I want this blog to be a place where others who struggle with mental illness and or chronic illness, can find support and encouragement, and also a place where others can learn about mental illness and chronic illness, but most importantly a place where suffering hearts don’t feel so alone. Mental illness and chronic illness have to be the most isolating things in the world. The up and down, the ability to function one day and the loss of function the next, and unless you’re the one feeling it, it’s very hard to understand.
I don’t know about you, but I find myself in a constant state of desperately trying to convince the world of the reality of the depth of the darkness that is mental and chronic illness. Sometimes I wish my illnesses could be seen on the outside, more than just looking tired or frail. Big, deep gaping wounds, bruises, dark circles. Sometimes I want to look as bad as I feel, my bloody body, scraping over glass and hot coals, unable to walk or stand. It might sound dramatic to those who haven’t experienced this kind of mental pain, but some of you are nodding as you read along because you get it. You really get it.
Some days the depression is so deep that I can’t even speak. I can’t even sit up. I can’t eat or drink. Somebody lays next to me, physically holding me so I’m not alone, so that I can feel something, anything, as the tears slide out of my eyes. Sometimes it’s a bit of a steady flow of tears as the hours tick by, other times it’s body wrenching sobs. And yet, I may have seen a friend or stranger just the day before or the day after. I’m sure I looked a little tired without make up and wearing sweats but I’m also sure I smiled and carried on a polite conversation. I may have been honest when you asked how I’m doing, I may have said, “I’m okay, I’ve been struggling lately with depression but I’m getting the help I need through therapy and treatments”. But they don’t have a clue. If I’m there, even if I’m honest, they can’t possibly grasp the depth of the struggle. If I’m not there and say, oh I’m sorry I can’t be there I’m not feeling well. Again, they can’t possibly understand what that means, because even the best intending humans can’t seem to grasp what they can’t see, and unfortunately you can’t see brain torture.
The reality is deep, dark, and ugly! Depression is so much more than a bad day or a negative attitude! It is when your brain steals your reality, fills you with only lies and pain, you can’t feel any connection to those you love most, you become so weak, you become numb to everything except pain, and you truly wish, even beg, to die. It is a beast. It is overpowering and all encompassing. If you are reading this and nodding along because your heart has felt this deep darkness too, I’m so sorry!
The thing we must hold onto is that the darkness does lift and even though, perhaps your deep depression, like mine, is often reoccurring. We are stronger then we feel. It’s vital that you have at least one person that you can tell the darkest parts to, someone who sees it with their own eyes. Someone who will laugh with you when you laugh and cry with you when you cry.
I’m going to end today’s blog with this poem I’ve recently come across that was amazingly accurate of my experience on this journey. The isolation is real and at times so painful it’s hard to continue on. But despite the suffocating depression, I’m still breathing and so are you!
Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone;
For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.
Sing, and the hills will answer;
Sigh, it is lost on the air;
The echoes bound to a joyful sound,
But shrink from voicing care.
Rejoice, and men will seek you;
Grieve, and they turn and go;
They want full measure of all your pleasure,
But they do not need your woe.
Be glad, and your friends are many;
Be sad, and you lose them all,—
There are none to decline your nectared wine,
But alone you must drink life’s gall.
Feast, and your halls are crowded;
Fast, and the world goes by.
Succeed and give, and it helps you live,
But no man can help you die.
There is room in the halls of pleasure
For a large and lordly train,
But one by one we must all file on
Through the narrow aisles of pain.