An open letter to my mental health.
Everyone thinks I’m reclusive and that’s in part due to the effect you’ve had on me. I never asked to hide away and bury myself in a notebook, but it’s the way everything seemed to fit together. The way I fought to deal with it all. It’s difficult for people to follow the best advice available and talk through their issues.
It’s not until you sit back and analyse the effect certain instruments have had upon you that you realise just how fundamental they’ve become to your survival. The written language is powerful. It has the power to convey not only information but emotion too. Self-expression is vital to self-preservation.
When you’re depressed, you try anything to maintain a sense of identity and hold on to the building blocks that sustain the self. However, it proved difficult. Hunger lessens, yet, at least for me, all I wanted to do was eat. Joy seeps from everything as you stare into the abyss, waiting for something that never comes to pull you back into the fold. You watch people and wonder how they find happiness in the things they do. How do people find comfort in friendship groups, I never could understand it.
But words are powerful, you don’t care about anything, and you find yourself singing along to Tupac and screaming fuck the world. But words hurt. Perhaps more when it’s a matter of life and death. When your last decision is never more than a negative comment on something you do after all care about.
To cope, you bury yourself into art. It isn’t something done for love or passion at first, but the very thing keeping the blood flowing through your cardiovascular system. It’s more than a reason to live, but the strength to fight another day. Something to overcome the early nights with drugs and alcohol, and late rises, waking in time for a delayed lunch only to watch the clock before its time to sleep.
But art is a bastard. A trick. Something you started to express your inner turmoil and find a moments peace, has become overrun with diluted artists looking to make easy money. You find yourself trying to compete with the best because there’s no point in doing anything if you can’t be considered the great after all your life depends on it. Soon, you find yourself at war with two opposing forces.
If you’re too successful, they’ll label you a sell-out. If you’re starving, they’ll offer you a quick solution resulting in your art shifting from the self-help tool to the money-making machine you deserve but provides no internal relief from turmoil. The concept of personal art erodes, and all you become is a statistic on a list of artist who took their lives because they couldn’t live up to the expectations if people struggling just like them.
But still, we write, sing, dance, paint and draw. Desperate to claw our way from the darkness. I don’t want to be alone anymore, but nobody loves me for my art. Its’s not just a creation, it’s a piece of my soul. This poorly crafted poem you seem hell-bent on tearing apart is a vital component of everything that makes me, me. If it’s torn to shreds, what do I become but less human than I was?
And so we resort to other outlays. But alcohol doesn’t help as much as we claim it does. I’ve lost count of the nights I hid in the corner of numerous nightclubs and buried myself beneath a cloud of smoke feeling as though everyone watched me. The centre of attention that I’ve learned I never was but always felt like. So writing gets hidden, and patterns develop and even though I’m free of your grip, for the most part, I still cling to the habits you’ve imparted on me.
I don’t like writing on the tube for fear of the person beside me peering over my shoulder. These complete strangers who I’ll never see again. I can’t explain it. I’m protective of myself and what keeps me going. What would I have done without these precious writings? Words. Ideas. Poems. Scribblings and ramblings, all of which might not mean much to you. But there everything to me. A perfect explanation as to why I’m still alive
I don’t do this for likes and approval. They’re great. And I love them. But I write for me. Whether I succeed or fail by whatever metric you use to calculate my impact on the word, I’ve surpassed expectations. I was never supposed to make it this far. I’m not a failed anything, but a success story. I never wanted to live, now, I don’t want to die. So from the first rap verse to the note addressed to my mum a decade ago and beyond. I’ve realised I’m not weak or a survivor. I’m triumphant. I won.
Thanks for reading. This was a very personal write for me, don’t forget to subscribe and join me on our victory march.