**Trigger Warning – Mental Illness, Depression, Anxiety, Hopelessness, Suicidal Ideation**
“Sometimes, all you can do is lie in bed, and hope to fall asleep before you fall apart.”
- William C. Hannan
I am not sharing this post for your sympathy. I’m sharing it because usually when I share thoughts about my journey, it’s once I’ve turned the corner and can see the positive in life, once I’m in remission and am fighting to recover and gain control of my mind. I am raw, I overshare a lot, but I want to keep this real, and I want so desperately to help those without lived experience of this hell to understand why it’s not as simple as “thinking positively” or “going to the gym” or “trying yoga” or “appreciating the good things in your life and thinking about everyone else who is so special to you.”
I want to help people comprehend what it is like when depression, anxiety, and mental illness in general, take control of your mind and fight you each time you make a conscientious decision to take back that control and convince yourself to keep going. You try to plan for a future that right now your mind tells you doesn’t exist. You surround yourself with loved ones. You read stories of others who’ve overcome these obstacles. You read the stories of families who have lost someone that they love to these terrible illnesses and never recover. You take the medication you’re prescribed by the psychiatrist. You see the psychologist. You try alternative therapies like Transcranial Magnetic Therapy (TMS) and Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT).
Your brain isn’t rational, your mind fights back and rejects the limited positive thoughts that you’re able to find each time that they resurface, trying to convince you that things will get better. And still you feel hopeless, you feel defeated, you feel like a burden, you feel the pain overtake you, and you know that you just can’t do this anymore. You’re exhausted, and you just want your journey to end, you want the fight to be over.
You’re put into hospital to keep you safe from yourself. To stop you from making a decision to end it all, and escape from the hell that exists in your head from the moment that you wake up to the moment you fall asleep.
The anxiety stops you from wanting to be around others. At meal times you don’t eat. You’re not hungry, but even more so, being in that confined space with everyone around you, makes your heart race, makes it so hard to breathe, you get hot and cold flushes, you feel dizzy, you feel nauseous, you feel like you’ll pass out, and your mind just tells you to run away, get out of there, leave right now. You can’t do this. So you return to your room and isolate yourself, feeding into the anxiety and letting it remain in control.
You sit in your bed, you try to find positive inspiration online, you try to remember all those positive times you’ve had in the past, you look at the photos of those you love, photos of amazing memories, with your husband, with your family, with your friends, you remind yourself that you’ve overcome this battle in the past and you’ve got so much to be thankful for, and so many people who love you, you’re not alone. But the depression tells you that this time it’s different. This time you’re in too far and you’ll never get out alive.
The depression makes you want to isolate yourself from everyone and everything. The depression tells you that your family, your friends, that everyone, will be better without you here putting them through hell, you’re a burden. You’re a failure, and they’ll start to resent you for making them relive the pain of your existence, watching you suffering, listening over and over to your crying, witnessing you getting frustrated, saying horrible things to them that you don’t mean, and not being able to stop these things for you. You know they’ll never admit that you’re a burden on their lives, you know that maybe right now they can’t see it, but you know that disappearing from their lives would be so much better for them in the long term.
So your mind goes round and round. The thoughts get faster and faster. Sometimes the sedation medication helps to stop everything and you can sleep to escape it all, but when you awaken you know you’re just going to be right where you were before your eyes closed. You’re on a dangerous theme park ride, where the only way to make it stop is to unbuckle that safety belt and jump the hundreds of metres to the ground. To come crashing down, to fall to pieces, to make it stop and to never get up again. Despite what your friends and family argue, and try so desperately to convince you, you truly feel this is the best option for everyone.
Your psychiatrist visits you in hospital each morning. She tries to convince you that things will improve, that things will get better, that she’ll get you through this, that’s she is not giving up, that once she can get you to see that suicide is not the answer, and find that medication balance that you so desperately need, your life will turn around, and you’ll find life worth fighting for once again. But right now, you can’t see this, so you continue to feel like a prisoner, trapped inside your own mind, wishing and hoping for the day when they let you go home, after all they can’t keep you locked up indefinitely. They can’t keep you safe forever. One day the ride will stop, and you’ll be pain-free, it will all be over and this torment inside your head, that affects everyone you love and everyone you care about, will cease to exist. One day you’ll find peace and truly be free.