The Dark World of Mental Illness
I have always been open about my illness, and doing so has given me a lot of strength. I feel it is so important for others who suffer from any form of mental illness to know that they are not alone—and that there are people who really do get it and understand.
I have dissociative identity disorder, which is also known as multiple personality disorder, and I have written an article here about it. I also have PTSD, anxiety, and major depression. I have had to learn to live with all of these diagnoses, and I fight to live as much of a normal life as I possibly can. I have never allowed my mental illness to stop me from living life to the fullest and going after my dreams. I am a surviving fighter and always will be.
“What is wrong with me?” My brain screams out in desperate pain. Emptiness is filling my soul, bringing with it the sharp pain of needles and pins. I am lost in the darkness of my soul. The tightness in my chest and the lump in my throat cannot stop the river of tears that begin to fall from my eyes.
I wander desperately through an endless maze. Its prickly hedges rise upward ten feet, and I search for a way out. I am hopelessly lost inside this dangerous maze. “PLEASE HELP ME!” I scream, but to no avail. My screams are lost within my soul.
I feel darkness surrounding me. I sense the presence of a cynical unseen force, grabbing my soul with its huge hands and twisting it mercilessly as it wrings it dry. I move in slow motion, my thoughts floating slowly by in a stream of memories—showing every thought and every movement. I reach for the controls in desperation, but this cynical, unseen force continues to hold me back.
Every morning, getting up out of bed takes tremendous effort. I rise slowly… heavy weights dragging me down. I enter the bathroom and turn the shower on. Not sure if everything is all right, I go and check on my children. Peacefully, they are sleeping soundly. I long to feel such a peace within myself.
I turn around and go into the kitchen to start the coffee. Hearing the running water, I realize I left the shower on. I return to the bathroom now misty with steam. As if in slow motion, I undress and step into the tub. The hot water hits my head as I close my eyes and enjoy its soothing touch. I stand under the water hoping the hot shower will wash away all the pain I feel inside. Every morning is the same. Mechanically, I dress, get my boys up and dressed, and send them off to school.
Once again I am alone to face the pain that I feel inside. I never look forward to each day. As I go out among the living, I feel so lost and alone—unloved and unwanted. Normal conversation is a struggle as I disguise my darkness in a false façade of happiness. Expressions are mixed up and lost within the crevices of my brain—seemingly incomprehensible. As I pass by people, places and things, I feel separated from the world by an unseen wall that is all around me.
My once-normal memory has turned into muddy slush. Trying to remember things is like playing a game of tug of war with an elephant. Concentration seems impossible. Yet the terrible memories of the past fill my tortured mind into overflowing. “Who am I?” I ask myself. Voices inside eager to reply confirm my fears by saying, “You are nobody important. No one cares about you. Your children deserve to have a better mother!” Then my river of tears begins to flow again.
Darkness and solitude are my constant companions. The world around me is grey and somber. Even bright sunny days quickly turn dim in my eyes. Constant torture and pain are destroying my soul. Happiness has become a distant memory of the past as I even question its existence.
Desperately, I search for an escape from this existence. I yearn to lay down in peaceful sleep and never wake up… my lost spirit declares:
“Soon it will be time…
Time for peace to come
into my Soul.
I must wait patiently
for that time.
It won’t be long….
the pain grows more
There must be an end
to it all.
Rapidly beats my heart-
Anticipation is in the air….
Soon, my pain will end.
I cry out for help-
and hear only echoes.
Crying is useless-
and help will come too late.”
No one can understand this burden that I bear alone. They do not see my pain, nor do they hear the desperate cries for help. All they can see is the façade of a strong single mother who has survived so much trauma and tragedy in her life. They only see a lady with a radiant smile for everyone she encounters. They only see a woman that carries herself in self-confidence and pride. But looks can be deceiving. No one has ever taken the time to look into my eyes and see the pain and despair of a defeated, tired soul. It is said that “the eyes are the windows to the soul” but no one has taken time to really look into dark windows of my soul.
My future is unrecognizable and truly seems unattainable. Nights are endless and each day another reminder of my wretched life. My sole desire is to just sleep each day away until salvation in one form or another rescues me from this darkness that has imprisoned my soul for so long. I have an overwhelming need to escape this life…. to fall into the comforting arms of an endless sleep. Death may be my final friend.
There is but one thread of hope… on ray of light that gives me the strength to keep fighting this darkness I have known for so long. It is my only saving grace—my only salvation. Hope comes to my dark world through four little words. It is the life-line that I tightly hold on to. Only three precious angels can speak these words to me… and when they do, the light of hope shines just a little brighter in my world of darkness. These for little words are: “I love you, Mom!”
It is for my three precious boys that I go on each day and bear the pain of my tortured soul.
This is the world that I have lived in. It is the world that I have learned to escape from. Today, there is light in my life, and once again, I am learning what joy is. The path to recovery is difficult, and mental illness will always be a disability that I will have to live with and learn to manage. It is an illness without a cure, but one that can be controlled.
For me, staying in the here and now, understanding every stimulus in life that I experience, and learning to manage my understanding of the world around me is something I have to work on every single day of my life. Through it all, I have raised my three boys. My oldest is a decorated law enforcement officer, and my other two boys work two jobs and live on their own. They are also doing very well.
The love my boys had for me and that I had for them I believe was my true saving grace. I may be everything to them…. But to me, they are MY everything… my heroes. There is no stronger force in life than true love. For, unconditional love will always overcome every obstacle in life. Unconditional love is a gift that is given to us, it is our hope for survival. It was my Salvation.