“this time I ain’t changing my mind, I’m climbing out this abyss”

Trigger Warning – Mild Sui, Moderate SH

I’m sick of this but in my sickness and addiction; you’re addictive as they get, evil as they come, vindictive as they make them. My friends keep asking me why I can’t just walk away from; I’m addicted, to the pain, the stress, the drama. I’m drawn in so I guess I’m a mess, cursed and blessed. But this time I ain’t changing my mind, I’m climbing out this abyss

– Marshall Mathers

These words have been prevalent in my life since I first heard them; my sickness and addiction is art and my mental health. I’m addicted to gaining success, to making a difference, to trying to change the world. My sickness is borderline personality disorder, suicide ideation, alcohol dependency and being terrified of getting better.

The past year has been different; the organisation I founded after a stay in hospital has become important, to me and others. It is teetering on the edge of something very special and all my focus has been on pushing my objectives forward, challenging the norm and changing the way we, as a society, think and talk about mental health.

This has had a very positive influence on my career, and mental health, however there are also many negative effects that I tend to keep quiet.

I feel unbelievable pressure, not just from myself, my addiction to succeeding, but from others. I have heaped on pressure to not get ill again, to not end up in hospital again, to not self-harm again. I have many different meetings each week, and I must be professional, and charismatic and of good health and responsible and someone who can be relied upon to follow through with this project. I cannot enter offices with fresh cuts on my arm, with bleary eyes from midnight drinking, with tears on my cheeks and unwashed hair.

Maybe this pressure, this paranoia, comes from a sub conscious knowledge that stigma is still rife. We see it this week, from the media and how they are reporting the news that Andreas Lubitz, the German pilot who crashed in the Alps, may have suffered from depression. ‘Killer Pilot’ ‘Suicide pilot suffered from depression; why on Earth was he allowed to fly?’ ‘Madman in cockpit!’ The assumption that depression means you want to harm others is preposterous and I was actually asked if I would feel safe knowing my pilot had depression. In some ways I despair, I feel like giving up because we can move forward five steps and then the powerful media can quite easily put us back twenty.

But I must go on, and so must you.

My addiction won’t let me stop, there is lots of hard work to do, lots of talking, of sharing stories and showing scars. Together we can make a change, we already have. The outrage of these headlines just about outweighed those who agreed with them.

The people I have met in the past year have opened my eyes to what can be achieved. That drives me forward. And when I’m struggling to believe that I can make a difference, I look at my website, I see the names attached to this project, I re-read the emails from people thanking me for helping them, I look at the healed scars on my arm. I tell myself that it is ok to fall, as long as I try to get back up.

“This time I ain’t changing my mind, I’m climbing out this abyss.”

Lizz

Find out more about Broken Grey Wires – an innovative project exploring contemporary art and mental health – on facebook or twitter.

Lizz is based in Manchester, but the next live events – Live Wires – takes place in June and July at Notting Hill Arts Centre.