A few months ago, I think early February, I was having a chat with a friend of mine (she also has mental health issues and we do some related work together). A very personal piece of artwork was being displayed at an event we were attending at our university and she was nervous what people would think. It is a college like art piece with pictures and clippings from her journal while she was experiencing her various issues. I began to tell her the stuff I’d said and put in my own journals that would probably make people run and hide from me but that, that is apart of the illness we want to “normalize”.
BUT I quickly realized though that we aren’t really “normalizing” the dark stuff. We’re “normalizing” that we can recover and we are aware the there is some dark seeded thoughts and feelings surrounding these illnesses but no one is really talking about what that darkness looks like. I feel this is important. How can anyone help a person recovery if they can’t understand the dark side of them? We can’t ignore it.
Publicly, I have only encountered “darkness speak” once. Last year, October 2011 (I think), I attended a town hall on suicide at MTV Canada hosted by CTV’s Canada AM (the same station that did the youth mental health town hall I went to in February, Youth Mental Health Canada AM’s Town Hall For Bell Lets Talk Day) and a Canadian veteran was there discussing his very brutal suicide attempts. While everyone was flinching as he described severely mutilating his body trying to die I made little nods because I completely understood his “methods to his madness”.
I have never publicly spoken about my darkness. Have any of us really? I feel that for the most part we glaze over it, generalize, soften the blow so people don’t think we’re completely hopeless. It’s probably for our own sake and “sanity” that we don’t admit to some of our darker thoughts and feelings because it can be very scary.
Will I engage in some “darkness speak” here? Right now? I don’t know. The thought terrifies me but I think I am starting to get tired with ignoring my darkness because everyone wants the light. The “normal” people want the light so we better give it to them so they don’t lock us all up!
Ok, I’ll admit one darkness: I used to love cutting, especially my wrists. I loved seeing the blood, seeing the scabs and seeing the scars. No matter how much trouble it got me in and the pain it caused I loved it. Why would I have dreamed of giving up something that made me so happy to see?
I don’t have this darkness anymore but I will from time to time draw red lines or words on my arms and wrists and it comforts me.
There! Darkness! It is apart of the illness and I don’t want to hide it! The fact that I don’t have this darkness anymore is proof that we can improve in our thoughts, feelings and behaviours! Without the darkness I wouldn’t be who I am now. I wouldn’t know that I’m strong. I wouldn’t know certain things about myself. I wouldn’t have the respect for my capabilities, good and bad.
I’ve been wanting to get that off my chest for a while. I just didn’t know how to say it, if I wanted to or if it was appropriate.