It’s 3:01am and we are awake. I say ‘we’ because it’s as if my body is in one state of consciousness and my mind is in another. The body feels rested, lazy and comfortable; the perfect recipe for a sound night’s reset. The mind, on the other hand, races at the speed of sound, no rest for the wicked or tainted.
I liken an anxious mind to a production line, each worker on the line another thought in my head. When one rests, the others work harder and faster, there is no reprieve. The workers don’t get annual leave, sick days, tea breaks or monetary bonuses. The workers keep on working and the mind keeps on ticking, never resting, never slowing down.
This is what it is like for me, a constant state of anxiety eased only by chemical intervention. Add into the mix that each of these mind workers (thoughts) are negative and dark and not only is the mind anxious but also depressive. Anxious thoughts, grinding gears, the hum drum of misconception. A waking nightmare for some, a permanent reality for others.
It’s not all doom and gloom, the bouts of grey are thwarted by the intermittent colour permeating the shadows. My children are my hues, my family and friends, my creatures, my interests and hobbies and my writing. All of these play a part in breaking through the mental fog that threatens to hold me down another day. These bright rainbows in a stormy landscape are what keep the mind workers from going out of their own minds… sadly, they haven’t decided to down tools either.
Know this: there is absolutely nothing wrong with my intelligence or mental capacity.
It is near impossible to explain chemical, hormonal or purely emotional imbalance to someone who has never or will never experience the rollercoaster of shadows. Perhaps my expectation of your inexperienced understanding is unrealistic? Perhaps it is unfair of me to feel misunderstood or targeted in your ignorance? Perhaps I have more of a responsibility to educate you on my needs as a mental illness sufferer? Perhaps you don’t care.
It is easier to disregard mental illness as a weakness than it is to understand it’s complexities. I am fully aware that there are those who will choose to chastise me for past decisions and ongoing opinions, attributing my thoughts, words and actions to cowardice instead of intention. Know this: there is absolutely nothing wrong with my intelligence or mental capacity. I am strong, I am intellectual, I am reasonable and I am practical. More so than anyone, I understand what it is that my mind and my body needs, only I lack the skillset and understanding of how to implement these requirements and therefore I choose to supplement my synapses with the chemical kickstart that they need to fire in the appropriate direction.
I have spent a lifetime acknowledging the needs of others and providing the support to others, neglecting myself and my own needs. Now, the decisions I make and actions I take are for the benefit of myself and those closest to me. Perhaps you will not understand why I do something, why I behave a certain way, why I choose to stay indoors over partying up a storm or opt for time spent with my children over social interaction. Now. NOW. These are what I need, what my mind needs, what my body needs. Now is about what works best for my mental health and not what is suitable or acceptable for you.
I am unapologetically steadfast in my mindset and whilst the anxieties rage and darkness sets in, I stand firm in my resolve. I am not weak. I see sadness where perhaps there isn’t sadness to be seen. I see fear where perhaps it should not exist. I see darkness where light should reign. All that I see does not define me, all that I feel does not weaken me, all that I am is not what you choose to see.
You have the choice.
Stand with me as I fight to stay in the light but also hold tight when my strength wains and into the darkness I tiptoe, not pulling me back but allowing me to return of my own volition.
Take your judgement, your inflexible mindset and unwillingness to try and understand my experiences and leave my company.
It’s 3:03am. We are still awake.