The excruciating pain of mental illness is real. And to those cruel, ignorant folks who cynically say, “it’s all in your head,” I say, you are correct. The torture that those of us with an untreated mental illness experience IS in our head. Because that’s where the organ that has the malady is located.

If a person doesn’t have a mental illness, they don’t get to weigh in with their inane, meaningless opinions about our pain. What they get to do is to shut the fuck up and either help the suffering or get the hell out of the way.

Before I found a regimen and the tools and support network to stay stable one day at a time, there were countless times that I desperately wanted to “make it stop.”

The pain of clinical depression, the wreckage I created when I was manic, anxiety, intrusive thoughts, self-hatred, shame, distorted thinking, obsessions and compulsions, paranoia, isolation, and having to muster tremendous courage just to do everyday things like working, social interaction and going out in public, was unbearable.

So much so that I was willing to subject myself to all manner of self-destructive acts to get temporary relief. I self-medicated with alcohol, drugs, and porn. I self-harmed. I ran from one toxic relationship to the next. I was hospitalized twice for suicidal ideations. I stole things I didn’t want or need just so I could feel a thrill. I ran up hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt. I took outrageous, unnecessary risks (one of which easily could have killed me and left me with severe burns over 20% of my body). I landed myself in significant legal problems through involvement with political extremists. I could go on.

All of these attempts to “make it stop” were in vain, but they clearly demonstrate the reality and severity of an untreated mental illness. No human being would make such choices unless they were desperate to escape suffering.

Ironically, it was also the pain that drove me to submit to healthy ways of alleviating it. By God’s grace, coping tools, therapy, medication, AA, and supportive people, my pain has been mitigated to the point that it no longer metaphorically drives me to my knees, pleading for it to end. One day at a time.

May all of you still suffering be relieved of your pain and lifted from your knees.

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