I know it is the last day in May to address the theme of “Mental Awareness”, however, this is an ongoing awareness. All year long people struggle with mental illnesses. It doesn’t hurt to be informed about mental illnesses and how to carefully handle those that suffer from them. My story can be similar or different from those that suffer from mental illnesses. My particular mental illness is Depression. Depression, for me, comes in different degrees, it can go either really extreme (thoughts of cutting), or just barely scratch the surface (resulting in crying).
Depression has caused me to cut in the past and has left me with some scars. I am neither proud, nor ashamed of what I went through. As a survivor of my past, I can say that I still have moments of feeling depressed, however, I am more in control of how I let it affect me in my life. But, back then, it wasn’t always easy. What was easy was the way I hid my illness from everybody. I always wore jeans and a hoodie to cover up my arms and legs, which is where I started to cut myself with a razor. But, I never thought it would ever get that far…never say never…my depression had become in control over me. I went from shutting down and avoiding going out, just so that I could stay home and continue cutting. To answer the question, No, it didn’t hurt me at all. Not physically anyway. But at one point, it did get out of control and I started cutting just because I wanted to.
For four years I was in a darkness that I couldn’t get out of and one day I woke up. I woke up asking for help and I asked my mother for it. I gave her my razor and with no questions asked she took it and got rid of it. Slowly, but surely I was able to heal from the past. She kept tabs on me to make sure I wouldn’t relapse. I helped her see when I was depressed, in a way, I gave her clues. For example, whenever I felt “down” I’d watch cartoons like Scooby-Doo. There were times I didn’t want to talk about it, so when she asked me what was wrong and I answered, “I didn’t want to talk about it”, she would leave me alone. Minutes later, I would go up to her and talk, but on my time.
I even took the anti-depressant, Lexapro, but it made me feel worse. It gave me thoughts of suicide and I felt myself wanting to swallow the entire bottle. At one point, I even considered suicide, but I had a great friend who saved me. But, I weaned myself off of Lexapro and considered my family and certain close friends, my therapy. It wasn’t easy living with depression or healing from it. But, I did it and I am here today to talk about it. There is a lot I lost when I was depressed, but I’ve since learned from that time. I still have triggers that spark my depression, but I overcome those triggers and dissipate them before they get ugly.
I wrote “Break the Chains, Be Freed Within” and it was published in 2014. It is a poetry collection that talks about the emotional aspect of my depression and cutting. I couldn’t talk about it before, so I used poetry to describe what I was feeling when I was depressed, or after a cutting episode. The ones that hit the nail on the head are Depression Corrupt, Monster in my head, Reckless Endangerment, Caged, Glass between Fingers and The Uncomfortable Zone, to name a few.
There’s no shame in having a mental illness, it is not easy to live with, but you can heal from it. You can find the light within the darkness. And it’s okay to ask for help. You don’t have to deal with it alone, or feel like you are alone.
There is never enough,
yet there is plenty.
Even when you’ve paused,
Whatever holds you back,
please, let it go.
It is soon to wither in the wind.
It is precious,
you must take care of it.
Once it is lost,
it cannot be retrieved.
Be careful of unspoken words,
because even silent words collect dust.
Don’t wait to speak what’s on your mind.
Cherish the moment, in the here and now.
What is past has passed.
But what lies ahead may change.
This gift should not be taken lightly.
Use it wisely.
Because once it slips from your hands,
there is no return to sender.
For this is Time.
One of the many poems featured in the next poetry collection, Poetry is Not Dead (Release Date: June 19th, 2019). The poem, “Time” really represents how we should be grateful for having it, and not abusing it. If we have unresolved issues or pending feelings, they should all be placed on the table. There shouldn’t be any holding back, because we aren’t guaranteed tomorrow, or even today. If you are angry at someone, calmly explain to the person, why. If someone has made you sad, explain to the person, why. Communication plays such a vital role in relationships and it is important to be able to communicate to all parties involved. But, there is always a kinder way to express your feelings. One shouldn’t attack someone because they once felt attacked, this makes you just as bad as them. Instead, tell that person why you felt attacked because words, as well as actions, can easily become misconstrued. Pushing someone away or ignoring them doesn’t help any situation, I believe talking about it does. However, I do understand people need “time”, but don’t take up too much of it. Regret is a harsher pill to swallow if you don’t speak now to people that have either wronged you or have helped you. For the same amount of time you take to be angry at someone, really take the time to change the situation for the better, because for that, there is time. It is easier to stay mad at someone and keep them at distance. But damage is caused over time and cannot be replaced. So, why hold it in? Why not talk about it while you still have the time to do so?
A seven year-old was inspired to share some of her favorite quotes with those willing to read. Each quote has a beautiful hand-drawn illustration to go along with it. Quotes are words that can help encourage people as simple as they may be. They can also make you laugh, cry, think, show support, there’s quotes for anything. After reading this collection, there are some that I have favored:
“If you treat every situation as a life-and-death matter, you’ll die a lot of times.” – Van Wilder
“I do not feel any age yet. There is no age for spirit.” – Unknown
“When you say it’s too hard you are close to doing something amazing.” – Unknown
“Every disappointment or challenge is an opportunity for growth.” – Niki Kawa
“Promise yourself to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.” – Christian D. Larson
“The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up.” – Paul Valeny
“A bad attitude is like a flat tire, you can’t go anywhere until you change it.” – Unknown
“Your thoughts are the architects of your destiny.” – David O. McKay
“I know God won’t give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish he didn’t trust me so much.” – Mother Teresa
“Success is the ability to move from one failure to the next failure with enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill
This collection has a short introduction that explains that the poetry is meant to be read for those who believe or don’t believe in Jesus Christ. The purpose is to renew or strengthen people’s faith in God, hoping that people will be encouraged/inspired by the poems. The grammar portion on some could have been tightened and content flow could have been presented a little better. There were some poems that had shared the same lines even though they were separate poems. Overall, message was received, and there are some favorites among the collection: Life is a Journey, God is…, Just Listen!!!, All I want is Peace, Come Back Home, Salvation is Free and personal favorite is Remember in Times of Stress.