Remember the Light: Reflections after World Mental Health Day

Remember the Light: Reflections after World Mental Health Day

I was walking home one night from dinner with dinner with a friend, and I bought myself flowers on the way home.

What a lovely sentiment to make for oneself.

For me, it was either flowers or death.

My mind was so dark that there was no place to go to anymore to breathe or find warmth. Everything was dark. Everything was numb. It was honestly a nice break from the general feeling of being overwhelmed all the time that I was operating under, and that depressed me.

I felt like i was walking through life inside a tank filled with water. I was inside. I could see, but it was painful and blurry. I could touch, but it was only water and didn’t feel like nothing other than pressure. I could hear but I was so distracted by the seeing and feeling part that I couldn’t really listen. I was alone in the entrapment.

I started to think about death. And I wasn’t afraid. Cars almost hitting me put a spark of joy in my stomach. Thinking about drinking too much and not waking up sounded peaceful. Even hurting myself started to become a fantasy of relief.

I stopped in the middle of my walk and looked around me, horrified by what I caught myself thinking. I bought flowers instead. Instead of going home and thinking about any of those things and maybe even trying one out, i brought flowers instead. Then I wrote a huge note to myself on my whiteboard: “REMEMBER THE LIGHT.”

I let those flowers exist in my room until they were dry.

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I wanted to share this experience I had in honor of world mental health day. Yes, i know it was yesterday, and that’s kind of my point. Mental health, self care, depression, anxiety, personality disorders, suicidal tendencies, whatever it is--it not something that can be “honored” in a day and then we move on. Something i have really struggled with is the constant fluctuation of having “good” days and having “bad” days. Days when i feel like i am living life in accordance to my values, or days when i feel like a symptom of a disorder.

Yesterday was one of those days for me. I didn’t want to reach out and share this experience. I didn't want to even think about it because sometimes i fear that depression could be become my reality again. When i wake up with the familiar pit in my stomach and dread that the motions of the day will be undoing the harm I've already done to the world by existing--it makes it hard to live.

I’ve learned to hide these emotions well. Some of you who personally know me wouldn't think that probably for most of our friendship, i woke up feeling like this. Or at least telling myself it was all fine and normalizing quite dangerous thoughts to myself. When you live with a chronic mental health condition, every day is your awareness day. When you know what I mean when I say that sometimes you want to be anywhere in the world but in your own head-- you know as well as i do the enormous effort it takes some moments to just show up to the occasion of your own life.

I want to express and give permission, at least to myself, that mental health is a priority. And there is no shame in that. It makes me the women, friend, girlfriend, feminist, sister, daughter, aunt, and human I want to be when I take these tendencies and thoughts seriously. When i reach out and give myself permission to say or write down my thoughts, even if I judge them. The effort it takes to fight these diseases are not static, but we should always honor our efforts and the efforts of those around us. They are powerful. And so are we.

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Note From the Author:
 "I met Kacey on the train coming home from work. She was wearing a bad ass pink Gender Traitor shirt and I complimented it. Little did I know, she was the women who designed the shirt and was just beginning to start Gender Traitor. Thank you for giving us this platform to explore, struggle, express, celebrate, and plainly be ourselves (and some pretty amazing shirts to do it all in as well.)"

-Elizabeth Levi

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