Photo credit: Bradley Parker
My name is Brianna and I struggle with anxiety and self-harm. My story is long, but instead of sharing it here, I would rather share what it has taught me.
I have been dealing with mental health issues since the age of thirteen and am recovering. Everyone wants to see mental illness as a linear thing, you get sick, you get help and you get better and you stop being sick, but recovery is never over, sometimes I spend my entire day wanting to disappear or I bake cookies to cheer someone up. Sometimes I stay up for three days straight because I can’t bear to close my eyes, or some days feeling the sun on my skin makes everything come into perspective. The fact that I have a mental illness affects all aspects of my life, but not all of them are negative. I am empathetic, I am confident, and I know my strength because of it.
Since coming to university, I have become obsessed with philosophy and novels that recount the journey of a ‘descent into hell’ because they remind me of the importance of staying healthy. Paradise Lost taught me that my situation is all a matter of perspective. Aristotle’s Ethics showed me the importance of living in moderations as opposed to extremes and the importance of friendship. The Divine Comedy taught me that sometimes you literally have to go through hell to reach paradise, and how it takes work and dedication to recover. The Great Divorce reminds me that, no choice is final, and in any moment a person can choose to get better, and it shows how important it is for each person to decide their own path for themselves. Rime of the Ancient Mariner reminds me how important it is to share your story. Most importantly, Descent into Hell reminds me that it is okay to share your burdens with someone else and that time does not exist in the way we imagine it.
I believe that life is propinquent, which means being close in time and space, the implication is that time does not exist in the way humans conceive it. Everything that has happened and everything that will happen in your life exists in this moment. Past me trying to kill herself and future me getting my law degree and me writing this are all the same. The beauty of this is that in your worst moment, you could be experiencing your best moment as well. Life isn’t leading itself in a linear way towards and end, life is bursting all around you.
So take a deep breath, and live.