Soul Revival Tip #2: Laughter

One day, my husband and I had a disagreement. It was safe to say we were not each other’s favorite people at the moment. I was home and upset. I decided I needed to get my mind off of the issue. I wanted to shake off those negative emotions. So I decided to watch a stand up comedy.

As I watched, I laughed and laughed until my belly hurt and I thought I was going to piss myself. I had a moment of awareness in that instant. I scanned my emotional self and realized that although the problem with my husband and I had not been resolved, I felt better. My mood lifted and I felt lighter. I felt more at peace and joyful.

I came to the conclusion that the laughter that was induced by the comedy I was watching was responsible for this. I felt happier from laughing. Intrigued, I decided to perform sort of an experiment.

I played the stand up from the beginning when my husband arrived from work. I knew he was not going to sit down, let alone with me, and watch the film willingly. I raised the volume loud enough so that it could be heard from the other rooms while simultaneously keeping the neighbors from losing their hearing.

I could tell he was still pissed off at me. I greeted him hesitantly and let him be, giving him time to cool off. I noticed as the film played that although he was not watching it, it caught his attention and he was listening.

I watched his stiff, rigid body soften before my eyes. He gradually began to unwind. His breathing slowed. He would turn to the screen periodically and eventually, sat right next to me to watch.

As the film went on, he watched and listened intensely, even allowing a chuckle to escape his lips from time to time. Before I knew it, he was not angry anymore. He turned to me and I’m pretty sure said “Okay, what do you want to eat?” kindly. We made up after that.

Laughter, although induced by the film, made us feel better. It lifted our spirits. It took our minds off of the issue at hand. It calmed us and brought us to a more rational, relaxed state. That tranquility provided us with the clarity we needed in order to realize that our dispute was not a big deal. Not only were we able to carry on with the evening, but we were both in better places mentally and emotionally.

There are many studies that show laughter has the capability to trigger endorphins (the “happy” hormone), relax the body, stop distressing emotions, help you reenergize, calm stress hormones, as well as ease anxiety.

As for physical benefits, laughter can bring down blood pressure, burn calories, raise the production of immune cells and infection fighting antibodies (improving resistance to disease), renew the lungs, as well as relaxing the muscles relieving tension.

Laughter is so powerful that different establishments have been created in order to receive those benefits. There are laughter clubs, which is defined as a group of people gathering to practice laughter. There is laughter yoga, which is basically yoga and a laughter club combined. There is even laughter therapy, where patients in the hospital are presented with humorous activities to revitalize their bodies and spirits. Some medical professionals also make the effort to make their patients laugh because they know that it will improve the patient’s well-being.

So the next time you’re not feeling so hot, laugh. Find reasons to laugh. Watch a stand up comedy like I did that evening. Watch a funny video on YouTube or play your favorite comedic film. Call or hang out with a funny friend. Go to a comedy club. Play with your pet, tickle your kids (don’t kill them in the process). Your mental, physical and spiritual self will thank you for it later.

Soul Revival Tip #1: Audiobooks

I’ve always loved to read but recently, I’ve become obsessed with audiobooks. My favorite books tend to be self help/self improvement related. I find that listening to a soothing voice teaching you how to care for yourself in a time of emotional and psychological need can be powerful and incredibly impactful. It feels like someone is sitting right next to me, comforting me in my time of need.

Best of all, it’s available at all times. This means you can receive a boost of love and encouragement anytime you need it. This could be in the middle of the night when you can’t sleep. It could be on the train or your drive in to work as you mentally prepare for the next shift. It could even be when you’re going through a very difficult phase in life.

Audiobooks have been life changing for me. I do see a therapist once a week but sometimes it’s not enough. Sure, talking to other people can help. However, realistically we will not always have someone else around to help us. Therefore, we need to master the art of helping ourselves.

Telling other people your struggles can be a huge help but I’m sure you’ve also experienced times where it has backfired. Sometimes, you are met with judgement and criticism. Other times, you’ve just been given bad advice. There might have even been occasions where you find out someone told another person about your issues without your consent. You leave the situation feeling worse than you did before you told anyone. Who needs that?

I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t rely on anyone else as a source of support. If it’s a safe and confidential source, sure. I am saying that it’s absolutely necessary to learn how to help yourself alone. Even if you have the greatest support system, talking to someone else may not always be an option and you have to be prepared for moments like that. You are your own responsibility, and it’s ultimately up to you to take care of yourself.

Audiobooks are an awesome form of self care. I recommend that everyone try listening to one at some point, you may be surprised at how much better you feel afterwards. I get my books using the app. Audible. I love a lot of Louise Hay’s books. She was a world renowned author and metaphysical teacher. Her self esteem affirmations helped me learn to embrace and accept myself for who I am. In “How To Love Yourself”, Louise discusses her 10 tips towards achieving self love and self acceptance. I found this to be very eye opening and learned some life long lessons from it. “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz is one of my favorites and a very popular and well known book. Ruiz shares 4 powerful beliefs to adopt to transform your life for the better. I own the paperback, but decided to buy it in audiobook form. I actually prefer the audiobook and have bookmarked my favorite parts to listen to whenever I need an extra boost of love and encouragement.

Now I understand some people really don’t care for self help/self improvement books. That’s okay too. Fiction based audiobooks/books are an effective coping mechanism as well. Reading gets your mind off of whatever it is you’re stressing. It’s entertaining, increases your vocabulary, strengthens your imagination and is a healthy distraction. Your brain gets to take a well deserved BREAK. We ALL need that, whether it is you’re depressed or not. Coping skills are not only for those who are struggling with mental illness. Coping skills are healthy hobbies and habits to integrate into your life, for the rest of your life. The more you have in your life, the better.

Nothing that I ever suggest on my blog will ever substitute receiving professional help. If you feel there is something seriously wrong and you have it in your power, please seek professional help. However, the tips I share may help you endure life’s struggles and get through them in a healthy, safe and non destructive way. In therapy, that is what you are taught. Granted, the therapist helps you work through your problems objectively, but ultimately, they will teach or recommend different coping skills for you to use when you’re feeling angry, depressed, anxious, etc…

I know there are a lot of you that may be struggling mentally, emotionally and psychologically. I know how it feels to deal with that pain alone, to feel misunderstood or the fear that you will be looked upon as crazy. You’re not crazy. You’re just struggling. Believe it or not, those are temporary feelings. You just need to learn how to ride them out in the safest way possible. That’s where me and my soul revival tips come in. I’m sharing some of the stuff I know has saved me, and I really hope can do the same for you.

Fighting The Good Fight

So, I’ve been silent for a bit. I mentioned that in my last blog post. There has been a lot going on here at home. Things have been a struggle, I have been struggling.

Being the mother of an autistic child is difficult beyond anyone’s understanding, besides a person in the same boat. That’s that all children on the spectrum are different from one another.

We started potty training Ethan. Me and two of his teachers camped out in the bathroom for three days. It was exhausting. Days after, he had a week off. Whole days with Ethan are tough. They are intense.

He requires a lot of attention. I am still changing diapers, still dressing him from head to toe. He has many needs. He needs to be watched vigilantly. I’ve seen him move our 50 inch television by himself. Let’s keep in mind, he’s only six years old. He’s broken his dresser which was nailed to the wall in his room, causing for the tv to come crashing down to the floor. I’ve found nails randomly in his mouth.

It’s traumatizing. I feel like I cannot keep him out my sight because he might hurt himself. There are nights where he will wake up as early as 3-4am, banging things, jumping on his bed, dropping things on the floor because he enjoys the clattering sound that’s made.

The stress from this has triggered my anxiety, a depressive episode, it’s robbed me of my ability to sleep restfully for an entire night. I wake up and lie in bed thinking about how the morning will go, creating fear and worry. Becoming apprehensive that things will be completely chaotic when it’s time to get ready for school. They usually are, my anxiety comes from not being in complete control over a situation that simply can’t.

There are things that I no longer enjoy that I used to. I used to sing regularly, I used to read tarot, I used to write frequently and now cursed with writer’s block. I always had something to say and here I find myself quiet. Just trying to stay afloat. Just trying to get through each day, day by day. That’s become my new hobby.

It’s hard. I cry a lot. It’s overwhelming. I try to keep in mind that this moment wont last forever yet it’s hard to imagine that when I feel the way I do. It’s easy to feel like a bad parent when parenting makes you break down. I’ve had moments where I feel like a weakling for not being able to handle what’s been given to me as I’m constantly struggling. It’s easy to feel like you’re not doing enough. Like you aren’t enough. Like everything you do is wrong.

So, that’s where I’ve been. I’m still in therapy. I’m still working through these issues and it’s helped immensely. I’m sharing because I know there are moms who feel the same way I do. Know that you’re far from alone. You’re not a bad person, you’re not a bad parent. If you were, you wouldn’t be concerned about being one. Hang in there.

Autism Is A Gift?

Before I start, I need to state how hard this was to write. I cried all through out. I share this because I know I am not alone and I would love to meet others struggling with the same. If this offends you… I can’t help what I feel and I won’t apologize for it. I refuse to suppress anymore.

My husband and I decided to have our child. It was a mutual decision. One that made sense to me at the time. I wanted the experience of motherhood earlier in life. I was with someone who I knew would be an amazing parent. It felt perfect.

When expecting a baby, we tend to wonder what the child will be like. We imagine pigtailed princesses, tomboys, tiny all star athletes and the semblance of yourself somewhere in this little being.

None of us realize that having a child does not guarantee that he or she will be healthy or even disabled. It isn’t in our wildest dreams. Actually, it’s something that’s tucked away somewhere so far beyond your conscience, you might even feel it’s impossible. At least that’s what the experience was like for me.

I gave birth to a son. Ethan. His name brings a smile to my face. I fell in love with everything about him, from head to toe. I loved everything about being his mother. It brought me joy and pride to watch him grow. It created a curiosity in me that resembled a hunger. Who was he? Would he love video games and baseball like his dad? Would he hate small talk and crave discussions of our existence and conspiracy theories like his mom?

Ethan was 6 months old when his pediatrician told me he wasn’t hitting his milestones. She recommended that we contact early intervention to have him evaluated for any sort of delays or disabilities. I declined. I was told by every mother I knew, that all children grew at their own pace. That’s what was happening here. That was all.

Ethan learned to sit and crawl later than was expected. He took his first steps when he was a year and a half. Still, I believed this was normal. What kept me up at night was that he wasn’t talking. No phrases. Nada. I would attempt to play with him at home or I’d take him to the park. He no longer made eye contact with me. He no longer smiled or interacted with me. He didn’t respond to his name, to my voice. I was a ghost. It hurt. God did it hurt.

I told myself I’d contact early intervention if he turned two years old and was not speaking. I found myself making that phone call shortly after his second birthday after seeing no signs of improvement. The process went rather smoothly and Ethan was to be evaluated by a psychologist.

The psychologist was scheduled to visit with us at our home. She turned to me in under five minutes of her visit and told me my son was severely autistic. I felt like I’d received a hard punch to the stomach. Autism. My son? I didn’t know anything about it. It didn’t run in my family. It didn’t run in my husband’s family.

All these thoughts and fears ran through my mind. That’s it, his life is over. He’ll never lead a normal life. He won’t grow to become a man who will get married, go to college, have the ability to support himself.

In that moment, I wanted to die. I’d recently found out I had a life threatening Illness that I didn’t know I’d survive from. Hearing this broke what was left of me. I was doomed. My son, who hadn’t even begun to live his life, was doomed. I cried and cried until I thought my body had run dry. But…I couldn’t allow my emotions to paralyze me. I folded away that pain and put it away. What was the next step? What could we do right NOW to help him?

Ethan went on to receive at home, multiple hour long therapy sessions with ABA therapists, speech therapists, OT specialists, and PT specialists 5 times a week. Any service he qualified for, we made sure he got.

He began attending a center based therapy daycare, where he received all of services. He rode his first school bus at the age of 2. Once Ethan aged out of the first location, we worked closely with a social worker and with her help, got him into the best preschool that provided the services that Ethan required.

Through out this process, I didn’t allow myself to fear. I didn’t allow myself to cry. I didn’t allow myself to be human. I struggle with anxiety, which usually has a lot to do with panicking over the future. I couldn’t even feel that. I couldn’t help the diagnosis, but I could help how much I did to help my son. So I immersed myself in that.

I was sick and Ethan needed me, so I became a stay at home mother. It wasn’t where I ever saw myself in life, but my body needed to heal, and even if it didn’t, my son needed me. I would have never forgiven myself if I hadn’t done everything humanly possible to help my son progress. In my eyes, who my son would become in the future would be a result of the parenting he received. If that meant I needed to be home for him to receive his services and for me to learn teaching/therapeutic tactics to help him as well, that’s where the fuck I was going to be.

So, this is my life. I’m a stay at home mom to an autistic child. He is six years old now. He loves cars, anything Minion related, counts, sings, requests things (food especially). All on his own terms, of course. His room becomes a jungle gym during sleeping hours. He doesn’t eat anything unless it’s crunchy. He is unable to dress himself. He needs help with most basic things, including using the bathroom. I currently change his diapers.

It took me a long time to muster up the courage to talk about this. Why? I didn’t want people looking at my son with pity. I didn’t want people finding out about his diagnosis and automatically viewing him as the poster child for autism, without even getting to know him. I didn’t want unsolicited advice from inexperienced parents who hadn’t even heard of autism. I didn’t want my parenting bashed. I didn’t want to be incriminated by other autism mothers for not pretending this was a breeze or being unhappy. For not using the correct terminology. I didn’t want to hear the asininity that comes from crude people who glamorize having a disabled child, like my strife was invalid and an exaggeration.

Worst of all, I did not want to hear the phrase I loathe the most: Autism is a gift. A gift to whom exactly? When my son is crying out of frustration because he can’t verbalize words he knows and understands, do you think he feels this is a gift? Do you think he feels it’s a gift when I have to change his diaper with cold wipes in the early morning? Don’t you think at this point he feels it’s intrusive? Is it a gift that he has to be held down by five people in order to be examined because he’s scared of being bound down? Is it a gift that we use a high chair and a stroller at the age of 6? Is it a gift when he can’t enjoy a movie at a cinema like the typical child can because this disability doesn’t allow for it? Is it a gift that he has no sense of danger and could kill himself if not consistently monitored?

Saying autism is a gift is dangerous. Its divisive. It doesn’t allow for authenticity. It’s the reason mothers like me isolate themselves from the world. We cannot relate to parents with typical children, and we can’t relate to the hard core, sanctimonious, politically correct autism parents who claim to do it all like it’s effortless. We feel there is no support for us. I don’t want condemnation for not acting and feeling like our world is fantastic. I don’t want criticism for confessing that this isn’t easy and that it’s painful every single day I watch my son struggle.

If we could choose a world where autism did not exist, that’s the world we would pick. That’s the cold honest truth. To hear autism is a gift is like a slap in the face. It undermines the struggle both parent and child experience. It dismisses the agony I STILL hold so heavy in my heart because I am still mourning. I’m in mourning for the child I idealized while I was pregnant. While I love my son, while I would do everything in my power to make sure he’s taken care of, I wouldn’t wish this pain on anyone.

What I want the most someday? To sit with my son one day and have a long, in-depth conversation with him. To bond and learn about him. To find out what’s going on in that little head of his. If I never get that, that’s okay as well. I will always love him unconditionally. He’s my breathing, walking and talking heart. I just wish more parents were talking about this. I just wish more parents were honest about how hard this is. We could use the support. I know I could.

The Trend That Is Pessimism 

Ever notice how people will complain about their lives while often excluding the good that is also occurring? We cry and moan about all that is wrong, and either turn a blind eye to the good or choose not to talk about it at all. Like a lie of omission, almost like happiness is something to be ashamed of. 

Somehow, at some point, it became really cool to be super apathetic, cynical, and negative. Bitching has literally become the preferred method of bonding amongst peers. 

If you post photos of yourself on social media out of confidence, you’re considered arrogant. This really bothers people. Why? Maybe you love your body and have accepted the skin you’re in. Maybe you’re proud to show that off. Where is the crime in that? 

You talk about that promotion you got, you’re bragging. You probably worked your ass off for that position but may feel reluctant to talk about it to avoid bothering others. Have you ever wondered why it annoys others? Why do we care about what people think enough to bury our happiness and join the pity party? 

You mention how well your relationship is going, you’re full of shit. Why? Why is it so hard to believe that two people may actually be delighted and satisfied with one another? 

Talking about the good in a relationship doesn’t mean it’s perfect. It means you respect your partner enough to work your disagreements out only amongst yourselves. It means you honor the privacy and intimacy of your relationship. It means it’s not anyone else’s business and you don’t owe anyone additional details. 

So, don’t feel pressured into joining the commiseration club. Even if everyone you know is a member. People can’t believe in another person’s capability of bliss because they don’t allow themselves to feel that way. 

You don’t need to be amongst those who pick apart every aspect of their lives and only concentrate rough patches while neglecting every blessing. You also don’t need to be around someone who cannot be happy for your happiness. They don’t love you. Simple as that. Why? Because they don’t love themselves. That energy is cancerous. It will stunt your growth. Run as fast as you can. 

You are responsible for your own happiness. If you’ve found that, good for you. Wear that shit like a badge of honor, even if the glare is too blinding for the energy vamps. 

Dear Self, 

You washed the dishes. That’s a big fucking deal. You HATE washing dishes and you pushed through. You didn’t want to brush your teeth, you did. You didn’t want to shower, you did. Didn’t want to wash your hair and you did. You pumiced your feet. You watched numerous things to laugh to lift your mood. You practiced self care. You’re even journaling. All while being fucking depressed. It’s a big deal. You’re doing a good job. Don’t beat yourself up for what you couldn’t or haven’t done. Give yourself credit for that. Be proud of yourself for that. 

This is what you’re supposed to do when you’re depressed. You’re supposed to take responsibility for yourself. You’re supposed to identify what’s wrong, and try to help yourself. You’re supposed to practice your coping skills. You did that. You’re supposed to try even though you don’t want to. You pushed through it. 

I know you may not feel this is a big deal, but if someone else told you this, you would congratulate them. You would tell them to be proud because they could’ve chosen to do nothing and they chose to fight. 

If you had chosen to do nothing, well, that’s okay too. Our best does not look the same everyday. Staying in bed could be your best one day and that’s fine. You’re doing your best today. I love you. I’ll always look out for you. 

Remember, this isn’t you. This gloom and doom you’re feeling. The sinking in your gut? That’s depression. It’s a disease. You’re going through the symptoms and you’re fighting them. I’m proud of you. 

Love, 

Self  

Stop The Bullshit: I Can Smell You From Here 

Can we stop the bullshit here? 

Can we stop pretending we are too cool to be in pain? 

Can we stop behaving like the trauma we experienced in life didn’t leave us wounded? 

Can we stop pushing our emotional anguish aside because we are too shameful to acknowledge something is wrong? 

What is being achieved with all this denial? 

Perfection does not exist. Everyone has their faults. Everyone. 

What do you gain by pretending otherwise? Look at where you are at the moment. 

Are you proud? 

Do you want to be the person you are at this VERY moment, for the rest of your life? 

If not, you’ve got a lot of soul searching to do. You’ve got to admit to a lot of truths that may agonize you. 

So take a good look at yourself. Not your car. Not your paycheck. 

Moving forward isn’t about your financial status. It’s about being genuine with yourself. It’s about telling yourself the shit you don’t want to hear about who you are and confronting it. 

Take a good look at the mirror. Is this it? Is this the level of maturity you’re satisfied with? 

Can you look at your reflection and tell yourself that? Look into your own eyes and tell yourself that shit without cringing. 

Do you really want to be the same person, living in the identical cycle you were exposed to as a child? Do you really want to be THIS person at the age of 40? 50? 60? 

Listen. I’m not perfect. Far from it. 

I see a therapist 4 times a month. My sessions are not easy. 

I admit things about myself that I’m ashamed of. I confess to actions I’m not proud of. 

I sit there and listen to feedback that I can’t bear to hear because it hurts too much. 

Why? 

Because I WANT to be better. I want to outgrow the bullshit. This is important for me. I want to be a better mom. I want to be a better spouse. I want to be a better person. I want to live a fulfilled life. 

I don’t want to find myself in the same dysfunctional cycle a lot of you like to pretend doesn’t exist by the time my hair is gray and I’m menopausal. 

I don’t want my child inheriting all the negative characteristics I developed in life because that’s how I CHOSE to raise him. 

So… stop it. 

Enough with the pride bullshit. Enough. 

Love yourself enough to be honest with yourself. 

It will initially sting.

I promise you, you won’t die from confronting your demons and putting them to rest. 

You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain. 

Welcome To Hell: The Mixed Episode

This piece is a little different from some of the previous ones I’ve published regarding mental health. Today, I am writing to you while I’m experiencing a mixed episode. I don’t usually write or am in the mood to do so when I’m unwell. I thought this was important to share so, here I am! 

I feel like monkey shit today. I feel like doing everything, all while feeling chained to my bed. I feel like a drank a thousand energy drinks, yet my body won’t move. The only thing it’s energized is my racing mind I cannot seem to silence. 

My mind is like a fish attempting to swim up uphill against the currents. So many thoughts zooming back and forth at the speed of light. Yet, I feel bound and tied down. I hate these days. I feel on edge and am ready to snap at anyone who breathes in my direction. 

These days, I feel useless. I’m not productive. This is the third day, and they sort of fluctuate. There are moments I feel better through out the day. Then there are the crappy moments, like now. 

To be clear, let me explain what exactly a mixed episode is. According to Web MD, a mixed episode features refers to the presence of high and low symptoms occurring at the same time, or as part of a single episode, in people experiencing an episode of mania or depression. In most forms of bipolar disorder, moods alternate between elevated and depressed over time. A person with mixed features experiences symptoms of both mood “poles” — mania and depression, simultaneously or in rapid sequence. 

Fun right? One of the wonderful gifts that comes with the package that is bipolar disorder. Statically, suicide rates go up when a person is experiencing a mixed episode. 

I have to fight it though, because that’s what I’d tell you if you told me you felt this way. It would make me a hypocrite not to. Today, my journal is my best friend. I’m pulling out the coping skills. I’m allowing myself to rest. Most of all, I’m trying my hardest to forgive myself for not being able to function the way I would typically. If I don’t, I may worsen or aggravate the episode. 

Why am I writing this? As I’ve said many times, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. No one is talking about this. People who are suffering are in denial. People who want to talk are ashamed. You need to know you can have a life with this disease. Like any other disease, you will have bad days and good days. I recognize that I am not perfect. Sometimes, my best is kick ass on a Monday and not so great on a Wednesday. There is no room to feel guilt though. Only room for self care. Hang in there. You will tough it out. I will tough it out. 

This Is Anxiety 

Fucking shit. You want to know what anxiety feels like? 

Anxiety feels like forgetting everything you’ve ever known in your entire life in an instant and being completely frozen into place. 

Anxiety is having to run back and forth to the bathroom as your stomach churns, bile burning at your throat. 

Anxiety is feeling fucking insane for being scared of everything that is actually nothing at all. 

Anxiety is saying “No” to your dreams because you don’t feel you’re good enough. 

Anxiety is that bloodcurdling, hateful voice that won’t stop screaming. 

Will you ever shut the fuck up? 

Anxiety is that icy presence that creeps into your bed, engulfing you in its piercing embrace, depleting the energy out of you. 

You cannot breathe. 

The oxygen flees the room, slipping away further and further into the night. 

It’s taking your spirit, as you stare with red rimmed eyes, helplessly into the sky,

Choking and clawing at your throat hysterically,

No matter how much you try,

You know there’s no escape; 

You see, anxiety is only the prison that lives in your brain. 

What THIS feels like

When a person is struggling with mental illness, there’s a tremendous sense of guilt experienced that people will never understand. 

There’s a remorse, a resentment one holds for themselves. A sense of self loathing for not being the best parent you wish you could be. A self-condemnation for lacking the capability to be the “ideal” spouse. A culpability for not being able to function like the standard human who is able to support themselves. A humiliation for being unable to handle life’s simple tasks without drowning in them.

The daily mission becomes to survive. That’s your job. Coping skill, after coping skill, after coping skill. Self help books, essential oils, candles, support groups, walking, meditation…Shit, you’ve got the whole tool box! Well done! 

You’ve brought yourself up, good for you. Success…but only for today… because you know… Oh! How well do you know… the slightest trigger could bring you…. 

Right. Back. To. Square. One. 

That part where you feel like the sun left the Earth. It’s up to you to use your tools and dig. Dig, dig and dig. Climb, climb and climb, towards the ray of light peering through that little hole in the roof of the cave you’re living in. 
Finally, hands bloodied and raw, you’re out. Job well done. 

Up until the next time something sets you off or overwhelms you….

Back. To. Square. One. 

You want to know the worst part of all of it? Trying to explain this to someone who’s never experienced it. The look on a persons face… the disgust, confusion, the pity, the annoyance, the exasperation….What’s worse, you can’t even blame them! You know that what’s coming out of your mouth sounds like a crock of shit. Like some sort of alibi, a cop out as an answer for why you can’t seem to get your shit together.

Except, why would anyone make this shit up? Why on Earth would a human being “pretend” to be mentally ill? There’s no gratification in feeling inadequate. There’s no fulfillment in being looked down upon. There’s no pride in feeling and appearing useless. 

So…seek help? Sounds easy enough, right? Except it’s not. You do so, and you are transferred to a million and one departments. You’re put on hold, countless times before speaking to a human being, only to be told cheerfully “Sorry, we can’t help you” right before receiving a hang up and being left with only a deafening dial tone to listen to. You’re referred to clinic after clinic before finding the right one. Guess what though? They don’t have their next opening until the next six months. So, that suicidal thought you had? Hold that thought. You can discuss that with your therapist in September. 

You can always admit yourself to a hospital, right? Except the conditions you have to go through to do, so are disgusting. Being exposed to others much more unhinged than you are. In the outside world, you were afraid of yourself. Now, other people are a threat. Others who are experiencing such paranoia, they’ve imagined you’ve engaged in some sort of dilemma with them. They now want to physically fight with you. Another demanding a shower, but not being given a towel immediately, so he strips for all to see his penis. Only to then proceed in giving himself a birdbath in the communal sink. Or trying to talk to a loved on the phone, and having another patient hovering over you for the sake of having something to do. Let’s not forget! There’s always the option to be shipped off to a facility in another state, hours away from family and friends being able to visit, if this one isn’t to your liking. Oh, how rejuvenating.

This is why people give up and decide the better option is to not exist. Not because they are weak. Not because they decided to give up. It’s because they are EXHAUSTED. All options were exercised and they failed. Failed by those who “didn’t see it coming”. Failed by a very flawed mental health system. Failed by those who chose judgement over putting that expensive smart phone to use and learning about the cause. Failing to learn that this demon you’re facing, it’s as real as the wind, the oxygen in the room and the blood that pumps through all our veins. 

People don’t give up because they are cowards. People give up because after all that digging, the climbing, desperately clawing at small ray of light shining above them, they are destitute, depleted. They are bloodied, bruised and bare. They decide that surrendering to the nothingness that’s been tempting them all along, just might be better than the pain that’s haunted them for ages.

 
Want to help someone you suspect/know is mentally ill? You probably do know someone, before you assume you don’t, FYI. This is the order of top ten leading deaths in the US. 

1. Heart disease

2. Cancer (malignant neoplasms)

3. Chronic lower respiratory disease

4. Accidents (unintentional injuries)

5. Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases)

6. Alzheimer’s disease

7. Diabetes

8. Influenza and pneumonia

9. Kidney disease (nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis)

10. Suicide 

Now, according to statistics, 1 in every 4-5 people are struggling with a mental illness. 
My friends, you do the math. 
RESEARCH about it, especially before trying to hand over advice. Reach out to them. Ask them if they are ok. If they want to talk, and if so, listen before trying to find a solution. Sometimes, people just want to be heard. Offer to visit. Be present, emotionally supportive, open minded and free of judgement. Be forgiving and learn how to distinguish your loved ones actions from the disease. 

It’s not your job to fix/heal someone. However, the guilt you will feel if you had the opportunity to offer the support and you refused because you decided you had something better to do instead, is eternal. One small gesture can make a world of a difference in a person mentally suffering.

To my friends who are suffering silently,
If any of you are ever struggling mentally and need to speak to someone immediately, here are some resources for you to use: 

1-800-Suicide

1-800-784-2433

1-888-NYC-WELL

1-888-692-9355
You can also chat or text with a mental health counselor at 
Www.SuicidePreventionLifeLine.Org
https://nycwell.cityofnewyork.us/en/