What makes it hard to live with a mental illness is not necessarily what comes with it. It’s rather what is taken from you, the things you have to fight for. As if such an illness was an unfair salesman who advertises symptoms as if they were products and doesn’t tell you what you’ll pay with.
Because even if I didn’t ask for panic attacks and suicidal thoughts, not for the lack of motivation and all the burning rage, I live with those things and that’s okay, nearly a part of me.
But what do I pay with? My lightheartedness and my energy. I pay with restful sleep. With normality.
A few days ago I talked to a person who battles depression on a daily basis with all those little things we learn in therapy and of which no one who sees us at work would think we try to cope every minute when nobody’s watching. The whole time this conversation took I knew that this person bravely takes whatever depression brings. All the dark thoughts, the fear, the voice that whispers in your ear just how worthless you are – not a word of self-pity about those things.
Just longing, longing for some easiness. For the naturalness other people get up with in the morning.
Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to take a day off from insanity. Simply going on holiday and doing all the things we usually don’t do out of cautiousness. Maybe I would go to a huge party without thinking I might dissociate and/or have a panic attack when there are too many people. Maybe I would even drink too much because I wouldn’t worry about cutting a new pattern into my thigh. Maybe I wouldn’t even wonder what I look like when I’m dancing because I would actually feel my body instead of watching it from the outside.
This isn’t supposed to sound like I’m whining – after all I could do all these things. At any time I could go to a party and act as if I was like everyone else. Just that it wouldn’t work. Because there is the fear of the panic. The cautiousness about alcohol. The emergency pack for skilling. So many uninvited guests who simply drive my easiness away. Sometimes I feel like a manager who can’t afford being irrational as it could ruin everything.
I would take the emptiness just like that if I didn’t have to pay for it with my healthy, childlike naivety.
I would buy the suicidal thoughts if I could still believe in a technical problem when the subway isn’t coming.
I would take the panic attack-including-exhaustion-afterwards-package on special offer if it came without the temptation of avoiding potentially panic-inducing situations.
The scars from cutting, I would take them all if I would still cover my breasts first when someone surprises me in the bathroom.
Maybe these are just two sides of the same coin but every time I see people whom I’ve known before their depression, their schizophrenia or their panic disorder what’s making me sad isn’t what symptoms they have to cope with but rather what they lost on this rocky road.
To cut a long story short: My problem aren’t the tears, my problem is the abscence of laughter.