People like to describe illness with metaphors.
Generalized anxiety is buzzing TV static in your brain.
Bipolar disorder is riding a roller coaster of moods.
Depression is drowning in Novocain.
Self-harm is screaming into a megaphone pointed at yourself.
Suicide is a leaping catastrophically into the unknown.
People don’t live figuratively.
People live literally.
No one is laboriously suffering under a figurative illness.
A series of facts is mental illness.
Brain chemicals and neurotransmitters, genes and alleles,
symptoms, behaviors, patterns of thought,
treatments and medications (side-effects),
trial(s) and of error—
inexact science applied liberally.
Tragically beautiful metaphors?
Painfully mundane realities?
A ball curled up tightly.
The isolation of a darkened bedroom down the hall.
Loneliness demarcated by periodic bursts of sobs.
The quite literal force pressing down upon a chest, unparalleled by the weight of the covers.
It is real.
An awareness that the body has been here before
(choking, gasping, clenching, scratching, pulling,
blood-shot itchy, snot-soaked sticky, bare-armed bloody);
creates a doubt that the mind ever left.
With the escapable sense that your literal will always be perceived as someone else’s figurative.