Anxiety / mental health / Spoonie Challenges

Mental Illness is More Than Meets the Eye

This week Caro Fréchette shares a poem that reflects their personal experience dealing with other people’s perception of mental illness .  ~Ed.

Caro Fréchette, Self-portrait

You see me smile when you come in, brightly, because that’s the only way I know how
You think I am happy
What you don’t see is I’ve thought of dying five times since getting up this morning

You see me post a picture on my Facebook, getting carded at the LCBO
You think I’m having a party
What you don’t see is this is the first time in twelve days I’ve been able to shower and dress

You see me post a picture making goofy faces with my kids
You think every day is a vacation
What you don’t see is how often I look to them as the reason to hold on

You see me post on social media
Post and post, post and comment
You think I’m kicking back and chilling at home
What you don’t see is sometimes sharing posts on Facebook is the only thing that keeps me from screaming

You see that my company has events
Book sales
Events you think are a grand old time
And they are
Some of my favourite things in the world to do
Events I’ve wanted to attend for months
Events I have to send other people to attend for me
While I lie in bed watching unboxing videos because the remote is too far

You see me post one picture of a book launch
My book launch, which we planned a year ago
Because I dared try to see if I could get out of my shell
Because I dared think that seeing my friends and having a beer would help
You think my life is one big party
What you don’t see is the panic attack I had right after sitting in that chair
Right after trying one damn time
The panic attack which left me hyperventilating in the bathroom while the party happened outside
While the party happened without me
Always without me

You think mental illness is only valid
If I’m lying in bed crying
Curtains drawn
Windows shut
Kleenex and cats my only company

If I smile
If I laugh
If I hug
If I leave
If I attempt to heal in any way
Then I was lying the whole time.

Caro Fréchette

Nathan Fréchette

Nathan Caro Fréchette is originally from Montreal, but has been living in the Ottawa/Gatineau region since 2004. He is a sequential artist and author. Nathan has published several short stories, both sequential and traditional, as well as two graphic novels, five novels, and one non-fiction book on writing. He was the editor and director for the French Canadian literary magazineHistoires à boire debout, and works at the Ottawa Public Library. Nathan has been teaching creative writing since 2005.  

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