Warning: This blog discusses heavy content. If it raises any concerns for you, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
I would do anything to live a life free from mental illness. If someone was to say to me which of your conditions would you like removed, without a doubt it would be my mental illness. I really do believe that for me it is the most debilitating and life-altering condition I have. My mental illness is born from trauma. I often wonder if this trauma could have been avoided, and if my life would be very different to what it is like today.
I now live a life of constant doubt. I doubt everything I do and everything I say. I live in fear that I have done the wrong thing or that everyone is angry with me. I fear that nothing I do is right, and that everything that goes wrong in this world is because of my existence. I live thinking that I am a horrible person, I ruin everything and nobody wants me around. I live with the belief that it would bless everyone if I was to end my life. I live with the belief that I deserve to be punished and I must hurt myself in order to be punished. I have been told over and over again that all these are lies, yet my mind remains flooded with these thoughts.
I seem to be caught in a world of truth and lies, where at times I no longer have the ability to determine what is truth and what is a lie. What I think is absolute truth and that something happened a certain way, other people tell me is a lie and happened another way. I live with the belief that most people are against me, and so it takes a long time for me to actually believe what is being said is true. I have thousands of thoughts going around my head, screaming at me, vying for my attention, telling me something is true or something is not true that I become confused and overwhelmed that I don’t know which voice to listen to anymore.
Is this my voice? Is this all in my head? Is this demonic? Is this God? Am I being directed by the Holy Spirit? or is this just something I want to believe or follow? These are the questions that go around my mind as I battle to determine the truth and lies of my mind.
At times it feels that my soul is in absolute anguish. The pain in my soul torments me. With physical pain, one can take a pain killer and over time it subsides for a bit, but there is no escape from the pain of the soul. The images of trauma fly around and around my head, causing me to wake in sweats and shortness of breath, as I lay awake panic stricken. I lie lonely and isolated with thoughts and images darting throughout my mind. I try to fight and say it’s all not true. I try to listen to music, or audio books or sermons or podcasts anything to distract my mind in the wee hours of the morning. I try to pray and ask for peace to come over my mind.
But sometimes as the hours progress, and the night turns into day, the pain is unbearable. Sometimes it just hurts too much, and despite my body already being in constant pain with all my other conditions, I become overwhelmed with the urge to hurt myself. I think and believe in that time that relief from the soul-destroying pain will only come by hurting myself. So I try one thing, and that works temporarily, and then I try another and soon I find myself in a life-threatening position and an overwhelming desire to want to end my life because my soul hurts too much.
Then I stop, and wonder how I got here. I ask myself if this is what I really want to be doing? I ask myself, am I really ready to face my Maker? What am I going to say? Would this really bless those around me? Is this really what God wants me to do? Is there any way forward?
I feel that I am looking down at myself, wondering what on earth I am doing. It’s almost like I am awoken from the trance that comes with this beast called Mental Illness. The flood of regret comes over me. The regret of words that were said, the actions that were taken and the further damage that’s been done. I remained shocked at what just happened, as often I have no idea what I am doing or what is being said because I have been overtaken by the beast.
So begins the period of hospitalisation, the follow-ups with the acute mental health team and the psychology sessions. I try so hard to change, so hard to stop living in a world between truth and lies. I try believing that things might change knowing that ultimately God is Sovereign and the One who will help me get through this, all the while dreading when the beast called mental illness will return.
Although during the times when the beast is present, I struggle to have insight, deep down I know the there is One bigger and more powerful than the beast called mental Illness. I know that Jesus is there right with me, the only One who is able to sympathise with my weakness, as He has been tempted in every way I am, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15). I know that Jesus has borne my grief and carries my sorrow (Isaiah 53:4). Although I feel riddled with guilt over actions that were taken and words that were said, I know that He was pierced for my transgressions and crushed for my iniquities (Isaiah 53:5). I know that relief from the soul-destroying pain comes only by looking to Him, who was bruised, beaten and hung on a cross for me. The one who laid down his life that I might live.