“Underneath your blackest emotions,
far above your brightest wishes,
stands a world for you to hold” ~Samael
I was watching videos about children who suffer with severe mental illnesses like schizophrenia. It’s currently incurable and is a lifelong struggle for them. They suffer immensely and so do their families and those close to them who do the best they can to cope and help them cope.
They suffer hallucinations and delusions, some pleasant and some not pleasant.
They talk to things no one else can see.
Unlike some children, these aren’t imaginary friends playfully made up for fun, they are hallucinations the brain makes up as a result of an imbalance in its chemistry. It doesn’t function the way most people’s brains function. They literally see, hear, feel things that aren’t there for everyone else and often, they believe they’re real. And to them they are very real.
You can tell a hallucinating person that what that person is seeing, hearing, or feeling isn’t really there and it’s possible the person will know it’s not really there but that knowledge will not make the hallucinations any less real.
That can be an additional stress on someone. Knowing what the person is seeing, hearing, feeling isn’t really there but not being able to make it go away, even feeling the need to respond to certain hallucinations knowing they’re not really there. It can be so frustrating.
Sometimes their mental illnesses provoke some of them to act violently against other people not because they’re bad people but because their brains don’t function properly. Not everyone with a mental illness is violent as a result but some can be. Most aren’t.
In other ways they can be just like other little kids. They like to play, go outside, run around, swing, laugh….
People with mental illnesses, children and adults alike, are a whole person underneath, a person separate than the illness. But sometimes the sickness seems to take over.
It’s a heartbreaking struggle.
One of the most inspiring parts of one of the videos I watched is when a little girl’s dad said he has only two hopes for his little girl. One that she stays alive and two that moments of happiness will always find her throughout her days even when most parts of her days are an agonizing battle, he hopes she will always find something to be happy about in the midst of her pain and struggle.
This can be viewed in a more negative light like that it’s too bad that all someone has is little moments throughout the day because everything else is just so bad.
Or it can be viewed in a positive light that there are always moments we can embrace to be inspired and joyful, single moments scattered throughout each day that we have, to seize and hold on for. No matter how much pain we’re in.
It’s a beautiful coping mechanism. Mental illness and physical illness is heartbreaking and devastating but as long as we stay alive and hold onto any little bit of happiness or joy or anything that can make us smile or giggle about, we can make it.
We can’t always hope to be cured or to be generally recovered or to go in remission right now. We can’t always hope that pain will end right now. Some things just won’t be cured and some people will have to struggle most days or everyday just to survive and do basic things. Some people will have severe flare ups every now and again, of an illness physical or emotional that will feel near impossible to cope with.
And even temporary pain or struggles that we know will end eventually, can just seem so overwhelming, so absolutely unbearable.
But as long as we live and can find those glimpses of magic hidden in the midst of the pain and darkness, we can have something to hold, something to hope for, something that encourages us to keep going, to get out of bed, to move.
The reflection of the sun on windows and signs and water, the blueness of the sky, white fluffy clouds, a steaming cup of hot tea, a funny movie, the depth of inspiration a beautiful song can bring us, a poem, friends, family, animals, photography, books, the vibrant colors all around, random acts of kindness, strangers, hot fudge sundaes, peanut butter, the gentle flapping of butterfly wings, helping someone, funny jokes….whatever touches you in a deep place.
These things, the simple beauty all around, are always beautiful no matter what our situation is but for some people with certain illnesses or disabilities or in certain situations, they are all we have at the moment. Just moments of simple beauty and joys. Sometimes it’s really all we can hope for, to have solitary moments of joy or happiness or some small sense of pleasure in the midst of our darkness.
And it can be enough.
I know this because when my depression/psychosis is flaring up for hours, days, weeks, months, whether it’s a full blown episode or just some symptoms, sometimes all I can do to stay alive, to find the motivation, the inspiration, the courage, and strength to carry on, is grasp onto all the single happy or joyous moments throughout every day of my darkness & despair. Focus on the goodness that still does exist.
I no longer have long term general depression in the middle of each major depressive episode but sometimes I still have temporary depression or depressive symptoms in the middle of each recurring episode and it can be difficult to cope with. Having depression or any mental illness or pain can feel like a different world than where everyone else is. Even when my depression is not flaring up and I’m not depressed at all, even when I’m happy, there are some occasions I think about it and it feels like I live somewhere else, somewhere that is very different than where people without depression live. It’s like another place, another time, another world. To know I have this dark place I slip into and have lived for so long.
To have random suicidal thoughts and urges that can appear suddenly for seemingly no reason.
It can be a struggle to feel like I’m normal.
People say there’s no such thing as “normal.”
And that it’s good to be different and “crazy” and unique.
But in some cases there really is such a thing as “normal.” People who always want to live, those who don’t have to battle random or frequent suicidal urges, ones who don’t have unpleasant images and thoughts flashing across their brains, people who don’t have their whole body crushed in an invisible heaviness where they can’t even stand up straight, ones without panic attacks and flashbacks and frequent anxiety, food obsessions, seriously disordered eating habits ….(i don’t have anxiety or panic attacks or body image issues/eating disorders and never have but many, many people do and it’s a serious problem that is very painful for them)
This is normal to not have all this.
And for people who have any of it, it can be a difficult struggle to try to be regular.
I know people without health conditions like this may not be “normal” in other ways but in this context they are.
And it’s not good to try to force ourselves to be society’s or someone else’s idea of normal while not being true to ourselves.
But that’s not what I’m talking about here.
Yes it’s good to be “unique” but not when unique means battling violent urges to take myself out for days/weeks/months.
And “crazy” is good when it’s all fun and games and playing, acting funny and silly but it’s not good when “crazy” is a true illness.
It’s not always easy to handle and it provokes pain in me, even when I’m not depressed sometimes. Just thinking about it.
Not always. For the most part I feel and am normal. But it can be a struggle sometimes.
The psychological consequences of having this condition, even when it’s not currently acting up, are profound and we have to find ways to cope with the pain and struggles and the very fact of having them when we are someone with a mental disorder.
I know I’m not a victim. That’s why I’m posting this, because I have found a way to empower myself and I hope it helps someone else. This life is still a sweet blessing. Just because we have bad things and painful things happen to us, doesn’t mean we are victims.
“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” ~Jawaharlal Nehru
I’m alive. And as long as that remains true, there is hope. Even when I can’t feel it.
Sometimes the simple things are lifesavers, crucial parts of my coping mechanisms.
They are all there is.
I honor all the brave families and other people for sharing their stories, for sharing their pain and struggles with the world. Mental illness, medication, mental illness in children, specific ways of coping, treatment…are all very controversial. People disagree on the nature of some illnesses, whether or not they really exist, if certain treatments are ethical, the way people handle these illnesses and so much more. Anyone who shares a story like this that reaches a large audience, on blogs, YouTube, tv…, is bound to receive criticism of all kinds, some intended to be constructive, other critics intending to be malicious and inflict pain or anger upon those sharing their story.
There will always be loving supporters and those who just want to hurt.
Anyone who shares their story is brave and strong and deserves love and compassion whether or not we agree with everything they do or say or believe.
The people who share their pain with the world do the best they can the best they know how.
No one chooses to be mentally ill. We have to take the life we were gifted with, healthy or not, and do the best we can with it, bloom where we’re planted, create a firm, strong foundation with everything we know, everything we experience, everything that is thrown at us.
“Today a new sun rises for me; everything lives, everything is animated, everything seems to speak to me of my passion, everything invites me to cherish it.” ~Anne De Lenclos
Mental illness, pain, being suicidal…none of these are choices but acting on them is often a choice. Acting negatively or acting positively. Giving in and giving up or finding it in us to keep going with everything we have. We have the choice to do something to better ourselves, to hold on, to inspire, bring hope, consolation, encouragement, and understanding to others.
I choose to hold on, to keep going, to inspire myself and anyone else I can along the way.
And I hope you will always do the same whatever your situation is. And if you need reminders every now and again, look for them. Take photos of happy things, write positive quotes and affirmations in a book so you can always look at them when you need inspiration, always remember words, books, things that have helped you and let them continue to help you. Remember an occasion when you were happy and filled with joy and hope and full of life and know you have it in you to feel that way again. If you can’t remember when you last felt that way, then know there’s always hope as long as you’re alive. The world is full of pain but it’s also full of hope, healing, happiness, love, and possibility. Endless possibilities.
“I choose to FIGHT BACK! I choose to RISE, not fall! I choose to LIVE, not die! And I know, I know that what’s within me is also WITHIN YOU.” (Mayor Pappas, “City Hall” movie quote)