This is a recent hashtag I came across during #mentalhealthmonth (May) that I really felt. Deep down. I wrote a post. I edited the post. I hesitated. That's when I knew. I even had some anxiety over it. I didn't have time to write, time is so fucking impossible to regulate and obtain these days. Particularly for myself. I knew I needed to release this burden. But my hesitation let me know that maybe this hashtag struck a chord. I wanted to use it. I want to be unashamed. But the truth is I feel very deep shame.
My depression has cycled off and on since I was 16. I think that was the first time I sought help. Sometime right after I started oral birth control, which I would later learn was a direct contributor to my anxiety and depression. I am very hormone sensitive. Even the slightest fluctuations send my brain into a tizzy. Ok, into a personal hell. I would not learn this until graduate school. Thanks, Neuroendocrinology seminar. And thanks to my amazing colleague who happens to be a former ob/gyn.
But I digress.
I wrote this. I wanted to share it. And I am going to. I am not adding a disclaimer or a warning. This story is mine. I own every bit of it. I hold no one responsible for my experiences. I do not blame anyone for their responses or reactions. Continue reading if you wish, with the knowledge that being fully transparent hurts. To write, to share...is to relive a little. Sometimes a lot. Hence my recent anxiety. I do not write this for your entertainment or help. I write this because somewhere out there someone is suffering silently, and they feel alone. I write so maybe they read this in their darkest hour and know that I am here. Many are here. Right beside you. You are not alone. Please seek the help you need. You are loved. You are worth it. I love you.
And so I begin...
I was 15 the first time I cut myself. I used a razor, making small and barely noticeable lines that would bleed briefly before turning tomato red. I am fair skinned so they were obvious. Surprisingly it was rare anyone noticed. If they did I blamed my cat. No, seriously. People see and believe what they want to. It's not their fault. Sometimes I would make words out of them. Loser and love were my favorite. You can speculate why, I don't really remember. I once cut a word deep enough that it took a little over a year before I could no longer trace the lines.
I was not suicidal.
I was sad.
I was overwhelmed.
I was disappointed with myself constantly.
I was not in control of my life.
The external stress was suffocating and cutting helped me breathe.
But the truth...my boyfriend raped me. I was told it was my fault by my best friend and a trusted adult. The shame overwhelmed me. So I locked myself down inside.
I was 17 or 18 the first time I REALLY thought about death.
Still overwhelmed with the need to control my life. Still reeling from what happened to me and my "apparent" role in allowing it to happen.
Still feeling like a failure.
That's the only curse word we acknowledge in my house now. The only forbidden one.
When I began college the anxiety slowly began to take over. A student in my year committed suicide. I realized I needed help. I withdrew from classes and started seeing a psychiatrist.
I got on meds and endured every side effect possible. Nothing worked. I tried them all.
And then I quit school, or rather I did not return after summer.
I looked for jobs, worked at a daycare, allowed myself to be conned by an older man and eloped 2 hours away from family.
I was 19 the first time I called the national suicide hotline.
I didn't want to die then, I wanted to escape.
Being verbally assaulted with all of the negative things I had been telling myself for years sucked. It was a bad place to be. Locked out of my house.
I lied and said I was suicidal. I just wanted someone to rescue me, but he had me convinced no one would. No one loved me. They took me to the hospital. I lied some more. Yes, I wanted to harm myself. I signed myself into the psychiatric ward. Did you know that is how it works now? Sign yourself in but good luck getting out. He visited me once. Fucking ass. They put me on a lot of meds and sent me to group therapy. I don't remember any of it. I was too drugged. It was worthless but I was safe. I remember a woman. She was a friend I think. I wish I knew if she was ok. If she got help. I remember telling the doctor I lied to get out of the pain he put me in. I remember threatening a lawyer if they didn't let me out. Apparently they only keep you so long before they will release you. I won't discuss my thoughts of that process or system here. But I will say it is why I went back to school later...
Asshole was too high (marijuana) to come get me. I hitched home and called my parents. They came of course, because they love me. He did not.
I was determined to recover. I filed the divorce papers myself, by myself. I didn't want help to undo my mistake. I took our dog across 3 states to him so he had nothing to come back for. I reconnected with old friends, not the good ones. I fell into their bad habits. I self medicated with drugs, random sexual encounters. I almost died from a drug over dose given to me by my "friends."
And so I decided it was time to really recover. I sought out a therapist again. I had a good job. I went back to school.
Here my story takes a turn. My therapist helped me see myself clearly. We battled some demons, we conquered some mountains. We tried more meds. My love (now husband) suggested perhaps my birth control was to blame. I investigated further. Apparently this is a thing. I quit everything cold turkey (I do NOT recommend or support this, please consult your healthcare provider). It took about 6 weeks before I realized how different I felt, Really different. I started running then too.
Running saved me. I saved me. Real love saved me. I was not alone.
Graduate school derailed me some again. So much stress. So much uncontrollable. Back into therapy. Never stop working. We managed. We worked through. And then we wanted a baby.
I cannot believe I didn't see it coming.
If hormones impacted me so much, what did I think pregnancy would do? Postpartum depression hit hard. Lack of sleep plus wonky hormones plus desperate desire to not leave my baby at home or with a stranger. Why couldn't I just be with him?
Why could I not just be a mommy? THIS is what I was supposed to be doing...
This story takes a lot out of me. You think you have worked through it and then you share it. Just like that, the emotions return. Hard. Heavy. I will finish telling it. I promise. But for tonight I leave yu with this...I work every day. Some days are easy peasy. Others, not so much.
I am learning that sometimes it is ok to not be ok.
I am learning more about what I can and cannot handle.
I am learning when I need a break, a time out, a run.
That is the key. To never give up.
That, and to never be ashamed of being human.
Because that is what we all are.