Content Note: Suicide, self harm, religion
One of the most consistent terms that gets tossed around when mental health professionals talk about me is PTSD. I’m not sure if it’s an official diagnosis yet, but from my first psychologist appointment back in April until my most recent therapy session, PTSD has been mentioned. The only thing that has been talked about more is anxiety, and that is usually linked.
This makes some people uncomfortable, specifically people in the christian church. The trauma of my PTSD makes them uncomfortable, because the christian teachings I was raised with are largely to blame. But I’ll let you in on a secret. If that discomfort results in silence or defensiveness, you are part of the problem and a huge part of the reason I left the church in the first place.
Three years ago this week, Robin Williams killed himself. At this point I was barely becoming aware of how much of a hold mental illness has on my life. That Sunday the pastor spoke of how selfish suicide was, the congregation clapped, and I never heard another word he said. I may have gone back to a service or two, but I wasn’t listening. All I could hear was the echo of judgement of any human that felt like I did. We were selfish for hurting. (And a huge part of my illness is the feeling that everything is my fault, so yes, I am self centered, thank you for reminding me.)
The church has done nothing to encourage me to get mental health care. Individuals have, but the church as a whole has done nothing. Until support becomes the norm, you will continue to push us away.
Carrie Fisher’s death last year hit me hard, but in a way it was still hopeful. She won. She didn’t let the demons kill her. She outlived her illness, and not only because her work will be around for forever.
Not everyone gets that end, even if their work will be around forever. Any time a Linkin Park song comes up on my playlist I feel a pang. Chester Bennington faught. His words became anthems for us kids with sadbrain. I don’t have the same sentimentality as a lot of people because I’ve only been listening for a few years, but it still feels like one of my teammates lost.
Today was the last day of GISHWHES. It’s only by chance and pure stubbornness that I was actually able to participate instead of spending my time in intensive group therapy. Honestly, I probably should be, but I’m glad I’m not, because I got to see something today that gave me a little hope.
Birthdays are always hard for me, but this one was the hardest yet. A combination of a lot of my people hurting, the general hatred that’s flying around at every turn, and Big Scary Changes™ culminated in a very triggered Annie. I still hate using that term because it’s become such a joke to so many people. Being triggered isn’t just getting sent into a rage or stepping up on a soapbox. Being triggered is lying in a cold, dark room, wrapped in blankets needing the world to stop screaming. It’s talking too fast or not at all. It’s fear. This time, it was all that, plus hopelessness and enough energy for one thing. The next day I woke up angry to be alive, hungover, and crusted in blood. I should have gotten stitches. Instead, I got a thick, red scar that still hurts if I set my arm down too hard on the edge of my desk. I’m still angry.
Today, one of the last events of the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen was meeting up at the nearest art museum and creating a piece of art with sidewalk chalk (and eating coleslaw). In between moments of overwhelming social anxiety, I noticed the number of “Always Keep Fighting” shirts just beneath kind, smiling faces. These were people who cared. Community matters, but the community you’re in matters too.
I’m out of spoons for a while. I’m probably going to stay in bed most of tomorrow. My pain levels are extra high right now. I’m still trying to process the past few weeks. They feel like a blur. I feel like I’m cheating. I’m angry. But mostly, I’m tired.