October 2, 2020
Issue 13 2020

Yours Candidly, Mental Illness

CW: mental illness, suicide

Let’s have a really casual conversation about mental wellbeing and sometimes thinking about killing yourself.

So, you’re depressed. Or anxious. Or some combination of the two. Maybe you’re bipolar with a dissociative personality. Perhaps you have psychopathic tendencies but that’s purely circumstantial. Whatever it may be, more often than not, it tends to become an all-encompassing part of your day. Your decision making, risk evaluating, confrontation making abilities seem to be governed by this tiny little voice or multiple voices, gnawing at the back of your mind, incessantly all day long. It’s tough. It can be an absolute nightmare sometimes.

You feel as though maybe smashing your head about the pavement or running face first into door may work to sedate it for a time but (usually) that doesn’t do the trick. 

Mental illness is a ticket a lot of us didn’t plan on buying. Some way or another, we found ourselves standing in the queue, through no fault of our own, being herded further along the line until we reach the booth and get handed a slip of paper that says ‘Depressed’. We are now depressed. We may choose to talk about it, or we may choose to keep it to ourselves. Either way, it has become a part of our life and we must continue on our way with this thing now attached to us. And it’s an absolute bitch to deal with. Personally, I didn’t ask to have to rethink every decision I make and analyse every single outcome and make sure it’s ‘okay’ that I didn’t want to go to the gym that day, or applied for that job I wasn’t qualified for or even that I had a second helping for lunch. And for the longest time I just assumed that was normal as well. I made the assumption that everyone made the same journey from Timbuktu to Toronto in their mind before making a decision because in my mind, that was me making an ‘informed’ decision. It definitely wasn’t that I was overthinking anything, of course not. I was just being careful and calculated. And then there would be times where it got so bad, I couldn’t move. I’d be having a panic attack in my car after a lecture or just spontaneously burst into tears because someone held the door open for me because eventually, I just didn’t know what emotions went where. 

It would have been so easy for that to have been my normal. I could have very easily allowed myself to continue existing as a Jackson Pollock painting of emotions. But then I realised who the hell I was. I was someone who had been through hell. A hell that no one knew about but a hell sure enough. I had had many an opportunity to let myself completely go and accept that my life couldn’t get any better and that I was a product of my actions and I deserved all the shit that had happened and continues to happen to me. And don’t get me wrong, sometimes I still do. But then I take a minute and remember that I didn’t give up on myself. I chose to refuse what had been handed to me and made my lemonade extra sweet. If I had actually driven off a bridge last year, then I would have let the world win and I am far too much of a stubborn Aries to let that happen. 

And so, I stayed. And fought for myself.

A day doesn’t go by when I don’t think about what that decision would have cost me. The only reason I never did it, hand on my heart, was because I had assignments due that week. I didn’t end it because I was too busy to. Definitely not the empowering message you may have been expecting but that simple necessity was the only thing keeping me around. After that, I made sure I asked for help and that help worked. But still the thought lingers. I’ll catch myself driving somewhere or trailing behind my mum at the supermarket, running through different ways I could neck myself. And I wonder to myself how healthy that actually is. How detrimental is it to envision yourself dying, so graphically that you could write a handbook about it? I genuinely don’t have an answer to the question, but the way I see it is the same way Gus from the Fault In Our Stars has the cigarette hanging from his mouth. He has the option to kill himself right there between his lips, but he refuses to give it the power to. 

I am no expert on mental illness or how to cure them but in my experience, I have learnt one fundamental truth; you’ve got to do it for yourself. What I mean by that is, no matter how shitty of a hand you’re dealt, if you don’t actively make the effort to change and better your situation then there is no way it’s going to get better. Letting yourself wallow in whatever pit you’ve found yourself will only sink you deeper into it but pulling yourself out is perhaps the most empowering thing you can do. And ask for help. Get yourself medicated if you need. But you and only you are the one who’s going to make your life better. 

Need to talk?