Do you remember those moments where you are in the dark, walking down the stairs with quietness pressed into your ears? You don’t want to turn the lights on because of how late it is, believing in the fact you are able to do this without seeing what’s in front of you. You have walked these steps a million times before, never bothering to look in the light. You tell yourself it’s still the same place it’s been this whole time, but the uncertainty takes it’s place in your heart. The agitation, the heavy heart, it’s all there. Each step is met with relief that you made it. But, that one step you are unsure of, the one you know isn’t there but you still take it. That’s the one that takes your breath away, the one that you believe is certain death, that it’s all over. You feel like your heart has stopped, that there’s no more air in your lungs. The darkness has won.
I’ve never really talked much about the struggles I’ve gone through, some of it is just too much to tell and most people have a hard enough time understanding mental illness as it is. I don’t think I can explain why I’ve spent the past few years burning cigarettes on my body, why I’ve slit my wrists a couple time, or where these thoughts of suicide come from. I just know that I’ve been living with this for a lot longer than I care to remember.
When the world ends, you expect it to be this cataclysmic event where the whole earth explodes. But, it’s not, it’s more slow, gradual. Piece by piece, everything takes it’s time to fall apart. You never notice until it’s too late, when everything that you once knew is gone. Suddenly, this new world you find yourself in has different rules and strange people that don’t make sense. I stopped caring about things that were important when I was 13 and all I wanted to do was sleep and hide away from everything. Truth be told, I have always felt anxious with the world. I always felt lost.
When I was a kid, I could never explain to people how sunsets made me feel sad and empty and vulnerable, but I loved to watch them everyday. I wasn’t sure if I could explain about the thoughts of death and heartache I suffered from at a young age.
It doesn’t do me any good, but I’ve thought back to when it all changed for me. What if my parents didn’t get into drugs? Or if all my friends and brothers weren’t drinking themselves to death? What if I kept the bad things from happening? All the screaming, blood on the floor, the constant abuse. Would it have made a difference? Would I still be this messed up, this traumatized? These are the questions that have been haunting me for the past decade. As such, this what lead me to admitting myself into the psych ward, under doctors recommendation. I was drinking too much, stressed out from work, taking drugs that took too much away from me. My thoughts were sporadic, I lost sleep and could feel anger and regret building up day by day, all my secrets eating away my insides. I escaped it all in whatever form I could.
Foolishly, I wanted to believe that if I acted, pretended to be normal, hid all my scars, then I could be happy. But, it’s too late now, everything has already happened. And this is how it all fell apart, with me talking about all the things I never say. This is how I ended up in the hospital under careful observation, an empty shell of a man with a one way ticket to hell. I can tell you right now, ending up in the psych ward because of mental illness has been my biggest fear, some part of me always knew, always suspected what truly lay ahead for me. The first few days in the ward were the hardest. I was away from the wilderness that made me feel safe, all my friends that I saw as family, I was in a strange place with even stranger people. Not to mention I was detoxing from the alcohol that I let poison my veins, the drugs that kept me moving forward. Being away from the freedom of drinking was the most difficult. I felt a constant ache in the back of my throat that never went away. Each breath was never enough, no matter what I ate or drank, it was never enough. There was just constant suffering.
I had constant check-ups with the doctors and nurses to make sure the bad thoughts were well managed. Over and over, I had to talk about the horrible things that happened to me, the treacherous things I’ve done. I had to talk about the life I’ve been running away from this whole time. How surreal it truly was to talk about my haunting memories, the things I’ve kept secret this whole time. It felt like telling the story of someone else’s life, a strangers.
This is where everything changed for me, when I realized where I went wrong. My life wasn’t damaged because what other people did to me, the acts of terror they inflicted on me, it was because I let them take pieces of me, willingly sacrificing parts of myself for other peoples sake. I couldn’t stop my father from beating up my mother as a kid, or all the alcoholism and drug addiction that happened around me while growing up. There was always too much yelling, too much screaming and crying out into the night. Maybe I didn’t have the most happiest upbringing as other people did growing up; having nice clothes, enough food to feed ones belly, or stable relationships with each other that we can fondly look back to when we do grow up. A lot of stuff I keep secret because I know most of society can’t relate to the things I’ve experienced, the horror stories I’ve collected in my time. There isn’t a single god damn thing I can change about my past, no matter how hard I try. Some memories will never make sense, continuing to float around in my head to cause me grief in the brightest hour of my day.
I realized that even though I had a lot of people hurt me in my life and I’ve hurt plenty of others as well, it’s where we go from that next step that truly matters, we get to decide if something is going to hurt us or not. Something that the doctor had told me when I was in the hospital was that maybe I need to grasp on to the fact that the bad thoughts in my head will never go away, that maybe I will always be this crazy. At first, hearing those words cut something deep inside. Except, another kind of emotion erupted out of me and hasn’t left my side since. I am crazy and I do have bad thoughts in my head that leaves a tear in my heart. But none of that has stopped me in the past few years to follow my passion, to chase the unknown and live the life I’ve always dreamed of. Each day, I still got up and did the things I needed to do and believed in. This whole time, I’ve been me and not the stranger in my head.
The mistake I made this year was that I’ve been trying to forget my past and all the things that come with it, trying to pretend that nothing bad ever happens. Except my scars are still there to remind me every day the cruel things life has to offer. That’s why I ended up in the psych ward and found myself thinking I shouldn’t be around these people who are crazy, I’m not one of them. But, being there opened me up, I brought up parts of myself I thought I could throw away, parts of me I never knew I had. I am one of those crazy people. When I was there, I could peacefully talk about the suicide attempts I’ve tried to commit, or the bad things that happened to me growing up. The people I met there understood me, they didn’t look at me like I was insane. I realized these people were me, just living different lives. We all have bad stuff happen to us in our lives. Some of them break us, some of them leave us lesser than we were before. And not everybody is equipped to deal with most situations in life, some of us aren’t the same as others. If I lived in someone else’s life, I would be them, if they had lived mine, they would be me. I’ve realized that now.
The medication they gave me is keeping me stable, stopping me from the many mood swings I’ve experienced in the past, the constant up and down, the crazed mania. I’m not cured, I might not ever be. The constant struggle with my mind might always be there. But, this is just a stepping stone, something I have to take if I ever want to improve the life I’m living. And even if it is just one step, it has made all the difference.
So, if I truly lost my mind, I still have some things to say:
Our actions have consequences, whether it’s our fault or someone else’s, and not everything in life goes as planned. There will be moment’s where we have to admit when we are wrong. And sometimes, in the lateness of the hour, it’s okay to be alone. You’re going to realize that the world owes you nothing, and you have absolutely everything to give to the world. In the expand of space and time, I’ve looked up into the everlasting night sky and realized we are who we are for a reason, we still have somewhere to go after all we done.
We can never take back the decisions we’ve made, the paths we’ve gone down. I can’t couldn’t stop the bad things from happening in my life, I couldn’t prevent my father from hitting my mother, the constant binge drinking after my best friend died, or how awful I feel from not being able to save anyone. I couldn’t have stopped myself from loving the wrong person, from doing meth and snorting coke which took something away from me, and saying hurtful words I’ve said in the past or burning cigarettes into my arm. It’s all there, apart of me, encapsulating all that I am.
Even so, I’m still trying to discover other-worldly beauty that is all around me, the secrets in the spaces of our minds, and how exactly we love each other. I still believe there will always more ways to grow and discover when the walls should come down. Each day, I still get up and find seemingly infinite ways to wonder and take hold of a moment. The biggest revelation I’ve had since my episode in the psych ward was that the universe has always been there for me and I still have more to give to the universe. I’ve learned that giving up parts of yourself, believing in other peoples opinion of you, is the for sure way to kill yourself.