Mountains & Metaphors

I wrote this piece on a backpacking adventure this past July. As Suicide Prevention Week kicks off today I thought it would be fitting to share with you. For anyone struggling or wondering why we must keep holding on I hope these words give you something to keep you here. & thanks to all of you for cheering from the sidelines, for walking this journey with me. Be gentle with yourself my friend. 

The days have been heavy for a long ass time. The thoughts of being in a world other than this one plague my mind. In simpler terms, I’m suicidal and have been for a good solid 8 months. But I’m still here, so what gives. Why do I choose to stay? Why haven’t I killed myself yet? If I’m honest I’ve fought with this world and staying in it since I was 8 years old. I’m 25 years old and I’m still alive. What gives? The question probably isn’t yours as more so it is mine. Most people are grateful I’m still here. Most people cheer from the sidelines and urge me to stay another day. There’s more to live. There are more sunsets to set; there’s more music to hear; there’s more hugs to give; more love to give; more milestones to reach; more experiences to thrive in. But the thing about mental illness – the borderline, the addict, the fractured personality – these things are all working to kill me, but the paradox is they have also kept me alive so far. My brain is wired differently and therefore experiences the world in ways most people can’t even fathom. Some days I can see how mental illnesses allow me to reach people in ways others can’t. Sometimes it lets me feel mountain tops a little more intense than the average human. And sometimes it lets me be empathetic in a way not everyone can.
But it can also be debilitating, horrible, achy, and a death sentence. And that’s what I fight with, the dialectic of a wild, feel deeply, intense spirit and a desire to escape myself regularly.
I climbed a mountain yesterday. And I didn’t think I was gonna make it. Several points I wanted to quit but I also wanted to make it to the top. I wanted to see what those before me had seen and why they continued to climb. I love climbing mountains. I love climbing back down and being like holy shit I came up this! I did this.
If you haven’t guessed yet, climbing mountains is a solid metaphor for the life I live. I suppose we all are climbing mountains and trying to stay alive. I heard though… not all people fight with whispers of death during their climbs. Good for them; maybe me too one day.
My reality for today is that death calls to me and I’ve learned to open the door whenever it knocks. I’ve made a home for the suicidal thoughts. I’m working on evicting those thoughts in therapy. It’s a slow process. But they promise it won’t always feel like this, it won’t always been this painful. My mind won’t also house such darkness. Until then I’m trudging and I’m climbing. Climbing the steepest, tallest mountain I’ve climbed to date but I’m climbing. And for all you humans who think life’s a race – It’s fucking not. I need to take breaks. Lots of rest for now. Probably more than I want too.
If I’m honest with myself I have to admit there’s been plenty of views along the way so far. So keep climbing Ange. You’re not alone. One foot in front of the other.

I know you’re tired dear self – keep climbing.

© Ange Neil 2018

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