Welcome to MENTAL

A collection of stories ON mental health experiences

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“I remember feeling like all the bones in my body had finally broken.”


Dear Diary,

It has been years. I still feel so fragile. I spent about a year certain I was meant to die by now, and feeling robbed for having not left us. Why was I meant to survive this too? Having survived surgical psychosis, I still feel like rebuilding a life is not something I am entitled to do. I remember the hours and hours my brain has tried to heal, or has tried to remind me there is a reason to hold on. I remember my body shaking on a bed listening to the sadly familiar sounds of life support nearby. How long had it been since I had heard those even-paced rhythms, trying to calm me and give someone their right to hold on too, this time? How is it I remember the clean room I was stuck in, everyone remembering the night before when it had been simple enough to discharge me with a reprimand and a sleeping tablet. Today I remember the crisis team trying to sit me down to say I would now receive support, and asking myself: Is this post-traumatic stress disorder, psychosis or epilepsy? I had no connection with the words coming out of my mouth. I was aware of how the rumour of my pain was spreading like a toxin through someone’s bloodstream. I remember someone I’ll never see again asking me later what on earth could possibly be bigger than the post-traumatic stress.

Having read the law on how many miscarriages it is legal to disclose, I found myself telling him I had lost each one in a desperate attempt to find my voice again. To show someone I was full of compassion and understanding any other day of my life for the many ailments that had walked in with stories of people desperately trying to start again.

I remember someone behind me that was their relative, wondering why it had taken so long to find my path home. I remember asking the psychiatrist in sign language, for I lost the ability to speak out loud at times, whether I would be placed in a prison cell now. I think back to times I have treated or prevented the psychotic episodes of others, dressed as might be expected of someone of my station, or otherwise. Sometimes it is the oblivion of others that wastes our kindness and we finally reach the point where we are begging for things to change. I remember seeing countless faces as I was crying for a solution in my mind; trying to rediscover the mercy of sleep for the first time in years. Some of these people were slowly leaving my life. I remember the hours I have sat with doctors being told I am worthy of no status, and that to them I appear nameless. I remember my sister telling me that there was very little to say, to explain. Thank goodness. I remember feeling like all the bones in my body had finally broken. Why keep going? I had been stripped of such a vital piece of what would make people think of me as a woman for the rest of my life. I would go on to explain that to only those I was legally required to, and regardless watch armed rumours spread like a weighted metal through my body.

I think back to the hours we spent preparing me in primary school, for psychosis would be something I would survive. That it was a piece of my nationhood, on trial, would sometimes come back to me. How is it my earthquake had happened? What date was it? How was it I was still thinking about each of these ingredients and had let these bubble to the surface? I remember begging for a lumbar puncture, knowing that my hours of academic research on this issue and the trifecta of truths that bind it together were urgent. They found a doctor capable of draining my spine as I lay there momentarily silent, remembering no pain threshold could withstand the naked honesty of a procedure like this. I was able to see what looked like green bile draining from my back and thinking: how on Earth was it I would do this?

I have been blessed with the love of strangers rallying to tell me there is a way to hold on, and that my body is still a place of refuge for me. Voices are still something I battle, though as I relocate the craft of words I find peace, remembering my visions, now identifiable as the many people who have danced with me.


“Planning, planning, endlessly planning how you're going to change.”

“No matter what we encounter we always seem to bounce back, get through and keep going.”