Look up while walking past mental illness.
‘Eunoia’ is an English word that originates from Greek. Eunoia means:
As a college student I walk a lot. I walk here and there and everywhere. I am surrounded by progress. (Also my best excuse for not writing as often as I would like… “Come what may and love it”.)
I walk pass hundreds of people a day in all different stages of life. I walk past the busy, the stressed, the dreamers, the determined, the lonely, and the partier. (That’s what I think when I am next to my brother.)
I realized this week that I am too busy at times to take a good look around me. To realize that some of these people understand what I am going through. I take a shuttle every morning and I have my earbuds in listening to the latest. Much slips past me, much that maybe I could have made a difference in.
We all need things. We all have something inside us we need to find solutions for to be able to progress. For years I have struggled with mental illness. Never knew what it was, what to do to feel better, or if it was even possible to “brush it off my shoulders”.
You can never be sure where you will find your peace. Whether it comes from within or without. It might be simple and easy to find or buried so deep that even pirates can find it.
My solution was sleep. I spent years sleeping with very little oxygen intake. It’s like trying to eat a candy bar without sugar when you are dying for something sweet.
For me oxygen was literally the breath of life. Oxygen was the key ingredient I needed to change my whole perspective. Oxygen changed my life. Oxygen changed my being.
I have been suffering from Sleep Apnea for so long that I didn’t know what it felt like to wake up totally rested. Ready to rock and roll. I would long for sleep because I would have to sleep more than the average person to make up for the poor quality of my sleep.
It was my Sleep Apnea that kept me from being who I am. Yes, I have to sleep with a mask every night already in my mid-twenties, but it does have its perks.
For instance, I can’t smell anything, but my breathing tube. (Which smells fine by the way… in case you were worried.) Thus smells don’t bother me anymore when I sleep!
Another example is that I used to not be able to sleep with the blanket over my head, because it was too hot and too stuffy. This makes it impossible to sleep when it’s light outside and I want to hide underneath my blanket to sleep in the dark. But with my sleep machine, the air temperature from my machine stays constant and only the tube goes out…
See with everything there is a silver lining. Something that makes an undesirable situation not exactly desirable, but better. Do I have nights where the straps are too tight or I’m tangled in my tube? (Hey the tube is 6 feet long.) The answer to that question is: “yes.” But I would rather be tangled up in the tube here and there and wake up to a whole new life than not, and feel like a tired piece of scum who could compete with ‘Sadness” from “Inside Out.” (Do you think I could pull off the blue hair?)
The solution to my mental illness surprised me and was completely unexpected. Though it’s not preferred to possibly have to sleep with a c-pap machine my whole life, I am better for it and so are my loved ones. They get the Kajsa they always knew was in there, but was hidden by physical and mental illness.
As I lay in bed at night, with my mask on and machine all plugged in, I think about how lucky I am to be laying there with the machine. It helps me breathe. It helps me sleep. It helps me live.
I walk pass gifted students, talented students, and successful students, but I also walking past stress, struggles, and heartbreak. I walk past open books, emotions on sleeves, and deep dark secrets.
We are all different. Our struggles may not be the same as someone else’s struggles. Your mind is different from my mind.
As we struggle to understand life and why things are the way they are, we must hold on to one thing — compassion.
If you don’t have any experience with mental illness. Understand it’s real. Understand millions of people suffer from it. Understand that it might be the person you least expect. Understand that even the happiest person in the room could have a civil war inside their head.
If you think “how can I help?” I have only one piece of advice. Love them. Listen to them. Let them know you are there. Loving someone and remaining steadfast and immovable for their sake as the ground they walk on is crumbing.
Leave your judgment of treatment sit on the sideline as everyone is different and needs something different to heal from mental illness. Personally I take medication and I have had people tell me “you don’t need it.” Or, “you can solve it yourself.” If I could do that, I would have been well a long time ago.
I am sleeping with my machine now. The medication is helping my brain heal and stabilize. Though we may disagree, I am not pushing or pressing that everyone needs medication, but for me… If I have to take my meds to feel this way, to be healthy my whole life — I will.
You wouldn’t tell a diabetic person to stop taking insulin or a cancer person to stop chemotherapy. This treatments are hard on your body. But however you slice it people still need these treatments to live and save their quality of life.
Mental illness is no different. Mental illness has ruined many lives. People have committed suicide and broken hearts of those around them, the ones who love them most. My grandmother was put in a sanatorium for a year after my mother’s birth for what we know as the “baby blues.” They didn’t know what to do with her so they just put her away.
Isolation is the last thing a victim of mental illness needs. It could be a death sentence. If your mentally ill family member or friend fights against comfort or encouragement from you and those who love them know they are still listening. Remain steadfast and immovable. They will thank you one day.
The love I felt was irreplaceable. The support I felt was undeniable. The compassion I felt was continuous. The healing I feel is real.
I walk past faces filled with the burden of trying to decide on a future. I see faces with rings under their eyes as they sacrifice all they have to be where they are.
But I also see faces of promise for grander things. Faces of strength and healing. Eunoias surrounding me.
This is what I hope my face says walking around thinking, “I wonder if they slept good last night because I know I did.”
Thank you for supporting beautiful minds. Clap for mental healing.
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