Living With Mental Illness

‘Stop being so negative,
learn to count your blessings’.
I am drowning and the words won’t come out,
Yet they say, ‘It’s all in your head.’

‘Go for a walk, write, meditate,
exercise and sweat it out’.
It feels like I cannot breathe or move,
yet they say, ‘Stop making it hard for yourself, stop taking this route.’

I sit across nameless experts,
without judgement they hear me talk.
I listen and do everything they tell me to,
yet I am always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I take the pills that I need to,
some red, some green and some blue.
I still feel empty and hollow,
yet they say, ‘Stop wallowing in your made-up sorrow.’

On some days getting out of bed is the bravest I can be,
on some days I am fine.
On most days, I am barely keeping it together,
yet they say, ‘These things are made up, it’s all in your mind.’

I am drowning and crying for help at the same time,
I am my own shield and sword.
I am persevering despite my own self,
I am tired and I am flawed.

Yet they say a lot of things,
now I do not listen or care.
I will shout it out from the rooftops–
Mental illness is real and no one should be scared alone.

Shrutika Shridhar is a 26-year-old lawyer practicing in New Delhi.

Featured image credit: Pariplab Chakraborty