It doesn’t make sense to a lot of people. Maybe they just don’t understand, or maybe they haven’t experienced those moments where everything is so surreal that you’re not sure whether reality has crossed with another dimension or if they just begin and end in the same place.
I’m talking about those moments after the fact – after your lip is bloody or in the silence following the flatline or those seconds proceeding the door slam – when you have to adjust to the reality has just become your reality.
I still remember laying in bed after he was gone. I remember chewing on my fat lip and staring out the window, watching the snow slant sideways against the dark sky. The hardest thing to process, however, was that my hands still smelled like the chips and dip I’d been eating just before he got there. I couldn’t make the connection in time between the food and the hour he was on top of me. Those two moments couldn’t possibly exist in the same plane.
I can’t forget the silent scream pouring from my mouth when my mom left this world. It is the only thing connecting the seemingly irreconcilable moments when I first felt her heart stop and, second, when the monitor flatlined.
I cannot reconcile the Monday night I began overdosing with the Thursday I woke up in the ICU. My mind cannot make sense of the years my arms were not covered in scars and the now in which it’s as if I’ve tattooed myself in a hundred purple lines.
But it’s real. It’s all real.
And I know it doesn’t seem real to you – you, the one or the many, who did not experience those moments which have shifted this world from reality to reality. Who did not recognize the difference between the minutes in which I was eating chips and then pinned down and then laying alone in bed. Who does not comprehend the difference between feeling a heart stop and watching a line go flat. Who cannot, or, maybe simply refuses to, attempt to reconcile my healthy face with my broken mind.
It’s so real. Each of those moments were so very real and surreal and impossible simultaneously. Your eyes may have not been witness, but let my words be confirmation enough. My head is not a basket of stories to be picked through, sorted by fiction and nonfiction. It is a constant tape player of moments that happened on this earth, that have burned into my retinas and skin, and it lies only to me.
Trust my lips, though they have been swollen and bloody at times, to tell you what it is like to live with mental illness. Trust my eyes, which have seen so much blood and shed so many tears, to be your looking glass into diseases and disorders that can only be combatted with guesswork. Understand that my hands, which have both held up and dropped the most precious of gifts, have touched the fabric of time in which horror crossed with reality.
Mental illness is real.
It is as palpable as you and me.
If only you had the eyes to see…
…but I fear you may have been blinded by your rose-colored glasses.