Did you know that there are people in this world that wake up with a smile on their face? Their alarm goes off, they fling off the blanket and look at the sun streaming through their curtains. They sigh, not out of exhaustion or exasperation, but contentment. They feel rested and ready. It’s another day, another chance to be a person, and any day above ground is a good day.
I just threw up in my mouth. Excuse me, I have to gargle, rinse, and spit. Maybe repeat several times. Ew. Gross.
It’s mad, bonkers, banana pants woo hoo. It sounds like a bald-faced lie or fish tale. Fibber! No, it’s the truth. I saw it on Facebook, or twitter…One of those posting places. At first, when I read the revelation, I thought that it was a hoax. You know how people exaggerate online. Or, outright lie because everyone is trying to get the clicks. As someone who’s trying to get the clicks, I sympathize, but I also scrutinize with a leery eye. Too good to be true? Are you trying to sell me something?
So, you’re really going to sit there and tell me that there are people in this world who are, and I quote, “Happy.” Explain yourself! This does not compute. How can it be true? It can’t! Can it?
Do you really expect me to believe that people wake up content, and they stay that way for the rest of the day? Not just one, twenty-four hour period, but multiple cycles of the sun, moon, and stars. The earth continues its rotations for weeks, months, maybe even years, and these people remain mentally stable. Moreover, they stay sane.
I’m gobsmacked, and not just because it’s my favourite word.
Naturally, these magical elves have stress, and sometimes they feel a little blue, but their valleys aren’t bottomless pits. Their ups aren’t steep climbs, and their highs come more frequently than their lows. If you looked at their mental health under a microscope, you’d see fairies dancing through fields of wildflowers. Yes, flowers bring stinging bees, but when they give chase, these rare individuals frolic up gently rolling hills. They escape the stingers, flop down among the bee free flowers, and sigh happily.
So, I was today years old when I learned that not everyone struggles with their mental health. That some people are just naturally happy, and their emotions don’t overwhelm them. It’s a concept that baffles me. I can’t wrap my brain around the idea that you might not struggle to breathe in a crowded room or lay awake at night replaying every second of your day. You lay your head on your pillow, close your eyes, and just fall asleep?
That’s a real thing? I thought that was made up by some marketing wizards in a castle somewhere. So, you’re telling me that you don’t have an emotional response to waking up in the morning? You don’t sit on the edge of your bed and exclaim, “I can’t do life today.” You don’t have to fight the urge to crawl back into bed, cover your head with your pillow, and scream. Showering, putting on clean clothes, and making breakfast isn’t a chore. Seriously?
Pardon the mess, but my head literally and figuratively exploded. Did I just say literally to make a grammar lover’s eye twitch? Maybe.
Okay, yes, I’m exaggerating! Of course, I know that there are those of you who don’t struggle, and you can’t understand those of us that do. That’s a good thing? Yeah, let’s go with that. It’s great. If you understand then, I assume, you’re struggling too, or have done so in the past. It’s not something I wish on anyone.
Though, if I’m being truthful, there’s a small part of me that’s jealous. I’d love to wake up, get out of bed, and not feel this sinking dread. I’d really like to be one of those elves. The graceful, ethereal, kind. Not the Santa’s little helper kind. I’m more like a dwarf from that movie. Clumsy. Offish. Endearing?
Thankfully, that petty side of me is small and fleeting. It’s about the size of a fly, and just as annoying. It buzzes around for a while but disappears when I give it a good swat. It’s a bit of a coward, you know.
Actually, there’s a large part of me that’s quite relieved. You don’t understand because you’ve never been through this, which is brilliant. No one wants to struggle, and those of us who do, don’t want that for others. My mind may be cracked, but I’m not heartless.
Sadly, the lack of understanding enables shame, bullying, and isolation. From the outside world or within our own minds? Yes. Both. All of the above. Let me ask you this, if you struggle with mental illness, is the world harder on us or are we harder on ourselves? Sometimes I think the world, even at its worst, treats me better than I treat myself.
Now I’m wondering if we’re both trying to grab a double edge sword?
You don’t understand what I’m going through, but I wish you would because then I wouldn’t be alone. Oh no, I don’t want you to keep me company because then you’ll feel what I’m feeling. I do, but I don’t, but I do, but… I’m spinning in circles. I’m getting dizzy. Oh dear, I just rinsed my mouth out, and now I’m going to have to do it again.
Obviously, that post I read was satirical, and I had a bit of a chuckle. Then I realized that a part of my mind had just exploded. It was a small part. I’m sure it’s not important or necessary for daily operations. Maybe I shouldn’t use heavy machinery until I know what was damaged?
I had a silly thought that was endearing in its childlike simplicity. I sat back in my chair, bit my bottom lip, and wondered, “Wait, yeah, not everyone deals with this.” That’s when I saw fireworks behind my eyes and felt a little woozy.
Oh, you sweet, innocent, fool. What are you thinking? There are a million, billion, gazillion human beings in this world, and only a few of them have extraterrestrial origins. Of course, there are all sorts of people in the world. Some people struggle to cope with life, while others aren’t bothered by anything. Some take the hits and fall to the floor. Others simply deflect with the grace of a dancer on some grand old stage.
Why does this news surprise me so much?
Maybe it’s because I’ve been in it for so long, or I’ve met so many who people who struggle. I’ve spent most of my life trying to find a way out of this maze. It takes up a lot of my brain space. It’s what I think about most. Maybe it’s become an obsession or a passion? That’s a fine line, but that line is fascinating. There’s so much to learn, to share, to explore.
The deeper I dig, the less alone I feel because so many of us are struggling silently. We’re dealing with depression, anxiety, PTSD, to name a few diagnoses. We’re up to our necks in whatever ails us. It’s our norm. It’s our life. It makes our lives feel very small, insignificant, bothersome, and burdensome. Looking beyond that? Imagining a life where this thing doesn’t exist?
I can’t remember the last time I tried to visualize that kind of life.
When I was a kid, my kidneys started to fail very quickly, and I became incredibly sick. My world shrunk quite rapidly at an age when my world was supposed to expand and grow. I was going through the medical system like most kids go through their education. Get up, eat breakfast, pack your bag, and go to the hospital for some tests. All kids have tests, right? Math, English, CT-scans, and bloodwork. That’s just how life works. It was so normal to me that I thought every kid had doctors’ appointments weekly or had surgeries every few months.
Our norms dictate our version of reality. It’s all we see. It’s what we know. When another version of reality comes up, it’s hard to fathom. Even when it’s the most obvious thing in the world! If I look around, I see the happy people just living their lives and handling the lows with ease. I see that, but I can’t understand it at all. It doesn’t register. It might as well be a foreign language.
For me, I live in an almost constant state of readiness and fear. I’m just waiting for the next hit to come. There have been so many blows that I flinch at the smallest sign of trouble. I’m ready to run or hide. I’m preparing for the pain. I’m always looking for signs of trouble, and I see them everywhere. I can’t turn it off because if I do, I’ll miss it. It’s coming. I know it is. I can feel it lurking. Is it really there? Does it matter? It’s been there so often in the past that the present is tainted.
So what would be a small fall down a rolling hill for you? I need a parachute, but watch out for that jet stream. I free-fall, and spin wildly. Your hill becomes a bottomless pit for me. Even if there’s a bottom, I still have to climb out and hope I don’t slip. But do I dare to trust hope?
For me, registering a different mindset or way of life is so difficult to understand. Just like mental illness might confuse you if you’ve never experienced it. A health mind? It doesn’t register on my radar because, in the grand design, it’s never going to be a part of my reality. I wish it would. I pray it will. The realist in me? She’s counting the years of struggling and adding them to the years I have left. The math doesn’t add up.
Then again, I’ve always been horrible at math.
You know what really gets me? It’s amazing how two people can walk along the same path, but be on very different journeys. The things we see and how we interpret them. The things we miss because we’re looking the other way. If only we stopped walking and started sharing our journeys. Listening instead of watching. Empathizing without needing to understand.
Would that make a difference?