TW for talk of unaliving, mentions of trauma, and staying in a facility for mental health treatment. Honestly this whole post is likely one giant trigger, so proceed with gentleness if you choose to read.
I went through a list of writing prompts that my friend chose for me and I last opened this program with the idea of knowing exactly what I would write about tonight. Instead, I’ve been hit with something that has completely blind sided me. While it is no secret that in October of 2020 I spent six weeks in a residential treatment facility for those struggling with mental health, I have not really gone in to great detail about those experiences. Part of that is because I haven’t felt ready. It is such a deeply personal thing for me and I haven’t known how to put it all in to words. How do you quantify an experience like that? How do I talk about it without sticking only to the surface level? How do I even begin to talk about something that I’ve been unable to really share a lot about even to best friends? It’s like an experience that I have just held very close to me, often wondering if I should say something, if I owe it to anyone to put it all out there. I can make myself vulnerable, but often it has felt like a bridge too far. It feels as though that time in my life is both an echo of a memory and yet not all that long ago in the grand scheme of things. I feel an urge to connect with others who have experienced the same. I’m no ambassador of mental health. I’m just one person with a myriad of experiences and memories. I’m just me. There are a lot of reasons why I ended up there, the least of which was that I’d stopped eating altogether and I was depressed and at a crisis point. Let me back up because those are pretty words for the fact that I very much wanted to end my life. There’s no easy way to put it and I sought help and it was just all too much. During the time that I spent in such a regimented place, I started to find my footing. If you thought this was going to be a narrative about how I managed to undergo a major transformation and am back to my happy self, you’ll be disappointed. I went to a lot of sessions on emotion regulation, dealing with triggers, emotional tolerance (a modality that I really hate), how to create a narrative of my life, and so many other things, not to mention all of the processing groups and having to peel away the layers of how I constantly tried to keep myself together. It was also a place where I had to center on me. I couldn’t think about how friends and family were dealing with what, at that time, I perceived as my failing. I had to be selfish and put me first. One of the groups that I attended at the facility was an art group. I joke with people and tell them that I don’t have an artistic bone in my body. The therapist tried to get me to draw, paint, and make things out of clay. I was never a crafty child and that has lasted well in to adulthood. When I was a child, I had to make a clay baby Moses. I hope Jesus appreciated the clay holy pancake instead. At any rate, while I managed to try to enjoy without judgment, I always felt self-conscious. Were sighted people who were more artistic than me judging me? Finally, I asked if I could write instead. I hadn’t been able to write for about two years, not in the ways that I wanted. I’d stopped role-playing online, which is a hobby I have engaged in for well over 20 years. I couldn’t dredge up a piece of fiction to save my life. Prior to my entry in to the center, I couldn’t even find joy in reading. There was very little that I cared about. I sat at a table with my laptop and blasted music in my ears as I began to write. The last time I attempted this blog challenge was about six months before I entered the program. I believed I had nothing in me. I felt like an empty void that was just taking up so much space, and really, wouldn’t the world just be okay without me? Perhaps it was all of the therapy I was receiving. Perhaps it was stripping away the normality of the outside world and I could be absolutely nothing but myself. Not Meka, laughing it up and holding it together. Not Meka quietly suffering. Just me, as I was, without expectations I put on myself. After an hour, I’d written pages about a battle, urban fantasy of course. It felt damn good. I couldn’t believe that I had anything to give. It felt like running a victory lap. Even now as I try to write about that feeling, I cannot even begin to tell you about the utter relief I felt. I was probably worried that I wouldn’t be able to ever write again at that point. Just one more thing I would fail in completing. I have found myself opening up to my creativity in very slow steps. I’ve started singing again and really enjoying it. I have been participating in this blog challenge and finding it an utter joy. I have started talking about and reading books again. I am not only role-playing online, but I recently created a huge collaborative role-play event with an overarching plot which will culminate in one event on Saturday and another in early May. I told myself that I didn’t deserve good things for so long that now that I’m really putting effort in doing what brings me joy, there is a soul-deep satisfaction in that. It is nourishing to my spirit and it feels incredible. AM I still depressed? Oh yes. There are some challenges I am facing right now which feel as though they are pulling me under. Am I still managing to do the things that bring me pockets of joy? Absolutely. Paint by numbers apps, virtual cross stitching, reading, singing, and now, making myself incredibly vulnerable as I go through the writing process and my feelings concerning it? It’s hard, but good work. It’s a way to escape sometimes, comfort me in other times. The true gift that this program gave to me is to explore and be curious about who I am, why I do the things I do, and ask the curious questions. I am learning a lot and am bringing this advice to the writing that I do. I’m very closed-mouthed about my feelings. I always want to be the supportive friend. If you ask me how I’m doing, I’ll probably tell you that I’m fine. If you know just how to ask the question in a way where I can’t wiggle out of the answer I think you want to hear, then maybe I’ll open up. I imagine that it must be very frustrating for the people who know and love me the most. I’m bringing this to a close. I’m glad I have talked about it. I’m glad that I’m getting to have the little joys back again and that I can surf those waves even in the midst of depression and anxiety. If you take nothing else from this, please just know that if you’re in this space, I hear you. I get it. I may not know your circumstance, I may not even really know you at all, but I hear you. And you are most assuredly not alone in the journey of just trying to figure it all out and keep taking step after trembling step.