The thing about mental illness is once you have battled it for a number of years you tend to forget what life was like before. Your past “normal” life blurs into an echo in the back of your mind and is replaced instead with a loud, chaotic clanging of thoughts and ideas. Like moving to the big city from the quiet suburbs, you ultimately adjust to the changes without meaning to. The soft, steady sound of crickets chirping are lost to the noises of police sirens, and what once seemed so normal no longer does. Sometimes I want to cover my ears and scream to drown it all out.
When I think about my life before my depression, anxiety, and PTSD kicked in, it is like watching a completely different person’s life. I no longer recognize myself. In many ways it feels like that person died and is nothing more than a lost memory in the past, and the more time that passes, the more that memory fades.
I have become so accustomed to a life filled with suicidal tendencies and self-deprecating thoughts that it shocks me that others do not always have these ideas in their mind as well. It is baffling that those around me are not used to laying in bed at life contemplating life and whether it is even worth living anymore. Such a reality is now normal for me, which should be terrifying, but part of me just doesn’t even care.
My mental illness is such a part of me that, while it is very present and affects me tremendously, I often don’t realize it. It is like having silent white noise blasted into your ears–you hear silence and don’t realize you are missing all the beautiful sounds surrounding you in the real world. I have become deaf to life’s music, blind to its beauty.
Only in extreme circumstances like a panic attack do I realize how broken I really am. It is like a momentary pause in the silence which allows me to hear the outside world. It reminds me what I am missing, and often causes me to wilt in sorrow, only turning my white noise louder to drown out the truth even more. I want to deny that I am missing anything, but I can’t always fool myself.
This journey is long and I am still learning how to escape the silent loneliness I find myself in. Someday I will hear life’s melody again. I will be able to appreciate the wind blowing in the tall grass, the waves crashing against the rocky shore, the single song of a bird hidden in the treetops. Such joy is drowned out by my demon-filled mind right now, but who knows? Perhaps such loveliness is not as far away as I feel it is, and maybe soon I can join in its chorus.