I have a secret to tell you. It is a secret that I have never understood until now, and it is a secret I now want to share.
It wasn’t doctors and nurses who saved my life. It wasn’t therapy or group work or medication. It was ordinary people like you.
Why do you even bother any more, you are so worthless. You are going to make a fool of yourself yet again. Of course you are because you are just so useless. SO USELESS. Hi! It’s great to see you, how are you doing? You do realise they don’t really care. They are lying. You know they’re lying to you don’t you? That’s because you are so worthless. They won’t even be listening to whatever you say back to them. I’m doing OK thank you. Hahaha no one knows, no one knows how you feel and most importantly no one cares! They hate you, they all hate you. You deserve this. Oh good. I’ve just been thinking about you, I noticed you’ve been a bit quite recently and was just wondering how things are. No they haven’t been, that’s another lie! You are such a disgusting person, why would they care? Why would anyone ever care? Do you understand? NO ONE CARES. I’ve just been really busy and things, that’s all. I’m fine. That’s right, hide, hide, hide. From everyone. Keep yourself shut away. Lock yourself in your mind. That’s what you deserve, because this is your fault you know, it’s ALL YOUR FAULT. OK, cool. But if you ever want to talk to me about anything I’m always here to listen. Don’t you dare. Don’t you dare burden other people, how selfish are you to burden people just because you can’t cope! There you are, hurting more people again. Just because you are so pathetic, why should other people suffer too? You brought this have to all on yourself, by being so worthless, SO WORTHLESS. Well erm actually, I’m not feeling too good at the moment, and I guess I’m just finding things quite hard at the moment. WHAT are you doing? Do you really think they care? Why are you being so selfish? You are going to look so stupid when they judge you and laugh at you and ignore you- they won’t believe a word of what you tell them. And if they do, they will tell you it’s your fault-which it is. I’m so sorry to hear that things have been hard for you. Do you want to come to my house for a cup of tea tomorrow? Lies. Lies. Lies. You are so worthless. They don’t even care, no one cares. You deserve to be alone.
But why would they ask how I’m feeling? Why would they listen to me? Why would they ask to spend time with me? Maybe, just maybe they do care. Maybe I’m not alone in this.
Mental illness feels like you are living under a shield of bulletproof glass that surrounds you every single moment. It holds you prisoner. On the inside, your tumultuous thoughts and emotions rage, rebounding of the glass edges like an endless game of pinball. They form a hazy cloud of distress around you, consuming all that you are, and distorting your view of the world. On the outside, the smiles and kindly intended words or your family and friends fizzle out like tails of fireworks as they collide with your unbreakable force field. You are imprisoned in a violent swirl of distress. Alone. Until someone reaches out their hand.
Every time someone was brave enough to ask me how I was feeling, to send me a quick text, to invite me around for a cup of tea, to remind me that they are always there to listen, something strange happened. It was like each ordinary act of compassion was a tiny diamond bullet that left a crack in my glass prison. At first I didn’t notice, and then I didn’t believe it, I couldn’t- the lies in my mind were too loud. But then over time, as more and more kind words and actions were spoken and given to me, those cracks got bigger and bigger. The prison got weaker and weaker. Until, every so often, I had a glimpse of life on the outside. I saw that my thoughts and feelings weren’t true, but the compassion of those around me was. They do care. I’m not alone in this.
Doctors and nurses showed me how to get through it, therapy helped me to understand it, medication helped me to weaken it. But it was the brave actions of ordinary, extra ordinary people in my life that enabled me to shatter the glass prison and rediscover the reality of life-It is not always easy or gentle or clear, but it can be beautiful.
Let’s be ordinary extraordinary people. It’s time to talk about mental health.