An Ode to My Mental Health

by Kyra-Lianne Samuels

I wake up and feel the sorrow wash over me and smile into the familiarity. The comfort is soon followed by guilt, shame, dread. “It’s not supposed to be like this,” I think.  “I wasn’t put on earth to suffer,” and yet. And yet. The indignity of my reaction leads to a new wave of remorse. At least I’m already in bed. I never got up anyway. 

The day progresses, I’m still in a slump. Unread emails and unopened text messages, feeling like a hypocrite, because I know I’d be upset if my friends didn’t reach out as well. I glance at the bottle on the bottom shelf of the cabinet. Empty. Good.  There’s a reason I avoided buying a replacement. Less than a drop of golden liquid sits at its depth. I look at it and refuse to let it be my courage, I know better than to think that “Just One More Drink” stays just that for long. The bottle of pills above it, meant to quiet my thoughts and help me sleep. It does its job, I can’t complain, they’re just sleeping pills. Still, I wonder if I’m somehow wrong for taking them. No more than two a night, less than prescribed. On particularly bad days I’ll lament not even being successful at peaceful sleep, shouldn’t at least that come naturally? 

The next day I’ll try again. Count to twenty, forty, sixty, and force myself up. The sun is shining, its rays give me strength. I smile, because for the first time in a while I remember what it feels like to be who I used to be, when I could be happy, when I could be content. “You’ll forget again,” a voice says from somewhere and the voice sounds a lot like mine. Today I’m strong enough to ignore it, at least for a little while. Small victories, small mercies. I look in the mirror and I don’t smile, but my lips don’t quirk downwards, and it seems the shadows on my face also need a break. I’ll take it. “Ride the wave as far as it’ll take you!” The order comes urgently from my left? My right? Above? It doesn’t matter, I won’t disobey. I know better… do I?

It turns out that “as far as it’ll take you” isn’t so far at all. Barely a few hours have passed and I feel the shadows creeping in again, strange, it’s still so bright out. I physically feel my energy dropping, or at least my mood. I feel the warzone start at the periphery of my mind, just close enough so that I can’t ignore it. I almost feel like imploring for just a bit more time to be the me I used to be, the me I still am? The me I could be? Who would I even be imploring to? It gets confusing sometimes. Still, I know that begging would be useless. I sit with the feeling as it engulfs me, sometimes it really does feel like a wave. Welcome back, old friend. You never left, and yet I still doubt if you’re there. Surely, I’m just being dramatic right? 

Will I Get Better?

Can I Get Better? 

No. Yes. No. No. Yes. 

Yes.

Issues regarding mental health remain generally under-reported (Ritchie et al, 2021). Roughly 1 in 7 people worldwide suffer from mental illness or substance use disorders (Ritchie et al, 2021). One person dies of suicide every 40 seconds (Dattani et al, 2015).

References:

Dattani, S. Ritchie, H. Roser, M. (2021). Mental Health. Our World in Data. https://ourworldindata.org/mental-health.

Ritchie, H. Roser, M. Ortiz-Ospina, E. (2015). Suicide. Our World in Data. https://ourworldindata.org/suicide.

Photo by Jane Boyd on Unsplash

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