Jul 4, 2017
This content contains explicit and sensitive information that may not be suitable for all ages.
My mental illness began in high school when I started developing body dysmorphia and cripplingly low self-esteem.
I looked in the mirror and my reflection grimaced back, my face distorted and horrendous. I thought of everyone around me, in contrast, as princes and princesses parading through their kingdoms – the halls of the high school. My self-hatred was so deep, and yet I could only see the best in others. I repeated mantras to myself, which were so cruel they destroyed all confidence I had gained in my childhood.
It was pure misery to live in my head. As time passed, I became much more fearful of socializing. People quickly stopped interacting with me because they didn’t understand what had happened to me, and began to fear me.
Everything was void of meaning.
One of the realities of mental illness is how isolated you become, due to others’ negative perceptions of mental illness. Eventually, I began to lose my voice as well. I talked to very few people, and when I did it was painful to speak. I tried to perfect my use of language. Rather than coming up with beautifully written language, I was so preoccupied with perfection I filtered everything I said until nothing was left. Soon I stopped talking to mostly everyone.
I was so miserable, and my depression such a bottomless pit, that I could never escape. Nothing brought me joy, or even mild satisfaction. Everything was void of meaning. Emptiness filled all the nooks and crannies, parasitizing the energy from me. I was a shell of my former self, filled with vulnerability and fear. I even began to get bullied, and their cruelty exacerbated my sense of worthlessness.
My parents were concerned about me and suggested I be institutionalized. Unfortunately, my imagination and silent brooding made it very difficult to comprehend what was going on my head. The psychiatrists who met with me believed me to be psychotic, and delusional. They thought that I was so insane I would possibly jump off a building, thinking I could fly like a bird.
Words like “delusional” taunt me to this day.
All I really needed at the time was someone to care about me. But instead I started listening to the doctors and believing their snap judgments. I was irredeemably insane, and would never recover. I fell deeper into despair as they listed diagnosis after diagnosis, never truly listening to a word I said. Words like “delusional” taunt me to this day. I repeat it to myself and cringe, imagining a state in which I have lost complete control over my ability to think logically, and blur fact and fiction together.
I’ve begun to recover. It has been a long journey. I have a lot of people I’ve learned to trust tell me that I am a good person – and I’ve started believing them, at last. One of the people I respect the most is my doctor. He is a very compassionate, highly intelligent human being who has helped me tremendously through his dedication. He has always believed in me. I’ve had people support through my challenges, including my parents, and various therapists. I have begun to see the transient nature of living in a cycle of moods.
With the introduction of Parnate, an anti-depressant I tried (after 3 million other drugs) I began to see the world in a completely new way. It was like a blind person getting a cataract surgery and finally being able to see properly. At first I stumbled around confused, but now my depression has nearly lifted. I would wake up early just to see the sunrise, and to hear the melodious calls of warblers. I would be so deeply moved by a creek winding circuitously through the mountains that it almost brought me to tears, because I had finally rediscovered joy and meaning
These days I feel more confident.
This change spread to other aspects of my life, including socializing. As stated previously, I used to succumb to fear. It took many years to start challenging that fear, and exposing myself to difficult situations. These days I feel more confident. People have had a variety of responses to my brutal honesty about my mental illness. Most people think I’m strange or odd, but sometimes people appreciate my eccentricity, passion and creativity. These are the people I care about, not all the others who don’t understand me. Life has been so painful for me, and I’ve had to grow up fast. I am 23 (and my mental illness started at 14), and I have already lived through so much. If everyone was able to extend empathy and compassion to themselves rather than disgust, I don’t think mental illness would be so extreme.