color key — yellow: relationships; blue: mental health; green: relationship to self. contrast of light and dark correlates with bright and somber tones of voice.
Nobody really talks about what it's like to have an out of body experience. It's a very surreal and unnerving feeling. Only in therapy did I learn it's a way to cope with an immense amount of trauma. But because no one discussed mental illness around me, I was lost in a world with no doors.
I just figured not wanting to get out of bed was my new normal. That even though I smiled when I didn't want to was something people just expected of me. It never alarmed me that if a car were to run me over, I would be indifferent about moving. I stopped feeling pain and never realized I had moved into nothingness.
My body wasn't mine anymore and neither were my thoughts. Everything felt so foreign to me and if someone asked me how I was or how I'd been…it would have sent me into mental hell. A million mini-me's running around to find the answer to that loaded question.
People spoke of self-harm but there was always an image attached to it displayed by the media to warn parents if their kid was wearing too much eyeliner and listening to weird music. No one ever talked about every day looking people who walked around the streets unconsciously looking for a purpose to come up and shout at them.
I figured if my blood was still running through my veins, then it was worth it? But I had my doubts and I also had my tremendous guilt. A trait of mine that ran every thinking process I had ever had up until that point. I was a victim to it, but during that time of my life, oddly enough, it kept me alive.
Shame plagued my mind, pain became a friend, loneliness was my excuse for independence and misery was what I deserved.
"You're not a good daughter." "why does your sister even admire you?" "Your nephew adores you but how? You don't deserve it."
I would look in the mirror and stopped recognizing who I was. So, I covered them. No one asked me why.
2013 is the year I still don't want to talk about. I bring it up in some conversations but have perfected the speech to make people feel like they got to know me. As if they now know something about me no one else does. I'm working on this.
Through life and lots of therapy, I figured out how to breathe again. I hadn't realized I wasn't this entire time. The numbness was just my brain suffocating in toxic thoughts. I slowly started to return to my body but I was terrified. She was so damaged and I was scared of what I would find.
I found a lot of pain I repressed and needed to deal with again. It almost broke me. But I was content, in a way, I could feel something again.
People don't really talk about what it feels like to go through years without remembering details because it was all a haze. For no other reason than my mind blocking me from self-destruction.
The mind is an incredible and terrifying thing. It would build me up only to break me in half all over again. I played a game of Jekyll and Hyde for the longest time until I learned to stop pointing fingers at things to blame. There was no one to blame. I just needed to heal.
But it was easier to find a reason as opposed to just face that my mind did things it wasn't supposed to.
I had just gotten so tired. I wanted to remember what happy felt like again. But whenever I felt it, I would obsess over my fear of it slipping away again. I didn't know what it meant to take things one day at a time. How did people go through life without planning out every terrible thing that could happen to them to prepare?
How did people get out of bed without feeling a hundred pounds of weight on their chest? How did people feel these things and yet still find a way to deal with life one day at a time? I felt so far away from my goal and it made me miserable.
Through a lot of pain, tears, and sadness, I started to realize how beautiful these emotions truly were. They were the seeds that would help me blossom into the sun. The roots under the dirt would always remind me of where I came from and how high I've risen.
Flowers wilt and pass, but new ones grow. I'm starting to view my life like this. Slowly, the saturation levels of my surroundings are increasing. Little things are bringing me joy once again.
The laugh of the love of my life, my dog snoring, my cat chirping, my dimple… so many things my darkness hid from my sight.
It's true that people can get out of what feels like the darkest of holes. Where perpetual incompletion seems to slowly fade away. I've learned that my mental illness will never truly leave me, but it doesn't run my life. Not like it used to.
I've learned how people manage to deal with life one day at a time. I've learned that it's alright to fall apart. The world we live in is hard, confusing, unpredictable, and terrifying…it's unnatural for any person to not fall apart from time to time. Why on earth should I put myself on a level I wouldn't put anyone else on?
I think what I'm trying to say is, the phrase "love yourself before all else…” is one of the truest, most important things we can do as individuals. To rip the covers off our mirrors and be able to look into our own eyes and call ourselves our best friend. Even in the face of trauma, pain, confusion, and mental illness.
It's inside us, somewhere. Some have it locked away more than others, some just don't know how to get there, and some have lost the meaning of it. And that's okay. Fighting is tiring. I almost quit so many times until I finally, after over a decade, I started to win.