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Writing Through the Emotional Roller Coaster of Mental Illness

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I have sat in front of my computer today not really knowing what to say or where to begin. I just feel like I need to write. So come with me on a journey with no destination. Hopefully, the views will be interesting.

I’ve been trying to ignore it, but it’s gotten to the point where I can’t deny it any more. The darkness is coming back. I was starting to feel positive and hopeful, but the last few days have been a downward spiral. I’m not really sure why.

That’s the thing with mental illness. It doesn’t always have a specific trigger. Often, it can be influenced by circumstances and events in our lives, but sometimes, it just decides to mess with you for a while. I went back to the doctor today to let her know how I was feeling. One of my telltale signs that I’m on the way down is falling asleep during the day. It’s not something I’ve done in a few months, but this week, it’s happened every day.

I swing from chronic insomnia to the complete opposite. No matter how much sleep I get, it’s never enough. I feel sluggish, lethargic and lacking in any energy or motivation. I just want to sleep, to sleep and perchance to dream.

Dreams are vivid for me. I enjoy my dreams. They are epic tales of legendary quests with twists, turns and brilliant colors. Recently, they have featured my parents heavily. I often dream I am at my old house, the home of my entire childhood.

Sometimes, my parents are there and sometimes not. Sometimes, it’s like I’m trying to break away from the present and go back to that warm and comforting past. God, I miss them so much. I feel like I am unable to adjust to a reality where they are not here. So sleep is an escape. I know that. I’ve been up and down enough times to know the signs.

The other main one being that my creative drive has all but disappeared. I create when I’m happy, and I’m happy when I create. However, I have artist’s block. This starts to bring in all those nagging doubts of my ability. The little voice telling me I can’t do this becomes triumphant. “I told you so!” it jeers from the blackness. Laughing and mocking me, it’s hard to shut that dude up. I’ve tried many times.

So I went to the doctor. I filled her in on where I was at. The decision was made that my current meds were obviously not working. They’ve changed them up (again). She also said something to me I thought I’d never hear. She said if these meds and my upcoming cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) didn’t work, then we’d have to go down the route of a psychiatrist.

I’ve been wanting help for so long. I was dumbfounded that their attitude was they’d try every single drug they could (I’ve had them all pretty much) before they considered talking therapy. I felt like I’d finally been taken seriously. I was overjoyed, and at the same time, I was so angry. I can’t believe it’s come to this after all this time.

Mental health services are so inadequate, and nothing is being done to make them better. Never has my drive been more strong than to try and do something. I still don’t know exactly what, but I just want to help people. I want to make their journey through the vast and convoluted roller coaster of mental health a little more bearable. I don’t want people to feel alone. I don’t want people to feel ashamed or like they cannot be open and honest about how they’re feeling.

There is no shame. The sooner people accept this, the sooner we can move past the guilt. The guilt of feeling like your brain isn’t working properly, like it’s somehow failing you, is one of the main lies of depression and anxiety. You feel broken. You feel like your whole self has failed at the seemingly simple task of being a decent, functioning human being.

It is hard to stand up and admit that. So that’s what I will do for now. When I’m in a better place, I will see what else I can do. I have my group, and I can lean on my members just as they lean on me and each other. It’s a wonderful thing really. That feeling that in your broken state, you can be somebody else’s glue. It shows me beyond anything else that those with mental illness have so much to give because in so many cases the people I speak to help others. They have big, open, compassionate hearts and beautiful souls. We should see that in ourselves and realize maybe we aren’t as broken as we feel. If I really am the thing I view myself as, then why do I want to help?

I still don’t really know where I’m going, but hopefully, I’ll know when I get there. I feel like I’m on the edge of a precipice. I’m looking down into that whirling expanse of darkness, and my foot is slipping. If I fall, then I know I will come out the other side. I’ve done it before. I know I have the strength to do it again, even though the thought of it is terrifying.

Part of me wants to give in to it and just jump. Staying up here is too hard. Better to just freefall and hope I’m not falling for too long. The next few days will be telling. I haven’t given up hope yet. It might just be a bad week. These bad weeks can easily turn into bad months, but they can also be just that, a bad week.

Here’s to hoping that it’s just a little wobble and I find myself standing on solid ground again soon. Maybe I’ll even turn my back on the darkness completely and keep climbing (for awhile at least). That is what I want.

I’ve decided to not be too hard on myself. Like I said, guilt is the killer. Guilt is that little nudge at just the right time to send you sailing over the edge. Try not to be too hard on yourself. Allowing the dark in just a little and turning to face it rather than trying to resist can be helpful. To be balanced, you need the darkness there. Without it, you cannot appreciate the light.

Be kind to yourself and others. You never know whether those people are climbing or falling. It’s so hard to tell from the outside. Try your best to always give out goodness and light, even if you don’t feel it. If you can’t, then that’s OK too. Take some time. Work on yourself. Sometimes, you need to be selfish.

So I’ll keep it moving. I always do. I try my best and that’s all a person can ever do. Not sure if I achieved much with this article yet, but I feel like I have a little more order to my thoughts. Writing it down helps. Everyone should try it, but like an emotional roller coaster, the ride is over for now.

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Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: January 12, 2017
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