Many who suffer with mental illness do so in silence. They often tell no one of the pain that burns throughout their souls or the feelings that rip at their insides. They put on masks so no one will suspect the sadness they feel. They often carry the burden of their illness alone and feel as if they have no choice. Why? Because they fear no one will understand what is happening within them and no one wants to be troubled with their problems. They often think they are the only ones in the world who could possibly feel the way they do. They feel like they are all alone in a world of happy people.
Throughout my childhood, I struggled with darkness in my soul and with feelings I didn’t understand. I kept my thoughts and inner anguish to myself. I felt no one would understand what was happening to me. How could they? I didn’t even understand it. So I told no one. I often felt like I was alone in a house hold of six–four children and two adults. The problem was my feelings bubbled up inside me like a boiling pot and they burned my insides. I had no outlet for them. Instead, they haunted me night and day. I got into fights with my siblings, especially my brother. I was extra sensitive to everything.
I argued with my parents and drove them to their wits’ end. They often asked me what was wrong, but I couldn’t tell them. Then my emotions became extremely painful and out of control. My mood would change suddenly. I flew off into angry fits. I yelled, I cried, and I threw things.
My parents would sit me down when I was calmer, but a blubbering mess. “Aimee, tell us what’s wrong. Why are you acting like this?”
I’d whimper, “I’m upset with the kids at school. Everyone hates me. I’m not as smart as them.”
I wanted to tell them I was dying inside. I was drowning in sadness and my emotions were out of control. I wanted to cry out, “Something is wrong and I can’t explain it. Please help me,” but I couldn’t. Instead I made excuses for my behavior. I feared they would never understand and I was all alone.
For years I felt I was the only one who felt such awful things. I thought my illness was my own burden to carry. I did try to tell a friend in letters, and she let her mom, an old teacher of mine, read my letters. Her mom forbade us to see each other and said I was a bad influence. This led to us sneaking around to spend time together and her abusing me. This confirmed me no one understood my pain and I went back into silence. Injuring became my only outlet and only way to cope.
My mom spotted some of my injuries and I lied to her about how I got them. I couldn’t explain to her why I was hurting myself. I knew she wouldn’t understand. So I just worked harder at hiding my injuries while I slipped deeper and deeper to the bottom of my dark hole. One day I couldn’t hide it anymore. I broke down and confided in my mom. I thought she’d turn away, but instead she went out of her way to find me help. I was suddenly no longer alone.
Years later after some time of recovery, I fell back into depression. My emotional outbursts and mood swings became more frequent. Once again I thought I was the only one who felt out of control. When I was hospitalized, I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. In the hospital I found many who were suffering with the same problems. After my hospitalization, I started group therapy and found people who knew exactly what I was going through. In time I started going to a self-injury support group and I made a friend. I was no longer alone.
You may feel like you’re all alone and no one will ever understand what you’re going through, but you’re not. Don’t suffer alone. Tell someone you trust what you’re going through, a friend or a family member. Go to therapy. A therapist can be like a friend in some ways. Join groups on and off line. Reach out to people whom you trust and you’ll find people who care and want to help. You will find some people who don’t understand mental illness, but don’t worry about them. If you look around you, there just might be more people than you know suffering with similar problems. When I opened up, I found other people I knew who also had mental illness and like me were hiding it. Remember, you’re not alone. There are people who care and others who know what you are going through. There is also help.
Since I let people know I had mental illness, I have found a strong support system and others who are struggling. I even found a very supportive husband. With my support system and my husband I am never alone. Now that I have people to turn to when things get tough, I stand strong within the light.