When pretending to recover seems like a better option than talking about your mental illness
Panic attacks, tears, long hours of sleeping cease after a point .Then you laugh in pictures, go and dance in pubs, eat loads of food. And hey, you have started recovering. You just smile and nod along because you are just so damn tired of it. The expectation to recover, to go for therapy, to explore new places, to just get out of this phase. Even now I am hesitating to write this article because I don’t want to break the illusion and hurt others. But fuck that, today I want to write the truth. Not a road map to recovery, just plain undiluted truth. Because it’s the lies which have brought me to this stage.
For some God forsaken reason , whenever I have talked about anxiety, everyone does either of the two things. First, either it’s a story of their own personal struggle, usually recovery from a physical ailment or better still, a break up. Now I am not trivializing either, but situational depression or anxiety is definitely different from a clinically diagnosed problem.Your situation can change, my damned toxic thought process doesn’t. I am stuck in the same rut that becomes so exhausting after a point that I find it easier to play pretend. Sometimes I feel that people get a moralizing fucking high after a harangue on their victory over their months of sadness. Congratulations!
The second response is , “Everyone is going through some struggle. Just because they don’t show it, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist”. I understand. No one in the history of fucking humanity said that daily life struggles don’t matter. Of course they do. Every bit of pain is worth consideration. But you have a source, a self, to fight that right? I don’t . I don’t get panic attacks because I can’t manage my job, health or relationship. I get panic attacks because I can’t find a will to fight for any of them. I get panic attacks because I can’t seem to feel happy on meeting old friends, on eating good food, on getting presents on my birthday. And it makes me so guilty since everyone is doing something for me and I can’t find it in my heart to genuinely return that affection. It is not momentary tiredness. It’s a slow paralysis affecting every limb of your existence till you remain no more. Till you want to fight no more and give up.
I don’t mean to start a competition of whose suffering matters more. But no one should have to go through this constant desire to stop breathing or put a bullet in the brain just to stop thinking.
Mental illnesses fuck you up in ways that I can’t even begin to explain. It robs you off your ambition, your joy, your personality, your life, your friends. Most importantly, it robs you of your agency. Over the past eight months, I have never been able to pinpoint the damn trigger. Sometimes it’s the theater, sometimes it’s a new place, sometimes it’s just me.And no, when someone tells you this they don’t want your sympathy or sadness. Having felt an excruciating hollowness ,people suffering from clinical mental illnesses barely want to inflict the same onto others. It’s not because I am ashamed of talking about it but because I don’t want to even transfer an iota of my illness onto those around me. This is why people withdraw after a point from everyone, I guess. All the help, the conversations with your friends and family seem like a never ending obligation. In my own head, I have to gauge every fucking time whether I am projecting my own issues onto others. Inevitably, sometimes I do. It does wonders for my peace of mind by the way, yay!
It isn’t the victim card people play when they say that no one understands them. Because before my diagnosis, I too was like everyone else. It was simple enough. If I see tears , then I know the problem runs deep. If not, then the process of recovery has begun. And you can help yourself. Mind over matter and similar shit in the same vein. Seek therapy, why aren’t you! If you aren’t ticking every box that mentally ill people should, then you don’t get to complain.
Now I know how simplistic that was. Mental illnesses aren’t linear. Somedays you can breathe, other days you fight every time you inhale.You stop crying because you are sick of it all, be it medication, therapy or conversations with friends. Fuck this shit. This is not fair. It is not fair that everyone else gets to be happy at some level and you don’t. And you are told that you have to try. But towards what? All this advice, justification for some shit panic attack, hiding your panic attacks to give the illusion that you are recovering to feed into this self righteous narrative of the fucking indomitable shit of a human spirit is draining.
I still don’t want to cause inconvenience to family and friends but I don’t understand how to behave normally when I don’t feel normal. Wanting to not exist isn’t a normal desire I am guessing.
This exile is of my own making. I want to be away from everyone and everything but practical constraints forbid me from doing so. I told someone a long time ago that if they keep pushing people away, eventually people will give up . The irony of the situation is that I am not even trying to push anyone away but given that holding conversations seems like an arduous task, it will happen automatically. I know I should care but just can’t seem to. I forget how that felt. Tin man from the Wizard of Oz must have struggled this way.
After all, each one must stand alone to face their demons right?