The thought was racing through my head! Get it out get it to the paper before you say the wrong thing to the wrong person. I rushed to my room half expecting to scream but it was a long sigh of freedom. During CoVid 19 I've experienced isolation, fear and uncertainty. I am one of many people in this world who take prescription medication to ease anxiety and depression. I take these so I can feel and function like normal daily. However, when you add a pandemic and an insurmountable size of fear it's hard to get out of bed in the morning let alone even take your medication partly in fear you will run out before you can get some more. Since this pandemic has started, it has changed my views to accessibility and what also may be the new normal one day. Throughout these months I have developed things that helped me to cope and slowly overcome the feelings I was facing daily. Number one was writing my feelings! Anytime I felt overwhelmed or anxiety thinking about the absolute worst I would write them out and eventually It became therapeutic! It was helpful during those dark days. I accompanied writing with exercise and a change of scenery every so often, even if it was a walk around my backyard. Even though times are fickle and I feel so much doubt for my future, I know my story is not finished.
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You have a story I want to tell. It could be 7 or it could be 20 stories. I am not putting any limitations on it. Take a chance with me as a skilled and educated professional writer and interviewer and as someone who has been there in one way or another. I blog about my mental illness of PTSD--its experience and treatments--and sometime ago about my Recurrent, Severe, Major Depression (yes, that is something you can look up in the psychologist's reference DSM-5 along with PTSD that doesn't quite fill my shoes because Complex PTSD, which I have, I don't think is yet included in the DSM, though it is established in scientific communities). Just the night before last, I had the most weighty of dreams in which I was back on that solitary, isolated, parent-regimed, and, most importantly, depressing, hopeless, infinite home experience. It seemed such a long dream and full of that old emotion memory that I awoke with the feeling heavy on me, lasting all day. I'm not sure I'm quite over it today, though I have been amazingly productive compared to yesterday when I couldn't care enough about anything to really put my heart into it. I'm not telling a lot of you anything unusual, because in one form or another you have been there--those old neural pathways I am working to overcome with EMDR therapy in counseling and with ketamine treatments and other psych meds with my psychiatrist, popping up here and there when you don't expect it. In On PTSD: A Personal Experience I took you down the rabbit hole of scary emotional first person incident and thought life. In others, such as Experiencing Complex PTSD I talk more distantly of symptoms and such. I could tell you more and I certainly would love to hear what you want to know about my life with these things. However, I want your voices to ring out from my pages. You have a voice. You own no shame. I want you to Say Something like I did in my 9-part series I am working on turning into a full length memoir. I want to hear and report your stories using the writing gift and education and platforms that God has given me. The whole point of my speaking up, whatever the form, about my experiences is so that you may feel free to speak up about yours. I propose this. If you are interested, named or unnamed, in sharing your story, via phone, email, or however you are most comfortable, so that I may use my skills to write a story with your prior-approval or, even, may decide not to share publicly at all, I want to hear from you. Please comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with serious inquiries, by which I mean I am not interested in starting any romantic relationships, for instance. Try me out. You can trust me as a professional writer with interview experience that even stood the test of a journalist grad student and professional without change that I will do you justice. I want honesty, but I do not require any details you don't want to share. I share no details, including your name, if you want, that you don't want me to share. I can listen to a a lot and only share a little. You decide what questions of mine you answer. You decide. You get to Say Something if you want. You have a story to tell, and I want to tell it. More than that, many, many others need or want to hear it. You can believe me for all my years reading your posts, talking with you in groups or as individuals, and being in therapy. Serious, if hesitant, inquiries via Comments or my email email@example.com please. Caveat: I AM NOT A THERAPIST, SO I CANNOT COUNSEL YOU OR BE A REPLACEMENT FOR COUNSELING. Please seek professional help if you know what I am talking about but haven't talked to a psychiatric professional before. https://thehopechronicles.wordpress.com/2020/01/28/7-mental-illness-stories-wanted-and-admired/
The world was mad at me, or so I had thought. My selfish mindset taught me the world had been waiting for generations upon generations to release its rage upon me. I became blind to the idea that I, of all people, was filled with ego. Through the moments I noticed this within me I felt as if I was allowed to feel this way, more than anyone. The universe knew every particle of my being, the good and the bad, and knew how to play my strings perfectly to slowly kill my thoughts. I was a robot. I self-destructed more than anyone and denied that it was me doing it. I procrastinated until I couldn't anymore, I grabbed things no thirteen-year-old should grab. Imagine what you will. I wanted boys to seek me, to pursue me. I still do. I crave the idea of having the slightest bit of attention and I break when someone does not laugh at my joke. I would break when things did not go my way and when there was no reason to break at all. The world was no longer the world I was in but much more of a living hell. I was burnt to crisp and would drive myself insane. I was broken and torn to pieces and I blamed no one but the universe. It hated me, it had to. My father would say things without thinking and it drove me to insanity. My mother was at work too much. I questioned my life too often. I could not imagine a future. I liked falling asleep but I could never do it right. Nightmares were less scary than the world I was living in. Happiness made me feel inferior, normal. I accepted the universe's destiny for me. I had it the worst. One day, another day, and another had passed. The sun began to shine and the moon would glow. My dog would lick my face and this time I did not push him away. My brother said hi to me first when he came home. I went to therapy. I described my life “as an elevator, rather than hills. When I get hurt I start at a floor and get shot down”. She understood me. I would go to the mall and play truth or dare. I spent cold autumn nights going to football games and Starbucks and to the new taco place in town. I found new music and I went to concerts. I began to give more hugs, take more pictures. I licked the snow, I made hot chocolate, and burnt my tongue way too often. I wore Christmas pajamas. I wore dresses to school. I wore whatever I wanted to wear. I held babies and played with kids. I smiled at strangers; Sometimes I would beat my anxiety and talk to them. Once I met a girl in the clearance section in Old Navy, she wants to go to space one day. Traveling made me smile, made me feel small. I was no longer the center of the universe, but an ant in the distance. Rollercoasters were never scary, but thrilling. I enjoyed the pit you get in your stomach once you fall from the peak of the ride, almost relieved. I noticed the feeling you get when you shave your legs and go under the sheets. The feeling of wearing clothes that were fresh out of the drier was a whole new world. I went to lakes and ran barefoot in the grass, the blades were soft and muddy feet were the least of my worries. I kept pennies I found on the ground. I woke up on time on weekdays and slept in late on Saturdays. I went to church often. I would notice the feeling of not being able to breathe from laughing too hard. The glisten in your eyes when you are so happy you could cry. I made new friends and rekindled hope with the old ones. I started putting my pieces together. I picked up my own broom. For months this period went on and I felt as if I had it the worst at one point; the ignorance I painted over my eyes blinded me. Months became the last few seconds of my innocence. I heard the door shut and my eyes opened to the ear-piercing sound of my brother wailing. I questioned him, “What happened?”, the question echoes in my mind to this day. Life as I had known it had ended, slowly but all at once. The climax of the fight scene, right when the last thing you would have expected was for the protagonist to get knocked down yet again. But that's when I realized- I wasn't the protagonist- or the antagonist. I was someone different in everyone's stories. But all stories come to an end. Esther's story ended, but she was still a light in mine. She was the sun that began to shine and the moons glow and the flickering of the morning stars. I suddenly realized that at thirteen, I thought it could not have been worse. I became a much quieter version of myself and fell back into pitiful habits I thought I had once lost. I hated myself for it. I was no longer scared of the future but stuck in the present. The sun no longer woke me up in the mornings, the moon was small looking and frail. The night sky seemed empty and the world was massive. Life was no longer living, but struggling to be alive. Feelings were no longer felt, but hoped for. Hope was fragile and small but still flickered in dark rooms. I no longer licked the snow, or wore Christmas pajamas. But: One day, another day, and another had passed. *in loving honor of Esther Morgan
I've never been an active participant in my own life. I've been inconspicuous, invisible, a contentious recorder of other people's experiences and perceptions of me. Until I noticed someone watching me: a voyeur studying a voyeur. We mirrored each other perfectly, my Pygmalion statuette. Before her, I used to think I was missing the foundation of myself: I couldn't possibly build upon a baseless design. I tried to assemble my personality, my identity, out of arbitrary likes and dislikes, curating my persona to avoid a certain social isolation, but still I felt so out of place. In her presence, I'd realized how homesick I was for myself this entire time: I'd been missing for years. Together, we existed in between the plane of reality and unconsciousness: the lingering, liminal space between the figurative and the abstract. We were abundant within the ample nothingness of the world. Conversations, subjects, trains of thought, that were usually difficult to navigate with others, would be completely coherent to her without hesitation: she understood the ugly, absurd, intangible parts of me, reciprocated my energy…and I felt a great, primordial and animalistic nakedness. Where we converged, we extended vertically, dimensionally, inheriting and absorbing all the abandoned love from the annals of the universe. A great oneiric planar ascension, time had become subjective, giving birth to us backwards. Of course, passion knows nothing of it's consequences. Now, I'm right back where I began before I met her: alone, detached, and yearning to be part of something real, or adjacent to real. You can't be the same, live the same, and act the same, after being known so profoundly. Knowing the majority of people will rarely allow you to be so unapologetically raw, ugly, beautiful, cosmic, infernal, celestial, all at the same time, who will accept your volatility as executive function…it makes one bitter to the point of either complete isolation or painful social acquiescence. I'm bored to death of everyone, and of myself. Her violent indifference took its toll: at her most vulnerable, she'd abandon me, dispose of me, and recoil into her own trauma. I'd collapse all the same from the weight of her cruel inertia. Life after a vicious cycle of emotional abuse is perplexing. I was trapped in these patterns of prophecy: now I'm surrounded by people who fill my heart with temporary comfort; light conversation, uncontroversial and exoteric opinions and interests; people float with me above the surface and keep me warm. Their company abates the biting dullness more or less, even if my body is physically numb. But when I'm alone, I feel the futility of it all. My mind becomes an eternal rolling fog, cut by her silver-tongue deliberately leaking angular memories into my moon-sick sulk. Her darkness is territorial: I am not sure how much of her emptiness I can accommodate. As if I'd have a choice. The pit inside me seems like a bottomless abyss, but why is it so suffocating? And why do I secretly enjoy the pain of this asphyxiation? Why does no one ever admit to the euphoria experienced when one is hurt so deeply? The saccharine honey exhaled from a romantic chasm: the validation granted in knowing you are significant enough for someone to want to destroy; because no one bothers to annihilate someone who is already broken. Where is the fun in that? The surge of energy you experience after draining a star of its magic…not enough stars in the world to revive her. Will I admit that feeling sorrow is my way of binding myself to a reality I can make sense of? Do I settle into bad feelings because I am comforted by the fact that, after all this, I am still able to feel anything at all? I am terrified that part of me wants to suffer, just to affirm the materiality of my existence by its resistance of extreme emotional depredation. I avoid analyzing my attachments to dysfunction. I always knew I had masochistic tendencies, but I only ever correlated that to sexual amusement. Is this how I must operate, after her? Must I feel such annoyance around people who feel so safe, so unbelievably vanilla? Those who excite me, but do not dare to rebuke me? Who do not speak to my profligate soul as she did? Must I remain silent around those who do not have the courage to go beyond conventional thought and emotion? Or have I become so affixed to anguish, to concentric cycles of sadness at my core, that I have lost myself in the romance and validation of her own self-destruction?
It was ten o'clock which was bedtime. It had always been our bedtime. The time where lights went off, phones away, and our minds were left to drift astray. I share a room with my younger sister, who I would chat with until her words became slurred, and her quiet snores filled the silent air. The clock hit 10:20pm. While she slept soundly, I stared at my ceiling. My mind is not capable of being calm, my eyes not capable of closing, and my body not capable of sleep. Sometimes, I feel exhausted. Other nights, I don't feel phased at all. Tonight was an even mix of the two. I felt slightly tired but could not sleep because I know the monster under my bed and it's name is Insomnia. The clock hits 3am. It's different each night. Sometimes, time flies. Others, not so much. The hours felt like decades this particular night. I spent the endless hours pondering my mistakes because not only was Insomnia under my bed, but anxiety was peeking out of my closet. I lay there powerless, not able to drift off into the world of dreams that my sister would tell me about in the morning. Instead of being stuck in a nightmare, running from an imaginary creature, I am stuck in my horrifying reality, running from my mental illness. Instead of wondering “is this a dream”, I'm wondering “when will this nightmare called life end?”. I'm going over every worse case scenario of how tomorrow can go. Four AM. I'm still awake. Who knew my ceiling had so many dots? 6,000 in counting. That's only in my peripheral vision. 5am. I have to be awake in an hour for school. 5:30am. I still haven't gotten an inch of sleep and the light of the sky is peeking through my blinds, reminding me that even when I feel empty, or stuck, the world around me still goes on. 6 AM. My alarm is beeping, my sister now stirring in her sleep. I hear her bed creek, signaling that she's getting up, so I pretend to be asleep. No one knows about my Insomnia. If I were to tell them, what could they do? Take me to therapy, put me on pills? I know that scenario all too well because when I told my parents about my anxiety, those were the exact steps they took. After therapy failed to work, they claimed I was faking, and never picked up another prescription again. I hated that, and I refuse to let that happen again. My sister wakes me up and I pretend as if I hadn't been up all night. I later went to school. I worked hard, took tests, and acted as if I'd gotten sleep. When someone asks how I am, I'll say “I'm fine”, but I really do wish they could read my mind.
The progression of a disease would be truly fascinating for the patient plagued with it, if it was not so utterly horrific. I imagine their being a map some God can throw down to me, where little red pinpoints mark events that led to, well,where I am mentally. The same way a doctor tracks a patients illness. Look, God would say, finger indicating a scenario in the prior year. Here's when you started losing your sanity. And this one is when you almost smashed in your fathers skull. And here's the one that made you realize you are nothi- Enough, I seethe, wringing my knuckles against my opposite palm; a meek attempt of calming down. Already the virus, the disease, the fucking condition is acting up again. Instead of counting how many times I do it, I should be counting times it doesn't bother me. My fingers twiddle desperately, as if some naive part thinks I can just unravel myself from this mess. I won't do it again. Cold turkey. I'll stop- But now, its creeping into my brain. Making me...feel things. Feel the invisible hands shoving against my back. Feel the cold breath against my skin. Feel the demons crawling inside my skull, infesting me, killing me inside out. No, not killing. Controlling. Brain dead, and yet, still alive. an empty shell to fill with whatever they desire. A puppet. That's what I know. That's all I know. The world is out to get me. One in every ten people I see are casting their spells out, manipulating their hands to send arrays of invisible chains out at me. Muttering their curses under their dead smirk; an attempt to make me a mindless drone. No longer me. I would never be me again. My heart thuds, panic clawing at my throat. And when it's not people, it's the spirits, hiding spells in my room, little flecks of lint or dust I inhale that will grow and grow like a parasite. Toys I adored so much as a child watching me, waiting to attack, to cast their magic. A brush of breath from the unseen monsters, that spread like a cage across my body, capturing me, mindless, forever. Constant terror. I know. I know hearing it sounds absurd. I know there is no logic. Why would a reasonable, somewhat intelligent girl like me believe in such dark magic. Or magic in general. I sound as if I'm some conspiracy speaker waving pamphlets in your face about how Beyonce is in with the president or the moon landing was fake. But, what if? What if I'm right. Why do I feel like there are things crawling all over me? Why does my vision go fuzzy every time I resist the ritual to ward out the spell, or to flinch away from the discomfort? There has to be a reason, and there's that chance, that miniscule chance, that my fears are true. Why does my brain begin squeezing as if two invisible demons are pressing it in, giddily playing the game of WHO CAN MAKE HER SCREAM FIRST? I always scream. My hands have ceased ringing, aware there is no stopping the tidal wave. Shit. Now I feel it crawling in my hair, little invisible bug legs tickling my scalp. I jerk my hand up, fingers raw, and pull at my hair. Now it's in my back. I push my shoulders behind me, an exaggerated pose of when my mother tells me to “sit up straight”. My bones crack. The brushing against my back fades as I hold the pose, unaware if my peers eyes are on me, and completely blank to the class lesson at hand. Because, while I got the feeling to go away, the thoughts came flooding in. You thought of that kid. That kid in the stairwell. Who always snaps. You thought of him while you were doing the back move and now you will become him. I completely believe it. And you may look at me as some idiot, some weak girl (I won't disagree... I am weak) but it's my thoughts. My thoughts are the disease, and there's absolutely no escaping them. I do the move again. The image of the boy floats to my mind. No, just stop. Please please please Stop. The move again, and again, and again, until a clammy sweat breaks out from my body. I imagine a happy memory, one I pretend the parasite has no control over. What a fun game that is; pretend. The picture of the boy-in-the-stairwell-who-I-will-become overpowers my memory. The move again. People are bound to notice. They'd be blind not to. The move again. I freeze, anticipating that random kid to still be etched into my mind, some deadly tattoo branded on by prison flames, but he has scurried away to the back of my brain. For now. A breath escapes, as I turn back to the history lesson, pretending nothing happened. Pretending I'm okay. Pretending I will never give in to the thoughts and rituals again. My hand slaps the back of my neck. What-the-fuck? Something has breathed on, or touched it. They have set their spell in. My head beings squeezing, two walls so tired of holding up against pressure they are moments away from crumbling. The clouds flicker from white to grey, and lightning strikes. I try to resist. I try. Pretend I thrust my shoulders backwards, and my never ending cycle continues.
There come times where my brain falls apart. Not like the shattering of a glass on porcelain tiles or the decimation of an icicle hitting the sidewalk. No, it's not like that at all. When my brain falls apart it is slow. Like in the middle of the night when I feel my blanket sliding over the edge of the bed due to my relentless tossing and turning. I know that I could prevent it from falling and there are times I do. But there also come times that I don't. Instead letting it fall to the ground, hearing it hit the floor. Ignoring the chill until sleep releases my mind. There come times when my brain falls apart. But maybe it doesn't. Maybe I am the one who takes out the screws And wonders why it doesn't hold together.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. It has shaped me like these hands have sculpted countless bars of soap into monstrous faces. I'm a soul condemned to suffering, and these hands are the instruments of my torture. I'm a mountain that has finally become a pebble in this old river of life. For every ritual there's a habit, and for every habit there's a ritual. The most sacred ritual involves my hands, a tap and a bar of soap. I've sacrificed true love, watching it flow over my hands, drip down my fingers and disappear down the drain. I've watched my smile become a symbol of deceit. I've seen myself dying a thousand deaths in the soap-speckled mirror above the basin. This bathroom is my shelter, my sanctuary, my temple of self-worship and self-destruction in which I'm a selfish god. It's both my blessing and my curse. OCD is all I've ever known, and it's all I've ever wanted to forget. I double-check doors to see if they're locked and I'm still not sure why. Perhaps it's a futile attempt to keep my inner obsessions and compulsions out. I turn the key in the keyhole and I somehow feel reassured that everything is as it should be. I want to live forever. I want to end it all. I want to be present and absent and nothing at all. Everything goes away but these obsessions and compulsions remain, attached to me like a second shadow. I've blamed my father. I've blamed my psychiatrist. I've blamed everyone except myself for this invisible cancer eating away at my soul. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. I love it. I hate it. I guess it's as much a part of me as this old river of life is a part of the dead sea. Sometimes I feel like drowning, and sometimes I feel the urge to come up for one last breath. Either way there's hope in hopelessness. There's always hope, or so I'd like to believe.
“I don't like standing near the edge of a platform when an express train is passing through. I like to stand back and, if possible, get a pillar between me and the train...A second's action would end everything. A few drops of desperation.” Winston Churchill's words show that even the greatest people can be afflicted by depression. Mental illness is not new. Yet, we so often cling to the feeble hope, “Mental illness will never be a problem for me. I'm happy. I have a good life. I have no reason to feel anything out of the ordinary.” Unfortunately, we are proved wrong more often than right. I myself, at 8 years old, found myself feeling that something was wrong with me, but I saw the detrimental effects of my older sister's depression, and promised myself that I would never go down the same path that she did. I promised myself that I was stronger. I promised myself that I was safe. I was faced with the haunting danger of mental illness the day I received the call that my sister was being taken to the hospital. As a child, with all my life ahead of me, I wondered why anyone would want to take their own life. Was there not an inherent desire within each human being to stay alive? What, then, was wrong with my sister? When would she return? Would she ever return? I fell into depression intermingled with denial and anger. I despised myself for breaking the promise I had made. Was I really that weak? I wrote in journals, my only escape being in words that I scribbled in pages and pages of desperate paragraphs, trying to convince myself that I was merely fabricating things as a result of the trauma I'd experienced recently. Yet, at 11 years old, I had already written the words that I wanted to be spoken at my funeral. When I entered 3rd grade, my teachers would ask my what was wrong, and I would smile and respond that nothing was wrong, nothing at all. Yet when at home, I would often burst into tears for no reason. I would pull out my hair. I would stay isolated more often than not. I had no friends because I seemed distant and hostile to anyone who met me. I was a wreck, and yet I was determined to maintain a strong composure. After all, it was all in my head, right? Despite my best attempts, exhaustion became a state of existence. I couldn't focus, I couldn't find inspiration, and yet the memories of my mother's quiet weeping at night reminded me that I could not, would not, ever do anything to bring my parents any pain, even if it meant I shouldered more than I could carry. I believed I could shoulder everything. It was like dragging a mountain with me out of bed, to school, and back home. On the outside, I was the talented girl who lived a perfect life in a wealthy family. On the inside, I was barely holding myself together. Then came high school, the rampaging rhino that knocked the wind out of me and tested how very thin I could stretch. Freshman year crawled by, and my grades were less than impressive. Sophomore year arrived and I no longer cared. I was failing all my classes. All I cared about was keeping myself alive. I had found my limit, despite my attempts to stay strong. I wrote my will. I tried to find out which medications would be most likely to kill me. I mentally said goodbye to the people I loved. I wondered if anyone would ever forgive me. I had a meeting with my counselor, perhaps coincidentally, on the morning of the day I intended to die. I was unable to keep myself stoic, and she learned of my plan soon enough. I was sent to the hospital. I wasn't sure what to feel; relief? Anger? I wondered why they wouldn't let me do as I pleased with my life. Was it really too hard for me to accept, in my darkest moments, that there were people who truly loved me? My return home about a week later proved to me that more people had missed me than I had expected. I lived in an almost dream-like state, unable to grasp the reality that I still stood, very much alive, before the very people I'd said my goodbyes to. Had I finally found hope? How long would it last? The next few months were not exactly easy. There was no instant relief, or a magical morning on which I woke up feeling truly confident with my place in the world. The journey has been constant, and continues to this day. I cherish my life, and my greatest wish is to inspire those who have lost all hope; those who are fallen, like I was, into a state of such constant despair that they do not see the point of taking one more step. I hope to prove that a single step is all it takes, and while hopelessness is very real, it cannot control us forever, because in the end we are stronger than the chains that may try to hold us down.
I started teaching ESL when I was eighteen years old at a private elementary and secondary school. It wasn't a decision I would have made if it wasn't for my dire need to pay rent in South America during a stay there for familial matters. Even so, after having completed the elective year, I decided that teaching was something I wanted to make into a career aside from my writing. It all stems from one source - my passion for the English language. However, I never thought for one second that teaching would be something I'd be able to pursue with my anxiety. Whenever a student's English comprehension and communicative skills would improve, I would be overwhelmed by this rewarding feeling. They were another step closer to their goal, whatever their circumstance may be, and I was closer to mine. Yet, the process was nerve-wracking for me. I would spend hours looking up material for the curriculum - no material would ever be enough for the students, as time-consuming as required for an hour class, as well-developed as my peers'. I would tremble when meeting a new student and worried about whether or not I was able to hide it from everyone. I felt alone, guilty for dreading another class in the upcoming week, loathing myself for not being happy even though, in my subconscious, I knew that I was. I just needed reassurance so I took to Google, but instead of finding a community that would support me, my emotions of paranoia intensified. Most forums were of teachers who had made the difficult decision of quitting their jobs in an effort to reach their own happiness and to find their peace of mind. Other stories told of teachers who underwent intensive therapy sessions and who were prescribed medication to help them function "normally" in the classroom. I was made vulnerable by reading these stories, my unspoken fear concretizing into my reality from the dimly lit computer screen in my room. I went into a panic, crying and immediately shutting down the computer afterward. I called my significant other as soon as I was safe under the warm confinements of my blankets and told him about how I was being forced to quit my job. His answer was simple. "If you quit your job, I will support you and help you find another one that you'll love. If you don't, I will support you in every moment of anxiety you may have." I spent the following days thinking of how to write my resignation letter to the ESL company I worked for in the evenings. I was unsuccessful in hiding my streams of nervousness from my coworkers, who can obviously sense my unease from stutters and a flushed face so it wouldn't come as a surprise to them, would it? The following week, after nights sleeping on the stress, I was numb to the worry and better able to think about my current situation. I was soon to be moving out and needed the monetary means to support myself, developing content and teaching was a trade I was familiar with, and I had already grown somewhat comfortable in the work environment I was in. I called my significant other and told him of my decision to stay and we began to have weekly at-home dates where we would sit on the bed together watching movies and comedy shows, cuddling with my dogs, and going over the material I had planned for the week, and I opened myself up to insecurities I thought too annoying and redundant to speak to him about. Gradually, I regained my confidence and my work ethic grounded into patterns that made classes easy to manage. From the early mornings I would listen to motivational speakers on YouTube, I learned how to give myself the daily affirmations I needed and soon enough, I believed them. You are stronger than your paranoia, stronger than your anxiety, or any mental incapacity that you may have. I don't use the word "may" to undermine the very real effects of this illness, but to remind everyone reading this not to make this part of their life into a monster you cannot defeat or an insurmountable mountain that you cannot conquer. The mind is a powerful thing and our bodies are quick to recognize habits. It's okay to take time for yourself and it's okay to ask others for help. Learning to construct a bridge between my anxiety and my career is one that I learned how to after months of trial and error. It's something I am still constructing now with much trial and error, but the important thing is to keep moving, especially when uncertain because either way, you will be progressing forward and answers will begin to crystallize in front of you so that you may be able to obtain equilibrium between the most important parts of your life.
Suicide. What just crossed your mind? One single word sends countless thoughts through countless heads. Just seven letters, and thousands of thoughts... Sad. Scary. Bad. Tragedy. Fear. Don't say that. You can't do that. Painfully blunt. Too much. Quiet down! Suicide is a rising epidemic worldwide. There are over 550 deaths by suicide every single year in my home state alone. Every single year this monster takes almost 600 of my people. But this monster is not suicide. "Suicide" is simply a word that means a life was taken by hands of it's own. The monster is something very different. The monster is the cause of suicide. There are many monsters, but there is one that we ignore. One we shove to the back corner, so we can pretend it doesn't exist. One monster that may be more lethal than any other. And that monster is stigma. Suicide means someone's life was taken by their own hands; but it doesn't mean that someone killed themself. I know what you're thinking. Slow down! That is literally what it means! Before you flee to the dictionary for a denotative definition, hear me out. Yes, the person died by their very own actions. But, in the majority of cases, it is my belief that they didn't kill themself. The monsters killed them. Humankind is making mounds of progress in the knowledge that people who died by suicide are rarely the cause of their own death. Through education, many are learning that mental illness is a real issue, and a very big one. Mental illness is one of the monsters that plays a large part in the majority of suicide cases. Through dedicated research, humankind has discovered ways to help people who suffer from mental illnesses, including varying forms of treatment and raising awareness. We have done a lot to lower the reach of mental illness, now it is time to put our efforts toward lowering the reach and effects of another very quiet but horribly significant monster: stigma. Stigma. Noun. A mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person. Mental illness kills. And so does the stigma surrounding it. Why is it that there is such a large and negative stigma surrounding mental illness and suicidal ideation? This stigma stops people with serious illnesses from reaching out for help. Somehow being mentally ill is wrong. Being suicidal is shameful. One brings it upon themself. Or, this is what the world should have us think. The stigma surrounding mental illness tells people who simply have sick brains that these horrible thoughts and feelings they deal with are their own fault, and nobody can know because it is shameful. There is an enormous pressure to hide it, and to fix it by yourself. This is not reasonable! One can expect mentally ill people to fix themselves as much as one can expect people with broken bones or physical impairments to fix themselves. Pressure builds, the issue is not helped, and the illness gets worse. Because of stigma, mental illness goes from treatable to lethal. Though it isn't ideal and nobody would wish it, mental illness is a reality that many individuals face. And still, though we have the knowledge needed to understand and accept mental illness as it is, the stigma surrounding it kills; more than the illness itself. Humankind has come so far over the years! We have learned how to treat mental illness in many cases, saving many lives! Now it is time to treat the stigma surrounding mental illness. Stigma has been killing people. It is time for people to kill stigma.