A year ago, I was riding on a roller coaster of emotions. One year ago today, I was probably skipping yet another college class, getting ready to leave my apartment to go to the bar, get drunk with my friends and party recklessly until I crashed later that night.
A year ago today, I was having a hypomanic episode. I had racked up almost $4,000 on my credit card between carelessly buying shots for friends, strangers, and myself at the bar, going on shopping sprees, and getting new hairstyles every few weeks. I spent my days skipping class, and I spent my nights getting drunk and meeting strangers for sex.
Shortly after this, began the worst depressive episode of my life. I eventually crashed, and all of the guilt I was feeling from meeting up with strangers every night, spending thousands of dollars, and skipping important classes and work had piled onto my conscience.
I started having suicidal thoughts with increasing intensity. The worst part about them was knowing that I didn’t want to hurt anyone around me, I just wanted to stop existing. I didn’t have a plan, and I didn’t know how, but I just wanted the pain to stop.
The Hospital Stay
After a couple of months of this severe, soul-sucking depression, a friend became concerned and called a suicide hotline for help. The police came to my door, searched my room for any medications/anti-depressants I might have and escorted me to their police car. This can be extremely overwhelming, though it wasn’t the first time I’d experienced this, and I don’t believe it’s the right way to treat someone with a mental health condition, but I desperately needed help.
What proceeded was the longest 24 hours of my life. I spent the next day stripped of all of my belongings, in hospital “blues”. I was left by myself for the next 24 hours, and only checked on once or twice. It was agonizing. I was visited by a triage nurse and a psychiatrist who told me I would be admitted to the mental health unit due to my suicidal thoughts, and I did not have a choice to leave. I spent the next two weeks in the hospital, withdrew from college, and moved home.
Six Months in Hell
I spent the six months after my hospital- stay in hell. What I mean by that is, I was imprisoned by my own mind. I spent every day sleeping until 4PM, and every night staring into the darkness of my bedroom until I was so exhausted that I fell asleep. While I would lay awake at night, all I could think about was how much I wanted to give up. I wanted so badly to get away from my life, and the darkness of the night was just a metaphor for the dreadful, agonizing pain I was feeling in my chest every moment of every day.
When six months had passed, I was in a state of such disarray, that I had gotten used to only showering once or twice weekly, and I needed physical therapy because my back had almost given out, and my knees were useless.
I started a twice-weekly regimen of physical therapy, and slowly my life started to change. I was getting some movement, and I was being forced to have better hygiene habits because I had to leave the house more often. I was getting more social contact with people outside of my family, and that caused a change in my mood as well.
When August came, I saw a significant boost in my mood, with the changing of the seasons. I became more and more active, social and I began to take Benadryl nightly which helped me get back on a regular sleep schedule.
When things were finally falling into place for me, I started to write about my experiences over the past year. I decided on a whim to send one of my stories into a website to be published. When I heard that they had accepted my article for publishing, it changed things for me.
Eventually, I started to see how my writing could help other people. Sharing my story was about more than just serving a therapeutic purpose, but it could also be about letting others know they don’t have to be alone in their journey with mental illness.
Now I have an active blog, I submit articles for publishing regularly on various mental health sites, and I enjoy helping others in any way I can through their journey with recovery. Helping people through sharing my story, helps me to continue recovering.
I recently attended an Out of the Darkness walk for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. One of the guest speakers told her story of recovery. She is now a Peer Specialist, someone with lived mental health experience, who helps others in their journey to recovery. This inspired me to make a change in the lives of others and I am now working to become a Peer Specialist.
I have had a total of 5 hospital stays due to my mental health condition. I have withdrawn from college and had to quit jobs more times than I can remember. I have gone through more than a dozen counselors and psychiatrists trying to find the best fit, and I have cried myself to sleep countless times wanting to give up. Recovery is an ongoing process. But it’s well worth persisting and never giving up on yourself.
If I could recover, I believe anyone can.