It is not warm or welcoming. It’s cold and uninviting, yet so many people live there. Someone is always talking. usually more than one someone at once, and they never get along. I’m going to take you through my messy, little mind in hopes you will better understand mental illness. Many people believe it is because we don’t eat right, sleep well or exercise enough. Even more people feel like we do this to ourselves. More frequently in the media, I see people romanticizing mental illness and I won’t stand for that. If you think mental illness is “tragically beautiful,” then I think you should look again, and for the people who are honestly trying to understand, I hope this helps. There are many people living in my head. There is the manipulator, the angry one, the little girl, the shell, the void and the invincible. Here’s a more in-depth explanation of each: The manipulator used to make her way out often. “Hmm, my therapist hasn’t shown much interest lately. Why don’t we pretend to be worse than I am? My friend doesn’t seem to have made me as priority. Why don’t we breed lies and secrets against her other friends? The psychiatrist doesn’t seem to think I’m sick enough to be here. Maybe I should lead him to think something else. My friend and I are drifting. We need a secret to pull us closer. Let’s make something up!” This sick person takes over my body and I sit back and watch as she ruins my life. The angry teenager rages against all that she feels she hasn’t deserved, angry she is always the one to be yelled at and the one to be blamed. “If I’m just a kid, then why do I have to save the world? If I’m such an adult, then why are you treating me like a child?” Her abusive and neglectful childhood was so inconsistent, her sense of balance is forever warped. She is constantly mad at everyone for making her who she is. The little girl, always feels the need to be held. “Just hold me. Please, make me feel safe. Nothing is OK. I’m not OK. Please, help me. Please, I’m scared.” This little girl inside of me is always crying because she doesn’t feel safe, always wanting to run but never knowing where to run to, constantly in fear of being yelled at, being locked in the dark, being abandoned, being forgotten and left to fight the monsters by herself. Now, there’s also this shell of a person. It’s not real. It doesn’t think I’m real. It doesn’t think any of this is real. When its in control, looking in the mirror is harder than ever. All I see is this ghost with no connection in her eyes. I’m just a shadow. “None of this is real. Everything is OK because none of this is happening. You aren’t real. You aren’t real. You aren’t real. You don’t exist. You do not exist. You do not exist.” Over and over, like a broken record, there’s no way to stop it. If I hold my hands out in front of me, then I’m sure they aren’t mine. My insides are hollow, no feeling, no flicker of life. Then there’s the void. It’s what happens when nobody is in control, yet I still can’t grab the reigns myself. It’s the depression at its worst. It’s existing and being nothing, meaning nothing matters in the least. Nobody hates you. Nobody loves you. You’re just floating in this deep sea of loneliness and all you want to do is sleep your days away. You can’t even muster up the emotion to be angry or afraid of anything. You are just a meaningless existence. Sometimes I have short periods where this young girl takes over, just laughing, screaming, smiling and dancing everywhere and wanting to do everything. She doesn’t need sleep, friends or anything because she is a friend of the world. She is everywhere and everything. Those moments tend to be few and fleeting, but they come with dangers of their own. It’s hard to learn you aren’t invincible when you were sure you were. Often, I can put up a facade to cover whichever person is running my body. They still have their outbursts, the moments when I loose all control and have to watch the disaster ensue. Sometimes it feels strange to me there are people out there who haven’t thought seriously of suicide or don’t understand why people self-harm. The “sane” side of me is extremely glad there are people like that, but the sick side of me looks back on my five hospitalizations in the past year and a half and is baffled there are people coping with life. Not a week goes by where I don’t seriously consider suicide at least once and not a day goes by where I don’t have to talk myself out of self-harm. Every day, I seriously consider self-harm. Every single day, I have to tell myself needing stitches will not solve my problems, but it isn’t only physical self-harm. Sometimes just putting myself in dangerous situations fulfills the self-destructive need. I sometimes put myself with someone I shouldn’t be, just so I can feel terrible about myself because I feel like I deserve it. There is always a part of me trying to ruin my relationships. I think things like, “I’m sure I don’t deserve them and I’m sure they’re going to just pick up and stop talking to me again so I better finish this my way!” I’ve managed to sabotage most of my relationships because of my actions, based on the rampage of countering thoughts running through my mind. “That person must hate me because they didn’t initiate a hug.” “Well I hate them. I’m never going to talk to them again.” “No, no, no I need them. I hope they don’t hate me.” “Love me, please! I need love don’t leave me!” “Oh screw them, this is their fault.” “Oh God, I hate myself for all this. I hope they don’t hate me too!” “Oh look, they text me just to say hi, guess we’re all good!” It’s a roller coaster I want to get off of, and even worse, sometimes the people in my head decide to fight. It’s not just a mild disagreement. Oh no, a full on screaming match and it’s all I can do to keep from losing my mind. Sometimes the voices get so loud, I can’t stand it. I have entire episodes of screaming at my mind to quiet down. It’s so intense and painful I feel like my brain is about to implode on itself. My thoughts always run fast and wild, but during episodes, it feels like there are so many words in and out of my mind blurring together. It’s like blinding flashes of words going too fast to understand. I just shake from the feeling of holding the whole world in my mind. I’m 17 and most days I wish not to exist anymore simply because I just cannot take all that happens in my mind. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard people whispering behind my back because I’m never at school, have so many scars, have been hospitalized again or that I must be insane, but that’s just their own ignorance. I would love to be able to correct all that faulty thinking about mental illness. The next time you hear someone laughing about people with mental illness or saying how “tragically beautiful” suicide and self-harm are, I would love it if you would tell them it is nowhere near funny or beautiful. It is painful and miserable and every day is a fight with yourself just to make it through. So don’t whisper and glare when you see my scars. Don’t criticize or say I’m not trying to get better because you don’t know what I’m going through. Everyone fights a different battle. Don’t judge someone’s battle just because it isn’t the same as yours. 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. The Mighty is asking the following: Give advice to someone who has just been diagnosed with your mental illness. What do you wish someone had told you? Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.