Brave: having or showing mental or moral strength to face danger, fear, or difficulty; making a fine show
“You’re so brave.”
When people say this to me in regards to my story, my go-to outer response is “thank you.” My inner response is “I have no choice, so it’s not bravery, it’s survival and even that isn’t always a given.”
The past two weeks have been full of the bravery of a different type, simply figuring out a way to stay alive. I walked among the living, not feeling a part of them. I smiled and joked, and played the part of the living, but was not one of them. I am around people, but alone.
PTSD is a Liar. Anxiety is a Liar. Depression is a Liar. Trauma is a Liar.
As someone aptly mentioned, trauma is like “my neighbors who not only play their music super loud but have extra bass that you can feel from across the apartment.” Wednesday night, that music brought me to the brink after a full week of operating at emergency trauma level, and I took a handful of pills on top of my typical nighttime medication. This was brought about by quite a few of events involving a mix-up with a member of my care team, a person from my past coming up on Facebook surprisingly, and continuing feelings about the friend-breakup from the prior weeks.
My thoughts were scattered when I made this choice. I can’t describe it. I didn’t want to die. I just didn’t want to live. Or didn’t want to feel. I’m not sure, maybe both. Trauma is a liar. You can’t escape your brain, it’s always there.
So I talked about it. First in a terrifying text to my therapist- where I downplayed exactly what I took. Second, to my husband when “the story in my head” told me that likely my therapist would call the police to do a wellness check (which didn’t happen.) Third, I reached out to my sister-wife, Diana. Fourth, to Katherine. Fifth, made a small circle post to my trusted people. Oddly enough, the scariest reveal was to my bodyworker, as I was totally feeling very vulnerable about sharing this very deep scary part of my soul. With previous attempts, I kept silent. This time needed to be different.
I was talking with a gal on Insta today about how she was worried about her mental health stories being depressing. And maybe they are. Maybe we ARE telling the depressing stories. We talk about clawing against the walls to get out of the well. We talk about the awful side effects of medication and how we want to crawl out of our own skin with it, and without it. But here’s the thing, these stories HAVE TO BE TOLD.
Mental Health HAS to be talked about.
Suicidality has to be talked about.
I can appear at a mom’s group at 9:30 AM on Wednesday looking perfectly functional, joking, and at 5:30 pm try to end it all. The person right next to you could be struggling with trauma, PTSD, depression, anxiety, all sorts of things and we AREN’T talking about it.
This HAS to change.
I’m not brave. I’m alive.
Sometimes, despite my best efforts. This week, despite my best efforts.
Bravery, in this case, is “Making a Fine Show.”