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The cliché I’ve experienced the most whilst having a mental illness is that it does not define who I am. Doctors, nurses and family members constantly reassuring us that despite the fact that we are living with things that separate us from the “norm” of society, we still fit in. But what if we don’t want to?
One thing I’ve learnt is not to fight against something that cannot be fought. To be more specific here is an example. I experience an illness in which psychosis is present (hallucinations and delusions) so in all seriousness they pretty much run my life. I have two main voices in my head that speak to me constantly, day and night. They aren’t exactly the most helpful nor are they kind however to me this is motivation. They push me to live in spite.
Why would living in spite be a good thing I hear you ask? I get told constantly whenever I look in the mirror that I am not good enough... followed by an individualised criticism that specifically matches to that day. Back to my earlier realisation that I cannot fight against my own mind so why not try to better myself because of it. Now I must admit these voices are a lot more severe than a “normal” person's self doubt, but why should it affect me differently? Since this epiphany I’ve changed my lifestyle, healthy eating and going to the gym regularly (which I enjoy a lot). I’m also still in school so spite really helps me to push myself academically.
I feel as if I haven’t quite explained why I am my mental illness. So here it goes: My name is Zoe and I am 16 years old, my mental illness defines my actions and motivates me for better or for worse. These quirks, habits and annoyances have come together to form the person I have become and am continuously becoming. Sometimes I may not be strong but at all times I am my mental illness, because my mental illness is my brain. My brain is me.
Here’s a bit more about my wonderful brain.
Obviously I’ve mentioned that I struggle with hearing voices but with that I also experience delusions, these can be quite scary. I could be sitting calmly in maths solving a simultaneous equation when a boy enters the room with a compass. The voices intervene suggesting absurd reasons as to his motives, the main one being he wants to hurt me. Now this can go in one of two ways, I sit and have a silent breakdown with tears streaming down my face as I’m too scared to let out a single breath in case it triggers him. Or... I lash out in complete and utter violence, screaming and shouting at the top of my lungs with threats in attempt to protect myself from a threat I have conjured up from nothing. To me it’s crazy that I haven’t yet been sectioned or asked to be treated as an impatient… although I guess it’s not really that surprising.
As a resident of the glorious United Kingdom I have access to the NHS, a free healthcare system where you have to be a serious danger to get sustainable help for mental health. As I have had first hand experience with. September 29th 2017, the day in which I tried to take my own life with beta-blockers. Since I was actually quite ill at this point (I get manipulative when I’m unwell) I told the doctors and the crisis team that I didn’t remember the overdose - which was technically true - and they let me go home that very evening… a week later I proceeded to cut my arm to shreds and guess what? Still not admitted to hospital.
So what’s different now on April 1st 2018?
Nothing. The healthcare team literally forgot about me for three months… THREE MONTHS. The only difference now is that I’ve put up a front to where nobody thinks I’m ill anymore when in reality I’m going to admit I’m probably worse than ever. Here comes that living in spite. Until I come to my breaking point I’m going to live my best life and embrace my illness because it is and always will be a part or me. That’s why I am my mental illness.