Last night I had a dream that I was stuck in a bed with one of the men who abused me, and I couldn’t get up even though there was a cellphone right in front of me.
When you’re dealing with mental health issues, everything is a sign or a symptom of some undiagnosed problem. I know I have PTSD, I know that I have anxiety, and I know I deal with depression, but trying to figure out what’s a trigger and when’s the best time to take my medication, is difficult when you don’t have doctors that hear you.
I know that the medication helps, but I also know that I have to scatter the times that I take it because otherwise it builds up in my system, and then it makes me sicker than it would otherwise.
I have to check in constantly with my mental health supports so that everyone is on the same page and I have to be honest about how I’m feeling and when I’m feeling up vs when I’m feeling down. I can’t hide the pain anymore, because I am genuinely trying to get better.
I’m watching this great documentary on Rap and Hip Hop, specifically about the women of hip hop and rap, and I’m wondering why we don’t have mental health circles. We need to be talking to our elders about what they learned, we need to be talking to the people who came before, but we’re not doing that because so many of us are tied up behind a wall of shame.
There is nothing to be ashamed of when you’re dealing with mental health, but we’re made to feel that way because we’re conditioned to believe that it’s weird to struggle, that it’s weird to feel challenged by things that other people feel comfortable with.
A bad dream isn’t just a bad dream for us it’s a trigger that sets off a dozen symptoms, my reaction normally would have been to freak out and be angry but today I pick up my pen and I start writing now, and I dissect it because that’s what my friend Wally taught me to do, and it’s super helpful to have these notes to come back and look at.
Recently a famous actress came out to ask whether or not we deserve to call ourselves a Queen if we’ve had enough experience if we’ve had enough lessons and challenges, and my answer to that at long last is yeah no I’m good. I never needed or wanted to be Queen, I just wanted to be successful at what I am doing like my male counterparts.
I don’t need or want to be a Queen, but I do want my struggle respected, I want to set a foundation for female writers who share their experience in a way that helps those suffering from mental health issues learn to thrive.
I want my voice to matter, and I want my chance to say “yup, I did that,” but what makes me different then those who marched through Ottawa recently, is that I am trying to ensure that the legacy I build, doesn’t cause harm to everyone around me. I don’t always get it right, but I’m trying.
Last year I had an experience that made me so sad, that made me feel so alone, I picked up a bottle, I haven’t had a sip throughout all of February for no other reason than I just don’t feel like drinking, but it’s a warning sign to me that I feel like drinking when I am sad, and I struggle with that.
I’m not afraid I have a drinking problem, I’m afraid that I’m not focusing on the right things when I reach for the bottle, although the experience made me sad, I learned a lot from it and I hope what I learned has made me a better person. Did it need to happen? Absolutely not, but it did happen, and I dealt with it a lot differently than I would today.
That being said, like the dream this morning, it doesn’t mean that the experience didn’t leave its mark. I am still very vulnerable and I know that today in ways I didn’t last year or even yesterday. I am still shattered over what happened, over soaking up all the information and the details that I know today that I didn’t yesterday. Memories are still revealing themselves, and I think that my brain is just tired of trying to keep up with trying to cope.
I don’t know how long it takes. I keep going to bed hoping “tomorrow is the day I tell everyone I’m healed,” but I need to get over that, because I don’t think that’s ever going to happen – ironically, simultaneously, I think if I stop feeling that way then I’ll lose hope and I’m just not willing to do that.
I’m not interested in fame and fortune if it comes at the expense of my mental health. I know what it feels like to lose everything that matters to you and to fall down a rabbit hole and I know what it feels like to climb out. I’ve just finished swimming through that river, and I’m not interested in going back, but that doesn’t mean that I have 100% control.
Some days are beautiful and wonderful, and other days are absolute shit. The idea that I can escape this on my own is ridiculous. No one got mentally healthy after trauma alone, but the problem is that because I live in poverty, many like myself, struggle with getting doctors and nurses and mental health professionals to believe them when they say “something is wrong.”
The fact that I have 18 years of experience working with other humans who live in severe addiction disorder, holds absolutely zero weight today as a patient with mental health issues, and that’s frustrating as fuck. It doesn’t matter that I KNOW something is wrong if the people around me won’t shut up for five minutes for me to explain something is really, really wrong.
Devon from years ago would have tried to stay sober and keep holding on to toxic relationships, Devon today has no interest in that whatsoever. I don’t want toxicity and drama in my relationships, I want peace, respect, and love, I want stability and kindness, things I never got when I was growing up.
But I’m also a lot meaner today than I was back then. I am not interested in your drama so I’ll set my boundaries and I’ll stick to them. If I’ve been vulnerable with you before and you let me down, I probably won’t go there again with you anymore.
I’m tired, and I’m stressed, but I’m hoping today will be better, and that the voices in my head wanting to tell me stories I don’t care about will go away long enough for me to relax, and I hope that I can relax enough that I can stop feeling so damned tired all the time. I’m not done healing yet, but I’m stronger for it than ever before.
I’m putting the blog on a break for a couple of weeks until I can reset my system and separate myself from the digital world for a little bit. I hope you’ll come back and read some of my old articles, to keep yourself entertained, but until I return,
Sending all my love,
Devon J Hall