Trigger warning: This is not a post for people who suffer from BPD, depression or other mental health issues – this is for the rest of you; the lucky ones.
This is an angry, frustrated rant from a depressed person which will likely seem harsh and controversial – and no, I am not going anywhere right now. I’m strong enough to keep going but still, I want to tell the world how hard this is, I want to show the world the ugliness of this group of illnesses, the trauma induced ones, the depression, the draining futility, the perpetual battle, the torturous pain.
I wish the world would listen; I wish the world stop calling depressed and suicidal people selfish; I wish the world would try to understand that we cannot help this any more than a person can help getting cancer.
And controversially I would much rather have cancer than this.
But God won’t give me cancer. Nope. I’ve asked him. I’ve asked him several times. Please, take cancer from this person and give it to me. This person doesn’t want to die. This person is a good person. This person helps others. This person is a part of the community.
He doesn’t listen. Neither do other people, because no-one listens to you when you have a mental health issue.
If I had cancer, people would understand.
People wouldn’t shun me.
People would help me.
The world would let me do the things that I want to do as my days would be considered numbered.
The world would let me smoke and drink and open go fund me pages to send me on the holiday of a lifetime.
I could live my final months in a rampage of self-indulgence.
I could be as high and mighty as I wanted, I would be permitted to say things like “Well at least you have your life ahead of you. At least your illness is just in your mind. If you just toughen up, you’ll be fine.”
No matter what I did or said, it would be forgiven.
When my time was up, I could be given drugs to ease the pain of passing instead of given medicines to keep me alive in a cycle of pain.
I would be accepted.
I would be loved.
I would be mourned.
I would be remembered for the good things that I did.
Be honest. That is what happens. People like me sit and watch all this from the sidelines.
People don’t cross the street and avoid you if you have cancer. They don’t shun you, whisper behind your back, spread rumours, gossip and sneer and look away from you in fear.
They don’t avoid, bully and exclude you if you have cancer. People don’t make life worse for you, they try to make it better.
You don’t have to drive yourself to difficult medical appointments no matter how strenuous, draining and sometimes frightening they may be.
People help you. They are kind. They are caring and compassionate.
You are not questioned and doubted and disbelieved. You are not told that it is just your imagination or that it is all in your mind or to toughen up.
It is not “all in the mind” it is OF the mind, and that is different.
OF the mind, OF the being, OF the person. You can’t just cut it out with a scalpel, you can’t remove it because it IS a part of YOU as a person. YOU are so intertwined with the illness, that sadness, that darkness, that whole skewiffiness that you can’t get rid of the disease without losing the vital part, the fun part, the happy part, the creative part, the bit that is positive and wonderful and lovable.
With cancer, the doctors can lop off or chop out the offending part, with mental health issues they can’t.
You don’t book yourself in for a short course of decapitation.
With cancer you are still allowed to be yourself, you are your own person there is a glorious freedom in that.
With mental health issues, the essence of you must be sacrificed, deadened, blunted by drugs.
That’s what neither the professionals nor society understand.
You can’t be you while drugged. Drugs control not only the sad part, the lonely part, the lost part that is screaming in pain, but they imprison all that is good and beautiful and gentle and sweet and wants that chance, that freedom, the choice and the ability to live.
So what if our illness makes us feel more alive than the rest of you? So what if it means our lives are often cut short? At least we live them with authenticity.
Why is that so wrong? Why is it tragic when we’ve had enough?
If a cancer patient turns her face to the rain and dances in the wind, people smile and acknowledge the moments of joy she is experiencing.
If someone with a mental health disorder does the same thing, they may be “hypo”, the behaviour is “odd”, and they are medicated or detained.
We have as much right to those moments of wildness, of happiness, of LIFE as does the cancer patient.
Would you want to live as a shadow, feeling the physical strain on the body of being trapped inside, unable to feel complete and express yourself the way you want to? No? Wouldn’t you? Really?
Oh I know you don’t understand, how can you? You don’t have the roar, the scream, the white-hot pain of living that just burns and surges through your veins and threatens to burst forth at any given moment.
If you felt pain like this, you would seek a reprieve too so stop being so judgey, stop calling us weak. You have no idea of the strength it takes to hold this surging, roaring life force and funnel it into a socially acceptable trickle of behaviour.
People say all the time how the cancer patient has to face impending death. Well hello there world, so do people like me.
Don’t you know how exhausting it is to have to fight for your life every day? To confront the emotions that threaten to drown you, that tell you always that the world would be better off without you? A mind just has a thousand justifications of why you should die? No matter how hard you fight, how much you argue with it, the pain and the hurt and the urges never, ever, ever stop?
Why does someone with a physical illness get the support, sympathy, assistance and understanding of the community? Why are they allowed to do what they want? Why do they get a choice? It’s up to them whether they accept treatment or not. It’s up to them how they want to live out their days.
But if you have a mental illness, you don’t have that choice, you don’t have that freedom. There are rules, you are told to accept treatment even if that treatment has awful physical side effects you don’t want. You are advised to receive treatment to stay alive for if you don’t, then you will die and you dying is not an option for you. It is not a choice you have. So you grit your teeth, your eyes glaze over, and you hold in that silent scream.
Why is our “mental health” more important than our physical? Why when we are told there is no cure, are we forced into this position? Obey or be detained. They don’t say that to people with terminal physical illnesses.
There is no freedom. It’s back to being controlled.
Like the cancer patient, you have your symptoms treated and you know the treatment is not a cure but just something you go through to get a reprieve, to go into remission. But it always comes back. It never entirely goes away. Never.
Why does the cancer patient have a right to live life their way and those of us with mental health issues not?
Society doesn’t want to deal with its feelings about our passing, so we have to keep on keeping on regardless of the cost to ourselves.
Suicide isn’t selfish. Societal expectations are.
Because we didn’t do this to ourselves; it wasn’t our lifestyle choices; our exposure to carcinogens. It was you. You did this to us; you beat us; you raped us; you tortured us; you bullied us; you abandoned us and hurt us over and over and over until we finally broke; until we were too traumatised and in pain to be able to function in a reasonable, healthy manner.
And you dare to tell us we are weak, that we must do as we are told, endure treatments that make us feel worse but keep us alive; treatments that poison us, imprison us, remove the last remnants of that beautiful, sweet, sensitive being buried deep inside.
When treatment takes away your outer shell and inner being purely to maintain your existence is it worth it?
Everyone has one of us, locked away in the closet, unwelcome in public in case we embarrass you. We may speak our minds, or just speak too loudly, we may become emotional and expressive. Heaven forbid! An authentic, passionate person speaking their mind in public – how dreadful! What will people think of you? Do you fear our insanity will rub off on you and lessen you?
We don’t do you any good like this, and you don’t do us a kindness by keeping us imprisoned in our pain.
If I want to dance in the wind, turn my face to the rain, if I want to love you with every part of myself, then smile and accept it. Accept those moments of wildness, of happiness, of LIFE … let me live or let me die but don’t imprison me, don’t take away my freedom, don’t give me rules and when the pain of living and loving becomes too much and I need to take that final step, please just kiss me goodbye and let me go.