has learned to believe them, each and every word. They get louder, constantly screaming words of hate toward me. It is like anxiety is standing behind my eyes, conducting depression to pound me with, “You are not good enough. You are not good enough. You are not good enough.”

There is no proving that they are wrong. My life revolves around these screams. They have full control of my brain, which is ultimately their canvas.

Logically, I know deep down that these screams are my illnesses talking. Some days, I am stronger. I recognize them and see them as the black dog of depression and anxiety doing their best to break me down. They are the disease, and I am not. I have tried cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) therapy. Yet, no matter what I do, the rotation always starts again. The of loop of screams always come back.

I may not have the answers on how to eradicate these obsessive thoughts. I may not be able to stop that constant scream. I may not be able to fight back every single day, but I have started to learn that I can be the hero to my story. You see, God has given me the ability to take pen to paper, to create my own canvas of poetry outside of my head allowing the painful emotions to escape safely, even if only for a little while.

The loop may never close, but with that said, the emotions need to flow through me rather than stay stuck within me. To push the screams beyond my brain, writing has become my hero. I have written more than 100 pieces of poetry in the last year alone about my life living with a mental illness. They are rough pieces to read, but they are reality and that reality is no longer stuck spinning around in my head. It is out and on the paper, which solidifies the idea that those screams are not me. I am me, and one day, new thoughts, true thoughts, will represent who I truly am, me.

And thus, I must write the ending to this poem, my story.

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

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

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Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: December 30, 2016
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