I was thinking earlier today about how much your mental health can resemble a piece of glass. It’s everywhere, glass. How far away are you from a piece of glass during the day at any given moment? Often we are staring straight at it, without even realising. Our mental health is like that. It’s everywhere we go but we often take it for granted and regard it as invisible. Common cold? No problem. Buy some paracetamol or even take a COVID test to be on the safe side.
So many of us, however, don’t treat our mental health as promptly or seriously as we do our physical well-being. We muddle along, set it aside, and hope the problem will go away. We are too busy or embarrassed to talk about it and seek help, especially men. Before we know it, that non-descript pane of glass has shattered into a thousand pieces; every single one of them capable of causing immeasurable harm. And, by then, it’s often too late to pick up the pieces.
Glass can protect, it provides sanctuary and shelter. It provides a barrier from the myriad dangers that life throws our way on a daily basis. It allows us to observe the outside world from a safe distance, be that at home or travelling. It is only when it cracks and breaks, that we become exposed and vulnerable. It is then that glass becomes our enemy, when once it was a loyal ally. Its cruel shards can cut deep and draw blood. It is then that it can cut us to shreds.
When a window shatters into a thousand pieces, there is no point trying to piece it together again. It is gone, useless, no longer part of our lives. We need to start afresh, replace it with a tougher, more resilient substitute that will stand us in better stead when our minds are battered with the tortuous vagaries of everyday life. We need to feel safe and secure behind it, but that takes time and effort that many are unwilling to invest in the mental health of themselves and others.
I lived in a glass house, a house built on the shifting sands of circumstance. I thought I was safe, invincible, awash on a sea of arrogant bliss. I was wrong and watched as each tiny dagger penetrated my body and soul with ballistic precision. I was eviscerated, beyond broken, for broken things avoid the bloody mess I had become. I was gore and grime and rivulets of thick, ruby-red blood that the sands soaked up greedily until there was no more and I was but a husk. The power of glass should never be underestimated.
And when the tide crept in and tasted what was left of me, the gods laughed at the audacity of my kind. I was put in my place and taught a lesson that they never bored of, a teaching as ancient as the sea itself. We all take our turn to stand on the shore of the bloody sea. We all must learn, we all must die and start again. I awoke on that barren shore and they had left me a word in the sated sands. A word that made me crawl and keep crawling until the pain was something I could bear again.
The words, the words. Barely a trickle at first, but steadily they flowed until pages turned into books that I held in my shaking hands to marvel at. Thoughts and images that I had clung on to for far too long, toxic to the core, now released and put to better use in a world that spawned the nightmares from which I now strived to be free. The shackles were at last off, the pile of rocks removed from my chest, no longer stifling and crushing the raw, virginal truth within.
I am made anew. Transparent and dazzling, a foil to the darkness that used to reign supreme. I am made of glass, but this time underpinned with a tensile strength that will not bend or bow to the demonic hordes. My cerebral coffers overflow with a mental wealth that outweighs the purest gold or finest silks. I used to pray but now I just hope that this time, it will be different and I will hold firm. Like glass against the battering storm. I hope.