This Is Mental Illness

Do you know what it’s like not to feel safe in your own mind?

You know that feeling, after a long relentless day when you just want to make it back to your bed or wherever that place is where you feel safe from the harshness of the world?

What if the place you were trying to escape wasn’t outside you but within you. What if you were trapped in the relentless world of your own dark mind?

That’s what mental illness is to me.

You can do everything right. Hell, you can do everything wrong, but still you land in the same dark abyss. You can go to therapy every week, take your medication, and practice the skills you’ve been taught for happier life…you can do it all right and even then, land in the muck and mire of the hell that is depression.

You can stand atop of the world you’ve created through therapy, medication, mindfulness, and healthy living, arms stretched out wide, wind in your hair, just soaking in the view of the heights you have reached…and within a moments notice be whisked away to a place you thought you’d already left for the last time.

To me, this is mental illness.

“Hm,” I think as I look around with a heavy broken heart.

“This place looks exactly the same. Not a damn thing has changed… I mean, might as well stay here if this is where I’m going to keep ending up, right?”

“No,” as I shake my head. “Fuck no,” I think as I stand back up.

I’m not going to stay here, and you know why?

I’d rather spend the rest of my life crawling up that mother fucking mountain and sliding back down than to stay here. For as high as I made it, that view was too damn gorgeous, and I know full well it just gets better the further you climb… I just know it.

“I have to get back out there,” I think.

That’s where I belong.

I have no idea what drags me back here or why, all I know is I’m not fucking staying.

I’ve heard it said that hell is a place on earth. For me, hell is place in my mind.

For 7 long years I was in hell. I never thought I’d get out either. For most of the time, I didn’t know there was anything but hell. Then one day, that door swung wide open and a voice said, “It’s time.”

It was breathtaking… everything was new. I had no idea such a beautiful world existed outside of hell.

75 days I spent outside of hell. I was growing so accustom to life in my new world. It was as if I had become a new person. I began to believe that hell was a thing of the past, something I had escaped, and a place I would never have to revisit.

I was wrong. Now I know, hell is a piece of me, at least for now. And you know what?

Hell doesn’t scare me anymore. Hell is what makes me stronger.

Today I sit in hell, eyes swollen shut from tears that I cannot stop. Tears that run like rivers of grief over the view I lost. I lost the view of my future. I lost the view of myself. Down here, all I can see is the view of my two feet that will carry me back up that mountaintop one step at a time.

Today I sit in hell, slowly surveying the place I once considered home. I don’t know what brought me back here, but I know I will not be staying.

I don’t know my way out, but I know damn well I’ll put up a hell of a fight.

Seven years I spent in hell and 75 days I spend outside. Everyday for the rest of my life, I will fight my way back.

And to me, this is mental illness.

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