JOURNAL: From Shame to Hope: A Journey of Mental Health Recovery Through Writing

For an extended period, I chose to disregard the state of my mental well-being, perpetuating a societal stigma that had long been ingrained within me. This perception, I suspect, resonates with many others as well—a reluctance to burden or trouble others, a hesitance to acknowledge our need for cognitive support. It’s almost as though we fear being branded as “unbalanced” or “troubled,” labels that society attaches to those seeking assistance. Yet, in truth, aren’t we all, to some degree, grappling with our inner complexities?

During the inception of my writing journey, I engaged in a therapeutic exercise, translating my innermost emotions and musings onto the canvas of paper. However, I deliberately shrouded them in ambiguity, rendering them enigmatic, to the point where they blurred the line between poetic expressions and the ramblings of an ostensibly disoriented soul.

Perhaps, yeah.

I can still vividly remember the moment when I decided to write about something that truly mattered to me. Instead of hiding behind convoluted scenarios, fancy vocabulary, or cryptic metaphors, I chose clarity to articulate my inner struggles. No more disguises. I didn’t want anyone to see me as weak or troubled. I wanted to project strength and independence, especially in front of my friends (think of it like, “Mom, don’t embarrass me in front of my friends,” where my “Mom” is symbolic of my mental health). I was convinced I was some kind of intellectual powerhouse, just like Socrates, navigating my own labyrinth of thoughts.

In the past, I thought my only certainty in life was avoiding any association with weakness or “craziness.”

I can’t pinpoint exactly when or how my perspective shifted, but I’m grateful it did. Somewhere between the desire to disappear or hibernate indefinitely, and the support I received from friends, family, my trusty dog, and, well, myself—I came to terms with the fact that I no longer cared about how others perceived me or the methods I used to heal. All that mattered was that I didn’t want to feel the way I did anymore. I suppose I became aware of my situation, and that newfound awareness allowed me to speak openly about my feelings.

So, one of my all-time favorite lines sprung from a poem that tackled one of the most challenging chapters of my life.

I have to admit, I was still keeping things a bit veiled. I mean, I was a bit worried about how folks, whether they knew me online or in person, would react. But with everything on the line, I decided to dive into a moment when I made a desperate call to a suicide hotline, all sloshed and feeling hopeless. The thing is, they left me hanging for what seemed like an eternity. And when they finally did respond (or should I say, told me someone was on their way, spoiler alert: they weren’t), I just hung up and had a heart-to-heart with the “other” person on the opposite side of the bathroom door. The irony here is that this phone call was indirectly sparked by this very person. Oh, and there were other wild elements, like frigid showers, a hole I punched in the wall, and polishing off a whole bottle of whiskey. These experiences were so raw and intense that, when I finally penned a poetic rendition of it years later, I can only describe the feeling as downright blissful.

The scene etched in memory that I chose to depict retains a measure of ambiguity reminiscent of my earlier literary style, a period during which I often adopted the guise that these tales did not pertain to me directly. Yet, beneath the veneer of narrative distance, the stories were invariably my own, albeit cloaked in diverse pronouns and literary devices that created the illusion of detachment. This narrative strategy served as a protective measure while affording me the latitude to authentically articulate my emotions, as if narrating a tale from an external vantage point. Without further ado, I present the masterpiece—a literary artifact that evokes a potent nostalgia, one that still elicits shivers and, on occasion, brings a tear to my eye.

Showered with my clothes on, alone in the stall
Emptied the Heaven Hill, and put a hole in the wall
Called the don’t do it lifeline and was put on hold for an hour
Wrote a letter to my parents, and choked on the vowels
Bit on my tongue till the blood diluted the taste of the bourbon
Put a slit through my bandage.
Put a blade to my churches
Said a prayer so nervous.
Lay still for eternity
The shower ran through 6am.
I heard knocks on the door Answered with an imaginary gun that held me hostage. It’s more
Than what I made it out to be. Told them I fell and I slipped
Told a joke and laughed it off. Told her hell is a bitch
Denim has a subtle smell when drenched in whiskey and slaughter
Waited as an anonymous caller.
Speakerphone the rain of the water
Looked to the sky, dissolute, dissuaded, demise
Cried, laughed and told the operator I had already died
Asked me if I was alright. I knew I’d be never the same
Desolate rage. I wonder where my crucifix lays.
If they could talk, what would these broken walls say?
You only remember me when I start to walk away

The purpose of this page may appear somewhat unclear at first glance, but as I reflect on it while editing, several potential objectives come to mind. It could serve as a platform to facilitate personal reconnection, not only for others but also for myself. Additionally, it may present an opportunity for future monetization, offering valuable content or services. Furthermore, it could be envisioned as a space where visitors can delve into the wealth of experiences contained within my numerous journals, fostering connections with interesting individuals along the way.

What I am unequivocally certain of, though, is my profound love for writing. Writing isn’t merely an activity; it’s an intrinsic part of who I am, akin to the essential acts of breathing, eating, or sharing an intimate kiss with someone you hold dear.

Ultimately, my primary aim is to extend a helping hand, to contribute positively in some way. Thank you for joining me on this journey.

Published by Cristian Leonardo Gajardo

Welcome to Cristian’s Cafe, a website where I showcase my various forms of expression and happiness. Here you can find poetry, podcasts, personal blogging, research articles, open mic, comedy, and art. Whether you are looking for inspiration, entertainment, or information, you will find something that suits your taste and mood. Enjoy browsing through my content and feel free to leave your comments and feedback. Please note that the Wi-Fi connection may be slow or unstable at times, so please be patient and look at the art instead. Thank you for visiting Cristian’s Cafe

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