i’ve hit a rough patch. and those of you who live with mental illness know how frustrating it is. i work hard every single day to stay well. i do meds, therapy, exercise, self care and ask for support from my family and friends. i write about mental illness because i live with it and want to do my best to process my symptoms and past trauma in a healthy way. i am so grateful to have made so much progress in my recovery. but when mental illness flares up i find myself feeling resentful and disillusioned. after all i have done, after how incredibly hard i have worked, it is still there.
my first reaction is anger. no way, not again. what is this point of this struggle if it keeps coming back? tired desperation hits me next. i thought i was beyond this. i have done everything right – aren’t i somehow beyond feeling hopeless or sad or isolated? i can’t do this again. i should be further along. i slide into self pity. fuck it, i think. my life is just going to be like this. other people’s lives are easier. other people’s problems aren’t as complex. childhood trauma has wrecked my life. it has wormed its way into every corner of who i am and how i think and feel. i am broken and i can’t be fixed.
it is at this moment that i am able to stop and take a step back. to respond to my fear with my wise mind. i find the strength to talk back to myself. i am not broken – i say it out loud. i have been through painful things and the pain is real. feeling pain doesn’t mean something is wrong with me. and feeling pain doesn’t mean that the experience of pain is permanent. the path of recovery is not linear. it winds around and goes forward and backward at times. i acknowledge that i move through the cycle of anger-desperation-self pity much more quickly than i used to. and i recognize when i am putting myself down or losing myself in catastrophic or black-and-white thinking. yes, mental illness is still here. but my ability to live with it and move through it is getting better.
i don’t like to write about how much i have helped other people. that’s not why i write. this blog is for me – for my own healing journey. but because i am being especially negative towards myself right now i would like to share some of the messages i have received over the past two and a half years. messages from people just like me, who live with mental illness and who have survived suicide loss and suicide attempts. these messages are evidence. proof that i am not the only one. proof that other people suffer and that other people survive. and proof that i am doing something good. and that good work is real. just as real as pain.
thank you for sharing the way you do with this blog. i have been looking long and hard for something like this and today i stumbled upon you. i’m struggling and fighting like hell in my mind to overcome this. your blog reminds me there are others out there sharing the same struggle and that helps a lot.
i was blown away. not only by what you have endured and survived, but the way you are able to share it. your honest writing puts depression and anxiety in understandable, human terms.
the battle can be overwhelming especially when no one knows what you are dealing with because you keep it hidden from the world. thank you for letting me be a part of your journey.
i am so appreciative of your strength, generosity, and BIG heart. i am 50 years old and have read oh, SO many books, magazine articles, blogs, etc. yet i have to say that i don’t think any of them has given me as much hope – nor has sounded so familiar to my heart and soul- as your writings. your honesty and determination to HELP others, no matter how starkly and boldly you need to lay yourself bare to do so, are remarkable.
i just stumbled on your blog yesterday and ended up reading almost all of your posts in one sitting. to date, your blog has had more of an impact on me than anything else i have read or come across.
thanks so much for all you’ve done for me, amy! you are a true example and role model for how we can all manage our mental health forever.
searching for a little online help this afternoon, your blog found its way to me on the west coast of canada. you are able to express so eloquently what depression has etched on so many hearts and minds.
i too have struggled with depression and anxiety for years and can relate to your feelings of shame secrecy about it. it can be hard to believe that ‘other people’ struggle too and i find myself feeling like a fraud keeping my depression struggles from my friends. there’s a part of me that knows i should share it and that very likely they would be compassionate. but there’s something that always holds me back. reading your blog makes me feel not so alone.
depression likes to hide and i think seeing people like you be more open and vocal and unashamed has a massive impact – at least it did for me.
i came across your blog last night and have read all 9 pages by this afternoon. i want to say thank you, thank you for your literature, your metaphors, your story, your pain, your infinite survival.
i work in mental health and i love your work. there are times where i have used your pieces to spark discussions and help my patients challenge negative thinking. i also suffer from major depression and each time i read your pieces they empower me further. thank you for making such a powerful contribution to mental health and my life.
i truly connected to your words. i finally feel like someone gets it. to not feel alone is the biggest factor in this illness i believe and when someone can relate, its just relieving. i cant wait to read more of your posts… keep writing… and stay well.
my dad committed suicide when i was 13 too. sometimes i wonder if there is ever a way to fully heal, but instead i just need to know how to not let the inner scars inhibit me…please keep being a voice for this topic.
stay strong and inspire others, your story brings hope.
author’s note: i did not include last names or contact information to protect the confidentiality of my readers. all quotes are taken verbatim from emails, messages and letters i have received.