Bonfire of your Sanity – Mental Illness

It has come upon me of late to think a lot about this, and just how affecting it is to me. I could probably talk on this for hours, days, who knows. Theres so much scope, so much depth, and yet at the same time absolutely no way of saying it at all. And thats where my title comes in, you see. You can’t say it, you can’t aptly tell people ‘how you are’, and not everyone accepts / understands this. Thus, trapped in your own world of encroaching self-doubt, guilt and depression, your sanity is set on fire.

Allow me to explain.

Person number one has a sore arm. They are asked how they are. Naturally, and obviously, they respond: “sore. My arm hurts.” Maybe extending into ‘I want to get back to work but i can’t because…well, i literally can’t use this arm.” Alls good. You will heal, and all will be okay. End of story.

Person number two has a headache. Not a physical injury, this time. Just a build up of pressure in the brain caused by any number of possible things… family matters, a difficult crossword, too much staring into the sun. Again, a nice person asks how they are, and their answer is ‘sore. my head hurts. i want to work but i can’t concentrate’. All’s okay, person takes some paracetamol, or ibuprofen. You get the idea.

Person number three has a mental condition. Not a physical injury, not even a sensation of pain. But a strange, portentous feeling of doom and depression, clawing at everything in the their head but having no actual reason for being there. I am left bereft, staring sometimes into nothing and not realising time is passing. Quickly. The nice person asks, how are you? My reply…um…well (in my head how do i feel?? Theres no actual word to describe it. Its a loss of function in the brain, an inability to complete a coherent thought. Its a complete enigma that is inherently, intrinsically indescribable.) So i say, “um…fine.”

But I’m not. I just can’t explain why I’m not. I’m sure psychologists / psychiatrists will claim there will be an underlying reason for the sensation, but I tend to disagree. I don’t have any traumatic memories (that I can recall, haha) and I certainly don’t have a repressed childhood – I remember the days of when I was Han Solo, free in the Loch Fyne countryside to mow down raptors and Borg drones using my walther pp7.

And yet, from out of nowhere and sometimes at the flick of a switch, i can go from happy go lucky and enjoying life to thinking i was about to fall down into a pit of arachnid snakes – yes, doubly scary – .or, worse, not knowing how i feel. Thats the truly worst part, being unable to explain what my problem is. I just know that i’m crying, that i can’t function, that i can’t focus, can’t concentrate, or anything. My heart is racing. I’m panicking. The walls are closing in. Everyone is too loud. Everyone please shut up i need out i need away i need you all to shut up i need air i need to turn out the lights i need to be by myself i need to be in the dark i need my head to stop i need to stop i NEED TO STOP THINKING. HELP. HELP HELP.

I’m not trying to scare people, and I’m certainly not trying to educate people – I’m not some arrogant, self-important peacock who thinks he’s the only one suffering. I know i’m far from being the worse off, and my morbid self takes solace from the fact there are clearly people finding life harder than me. I have the bestest of friends and some loving family; i have a house with a castle view. i can watch any episode of star trek whenever i want. i literally have a winnie the pooh duvet cover.

So why is it…why is it fair that when I’m in one of those moods, those inexplicable thought processes and dreams, nightmares, shapeless cataclysms of the mind, I feel like my sanity is aflame, burning away beyond the edges of my peripheral vision and scratching, etching things into the inside of my skull. There’s a brainwyrm in there, screaming “I just want to get out! Set me free!”

The illness is, of course, that there is no wyrm. There isn’t anything. It’s just the way I feel. And I can’t escape it. I just have to try and cope with it. And that isn’t easy; nor is it sustainable.

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