I know what it looks like.
When you see the hundreds of scars on my shoulders, back, and arms – whether it is for the first time or the fiftieth.
When you hear the stories of me being so manic that they found me on some train tracks, barefoot, in the middle of winter, with no idea how I got there.
When people warn you about not one, but two of my overdoses.
When you figure out that the scar on my wrist was intended to end my life.
When you find me curled up on the bathroom floor, crying or screaming or shaking, because this mood swing is consuming me.
I know what that looks like.
Crazy, uncontrolled, scary, unacceptable, insane, desperate…
The thing is, I also know what it feels like.
When I was hurting so bad, and trapped by my own mind, that a razor seemed like the only way out.
When my mind told me I had all of the energy in the world, so I went exploring in places people typically don’t, and simply forgot my shoes because there was so much to see.
When I was trapped in an all-consuming mood swing, simultaneously wanting so badly to die and also to live a totally different life, so I turned to medication to shut it all off.
When I was so thoroughly convinced that the world was better off without me, that I was nothing but a burden, so I tried to remove myself.
When I cannot function beyond the level of simply existing because the chemicals in my brain are at war with each other and it feels as if my mind is imploding.
I know what that feels like.
Painful, terrifying, confusing, hopeless, lonely…
I know that you hate seeing me suffer. You ask isn’t there another medication to try? Can’t you just try going to the gym when you’re upset? What about calling someone?
I know the suggestions are well-intentioned. From my family, and my friends, I know that you just want me to be healthy, but there is something you don’t know and can’t understand. You don’t know what it’s like to live in a head in which four serious mental illnesses coexist. You don’t know what it’s like to look at rain, see a hurricane, and be expected to behave as if nothing is happening. You don’t understand what it’s like to feel your heart slamming against your ribcage because everything inside you is telling you that if you just swallow another handful of pills, everything will be better.
You don’t know, but I do.
So please, give me some mercy. Grant me the same kindness you would to any other person dealing with a serious illness and try to understand why I can’t get out of bed somedays.
It’ll be okay.
Remember, you need to keep your head above water, too.