Friday, July 25, 2014

What it's Like to Despair

This is for every person with mental illness. This is for every person who draws her own blood to find release. This is for every person who can't trust themselves around a gun, who has pushed her face in a pillow because "maybe suffocation won't hurt." You are beautiful and smart and worthwhile, but you have to believe that yourself. Unfortunately, my words aren't enough, and I get that. Some day you'll understand. Keep your head up.

Before I checked into a behavioral health facility, everything I was ever taught turned against me, like knives in my mind. At last, I decided that a real knife could end the train of thoughts. But I couldn't get the guts to cut the skin. I ridiculed myself for that, too. 

What an idiot. What a worthless piece of garbage. It's a wonder anyone puts up with you. The only reason you're still married is because he pities you. No wonder you haven't made new friends yet. No wonder you don't have a job yet. What moron would hire you? Who would take a chance on you after what happened last year? 

My husband and I decided to check me into Coastal Harbor adult inpatient program. I went to the group therapy Monday morning, but I quickly dissolved into tears and panic. I got through the intake at Coastal in a haze, and with reluctance I gave up my wedding rings and prayer beads. Later that day, I gave up my underwire bra and had the strings cut out of my yoga pants. That night I cut my meat with a plastic spoon. It's the ultimate disarmament. 

Problem is, that only works for so long. Eventually, you have to go back to the real world of steak knives and shoe laces. That's why you have to disarm your own mind. 

When you're mentally ill, your mind is your most deadly weapon. 

Sometimes, religion is a damn good knife sharpener. In my case, it provided the damn ammo. Somehow, I don't think that's the sword Christ promised to bring. 

Growing up, we ridiculed the concept of self-esteem. What morons these worldly moderns were! What a great lie Satan fed them, that they needed even more pride! Thank goodness that, by the grace of God alone, we were free from that lie. We knew the truth, that our hearts were black with sin, that Jesus died "for such a worm as I!" 

Irony was not, perhaps, our strong suit. 

I learned a lot at Coastal, like putting ice cubes in the hot coffee so you can chug it during breakfast and actually get to drink it. But mostly I just deprogrammed. I sat on the benches outside during smoke break, staring at the Spanish moss draped across the oak trees over the roof, and bathed in the love of God. And I asked God to forgive me. I saw how much it pained Him when I tear myself apart. 

One time, my therapist asked me the criteria for worth. What does it take for a person to deserve to live? I answered automatically, "Everyone. Everyone deserves life, no matter their age or mental capacity or health." 

She looked at me and asked, "What makes you so different?" 

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