Sunday, January 6, 2013

War of the Voices

Part of the Cestrian Dreams Project
Article author: Alwyn Ash

"I spent a long time fighting, trying to shut out the thoughts, the voice, holding on to something, anything, that would keep me focusing on life."

As I have said on Twitter, Cestrian is not an organisation, it is a personal cause, designed to raise awareness of mental illness and help to overcome the Stigma that plagues us. I am a sufferer too, and as such still face my demons on a daily basis. Good moments are a blessing, those bright blue sky and sunshine glimpses of happiness. They do happen. No? Never underestimate the power of a single moment, a joyous smile at something that touches you, even for a second. They are worth embracing, bottling them and keeping. I have those, and am lucky to share them when they do happen. Perhaps it is a movie, or a song, or something else that gently brings you into the realm of "I enjoyed that".

But, of course, there is the darker side. Depression takes no prisoners. It is relentless in its determination to overwhelm you, break you from life's grasp. You might feel alone, isolated, suicidal, find that nothing really matters anymore. And even those things that should matter have little significance.

I am going to admit something to you now. I thought long and hard about saying this, because I am here to help you, to support you. But, how can I do any of that if I am not honest? And so, in this blog, I am about to reveal something personal and frightening. But, also know, that I share this because I want you to realise - you are not alone if you feel this way too!

There is a voice, telling me that I am worthless, useless, and a burden to anyone who loves me. They are better off without my struggles. Paranoia sets in, and suddenly no one really loves me at all, I am hated, or tolerated at best. I am a joke. And so, with this in mind, I want to die. Or... part of me, the voice at least, wishes for my existence to end. And so, if the voice is loud enough, I listen. Not a good idea, but when overwhelmed, there are no other voices present and you hear those negative messages: "Worthless", "pointless", "unloved", etc.

Last night I was faced with such a point. A moment when I was out of the house, feeling dejected, empty, and afraid. And of course, the same voice in my head, telling me that it could all be over, if I only took a step. One step and everything would be over. I would be at peace. No more pain, or sorrow. Peace.

I spent a long time fighting, trying to shut out the thoughts, the voice, holding on to something, anything, that would keep me focusing on life. The love of someone, a future that is yet to be discovered, a world still unexplored... I had two choices, as simple as that: live or die.

Well, you know which I chose. And I am glad. Because, in the end, as I write this, I know that the other would have been devastating. For those who love me, and for myself too. Tomorrow is another day. So many possibilities still awaiting to be uncovered. I am here. I am alive. And, though I know there will be a day when I will be forced to face that decision once more, there is no doubt that I have won this weekend!

My own voice was the strongest. It overcame the negative thoughts, brought me back home to safety. And I am proud of that. And I am here with you now, to tell you that there is always more than one choice - that you don't have to lose everything. Everyone's journey in life is different, I understand that, but my own demons are dark and terrifying. They can, however, be overcome, a single moment when you can defy them by saying, "I am better than them!"

And you are. We are! Everyone is unique, beautiful, and has something, a quality, that is priceless and worth saving.