What is mental illness?

I don’t know.

I don’t even know if it’s a real thing.

I follow a lot of mental health stuff on Twitter. Some days, I’ll admit, it’s too much: the barrage of bad news about lack of services; or the stigma; or the positive proclamations from others that feel so far removed from me. When I look at this stuff I sometimes ask myself- why? Why am I reading this? Is this a cult I have chosen to join? Always there is the underlying self-doubt – am I choosing to be like this?

It worries me. Genuinely concerns me. Perhaps as Radiohead say “I do it to myself and that’s why it really hurts”. I’m listening to The Bends a lot at the moment. I question that too: why am I listening to such depressing music? It’s like I don’t want to be better! But I don’t think that’s true. The music is soothing. I do try and listen to upbeat music; I even created a playlist called Going Up! I hardly listen to it though. Listening to upbeat tunes when I feel like this would be rather like asking someone with food poisoning to eat some lovely curry. It ain’t going to help. So I continue with the sad songs because they help numb the intensity, which controls and dials down the impulsivity. Basically it keeps me safe.

Or does it?

I am so confused about everything. Everything. 

This doesn’t feel like illness. It doesn’t look like illness, except when it does, but that’s not all the time. 

I can’t help but think if I was actually, really ill then it’d be different. I’m so confused I don’t even know what I’m on about. Maybe diagnosis and treatment? That seems quite key with physical illness but not so much with mental illness. 

But then, say I’m not really ill, why have I let myself lose so much: family, job, driving license? It doesn’t make any sense to me. Yet, and this is terrifying, there is a part of me that feels the worst is inevitable. I mean, half of me totally gets that the slowing down over train tracks thing was wrong, so wrong. The other half of me thinks it’s a lot of fuss over nothing. If I hadn’t told anyone about it then I’d still be driving and social services wouldn’t be involved. I guess my brain is processing the memory and has come to the conclusion that it wasn’t the act that was wrong; it was confessing it. Sigh. Does that mean I’m mental, I mean…mentally ill?  Properly? But yeah that fatalist part of me sees some future. It’s not a successful suicide. Rather I see hospitalisation for me. 

When Nora asked if I wanted hospitalisation I said the right, socially expected answer. I said no. Of course I don’t want to be hospitalised. But I kind of believe I should be although I kept that idea to myself. You see I sort of believe that I am going to break, that I need to break, before I can get better. I can’t break at home so I’m trapped into some kind of functioning. I spend my days and energy trying to hold myself together. Don’t break. Don’t break. Don’t break. The music helps. Zoning out helps. Mostly it’s the consequences for my family that stops me. The supermarket caused me a panic attack as I’m so scared I’ll lose it in there. It’s going to happen now! Run away! Run away fast! 

 But you know what? I want to break. I want to go bat shit crazy. I want to release out all of this that resides destructively within me. To scream, to smash, to cry and it be ok. To break.

Is wanting to do that mental illness?

I don’t know what mental illness is. 

I don’t even know if mental illness is real.

Am I crazy?

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