Quicksand | On the Other Side of Mental Illness
Where Sinking is Still Sinking…
Many people with mental illness – and the people that love them – experience this sensation of being pushed into a pit of quicksand. The awareness of sinking is often quite latent; the nudge from disease so subtle the culprit seems almost unidentifiable at first. Not everyone calls it quicksand, but the sinking feeling – it’s painfully universal.
The afflicted generally sink faster, and when the sand reaches their breathing artifices they’re often screaming for help. Sometimes their screams are tragically silenced. But the people who love them? They’re often stuck, like statues, or like British soldiers. No matter what transpires – even if the sand starts to tickle or burn aggressively – they try to stand at attention, eyes forward, focused on the unique space of action and inaction, doing and waiting. It’s the duty of mental health experts to rush to the aid of the mentally ill, but the loved ones often sink further into the quicksand, waiting, ignoring their own needs, ignoring their own suffering.
WE develop a way to breathe, to move ever so slightly without disturbing our metaphorical mud-caked, taut skin. We’re careful not to make a rise, not to suggest our pain is equal to those who truly suffer from mental illness. WE often exist in this fluid space. Some of us may just exist here forever, or at the apex of our suffering we may find out what’s at the bottom of quicksand.
My family – we know about the metaphorical sinking. It’s a proper noun to us – “Ah, we stepped into the ‘Quicksand’ again.” These days, the more appropriate question is – “have we been sinking for awhile?” We do our best to step right out as we experience it, as we recognize it in one another. At least we used to.
I realize this now: no one – mentally ill or those close to it – should ever find out what’s at the bottom of the quicksand pool, no matter how wickedly curious the question is. It seems so few people who made it down there ever come back to tell us what they found anyways. We all deserve to be elevated out of the grime, inch by inch, or foisted out quickly. Within us, we all have the ability to place our hands on the earth, steady ourselves, and lift up. But sometimes those resources lay dormant or retreat to a place within us we can’t locate. In that case, there are so many resources to help: counselors, coaches, psychiatrists, support groups, friends and the list goes ever on and on. Daily, I hope more and more people explore the infinite world of help there is now instead of sinking to the very bottom. I hope they don’t stop until they find the right team. Daily, I now look for the strength to lean on others, to karmically receive what I have given others in their times of need.
Never sink, believe there is a pack or a single wolf out there willing to howl with you or for you.
And if there are any mental health organizations you’ve had great experiences with – locally, nationally, or internationally – please share with us via firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll post those soon.