Beautifully Ill



By way of introducing my thoughts here…..


I acknowledge that mental illness is completely individual and different for all who suffer from such disorders, and the following poem is based solely on my personal experience, having spent many dysfunctional years coping with multiple disorders, and hearing all the infuriating misconceptions created by modern media.


A short extract from a letter to my best friend


I think at this point I should really talk about what having depression and anxiety is like, as there are so many misconceptions and false representations in the media. In the words of one of my favourite artists, anxiety is like that split second your chair tilts back and you’re about to fall off. It’s that kind of panic. Your heart just stops. Except, with anxiety, you’re not falling off a chair. Nothing’s actually wrong. But, for no apparent reason, you still get that panic, and instead of lasting just a fraction of a second, it lasts for years.


And now the big one - Depression. Like I mentioned before, many people believe depression to be crying, screaming, and just being sad all the time. People think it’s mascara tears and romantic breakdowns in the rain. But depression is nowhere near as pretty. It’s more like - walking and eating slower than normal, lying on the floor for hours on end, or, sitting on the toilet with blood dripping from a knife for a whole afternoon. It’s not aesthetic or poetic. There is no “pretty”, “cute” or “edgy” aspect to it. It’s just downright horrible and ugly.


While everyone’s experience with depression is different, unless combined with other disorders, depression never tends to lead to sadness. Nor does it lead to happiness, or any other emotion. Those who suffer from depression lose all emotion, sympathy and compassion. I suppose the best way to describe it would be to say it’s like being a television and having the potential to express colours and sounds and images, but instead, you’re just forever showing static. At first static might seem okay, it’s better than negative emotions right? But suddenly the static is filling the whole room, it’s crawling into your bones and all you and see and hear is the static, screeching at you, filling your sight.


You just want to feel an emotion, any emotion, other than the static. But everything else is muted. One of my favourite metaphors to describe the flatness of it all is that depression is a bit like trying to scream, but somebody is covering your mouth with a wet towel, so it’s just all muted and frustrating. Everything feels so empty all the time, like your heart and other organs just disappeared from inside you. Sometimes I would physically put my finger on my chest to stop the emptiness just a little bit.


Breaking the (Ill)usion


I


Mascara tears and muffled sobs, curled in front of a graffitied bathroom mirror.

Neat rows of scars and eyeliner like the knife meeting her pale, delicate skin.

Dark thoughts, darker clothes, an “I’m misunderstood” kind of teen.

Heart dropped and broken by life, the unfortunate events; picked up and restored,

by a beautiful rainy night stranger. Soft eyes and softer lips, but he is not enough.

She leaves – a climax! A thrilling story. Red and white, an angel returning home;

Thirteen reasons why why why must she sob this way?

Is she depressed?


Everything and nothing wrong all at once;

He want to feel He wants to see He wants to be

in control (please! for once!)

But No - he is left dry dry dry and no tears will come; just muted anger and a tidal wave of thoughts.

He realises he has not left bed in days,

showered in weeks,

seen sunlight in months

And he drowns in duvet covers and imagined voices, deeper deeper into The Void; whispers of “You Are A Burden”

He does not remember the last time he trusted himself

with pencils, with ropes, with heights, and with living or being or existing.

Everything comes to a close eventually, and sometimes, the ending is not tied so neatly.

He is Depressed.


II


Giggles and stutters and fairy laughter, shy tinted cheeks,

Oversized hoodies and lovable stammers-

She possesses such an endearing shyness,

Charming her way through long lines of boys,

Falling for her, nerves and all.

The fullest crying face: delicate and gentle;

a summer day drizzle, complete with rosy dawn light.

Is she anxious?


Counting blinks, one two three four-

One too many, one too few,

Choking and gasping, drowned in the very air that is supposed to bring her life;

Shaking hands and shaking vision, deaf to all but the deep accelerating thud in her brain.

Deep breaths – one too three four (that’s one too many!), searching for the brakes in her mind and-

Oh!

Her eyes should have stayed on the floor, what a mistake. The millisecond of eye-to-eye,

How mad does he think she is? Eyelids glued open at midnight, a single millisecond piercing all else.

Fictional strangers’ passing thoughts thundering over her own - How mad is she really?

She is anxious.