Mental Illness is not imaginary.
It isn’t unusual or new. It’s real. For me, I call them the demons in my head.
I don’t want your sympathy or to be treated like I’m losing a battle. Because the moment that you do, it will mean I lost the battle in my head.
People think words don’t have power. In ways, words wield an emotional aspect in which only humans can understand. It can either be poison or strength. You might be thinking, what is the connection between mental illness and words?
A lot. Because what people say to others can and will affect them.
In my case, when I was young, I was bullied. It affected me psychologically. For most of my life, I thought I was insignificant in this world. My very existence had no meaning. My bully made me feel I wasn’t important enough to be alive. The person hadn’t addressed it bluntly, yet how the words were phased was enough meaning to feel those dread emotions.
Even if the person didn’t seem to mean it, the very thought or object of what you wanted to say hurt others. Too much negativity can and will affect one’s way of thinking, and how the person perceives life.
In my case, my childhood affected the way I see life growing up. I became a pessimist. I don’t trust people too much. I fear rejection. And my growing social anxiety doesn’t help at all.
The scar inflicted in my mind wasn’t going away. It festered through my core and I started believing it. Back then, I also had a lot of mental breakdowns, feeling of wanting to be away from crowds, and not liking to be touched. Also, I feared how I presented myself towards others, and ground my opinion of what others thought of me. It made me timid, which made me easy prey for more people to bully me. From there, it slowly got worst.
Although I was able to keep myself from having extreme outbursts, there were times I lost control of myself and ended up having tantrums without reasons. However, I had control of where I directed these emotions, at times. It wasn’t healthy how I’ve been dealing with it. But, for me, it worked. I’m alive and still living, because it worked, for a time.
In the end, these emotions became cyclical. As I grew older, I saw patterns in them, which helped me anticipate it. But not every time. Soon I realized it’s not a life worth living.
I created walls and found distractions to combat it. But, let me tell you, this doesn’t work for long either. Once wounded, the scar lingers. In a matter of time, it does catch up. And I faced my demons again.
It can get frustrating, at some point, and those darker days may feel tempting to give in, allowing yourself to wallow in it. But it’s not healthy. And not a life to live in.
People forget it is the littlest things that can help someone feel alive and better. For instance, taking a bath, reading a book, listening to music, eating something delicious, or looking at beautiful scenery. Something that can make you feel you are there, living in the moment, and you exist. These moments can help you get out in this wretched state.
It was then I thought of another way to fight back.
At first, I wasn’t entirely hands-on. I found comfort in hobbies and people, allowing them to be an anchor. But there’s only so much other can do for you. It became adamant that no knight in shining armor would slay these demons for me. I had to do it and save myself, or else allow my demons to take away everything.
I had difficulty transitioning into this mental state. For one, I had to be more selfish and put myself first amongst everything else. It was a new perspective for someone who grew up fearing the opinion of others. Nevertheless, there was some strength left in me, which propelled me to do it.
From there, I validated my existence and found ways in which I feel like I exist. I put myself first, for the first time. It was then I noticed something different and saw the beautiful things in life. I did what made me happy. I fell in love. I felt my first snowfall. I goofed around with my friends. I stopped and allowed myself to feel the nature around me, and saw how much I love the smell of autumn. These little things were so precious. And these moments, I feel like I exist.
Thus, I considered these moments my anchor in keeping my demons at bay.
Because in my head, what I fear the most and scared me for years, is the fear of losing sight of my importance. Since then, I tried to see the good of my existence and fought back my demons with positive reinforcement. I started asking myself, what if I wasn’t here? Would my family be this way? Would my friend be the same person as they are now? I tried to see and ask if I wasn’t there. From that, I started to act differently. Bit by bit, I opened up with my friends, family, and speak up. Then, finally, I seek help.
Years after my struggle, I found out the demons in my head were more than what I thought. I was diagnosed with Bipolar 2. This form of Bipolar disorder is about experiencing one or more episodes of depression and at least one episode of hypomania – which is a feeling of overly “Happy” or “Eccentric”. To help stabilize my condition, my doctor prescribed me for a six-month medical and mental therapy. And I’m happy to tell you that since my treatment, I’m prepared to handle these episodes.
I already tried silence and doing nothing to keep the demons at bay. I had cried nights because of it. And still, I get teary whenever I remember that feeling. If I hadn’t found help, I knew somehow the cycle would continue. My demons would return in a different face, I’d start feeling depressed, and I’ll find ways to fight back.
After seeking help, I started to validate them. I understood where these demons (or depressive episodes) are rooted. Through therapy, self-actualizations, and affirmations exercises, I was able to combat some of my darkest days.
These days, when my demons creep into my head, whispering depressive thoughts and words, I understood that it is merely part of myself, and it will pass. I gave myself time to face, and heal from those episodes. Though not all of it has the same intensity, I knew now that it doesn’t define me or my existence.
I can face it. And I can win, every time, if I don’t give up fighting.
For those who have bad days, and those who are struggling with your demons, know that you aren’t worthless. You mean the world for those who have yet, and had met you. Don’t give up on the battle. You do matter.