There’s a cruel and unforgiving irony to the phrase “one who suffers in silence.” That so called silence that only people outward to the pain are only sometimes aware of — though sadly, are usually not — has a punishing counterpart for the person fighting unseen, unheard, and unending battles every single day. A brutally drawn out war against an evil and very vocal doppelgänger to that silence, fought amongst a field of synapses and biochemical signals in one’s mind. Caught in the crossfire between duelling dualities, it’s a delicate battleground so often ignored or misunderstood in favour of other more tangible things, when in fact it should be the exact opposite.
Perhaps you’ve heard the dismissive statements before: “It’s all in your head”, “You’re just down, you’ll get over it”, or “You’re taking yourself far too seriously.” There are many more, and many worse. These are but a small sampling of the dismissive lack of acknowledgment that still plagues and stigmatizes sufferers of mental health issues, even today. The inner truth, however, is much more sobering. Many people simply choose to ignore the war themselves, the one they know is occuring in their mind but feel will quickly blow over and a ceasefire will be called. Except of course, it rarely is, and wars always come with a heavy price:
Countless people who were broken by battle and chose to end their life rather than face another day in the trenches of the mental and emotional frontlines. It’s an all out assault between those duelling dualities: the person they know they are (or used to be), and this insufferable asshole camping out in their head, constantly spewing out hatred and vitriol. Again, this is not suffering in silence, for this other voice that plays out on a sometimes daily basis may as well be cast through a megaphone that drowns out any outside shred of happiness. And often, it does.
Sadly, casualties in war go beyond just soldiers. Innocents also bear the brunt of this mental suffering. Friends, families, and partners — at least those who know there’s a war happening — often watch helpless as their loved ones go through their torment, perhaps trying to reach through to the person they know is in there somewhere but then they themselves end up being caught in friendly fire. Tears can be thicker than blood, be they yours, or someone you love watching you suffer. Difficult they can be to wipe away, and leave a stinging reminder in your eyes of what can feel like a loosing battle.
If this all feels so vivid and real, that’s because it is for too many people. In my case it’s especially heartfelt and personal, for I’m one of them. I’ve been to war more than once, and one of them almost took me out, but I’m here. I kept fighting, and I keep fighting still.
Sometimes those mercury-like tears flow relentlessly even to this day, my body’s way of ridding itself of the toxic and poisonous byproduct of the battles within. Some days they merely serve to highlight the wounds of wrinkles from a face that forgets how to smile, and so I don my happy mask because I have no choice. Anxiety is the asshole I still wage war against, and sometimes it calls for occasional reinforcements from depression. In this case, a weariness that I want to recapture the spark and innocence my life once had. But also a drive to free myself of the heavy shackles and burdens that sometimes feel insurmountable.
Some days I long for a respite where I can just forget what it’s like to ever have suffered from mental health issues. To no longer have days themselves that feel like their own duality; happy for one, and miserable the next. To throw away the shield I carry not just for my own protection, but for those I love. In my heart, I know I’ll get there. My father always taught me to never give up on anything, and to keep fighting even when the going gets tough. I heeded his lesson a long time ago in the first war I fought, and survived.
Now, however, I have found a new weapon I didn’t have before. I have the power of words. Against all odds, I will write. I will share my stories, my thoughts, my sorrows, and my triumphs. Perhaps writing will in its own unique way be an atonement to my mistakes and misgivings, and a reminder of who I really am. One day the scars will heal, and I will look back on this war as the turning point of my life.
In the meantime, I will write…
Posted in #SeptemberScrawls - Day 2