My morning ritual involves sweat, pills, and a shower. Most days, I try to get in the shower as soon as I wake up in a puddle of my own sweat. It is hard to understand what you are feeling when your label lists so many side effects that doctors need help from more doctors to understand. So I try to make a list in my head, entitled “Reasons I Could Have Woken Up Suicidal”.
And every morning, I have to fight my own thoughts to set myself up for a good day. There is an awful lot of pressure that is put upon you, since you are the only one who can drag yourself out of the deepest depths of your own hell. Most days, for the past year, I have felt like I wanted to give up. On everything all at once or just simply writing. There are days that I spend not stepping foot out of my apartment door. Some days, the lobby of my building feels like walking through a metal detector that shows every aspect of your body. Your bones, made of metal, with no way of going through without setting an alarm off. Yet the alarm is my brain. I’m scared.
Of what? Um, everything.
Because when you have a mental illness, your brain is sick.
There is a difference between being a depressed teenager and having a mental illness. As one of my ex-friends said, “I choose to be sad; it makes my music better.” As if just that sentence right there doesn’t show how lucky you are to be free to see basic sadness as depression. You see, the thing is, we never get that liberation, nor the love and respect we should be getting from the world. So, you cannot choose to self-diagnose with something that could actually kill me one day. You may see it as “gatekeeping” but I see it as being my authentic self. I wouldn’t wish this illness upon my worst enemy (well maybe if Trump was diagnosed mental ill, he would have never been president).
My struggle is not your trend. Just as self-care is not the same when you weigh less than the backpack you need to carry to school everyday. I sit in the same clothes I have worn for four days and four hours only wishing the bathroom could be brought to me, while being told I could pray this shit away. So I always do. Sometimes I don’t think I believe in a God, but still I sit, hands folded, touching my lips to please let these days just past. I was told to start “girl bossing”, but when I threw up stomach bile while working and stayed at work, my boss told me I was weak. When I explained that I actually just haven’t eaten because I struggle, I was told to look at her because if she could do it, I could. I wonder if she would have said that to her daughter. If she was the boss of her own child, saw the self-harm scars, the checked off disability bubble, or the way her ribs stuck out more than her boobs, would she tell her she was weak, too? When you have a mental illness, friends are never really friends because they get mad at you when you don’t text back. So I tried communicating, letting them know I am struggling today, so I can’t hang out. Well, turns out I was in the wrong for that, because friends should be able to be there for the other person 24/7. Live, die, and breathe by what they say and do. Which I know is actually not true, since the true friend I have has been my friend for fifteen whole years, and we haven’t even lived near each other in nearly nine years. And sometimes we don’t text for weeks, or one of us is texting and the other answers days later. Yet every time I have really needed her, the phone is always answered. Friendships should be two-sided. So, next time you see scars on my arm from years past, and I “trigger” you because you tried self harming since “that’s what depressed people do,” I will be sure to call 911 and send you straight to the emergency room. If you want to be sick, you should get help.
I have been trapped in my own brain for years now, and people act like it is a cool way of living. I am here to let you know the realness of what mental illnesses can do. Every single day, I am mistreated due to my illness—from Columbia College Chicago to people who are supposed to be my best friends. The world hasn’t opened its arms to the mentally ill. Every day, more of us are dying. More of us are hurting ourselves. More of us are ending up on the street. If it doesn’t matter to you, I ask, would it matter if it happened to someone you love? Would you let someone you love starve herself for days? Would you be mad if they weren’t answering your texts? Or are you thinking about what they might be going through, too?
We live in a world with over eight billion people. Of course, it is your life, but it most definitely is not your world. Stop using our struggles as a trend. And start letting people know you love them more often. We all have struggles, if only we were able to help each other through them together, then we would see real love.