It’s still May, and while I was avoiding writing this post…

Honestly, I didn’t want to write a Mental Health Awareness post, but there have been things weighing on my mind — my scattered, often frightened mind — that I think I’d like to document, if only for a reality check. Like, taking my mental health temperature, if you like.

Here’s what I know: You can be happy and depressed at the same time.

I’m gloriously happy right now. But I’m also suffering the effects of anxiety and depression. I have a hard time going on line, because all I see is negativity — it makes me misanthropic and pessimistic. It frightens me and makes me see only the worst. I get angry — actually angry about things that shouldn’t upset me so much — or, at least, that it might be better me keeping my mouth shut about, because it feels like I’ve got a Cassandra complex. (Look it up. Here, I’ll give you brief primer: Cassandra was a Greek prophet that no one would believe. So she lived with the dread knowledge that she could see future destruction, but was powerless to do anything about it.)

I’m not saying I’m a prophet. Gah, I’m not that far gone. But I go on line and I see people consumed with hatred and fear, and I see how this is going. I know I’m not the only one. Only because of my mental illness, I can’t seem to turn off this sensitivity.

What was I talking about? Let’s not get sidetracked, shall we?

What does mental illness feel like? What it’s always felt like to me is like there must be something wrong with me, because I can’t seem to shut off my brain like everyone else. That’s not meant to be an insult — let me explain.

I’ll get upset about something that I think EVERYONE should be upset about — be it Trump or the sad state of sexual politics in our society, or… wait for it… plagiarism in Hip Hop music — and I can’t figure our how people can just shrug and say “whatever”.

So, you see, it’s not always really important, life changing issues. Sometimes it can just be something that’s not really worth arguing about. But most times, it has to do with just facing a world that I cannot face — a world where people are either willfully or just ignorantly ignorant, a world where people are afraid of each other. A world where people seem to be able to turn their brains off to these things, or who, at least, have figured out a way to cope with these things.

Some people cope by embracing positivity — I can think of a couple of people who do this, and while I know they are doing it by choice, in an effort to bring more beauty into the world, I know that behind the scenes, they are broken, hurting people just trying not to fall apart.

I don’t seem to be able to do this. So I hide. I hide in the best place there is — in the arms of a wonderful, beautiful person who feeds me emotionally, physically, and mentally. I am happy here. When I go on line and see the madness of politics, when I see women begin to act like the sexist pig men they’ve spent the last 20 years complaining about, when I hear reports of behaviour from men that I cannot even fathom, when I see people become less and less literate and more and more willing to just believe whatever they are told by so-called experts, when people take scientific advice from former Playboy models, and when others use religion to deny science — I don’t even want to be on line. I’d rather hide.

You know, one of the reasons I write fiction, is that if I had to write what was in my head every day — if I played the role of observer and commentator on what I see of human nature by way of the Internet — I would write nothing but vitriol and loathing for the human race.

That’s probably the depression talking, though. Still, you can see why I’m so popular — I’m a real peach.

How about this truth bomb: I’ve had suicidal thoughts over the past six months. Several times. Even though I’m ridiculously happy. It’s weird — the past three months have been some of the most difficult of my life, but I was never unhappy. I may have had bad days, but overall, I was happy to stand by my partner while she got sick, had surgery, and waited with bated breath to hear the results.

But there were days — for seemingly no reason at all — that I just wanted to pack it in. Thoughts of “I think I should kill myself” coming as easily as “I think I want a burrito.” Days of headaches caused by anxiety and stress, days when I couldn’t get out of bed.

It’s been said again and again by people who don’t understand this that a person who feels this way just needs to get happy, get out, do something. A person who says that has never felt the feel of invisible hands around their throat when they find themselves in a social situation with strangers who are talking about how wonderful you are, and how S____’s told them so much about you…

That person has never felt their eyes well up with tears for no reason whatsoever, has never had to flee a room out of embarrassment for the aforementioned tears. That person has never felt their body tense up uncontrollably, or develop nervous ticks like rolling your neck or shoulders — a behaviour that does not go unnoticed.

That person doesn’t need to be told “I love you” a hundred times a day for reassurance.

And here’s the big confession: because of the way I am, I don’t understand how to be normal. I don’t get your behaviour. I don’t understand why things don’t upset you the way they upset me. I can’t reconcile how you say “I’m not racist or sexist” but then you can ignore sexist or racist remarks from others. I don’t know how you sleep. I don’t know how you function so normally. I don’t get it. Because I can’t turn my brain off. My mind is full of poisonous spiders, it seems.

I don’t understand the point of this post. I’ve lost the plot, it seems. My thoughts are all scattered and random, and if you took nothing from this (if anyone reads it) then I’m sorry.

Anyhow, I’m okay. As okay as I can be, it seems, considering. But I’m not well. And I don’t think I ever will be.

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27 responses to “It’s still May, and while I was avoiding writing this post…

  1. Your post is coherent down to the last sentence. Not everyone will understand that, “You can be happy and depressed at the same time.” But many of us who have lived with suicidal ideation can. Thank you.

  2. I struggle right there with you man. That last paragraph is very true. Have you seen a Beautiful Mind? I think the way that movie ended describes mental illness to a t. Seeing John Nash walking and his delusions were still there, he had just learned how to ignore them. I don’t think there is ever a normal, but I do think that we can learn to manage our illness. We just need time and patience and a whole lot of practice. Thanks for writing this, and remember that the work you do is fantastic and loved by many. Keep up the good work. 🙂

  3. Social media is so overrated. The last several days I’ve spent out of town, with people I’ve been friends with for 30+ years. Occasionally I checked Facebook, Twitter, but only briefly because what I saw/read was so disjointed, so non sequitur. All the way from cute kitten videos to the legalization of wife beating in Pakistan. It would (and should) drive the most well-adjusted person insane. When I’m feeling dark (that’s what I call it), I avoid social media like the plague it is. I don’t go there. It’s just a great big void that people dump their most trivial thoughts into. Sure, occasionally someone posts something thought-provoking, but who sees it and who (among the unwashed masses) cares? We preach to our choirs. If we’re lucky, we’re ignored by the trolls. If we’re unlucky, well, we get sucked into that black hole. You need to remember: you don’t owe anyone any explanation for how you feel and who you think you are. Most of us are pretty damaged. We’ll never be “well” again but that doesn’t mean we can’t take what life has to offer and cling to it. You can be happy and depressed at the same time. Sometimes I think happiness provokes suicide ideation as much as depression. When you’re really happy, there’s always the fear that it won’t last, it’ll slip through your fingers. You want to freeze the moment, maybe toy with it being the last thing you remember. But if you stop at that moment, you won’t get to experience the next. I’m not a positive person, but I’ve lived long enough to believe I have more moments ahead of me, as long as certain people stay around. There’s always a catch, isn’t there?

    • Hi Marie. Glad to know you’re still here whenever I surface. You and John are two who have been here nearly since I started, and no matter how long I disappear for, whenever I show my face, you’re both there to encourage, commiserate, and let me know I’m not alone in the way I feel. Thank you.

  4. I wonder about all the things you do. I do turn them off at a point, so I think I get what you are saying. Of course, since I’m not you I may never know if I do or not.

    • I appreciate your unassuming comment – it’s respectful, while at the same time, empathetic. That kind of honesty is rare on the Internet. People want to help, by saying anything – platitudes, advice. All well-meaning, of course, so I hold no resentment or anything. You’ve always spoken plainly. I’m always glad to hear from you, sir.

  5. Sounds like things are tough right now. You seem like you’re struggling and I just wanted to say that there are people out there who don’t think your abnormal. What is normal?

  6. I recently read somewhere, can’t exactly remember where, but it was on a blog, that thinking about suicide about 2 times a day is actually normal and positive, for, dare I say, people like you and me. I don’t know what to think of it.
    It’s ok and possible to be ok and not ok at the same time, happy and sad. I don’t see another way. Sure, most people will say you are bonkers, like they do to me, but I don\t think I have the right to absolute happiness as a definition, because it does not exist. Happiness are brief moments of peace, everything else should be a vicious struggle to better the world. And thank YOU for doing it!

    • UGH… I think I need a break in the middle for adverts with this whole vicious struggle thing (though I just read what I wrote for the next book and damn, I’m good. Just sayin’)

      • It’s like 2 shot glasses that never empty: one with poison, one with something awesome (for me -hotchocolate) and you are just taking sips, one side, other, then again.
        I do hope you get a break, and that it includes lots of fun under the sun,rain and rest!

  7. Know that you would be missed. Understand that it’s not easy. Feel with the knowledge you don’t have embrace it. Love. Because you ARE loved. And you would be missed.

  8. I’m always so glad when someone eloquently puts what we (who have these struggles) know to be true, yet which seems such a lost assertion on those who don’t. There can be the most glorious, wonderful things happening in life, the sun can be shining on a perfect day, we can have friends and family around us, supporting us and telling us they love us…and we can feel utterly wretched.

    I’m one of those hypocrites who hasn’t learned not to find some funnies in awful, inappropriate humour, though it bothers me immensely when people are unkind to one another. I shall always be a mixture.

    I hope that you will soon be feeling much better *HUGS*

  9. I SO get this, every word, every emotion… you are not alone. I don’t understand ‘normal’ either. I often wonder what it would be like to have a brain that allows you to go out and live your life rather than just thinking about living life because I am constantly stuck inside my head. I hear you, my friend. Sending love your way ❤

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