I guess this is mental health week?
You know that sentimental ad campaign from a few years ago that promised “It gets better” constantly? That’s true. But it also gets worse.
Let’s talk about depression through the metaphor of body mod. It’ll be fun!
When you get a piercing, if you go somewhere reputable, someone sticks a several-inch-long hollow needle through your body, then pushes that needle slowly through your skin and fat and maybe muscle or cartilage, then jams a chunk of metal through that new, bleeding wound. It’s not the most pleasant experience in the world. Depression and suicidal thoughts are like that. They hurt, you bleed emotionally, you feel tender and swollen and vulnerable after an episode, and you expect them to get better and less intense with time – in exactly the same way you expect a new piercing to eventually stop feeling so raw.
So you carry around this injured part of you and warn people not to touch it because you’re still fragile there, and you avoid thinking about it too much, and if you’re responsible you clean it carefully and frequently to promote healthy growth. And it gets better. It hurts less.
Then you run your ear into a counter, or you brave some antihistamines at their recommended dose, and suddenly it gets worse. Maybe you’re bleeding again because you ripped at the delicate edges of the holes or maybe you’re doing breathing exercises that only make the panic worse because they remind you of that one time when it felt like you couldn’t breathe and never would again. Whatever. It hurts again and it’s disheartening because it’s been months, or years, and godsdammit you should be able to sleep on your ear by now.
And maybe you develop scars. In piercings they’re called keloids, in mental health let’s call them triggers. They’re shitty and it takes like year of concentrated daily effort to get rid of keloids. No idea how long it takes for their mental equivalent, but probably longer. It’s just awful all around.
But it heals eventually. Assuming you work your butt off to care for your LITERAL AND ACTUAL WOUNDS, physical or mental, they’ll heal. But you’re gonna relapse and you’re gonna experience pain you don’t want to and you’re gonna have to work hard for it. But that’s okay. As long as you’re trending upward, it’s okay to occasionally dip. Besides, you’re good at working hard.