Four letters that can make the difference between life and death. Four letters between picking up the razor or calling a friend. Four letters between praying that you could just stop breathing or getting up off the floor, stepping outside, and taking a breath of fresh air. You are alive. You are here. You have a purpose.
As I sit here with the rain coming down, my cats laying next to me, and a glass of wine handy, I wonder… what’s my purpose? Do I really have one or is it just everyone’s way of trying to cheer each other up?
I’ve officially been diagnosed with PTSD, Major Depressive Disorder, and Social Anxiety. But what does that mean? One could read descriptions of each of these all day and still not understand. The truth is, each of us is unique. Each diagnosis is different. While some of us lash out in anger, others recede back into ourselves, we create walls and boundaries that no one can break through. Because as lonely and as heartbreaking as it is to stand behind them, it’s still easier than letting others in, letting others hurt you.
Every single day I wake up, I spend a few minutes just clearing my mind. I take a few deep breaths, lay perfectly still, and picture myself having a good day. Does this always work? Absolutely not. Does it help? Absolutely. You see, every single day is a challenge. It is a chance to start new, to create my own life. A life free of my past, the mistakes I have made, and the things I have been through. I get up, put a smile on, and make a promise to myself that I will have a good day.
With all of the different medications and therapy to choose from, it’s easy to believe that you can magically be cured from any mental stresses you are suffering from. But I’m here to tell you, you do not wake up one day suddenly ‘whole and healed’. It takes time, effort, patience, and support. I have to remind myself to take it one day at a time. Sometimes it feels like I take one step forward and three steps back, other days it feels like I move forward with leaps and bounds.
The stigma of mental illness is profound in our culture. As disappointing as this is, it takes us to step up. We have a voice. We can make a difference. On the bad days as well as the good, we can speak up, tell our story, change a life.
We are not broken.