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I remember when I was at CVS, ringing up a customer during my shift and my heart started racing – beating out of my chest, out of control. I got hot, sweaty, nervous, paranoid, agitated and could not stand or sit still. I started breathing deep, practically gasping for air, but trying to slow my breath to just calm down. Nothing was wrong, I was not sick. I was just your typical cashier that, who all of a sudden, was sweating bullets, out of breath and felt like I was about to die.
Anxiety attacks like this are f*cking hell. However, they don’t compare to what’s even worse: my full-blown mental breakdowns. And when these two happen around other people, it can be a nightmare, but also, quite the sight to see.
At least for me, nobody knew what was happening (UNTIL NOW). No one knew because I feared that if they did – they would never stop laughing.
As social media allows us to record and post real-time events, I realize that society has come to find watching people decline as the most comical kind of entertainment. While I get that watching others do odd things, become hyper and emotional or all out violent in public can be interesting to watch – there may very well be a deeper problem underneath the surface. And it can happen to all of us. I don’t care how much you meditate or smoke weed. Life is unpredictable – you just never know.
One time, I was sitting in my car at night, screaming to the top of my lungs and choking on tears. Screaming with the windows rolled up in my apartment parking lot – over and over for hours. But no matter how hard or how high I yelled to be set free, the thoughts and the pain could not be silenced.
Sometimes, it isn’t as dramatic however. Sometimes, you spend the entire day forgetting shit. You can’t focus, you can’t stop biting the skin off your nails at your desk during work, you can’t stop crying as you sit on the couch at home balled up in a corner. You can’t get in the shower, although it has been a week and a half since you last showered, combed your afro or brushed your now-yellow teeth. You can’t call anyone back, although you see the plethora of unread text messages and missed phone calls. You can’t turn the lights on around the house, even though it’s daytime, because you don’t want to see your reflection in the mirror. You don’t want to even be around other humans, so you place yourself in isolation mode. You fear the possibility of going bonkers in public and having the cops called on you, so you stay at home and surf Facebook all day long, drinking booze, and eating a bunch of bullshit to make you feel good and forget.
Mental breakdowns, whether small and unnoticeable, or big and impactful – can drain the entire life and soul out of you. You literally forget who you are. You become every bit of a zombie. Sure, you’re not dead, you’re still breathing, but with each day that you are given, your pain only grows. Suddenly, death becomes a fantasy. A way out. An escape. A destination of paradise to finally get a beautiful, eternal sleep.
MENTAL BREAKDOWNS can steal every bit of your hope and joy. DO NOT LET THEM. I REPEAT. DO. NOT. LET. THEM. DON’T.
Mental illness (bipolar, depression, anxiety, etc.) will cause you to endure a lot. But at the end of the day, remember that YOU ARE IN CONTROL. TAKE CONTROL. Yes, take your meds, see your therapist, join a support group or two. PRAY. But ultimately, remember that this is your life. YOU GOT THIS.
For those who laugh and stare at the mentally ill who have episodes or mental breakdowns in public, REMEMBER – that “psycho,” could easily be you. We never know what tomorrow (or even the next second) is going to bring. ANXIETY ATTACKS AND MENTAL BREAKDOWNS ARE NOT FUNNY. STOP LAUGHING.
PRAY for those that you see struggling. Offer love, care, support, and/or a hug if you can (or feel SAFE to do so). Lend your ear or your time so their voice and pain be heard by someone. Share any resources that you have to help them receive the treatment that they need. LAUGHING at someone spiral out of control only perpetuates the idea that mental illness is nothing but a punchline at the end of a bad joke. It gives the idea that mental health is only a good conversation when discussing the importance of doing yoga, meditation and drinking lavender tea – whilst never discussing how to normalize the aspects of mental illness that are not always comfortable, easily understood or visually pretty.
It takes a lot of strength to fight and push through them; to not succumb to the lure of the dark thoughts you may have inside. But if you have overcome, and are reading this, then you are clearly still here, living – and I must say, that that is an accomplishment BEYOND wonders.
KEEP ON FIGHTING. Until the next blog 🙂
R.K.B. is an award winning self-published Author, Poet and Entrepreneur from Detroit, Michigan.
Visit her website to learn more, and stay updated on her upcoming works and events: intomywoods.com !