Talking About #mentalhealth (with quotes and advice)

*TW – discussing mental illness, so potentially triggering to some people*

 

reach for the and blue moon neon signages
Photo by Designecologist on Pexels.com

Hi there,

it’s been a while, yes. I’ve tried writing a new post several times, or actually I’ve thought about writing one several times, but never got around to it because I had a bunch of ideas on what to write about, yet none of them would be a productive, not-so-pessimistic, coherent post, so I just never wrote it.

For today, I thought I’d look up some quotes about mental health/mental illness and share them here and just write some of my thoughts/struggles that relate to them, to get some perspective and some things off my chest etc.

I’ll start with a sentence that I noticed in the last book I read, How To Be A Bawse by Lilly Singh (or iiSuperwomanii, if you’re familiar with her channel and work). The following passage pulled some strings inside me:

“What finally got me out of my depression was learning what loving myself really meant. I didn’t understand I deserved to be happy. I thought I was meant to be sad, so I remained sad. But that’s not how you treat someone you love. You’re not okay when they’re sad. You work hard to make them happy. Once I started doing that, I started to rebuild my life.”

This paragraph, especially the bolded part, really struck a chord in me because I often feel exactly like that: I’ve always been a believer of destiny and predestination, and I often catch myself thinking that maybe I’m just supposed to be this sad and secluded and anxious and ill person and maybe there is not point even trying to get better because I’m meant to stay broken forever. But I need to learn to remind myself that it’s not true – that I can get better, that this can pass, that things can get better. It’s difficult as shit, however, and when you’ve spent years convincing yourself that there’s no point in getting better, it can really mess with your head and your desire/ability for recovery. But keep trying and do not lose hope. I’ll try, and I hope you do too.

“It’s my experience that people are a lot more sympathetic if they can see you hurting, and for the millionth time in my life I wish for measles or smallpox or some other easily understood disease just to make it easier on me and also on them.” 
― Jennifer Niven, All the Bright Places

This. 
I can understand this quote so well, particularly lately, because this blog and some of my poetry pieces are the most open and honest writings I’ve ever done about how I really feel, and even sharing that to (I presume) mostly strangers who stumble upon this website and do not know me in real life, is so difficult every time. And I can’t even imagine voicing all of that out loud to someone in my life face to face. And I’ve become almost an expert and hiding my thoughts and feelings from others over the years, and I do have that mentality of suffering in silence, and so at this point, it’s quite impossible for me to imagine ever opening up to anyone aobut these things. So this quote to me represents that struggle of not even knowing how to begin a conversation about things that are quite invisible to an outsider. Others often can’t see your depression, or your bipolar disorder, of your personality disorder, and often you can’t being yourself to ask for help, and it’s just an impasse then.

“Anyone who has actually been that sad can tell you that there’s nothing beautiful or literary or mysterious about depression.” 
― Jasmine Warga, My Heart and Other Black Holes

I both agree and slightly disagree with this one; because no, there is definitely nothing beautiful about the sight of me, curled up on the couch, gazing into space without having any clue what to do with myself and my life. There’s nothing beautiful about hopelessness. But at the same time, the fight with mental illness can, and often is, a subject and inspiration of many literary (among others) pieces, and so in that regard, I believe that certain positive things can come out of the pain. 

“The thing about a spiral is, if you follow it inward, it never actually ends. It just keeps tightening, infinitely.”
― John Green, Turtles All the Way Down

Downward spiral.
That’s what happens when you close yourself off from the world – you fall into a spiral of thoughts and behaviors that are shapes by your illness, and the spiral keeps going down and tightening. I’ve been there, I know the feeling. More people than we think know the feeling. But it’s so incredibly important to break the spiral and climb out of it – I was not having the best of day yesterday, for example, and things kept piling up one atop another, and I’d been hiding away from basically everyone, but then I just reached a certain point and talked to a couple of friends, opening up just a little, and it helped. Not in a way that suddenly all my problems have disappeared, no, but it’s just some weight off my chest, and the spiral slowed down a little. And it’s good.

Now, something a little different: here are two of my poems and the little explanation piece I’d recently shared on my Instagram (sorry, shameless self-promo – you can follow me there for more of my poems and writings and to find out a little bit more about my poetry collection, Starlight) @thewanderingwriter28 

(sunsets pt.1)
your sunset is not my sunset
you sunset is gold
bathed in warmth and pretty colors
an embrace of sapphire and lavender
your sunset is not my sunset
my sunset is crimson
a flash of fiery orange that turns you blind
bleeding reds until it turns black
your sunset is not my sunset.

(sunsets pt.2)
our sunsets are different but it’s a different state of mind
who am I to say where to find
that sunset, that color, that moment of magic
when your and mine minds are equally tragic
who is to say that your sky is brighter
your sunset more vibrant, your thoughts even lighter
I see everything from just my perspective
but that point of view is clearly defective
if only more people could realize this
there’d be so much less things going amiss
with our minds, our opinions, our views on others
both friends and strangers, both rivals and brothers
before you turn away, just hear me out
I promise to do better and lose all my doubt
but you have to promise and do the same
for everyone’s got their share of shame
and trauma and struggle and really dark thoughts
and everyone needs someone to untie these knots
so what can we do to make this better
the first step would be to always remember
this sunset, this life’s for both you and I
we all share some pain, but keep looking up at the same sky.

“Meanings of poems: poetry can be both straightforward and elusive, both reality and illusion, and its beauty lies in the fact that only the poet him- or herself knows the true meaning behind their words. The idea of sunsets pt.1 is a comparison of two sunsets, in which sunsets are a metaphor for state of mind or even life itself; it shows a distorted perspective we all have sometimes, in feeling like our problems are bigger and our sunsets more tainted than others’. I wrote the poem based on a single line ‘your sunset is not my sunset’ in such a style that it fits the norms of what seems to be a rising trend of poetry – short and straight to the point – but even before the last line was written, the need for a sequel, so to say, arose and sunsets pt.2 was born. The aim for that poem was to shine light on its predecessor and break the illusion of ‘other people don’t have problems’. Its tone was in great part inspired by the music I was listening in the moment of writing, and it was my intention to write something more melodic and with rhyme, something you can imagine yourself performing as you’re reading it; this poem could not be written in just a few lines.

So when it’s all said and done, these poems strive to remind you, when you catch yourself in that specific mindset of feeling misunderstood, that you’re not alone, that these sunsets come and go for everyone and everyone has dark moments and eclipses, but we’re all under the same sky, and everyone needs someone to sit beside them, offer look at the sun together, and say ‘when you’re ready, I’ll listen. and I’ll understand.’ Be that someone.”

I’ve written similar things before, and I’ll keep writing them because I really do believe in this: sometimes you just can’t know what’s going on in someone’s life. Some people are so good at hiding their emotions, for many reasons, and they hide it so well, that you’d never guess they’re struggling. And because of that there’s no room for judgement – we need more awareness and we need more understanding and we need more empathy for others. Less judgement, less guessing, less accusing, less hate. More love and kindness.

Another one of mine:

(my biggest habit)
self-sabotage.

I don’t know how many of you can relate to this, but… yeah. I have a tendency to screw things up, or rather let opportunities pass me by, and not putting effort into things. And it’s not something I do voluntarily – it’s something that an illness does; it takes your control away and it puts you in a place of not having energy and motivation to do things. Example: I’ve touched on this in older posts – I could have three very important exams coming up, and I’m going to take the book I need to read and learn from, and I’m going to stare at it for an hour and then I’m going to put it away because I literally cannot get my brain and my body to cooperate. And in the end, I do not take that test. And even if I manage to study at least somewhat, a couple bad experiences cause me to recoil from even the thought of being there, taking that exam. And so I don’t go.

And I cannot pretend like I have some wonderful wisdom to share if you’re struggling with the similar, because I still don’t know how to stop this. But. 

And this advice is actually not only for self-sabotage, but for struggling in general, and it’s for everyone who is feeling like things will never get better:

first of all, you are not a shitty person. I know you think the opposite, but you’re not. Just wanted to make that clear. Secondly, you’re here and you’re reading this, and I know that there’s still hope in you somewhere, even if you have to dig deep to find it. No matter how much I tell myself that it’s completely dark inside, I still find myself dreaming and hoping for things, and when you dream and hope for things, it means that you haven’t given up yet. And if you think about it, hope is the one thing that somehow keeps perservering; “hope is the only thing stronger than fear” – I can’t remember at the moment where this quote is from, but I think of it quite often, and it’s really true. So if you feel like you can’t find hope, dig a little deeper until you find it, and then you hold onto it with everything you got. 

Another piece of advice is this: dive into art. I am a tiny little bit biased when it comes to art, but I really think that it’s an amazing form of healing/coping/surviving. So create or take it in, find a hobby, find a passion and stick to it, and immerse yourself in it. Learn a new language – may I recommend Duolingo? – today I reached a 250-day streak of learning Italian over there and it’s a wonderful way to spend time because not only it’s useful, but it also gives you a challenge and a sense of pride when you stick to learning and you reach these big streaks and see how far you’ve progressed with time. So, my point is, read books, write books, draw, take walks through nature, observe, take up photography or pottery or learning new skills – do any of these things for yourself and your soul, because they help calm you and give you perspective. They help you see the light.

Also, I’m just going to throw this out here: I discovered a new Imagine Dragons song yesterday, it’s called Birds, and it was love at first listen – there’s something really soothing about it, so should you want, go and take a listen. Oh, one more thing: all the books from which these quotes are taken are really wonderful – most are Young Adult fiction, but they carry beautiful messages, so if you’re in a reading slump or something…

And, utimately:

“There is hope, even when your brain tells you there isn’t.”
― John Green, Turtles All the Way Down

If you have any questions, thoughts, comments or anything, feel free to write to me; until next time, stay safe and big hugs.

Oglasi

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