My Mental Illness Is Invisible, But I Am Not

Geetanjal Khanna
Geetanjal Khanna

You want to know why it’s important? Because everyone is scared. Scared of the backlash, scared of the hate, because what if they hate us more than we hated ourselves. I meet people who fear what others will say if they ever knew about the battle raging in their minds. Which is why this needs to be done right now.

I am tired of the stigma. I am tired of the averted eyes, of the hushed eyes.

When I was 15, I decided that life wasn’t for me and I took it into my own hands, something that no one should ever decide to do. What comes next could have been completely different. I could have been another statistic in a world that would rather sweep issues like mine under the rug. But things fester. Manifest in different ways.

What did come next was not easy. Far from it. From the endless hours of therapy, the medication and the appointments and the crying and the screaming and the weeping and the lying and the refusing to talk. And then arguments and the days spent surrounded by the four walls of my room and the not going out and the blood tests and the questions “Why are you like this?” (I wish I knew). And the group sessions and the doctors and the endless questions to the days I wished I wasn’t here anymore.

No one can tell you how long it will take. How long it will take to reach stability. Whether you will relapse. Why one in four people have a diagnosable mental illness. I can’t tell you any of that.

I don’t believe in the light at the end of the tunnel. Let me tell you why. I believe that if we are all in tunnels then occasionally someone turns on a light. This light turns on and off. On and off. If you are going through depression, then you may not see this light for weeks on end. You may be navigating in the dark trying to find a way out for a long time. You may see flickers of light here and there. You must hold onto those moments.

You must cling to the moments of light and never let go.

I am learning. And that is all I can do. It’s all any of us can do. I am not writing this so that you can read it and file it away somewhere. Words cannot describe the places I have been. This is me taking a stand. For all the people who have felt what I have felt. For the people who have more bad days than good. For the people who must exert every ounce of energy they have into survival. I am here to speak out for the people who are fighting battles that no one can see.

This isn’t about a moment where all the pain suddenly made sense. This isn’t about my knight in shining armor turning up at the perfect time and whisking me away to a shiny diamond palace. This isn’t about overcoming something terrible.

This is about making peace with the past and becoming the person you were always supposed to be.

This is real life. The real life where people are afraid or unable to get help but does not change the fact that they need it. This is about a world that needs to change how they view and deal with mental illness.

Because now, now I can say with complete conviction, that I am thankful that what came next did not go the other way. I am thankful that I did not die on that terrible, terrible night.

I am not just surviving anymore. I am living and I am thankful. I am scared. But fear was never meant to control us. Fear shouldn’t stop us achieving the things we want to achieve. Fear is just an emotion. Emotions are just chemicals that some of us need more of and make me thankful for medication.

I hope that one day you will be thankful too. And to all the people who are feeling the things I have felt, I hope you can hold on another day.

I believe in the impossible. I have lived the impossible.

So, come and meet me at hope. TC mark

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