There has never been a time in my life during which I was not weighed down by the phantom limb of mental illness. My life story is a series of events that have been tied together with the ropes of misery and the chains of illness.
It took me almost two decades to realize the truth of my own mind. I was raised, as many were, to believe that there was either nothing really wrong with me, or that I could not ever recover. Mental illness has for so long been black and white; well or ill, sane or insane.
It has only been in the past few years that the world has opened itself to new definitions, meanings, and understandings. It was only through this opening that I came to realize that phantom limb was not just a figment of my imagination or hormones, but Depression, Anxiety, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and Dissociation.
To some these words may seem a heavier burden to bear than “moody”, “anxious”, or even “crazy”. Even heavier than my childhood label, “deranged”. To me, these words give geography to the battles I fight, and a face to the obstacles I must overcome each day.
I started this blog because two decades in the darkness of not knowing was enough, and because any light, no matter how small, that can be cast on these difficult subjects, is worth sharing.
I titled this blog “I Am the Arrow” because as a writer I have always been enamored with the written word, and with the mind, particularly those as wounded as mine. It was in this manner that I came into possession of Sylvia Plath’s collection of poetry titled “Ariel”, which caught me unawares from a shelf in the local library. It quite literally called my name. Ariel.
In the poem of the same name, she writes “And I/ am the arrow,// the dew that flies/ suicidal, at one with the drive/ into the red// Eye, the cauldron of morning.”
There are various understandings of this poem, but this is mine: I am the arrow, my self-awareness, my acceptance, and my drive are the bow. And I plan to leave the predawn of ignorance and suffering behind me, as I propel myself into that cauldron of morning, of knowing, of recovery, of freedom.