What is Mental Illness?

I want to trap them, define them, cage them, stare into their faces and understand them.
I want to explain without stumbling over words and thoughts.
Why they are a part of me but I am not them.
How sometimes I feel free and other times I am suffocated until I can’t see, hear, think, breathe, live.
Why sometimes I laugh and other times my smile is a slab of rock across my face, a stitched mouth being stretched on both sides until it is about to snap.
Why sometimes I am real and other times I an imposter in own body and my own mind.
Why sometimes I can laugh through an entire meal and other times I shrink at the thought of touching a piece of food, become nothing but a speck of dust on a dirty floor in an abandoned house in the middle of nowhere.
No one notices.
Why my thoughts race between needing to fit in and be liked and be accepted and be funny and confident and outgoing and brave and thin and beautiful and loved and perfect and
Slow down.
You don’t wrestle with your mind? Have arguments in your head every day? Hate the thoughts that are your own but feel like someone is using your brain as a computer and typing away day after day?
You don’t think about the people you love dying or you killing yourself or your body becoming a skeleton or losing everyone that makes you want to stay alive?
You don’t get lost in your mind while a tape of your best friend killing herself plays on repeat?
I turn every bad thought into a reason why I cannot be fixed, every challenge into proof of my inability to live, every flaw into a tallied list of why I am permanently broken.
I don’t belong here. They’re laughing at me. I’m not good enough. I’m the ugliest person in this room. No one here likes me. I’m embarrassing myself. I don’t have the right to speak up. Disappear shrink shatter evaporate break fade wither vanish.
I want to fight it.
Some days I wake up and strap on my armor, jump onto the battlefield and rage until the demons back down.
I want to hide.
Some days I wake up and they gouge out my eyes. They tear at my heart with their sharpened claws and inflict a pain on me so deep that I wonder if people can see the wounds.
I try and shield myself, but I am powerless.
Invisibility is the monsters’ greatest weapon. They tie my mouth shut with metal chains and forbid me to speak of how I am hurting.
I pretend I am okay.
I am fine. I am sweet and smart and shy and nice and small.
Forgettable hidden disgusting unimportant damaged defective.
You don’t spend your life contemplating how you can starve and cut and destroy yourself?
You don’t lie paralyzed in bed because you just don’t have the strength to fight anymore?
You don’t hate yourself?


- Lara