I remember the days when I used to be ashamed of not only my mental health but ashamed of myself for having so many issues to deal with. I would hide my mental health problems from anyone and everyone I could, but in doing so, I only caused myself more trouble, as it would creep up on me eventually, leaving me with no warning and a very judgemental audience.
The sheer horror of being called “crazy” or the thought of being judged for being a little ‘off to the side’ every now and then, dawned on me everyday. In fact, it pretty much ate me alive for years causing me to hate myself more. I would self-harm, endure long spouts of emptiness; indulge in anger and debauchery resulting in the break down of relationships and eventual suicide attempts. This, I wish on no one. It’s unbearable, it’s dark and you are alone in those feelings. Imagine being in a pitch-black room, then feeling like your whole body is numb, like you are floating in space crossing over a number of dimensions; time is non-existent with a million and one voices surrounding you. Sound crazy? That’s nothing!
Since most people around me had already had a front row ticket to my episodes, they were often quick to judge. I felt like I was in my own circus show. I was vulnerable, paranoid and felt very alone. I knew things needed to change when I had landed myself a bed in a hospital ward for trying to kill myself, this happened a number of times, some serious, some not so. After numerous wake up calls I was finally learning to come to terms with having a colourful mental state, trying to understand myself as well as my illness. I soon took another path, almost opposite; I began isolating myself, slowly separating myself from the people around me. Although I was starting to understand my illness I was far from being better, in fact, I was now getting worse.
I was never taken seriously because mental health didn’t look like me, I was “crazy” but apparently that was just me, I wasn’t ‘mentally ill’, I was just ‘being difficult’ or deemed an attention seeker, because, I didn’t look like I was unwell. Mental health didn’t look like me. Even then, mental health wasn’t as well understood as it is now, and to be honest, I’m thankful it’s getting the publicity it deserves and so desperately needs. If it hadn’t have been for the people around me recognising my symptoms and fully understanding what it means to be mentally unwell, I think I would be dead by now.