Today is January 31, which means it’s Bell Let’s Talk Day! It’s all about starting a conversation about something that many folks have been too embarrassed and ashamed to talk about – mental illness.
I am mentally ill. Sometimes, you can’t tell. “You”… as in… you, not me. I always know. No, wait. That’s not true. Sometimes, I don’t know. Sometimes, I’m the last to know. How to explain?
Mental illness is a sneaky pain in the ass who pops up unannounced. Or announced.
Boy, this is confusing.
I wish it was cut-and-dry. I wish it was easy to explain how one moment, I can be shopping with a cart full of groceries and the next moment have panic so severe, I leave the cart, groceries and my self-esteem in the aisle and rush to my car to hurry home before anyone notices.
One time, not long ago, I was at my fave thrift shop. I’d put a couple of items in the cart. On top of those things was my “Nana cape”… the one Nana bought me for Christmas 25 years ago… that I was saving forever because it was one of the last things she touched that still had her energy and love attached to it. See, I’d taken it off and put it in the cart… and I got… spooked?… how to describe it?… and left the cart … without realizing the cape was still inside. I didn’t remember at first. When I did, it was too late. I’m sure it just looked like another item to whoever put the contents of the cart away. I cried over that cape… but decided that maybe, someone needed it more than me. Still…
That’s how panic works. Why do I have it? Who the hell knows?
This same mental illness can plunge me in a depression so severe, I am unable to function. Other times, I go around, day-to-day… seemingly “normal”… and then burst into tears because I stubbed my toe or ran out of Kleenex. Some days, I am blissfully happy and thankful for all that I have. Others, I hate myself… my life…
I make plans and back out, not because I hate you but because I can’t make myself go. I *want* to … and then, I don’t, too. Sometimes, I feel like a hostage.
The worst part about it? It feeds off itself. It’s like a snake biting its tail, swallowing, swallowing… and then realizing it’s eating itself alive. Panic leads to more panic… depressive thoughts lead to more depressive thoughts…
It’s all too much to carry. And so we bury it.
This is a day to dig it up and talk about it.
I’ve learned a lot about mental illness over the years. One thing I’ve learned is that it’s more common than we realize. We are not alone.
If you want to talk here, please do. If you have someone to talk to… there, where you are… please do.
Just talk. To someone. You are not alone!