Everyone Has An Avatar
We are all familiar with the cliché depression cloud that haunts sad-faced patients in medication commercials. While this fog of doom is not an inaccurate metaphor of being dogged by unrelenting symptoms of emotional disorder, other images come to mind when I see these advertisements. There are many types of mental illness and everyone has a different “avatar.”
Picturing these inner fiends is helpful. I can see they are a part of me but not the whole of me.
“A dirty jacket,” I tell her. “One that won’t shake off or come unzipped. It’s a filthy coat of misery causing panic and despair. I can’t escape its’ rotten grip.”
If this garment were to slip off my back, I would feel exposed, naked, vulnerable…because it hides of lot of wounds and gentle, breakable parts. I have a paradoxical relationship with my unkempt cloak.
Mental health blogs, articles, online resources and books are places I’ve sought knowledge and a community of peers during my journey towards recovery. I have learned that each individual has a unique expression regarding the form their demons take; some declare a heaviness, like an elephant on their chest. Others refer to the monkey in their brain that never stops his chatter. There are walls that enclose…stone towers…dark wells with bottomless depths; powerful imagery for a powerful illness.
Different components of one’s illness may also have different avatars. I know mine do.
Avatars Can Change
For a long time, I could only focus on my dirty jacket. Ah, the jacket! Get it off!
Recently, I’ve thought it over and the dirty jacket “avatar” no longer represents the construct of my illness.
Bark. Dead wood. Grayish brown and rough and thick with ugly warts and scratchy husk. That’s my mental illness epitome. I am a dried out branch in an untended garden. Only now, I’ve realized…I’m the gardener.
The therapy, the rest, the treatments, the searching, the hope and self-care; I’m learning to tend this derelict patch of prickly rigor. And guess what? It’s not dead. If I scrape away, and pick and prune the hardness gives way to new green growth with potential and possibility.
Gardening is damn hard work. You’ve got to get your hands dirty and dig deep. Sometimes I neglect my withering greenhouse. Sometimes I nurture it. I’ve reached a juncture in my recovery where at least it’s getting some attention, rather than left to rot and decay. Every weed I pull is one less weed and every flower blooming is a victory.
What Does Your Mental Illness Avatar Look Like?
My Mental Illness Avatar: Old gray bark hiding tender life inside; not a dirty jacket which cannot be repaired.
Brand your inner turmoil. Give it shape and form. Weaken the grip of intense power by facing it head on. I liken this to an exorcism when you call a demon by its’ name. It must be separated from the host.
What does your mental illness look like? I’d love to hear from you. Participate in the following poll or leave a comment if you have a different image you want to share.
Take good care, The Jitter Bug