In Honor of Mental Illness Awareness Week…

When I was 9 years old, I spent Saturday mornings laying in bed with my mom, watching morning cartoons while she napped through the rest of the AM, usually after a night at our local bar(sorry Mom which of course you aren’t reading this, but you know it’s true).  This particular Spring day was no different, as I watched Recess while she snored quietly on the pillow next to mine.  My dad was a golfer, and Mother Nature had blessed us with an early abundance of crisp comfortable air and sunshine, which meant I rarely saw him on weekend mornings.  I was okay with this…as it freed open my parents’ bed and also gave me an escape from my 15-year old sister and the room we shared…she wasn’t particularly fond of me during this era of her adolescence.  It was on this particular morning, as I tapped her on the shoulder as a freckle-faced, buck toothed, and glasses-wearing third grader, and asked if she would stab me with a butcher knife, as I knew I no longer wanted to live anymore.

During these pre-pre-teen years, girls began their conniving and passive aggressive ways of bullying.  I was not innocent, but I certainly had been victimized quite more often than normal in the past few weeks.  My “friends” had built up a silent treatment pact against me, for whichever reason third graders may justify it with.  If I remember correctly, I had let it slip to my very best guy friend that my very best girl friend had a crush on him…and clearly that was means for being ostracized.  Ok, regardless…it sent me into a frenzy of dread going to school, knowing I would have nobody to hang out with on the playground or lunch table.  Perhaps it was a whim of dramatization, but I will never forget my mother’s reaction to this statement, one which helped shaped the ideology of suicide and mental illness, even as young as I was.

“If you EVER say that again, YOU ARE GOING TO A COUNSELOR!” She screamed at me.  And when I say screamed, in no way, I am not exaggerating.  I won’t forget it…this memory is as vivid as ever in my mind.  Her words shook me to the core, as I immediately knew I had said something very very wrong.  The negative connotation of “counselor” really wasn’t a foreign concept to me- kids in my classes saw the guidance counselor all the time, but THOSE kids were different.  Divorced parents with mismatched clothes and learning disabilities.  Parents who died tragically with behavioral issues.  Not kids like ME.  I went into my room and cried silently until my dad got home from the course.  Both of my parents came into my room and over silent tears, I confessed to my father what I said, as my mother stood in the doorway of my room, furious.  The memory gets a little blurry here, as I do not remember his reaction, but I do know one thing; it was never further investigated, and I was written off as an over dramatic, overly sensitive little girl who needed to understand that “kids will be kids.”  Their reaction was ANGER rather than concern that I had immediately contemplated I would be better off dead than dealing with a troubling situation, perhaps a tad over-dramatic but nonetheless quite abnormal for a girl my age.  I was pinpointed as being selfish, attention-seeking(although this was not in my nature, as I’ve always been a quiet kid), making their lives difficult when they had given me everything.  Yes, I felt these emotions even back then.  It’s a feeling I’ve never quite been able to shake from that moment on, even if I didn’t mean what I said.  It’s the beginning of what shaped my ignorance regarding mental illness.

As time went on, I obviously rekindled, then fought with, rekindled, then fought with, and rekindled with the same group of friends over the course of my pre-teen and teenage years.  Truly irrelevant to the point of my story…but let’s clarify something; my depression is NOT situational, nor has it really ever been.  I was never bullied severely; it’s always been inner-circle passive aggressive bullshit all females for some reason like torturing each other with.  Some of these girls are my absolute best friends now, and others I seriously can’t even look at to this day.  Just wanted to clarify, as the “trigger” of my depression was not because of the way others treated me.  In fact, I don’t even really know what made my “gun” go off.  Just wanted to make that clear.

Fast forward many years later, I experienced a whirlwind of frenemy backlash from a particular friend, who sought joy in seeing me hurt, for some reason unbeknownst to me.  For Senior Superlatives, she led a secret campaign to try and get me voted “Moodiest”, despite the fact it not only failed, but was dismissed as an inappropriate award for our yearbook.  When I asked her about it, she wrote me off, as if it weren’t something to be considered offensive, and although I played it off as a joke, I secretly knew my mood swings didn’t affect anybody else as much as they affected me.  They weren’t outlandish depressive or mania states…sometimes I just need to be alone, even in a group of friends at school, and people saw this as “weird” or me being in a “mood.”  Sometimes on weekends when everybody was out, I preferred to stay at home, unless there was drinking involved.  When I tried to explain this to her, and even brought up the fact it may be linked to some sort of depressive behavior jokingly, in a true sign of desperation to write off the fact it MIGHT be true(while thinking OH GOD please let her disagree) she shrugged it off and told me “I don’t believe in depression.”  And that was that.  I felt idiotic but secretly agreed.  I had taken psychology- it definitely existed, but not for me.  Nobody would believe in depression for me…I was just going through a rut, and people could see it however they wanted to. The reassurance was short-lived but made me feel better about my declining emotional state, even in high school.

I mean honestly, I could recount tales and tales and tales of things which were not “normal” growing up or even as recently as 2 years ago and the way I lived in my life, most especially my body image and growing up with somebody who was utterly infatuated with physical appearance.  But it could honestly be a novel in itself, and I’m not sure if I would ever be ready to share that with anybody at this moment in time.

Again, fast forward YEARS later, during the VERY beginning phases of my real downfall, I confided into my father about my erratic behavior and sleeping habits.  Although he did not say much, he helped me set up an appointment to see a therapist.  I begged him not to tell my mom as I knew her reaction would not be of support, but my parents don’t keep secrets so he did anyways.  I went for a few sessions, but stopped after an encounter with my mother while returning from a rather successful appointment.  “So what did your therapist say?  Are you DEPRESSED?” complete with a smirk.

Her condescending words HAUNT my mind to this day.  In fact, I have tears in my eyes as I write this.  I wonder if they ever haunt her mind late at night, when she wonders what I’m up to.  I wonder if she ever regrets the way she spoke to me in the manner she did, which abrupted the entirety of my relationship with that psychologist.  It was truly a domino effect, as I never returned to therapy again until 3 years later, after I had been committed to a psychiatric ward for suicidal thoughts and HAD to.  I wonder if she ever feels responsible for the years that followed, the partying and compulsive spending…the only glimmer of happiness I could seek out in a whirlwind of darkness. I wonder if she truly remembers the way she treated me when I needed her the most.  Her backlash prevented me from getting help for years.  Sometimes I am bitter, and she is no stranger to this…when we are fighting, I will use words dripping in animosity to hurt her…this always makes me feel very guilty.  And although she did play a HUGE role in the way I viewed mental illness growing up, I know the ignorance was not her fault.  She saw it all as a reflection of her raising me.  She was completely unaware people could just be born this way, despite the fact it is VERY prevalent in my family history, just not really talked about.

Let me state something very clear here: my mother is NOT a bad person, but she is very controlling and terrified of what I am capable of, but not in the sense you would think.  She’s scared to lose me, to let me go out into the real world and reach my FULL potential because she thinks I will forget about her, but I have learned that I can’t tiptoe around her feelings for the rest of my life.  And in regards to my mental health, she is one of the most supportive people I know about my depression now, although VERY overprotective, despite the fact I am 24 years old.  Without her help now, I wouldn’t have survived the recovery phases, and I am forever thankful for that.  It’s been a long journey of forgiveness, and the way she treated me while I was sick but before it was diagnosed is basically THE reason why I advocate for awareness.  Ignorance is so painful.  If you don’t have the support of a parent or loved one, please seek it somewhere else.  Somebody cares.  I promise you that.  I do not want anybody to end up like me, with so many lost years to the demons of depression, completely hopeless.  The resources are there, the support is prevalent, but it may take some searching for someone you can trust in order to take action…but please, do not wait.  Time is precious.

Depression Doesn’t Discriminate

When people ask me if I’m still depressed(yes, people do have the audacity to ask THIS so bluntly, like I should just KNOW this off the top of my head), I’m usually one to smile politely and shake my head no(well, to those who are well-intended, at least). And for the most part, I am being completely honest. Even on my bad days, I am still full of hope. Hope for better tomorrows, no matter which obstacles I am faced with. Hope was the missing puzzle piece to the function I lacked in my life, the one I searched for desperately, when depression was hiding underneath the table, holding it this entire time, laughing at my declining emotional state. I was convinced nothing could ever make me happy again. And even with the knowledge I was not okay, I still continued to deny the inevitable.

In retrospect, there is NOTHING which I can compare to the plunge down the dark rabbit hole, the one which consumed my entire life for years..a gradual(yet severe) decline to the bottom. My rescue was prolonged as I denied my mental health state for years, but generally swift once I finally reached out for help. While it was one of the scariest experiences of my life, it was the most rewarding. Giving a name to my demons was empowering; it gave me a way to control them, because yes, they still return from time to time.

To be completely honest, I don’t know if depression is a disease that ever fully goes away. Like I said, my demons still lurk quietly in the background, taunting me with insults in moments of weakness. “You are worthless. You are fat. You are ugly. You are going nowhere in life. You have let everybody down.” Except no longer are the volume of their voices ear-shattering screams which consume my entire being. Now they are meek whispers, ones I can easily drown out by simply reaching out to the resources and support available to me.

People become nervous, agitated, almost annoyed when somebody like me is so open with my disease. “What does SHE have to be depressed about?” She hasn’t dealt with this or that or (insert tragedy or horrible situation here). YES, I am THANKFUL beyond reason that in my life, I haven’t had to deal with anything majorly traumatic which I could account for many of my mental health issues. But what does that change? Does that make my conditions less legitimate? Are you a doctor? Are you a scientist?  Some sort of neurology expert?  Do you know the extent of my brain chemistry? Do you even understand what you’re saying?  Thought so.

I’ve actually had the term “white girl problems” thrown in my face over my mental health issues. No, I am not “depressed” because Starbucks made my latte wrong or my hair isn’t as long as I want it to be. Nice attempt at a joke, though. And even if I were upset over something so trivial, I am educated and tactful enough to use a different way to describe my feelings than desensitizing a disease, even if I didn’t happen to suffer from this one in particular.

Why does there have to be a solidified reason? I’ve spent hours, days, months, YEARS analyzing why I was so unhappy, so unsatisfied with everything related to my life, despite the fact from the outside looking in, it was one which many would enjoy. I’ve felt so incredibly selfish over this, it took me months to even come to terms with it after my diagnosis, after my ignorance was depleted. The revelation I eventually came to is comforting(with the help of my therapists).  Depression doesn’t discriminate- it doesn’t care where you’re from, or what you look like, or who you are.  Simply put, it’s like cancer…it doesn’t care.  There are some habits or conditions which can contribute to getting cancer or a mental health illness, but a lot of the time…it just happens.  It’s biological.  It was supposed to happen…for whichever reason we may discover, or we may not.  

There is nothing I could have done to avoid it.  This notion was drilled into my head after my diagnosis…I was dealt some pretty shitty brain chemistry, thanks to genetics and well…God’s will, I guess.  Or maybe not, I don’t know…but I’m done trying to figure it out.  It is what it is.  I am who I am.  It does not define me in any way, and even if it does, I’m not ashamed.  No longer will I hide it from anybody who wonders WHY somebody like me was/is depressed.

So when people continue to ask me WHY, I will continue to counter with statements which defy the logic it’s a choice.  If that means I have to compare it to diseases which society does view as important or real or issues which need attention, then I will.  I will continue to prove wrong those who decide to belittle my condition in order to make themselves feel about their lives(actually, I have no idea WHY people decide to do this, I can only assume they’re bored but if anyone has any ideas, please feel free to share).  I will continue to educate to the best of my ability, even though I am learning about myself every day, and of course, no two people are exactly alike.  I will continue to fight to #EndTheStigma, so generations after me will be given the treatment and respect they deserve as a whole when seeking help for mental health issues, no matter where they’re from, what they look like, or who they are- no matter what.

“Things You Want To Say To An Ex” #30DayBlogChallenge

Time is a concept created by humans; a way to classify the Universe’s changes over measurable periods. We count down the minutes until 5 PM Friday and spend our Sunday nights dreading the inevitable Monday morning commute. Winter isn’t favorable(at least not in this arctic tundra), and there are some moments we truly wish could last forever. But of course, life moves forward, whether we want it to or not, and we continue the circular motion of lesson learning and experiences. Funny, isn’t it? That we, as humans, actually THINK we control the essence of time, since people long before us came up with the formula for measurement. I’ll be frank when I say, timing has never been on our side. Chemistry is powerful, and even intent to do someone well has the uttermost amount of promise, but without the right timing…there’s nothing. Time may have been a concept created by humans, but the Universe still is the top notch bitch in deciding what comes into play, or what does not. It doesn’t matter if it’s Tuesday morning or Halloween or your birthday…if something isn’t meant to happen, it will not.

Speaking of concepts created by humans, you were never my boyfriend. Boyfriend is a label, one used to discreetly tell the world “HE IS MINE. WE ARE COMMITTED. WE ARE TOGETHER. I AM WORTHY OF THE TITLE OF HIS GIRLFRIEND.” Not like I have to state this, because you’re fully aware of this blatant fact…but let’s just lay it out on the line since it’s a topic which seems to be brought up every 3 months or so. You weren’t my boyfriend the first time around…or the second…or the third. And the fact there’s actually a “third” I have to hold myself accountable for makes me so angry, I resent myself for writing this blog post right now since my day was actually pretty wonderful. I mean, it’s really nobody’s fault we’ve never been able to pull it together. Let’s just blame it on the Universe and call it a day, since we could both play the blame game for hours on hours on hours. Let’s divulge, shall we?

When I met you for the first time, I was smitten…but I also had no fucking idea what I was doing. Freshly 21, out of a toxic on again/off again relationship, and an elevated obsession with getting drunk at any cost, there wasn’t a less perfect time for you to stumble upon my path. But you did. And of course, it fizzled out nearly as quickly as it had begun. I take full responsibility for the demise, however, you have this tendency to run away from anything when it gets hard. You go through life avoiding people, when things may prove to be even a little bit difficult…of course, this is something I learned about you much later in life. Round two and certainly round three. I was infatuated with the person you were before I even really knew you, which is hysterical to me, that I put you on some pedestal when in reality, you didn’t really turn out to be half the man I envisioned you to be. I hated myself in the morning after I looked down at my phone and realized I’d embarrassingly texted you novel upon novel. Sometimes you’d reply, other times you would not…but either way, in the back of my mind, I knew this wasn’t the last I would see of you. And yet, you moved on and so did I…

Fast forward several years and random casual hook-ups later complete with broken promises of a call the next day, I was surprised to see you had any desire to hang out with me again when I saw your name on my phone.   Sober.   But I knew I had to prove something to you, or even more so myself; I was much different than the drunken hot mess you had only known for the past few years.  This was months after my treatments and therapy to escape my demons, ones I later shared with you at 3 AM as you assured me I was the most genuine person you knew…that I was enough.  And I was…and we were happy, although both agreeing to stay label-less for reasons we both know to be sensible excuses…at least, at the time.  Of course, it didn’t stay picture perfect for long…as so many gray situations do.  I’ll never forget the way it felt when you betrayed me, in front of my face.  But what mutilated my heart and self esteem the most was the night before.  The night before you had held me in your arms and kissed my forehead softly as I drifted off to sleep, a gesture I took as security…one which signified “with you and with you alone, I am content in this moment.”  But within 24 hours, you had changed your mind.  I was humiliated, left alone in silence…other than the drunken obnoxious giggles of the girl.  The girl.  The girl who was not me.

Did you cheat on me?  Nope.  Because we weren’t “together”, right?  But physically, we were together because I was fucking there.  I was so aware of what was going on.  I have never in my entire life been disrespected like that.  I have never felt so much pain in one single burst of emotion.  Completely blindsided and completely heartbroken.  I cried the entire way home, the kind of sobs where your entire body heaves over and over and over again.  Enough?  I wasn’t enough for you.  According to you, I wasn’t even worth a real apology.  It was done.  It was over.  You ruined it.  I will never trust you because of this.  I still think about what happened and it takes everything in me not to blow up your phone, spewing words of pure hatred.  It wasn’t the same after this incident.  All we did was fight.  I told you to never talk to me again, to leave me alone forever.

And of course you didn’t.  Not after the first or second or third attempt to reach out to me.  Even called it a “date.”  And so you moved on…and so did I.  But you came back.  Because you always do…and of course, I eventually relented.  I didn’t plan to that night, but I did.  It was the alcohol.  It truly was the booze.  And for a split second, I was willing to forgive you because God damn it, it felt right.  It’s like…we make sense.  We do.  But you can never pull your shit together when I want you to, and I can never figure out what I want from you.  Because to be honest, I don’t know what I want from you.  You are immature and a pain in the ass, and you have this obnoxious way of needing my attention 24/7…but when I give it to you, you’re uninterested.  This isn’t college, anymore.  I’m done with the games and the chase.  Figure it the fuck out.  Because I can’t do this to myself anymore.  I told you we had to be done.  I let you go because it’s emotionally draining on me, to constantly have my mind drift back to the past and how much you’ve hurt me, to CONSTANTLY question your intentions and whether you would be faithful.

You weren’t my boyfriend.  Timing has made sure of that.  You have made sure of that.

Day One! #30DayBlogChallenge

creative juices

 

 

My first blog challenge post!  Five ways to (theoretically) win my heart.  I only use that phrase in respectable parantheses because if I’m being TRULY honest here, based on my track record, I have questionable attractions to certain behaviors, really.  Like ignore me for days and play serious mind games and flirt with every girl you see in front of me…you get the picture.  Luckily for me (and this heart of mine), I’ve moved on from that horrendous phase of my life, and I’m starting to really take into consideration what I NEED to be happy in a potential relationship.  So alas, my compilation of 5 Ways To Win My Heart…loosely based on a true story.  :)  This is a blog challenge, so I’m not really focused on grammar or making anything really flow.  This is mostly for myself and to get my writing back on track!  Enjoy!

1. Give Me A Run For My Money In Trivial Pursuit. 

Okay, so basically…I am really attracted to people who just KNOW things. I like being humored by a variety of topics and conversations, so naturally, I like when somebody has a knack for learning. For example, it’s important for me to be with someone who is passionate about something, but it’s super attractive when we can talk about like…ANYTHING.  I don’t care if you spend your free time reading encyclopedias or BuzzFeed…if you’re well aquainted with current events, history, and just random pointless information, then I am smitten.

2.  Simply put…WIT.

If you can counter my comebacks, then I am forever yours.  I like people who can think quickly on their feet.  Smooth talkers.  Now, this often gets me into trouble when selecting the guys I tend to let into my life…they always tend to be very suave.  However, it’s a characteristic I find really attractive.  Wit is a sign of intelligence, and I like knowing I can be challenged by words.  Such a turn-on.

3.  Compassion for all- even for people not like yourself.  

Obviously everyone wants to be with someone who is nice to them.  But it’s very important for me to be with someone who is just compassion and humble in genera-to all people, despite their lifestyle choices or race or sexual orientation or hair color or…you get the picture.  I want to be able to take you places without worrying about your language(aka, I do not date nor will ever date sexist, racist, homophobic guys.  It’s the 21st century.  Your ego is not welcome here).  A guy who is extra kind to the server(even if she’s really hot, I’ll get over it). Just an overall sense of humility, compassion, and general acknowledgment and appreciation of humankind.  It is a huge part of who I am.  If I know deep down your soul is mature and emotionally pure, then my heart is yours.

4.  Communication Makes The World Go Round

Now, this is a little different than you may expect.  Of course, I am attracted to guys who are able to express themselves openly.  Nobody likes a constant guessing game on how someone is feeling based on their misconstrued actions.  In fact, I despise it.  But this really goes both ways, since I am no communication angel either.  I’ve been pegged as an “ice princess”, which isn’t necessarily true…I’m just not really an open book, especially when I start seeing someone.  You need to take my words for what they are…pure.  I need my alone time, it is how I thrive as a functional human being.  It has nothing to do with you.  I’m not mad at you.  I just need some time alone.  Guys who can appreciate this without getting all stage 5 on me are ones I would like to get to know better.  I am a writer.  I would lock myself in my room for 24 hours if it meant completing a project.

5.  Security

We don’t need to text 24/7.  I know you have girls who are friends…that’s cool with me.  Oh, she liked your profile picture?  Nice.  And if you see a guy’s name in my text message threads, I’m fully expecting you not to freak out, because guess what?  I like YOU…and if I wasn’t interested in you, I wouldn’t be with you.  This kind of dynamic is what being secure in a relationship is all about.  It’s important for me to create vibes with someone whom I can feel secure with- someone I don’t feel like I NEED to constantly check up on or God forbid…get super creepy and try and figure out his passcode on his phone.  That just sounds miserable.  I’ve divulged myself into insecure relationships before with the hoping that the more I forced it, the more it would work out in my favor.  If you don’t trust someone fully, it’s not going to work out.  No matter how much you want it to.  Establishing trust and security from the beginning is important to me.  So important.  Guys who can understand this logic are the ones for me. 

#EndTheStigma; Saving My Own Life

 Simply put, my first #EndTheStigma guest blog post below brought me to tears.  I not only admire the writer’s ability to paint such a vivid picture of her story, but of course, her sincere strength.  You can follow her on Twitter here.  If you want to submit your own #EndTheStigma story, please see my “About Me” for contact information.

If you throw someone a life preserver, and they turn around and swim away from it, what can you do but let them drown themselves?”

To that, my answer has always been: anything. Do anything.

 

I was not supposed to die on September 24, 2010. But that was what I meant to do when I stared down at the handful of tiny white pills before me, like so many soulless eyes,

taunting me

you’ve no real problems

you’re so selfish

you’re not good enough

ugly

fat

stupid

you have no excuse for being this way

and swallowed them all without a second thought.

 

The second thoughts came later, locked in my bedroom. That was when, consumed by the shame of what I had done, I called the person I would later call my best friend and imagine building a future with: a boy I hardly knew at the time.

 

Despite how far I have come since then, I will always carry with me the guilt of what I put him through. He didn’t know where I live, or the phone number of anyone who could reach me. He was helpless. All he could do was try to keep me talking to him as my words began to slur together, and plead with me to find someone who could help me, which I refused to do.

 

This is the series of events that I have pieced together in place of the memories stolen from me by the medication I took. Eventually, I hung up the phone; irrationally, I hadn’t expected him to be so upset. When I refused to answer his insistent subsequent phone calls, he began sending me text messages instead. I responded, even as my fingers grew too clumsy to spell correctly and my mind too foggy to form proper sentences.

 

I have only one vague recollection of those moments. He had asked me, one final time, to find help for myself. Selfish and afraid, I told him I didn’t want to. His response: “I want you to, Olivia. Please.”

Still, I couldn’t bring myself to do it, and it was completely by chance that I sent a message meant for him to my older sister instead. Later, she showed me the message, which read: “iTs not likee the world [will] be any differennt, just one less problematic person.” She knew something wasn’t right; my depression was no secret in my family, but I had been in therapy and taking medication for months. Everyone, including me, assumed I was better. She found me, and my family took me to the emergency room.

 

I have no memory of what happened there, and I never asked.

These things I have been told but absolutely cannot remember: that my family kept me away from my older cousin, who stayed with us for a night while he was in town for a race, so he wouldn’t know (he still doesn’t); that I could barely feed myself; that I grew irrationally angry when my mother insisted on sleeping in my room with me.

 

These are the things I do remember:

Being asked the current date,

and slurring out the correct date of the wrong year, oh God, how embarrassing

bits and pieces from the day after, at home

“Mom, I’m so sorry.” “I have already forgiven you.” “I’m so sorry.”

sticky plastic circles on my chest, left painful red raw circles

so many bruises, what the hell happened to me

I still have the hospital bracelet

in a box, in my closet.

“[My father's name], I can’t take care of her anymore.”

the noise my mother made when, at the second hospital, I answered the question Were you trying to do yourself harm? with a yes.

Being taken upstairs in a wheelchair with police officers on either side of me. My clothes being taken from me; whose clothes I was given in replacement, I still don’t know.

 

I attempted suicide on a Friday afternoon; I blacked out for two whole days. My first real recollections are from the first night I spent in a psychiatric ward.

 

I remember it was so cold. There was only one blanket on the hard bed, and it was so cold. And my door was locked. And I couldn’t work out precisely why I was there despite knowing exactly what I had done, and I was coming down from being high out of my skull. My arms were covered in bruises, and I was alone. I spent the first night stumbling in circles around the tiny hospital room, shivering and sobbing with my arms locked tightly around myself, until they finally came in and gave me something to make me sleep.

 

I spent a week in the hospital. I met so many people there, kids really, from all walks of life. We chewed a lot of ice, played a lot of cards. I became an excellent poker player during that week. We all came from completely different worlds but connected on so many levels.

 

A boy named Andy who walked in circles with his hands clamped over his ears, fighting against demons that no one else could hear.

 

A fourteen-year-old girl who disagreed with her diagnosis of sociopath, stating: “I have a heart; she’s just at home in her crib.”

 

A soft-spoken boy named Robert who seemed completely normal.

 

A boy named Graham who took nothing seriously and once had tried to escape the ward. The first time I saw him, he was lying on his side on a mat in a tiny room. The door was open, but he was handcuffed. After the only family group therapy session I attended, he told me he’d like to fuck my sister.

 

Another fourteen-year-old girl named Riley who attended regular school outside of the ward. She was terrified of Graham, since it was common knowledge in the ward that he wanted to fuck her, too. I ran into her once outside, but after a split second of terrified eye contact, we both silently agreed that we had to be mistaken, oh, no, I’m sorry, you just look like someone I knew once.

 

I haven’t spoken to any of them since I got out; we weren’t allowed to share identifying information. I hope they’re all okay.

 

It was in the hospital that I took the first steps towards coming to terms with what I did. More importantly, I began to understand that depression was not me, but something about me. I was not selfish and stupid and ungrateful because I wanted to die. I was sick. A very sick, sad, scared seventeen-year-old girl.

 

The boy I used to credit with saving my life stayed in touch with me for the entire week, unbeknownst to me as I wasn’t allowed access to my cell phone. Every day he sent me text messages and left me voicemails, encouraging me and telling me his thoughts were with me. Later, when I read them, I cried.

 

I say “used to credit” because I have since come to realize that only I had the power to pull myself out of the hole of self-loathing I had been living in, though God knows he helped.

 

He wasn’t allowed to visit me, but in the same box in my closet as both hospital bracelets is a journal in which I wrote him a letter he never read, with a “safe” felt-tip pen that I could not harm myself with. I attempted to explain how sorry I was for what I did. I’ll never stop being sorry, but somehow he forgave me.

 

But more importantly, he taught me a powerful lesson that I will carry with me for the rest of my life: that no person should ever give up on another. He never hadto pick up the phone. He wasn’t obligated to stay on the line. He was never required to forgive me. And God knows he didn’t need to accept me back into his life, after everything.

 

Years later, still in therapy but finally medication-free, I look back on his act of kindness and realize that it was him throwing me that life preserver that got me back on my feet after that first hard fall, and back on the long path to saving myself.

 

Nearly a year later, I was asked to write an essay called This I Believe for my AP English class. With the anniversary of That Day approaching, I could think of little else and when I put my fingers to the keys of my computer, my story flowed out in words and tears and incredible raw honesty. When my essay was selected by my group to be read for the class, I stood with it clenched in nerveless fingers and in a halting, tiny voice I opened myself to my classmates in a way I never had before. By the time I was finished reading, my eyes were not the only ones in that room brimming with tears.

 

Afterward, I was shocked at how many of my peers reached out to me and admitted to their own struggle. I was overwhelmed and humbled by the experience. Part of me was afraid– I didn’t know how to help these people; I often barely knew how to help myself. But then I remembered that voice in the darkness, and realized that that was what I had to try be for them, if I could. I couldn’t save people; I could only be there to listen, and to remind them that they are capable of saving themselves.

 

I was lucky. I was thrown that life preserver. He did not give up on me, and it is because of that simple fact that I will never again give up on myself.

Part One; Confirming The Crazy

“You’ve gotta work with me here.  Are you going to hurt yourself or anybody else if you leave today?” She(who held the position of nurse, but I will refer to as the appropriate socially constructed gender pronoun or “the girl”, because she, in no wa,y was a nurse figure to me in the slightest) stared at me through her oval framed glasses, her brown eyes full of annoyance.  We’d been sitting in an ER room for over an hour as she drilled the same questions at me over and over again.  I answered them all honestly, but this one…this one question had sent me into a full fledged breakdown a few hours earlier at the clinic.  How was I possibly supposed to answer this…when I had tried, it left me collapsed on the floor in a state of hysteria?  She was briefed on my situation, but it hardly phased her.  She repeated her intake inquiries.

“Are you on drugs?”  No.

“Have you been drinking?” No.  I wish.

“Are you going to hurt yourself or anybody else if you leave today?”

I looked down toward the floor, catching a glimpse of the cream-colored scrubs the first nurse had given me when I was admitted.  The first RN who had led me back to the exam room was kind, but even so, wary of my condition.  They(the nurses and ER doctor) had all assumed I was on drugs when I came in, I’m sure.  My body heaved with sobs the entire walk into the hospital, with both parents grief-stricken at my sides.  They were unaware of my mental state until the nurse practitioner at the clinic had called my dad at work, giving him the news I would be admitted to the ER for psychiatric evaluation as soon as the phone calls were returned.  He had picked up my mom on the way, despite my resistance to her coming along, as I knew her emotional state would leave me even more humiliated as I already felt.  I had let them down; I had tried for much too long to be the perfect daughter with no real success or accomplishment to prove that in YEARS.  I was a failure.   I was better off dead.  Heaven or Hell, it didn’t matter at this point…as long as I didn’t have to endure another day living my life as an ungrateful, unsatisfied girl who hated her entire existence for no reason.  I didn’t deserve any of it.  People will KILL to have my life, and all I wanted was somebody to do just that…kill me.

The girl repeated her question again, giving me a loud sigh.  I raised my eyes to meet hers once more, and if she felt any sympathy toward me, she decided it was better to keep it inside.  “Is it okay if I get your parents?” She asked me.  I nodded.  At this point, it felt more like an interrogation than a psychiatric intake.  I just wanted to rewind the last 6 hours of my life.  I would’ve walked in the clinic, confidently answered “no” to that stupid suicide question, picked up my prescription, and went on my way.  Went on with my life.  And done what I had to do; live with no passion or satisfaction, but plaster on the smile that convinced the world I was happy.

I heard the girl laughing with the security guard a few moments later, as she recounted a story about her dog pooping all over her house while her husband and her were at a wedding the previous Saturday.  I heard him mutter something under his breath, and they both chuckled, continuing in light conversation like old friends as I listened from the examining table, shaking with anxiety.  I was not priority.  I was not important.  SEE, your problems aren’t real?  They’re all laughing at you.  The demons had followed me into the room.  I closed my eyes and counted to 150.  Sometimes it made the bad thoughts go away.  But I couldn’t shake the girl’s high pitched laugh and the security guard’s mumbled commentary.

Ten minutes later, after the story had seemingly ended, the nurse led my parents back into the room.  My mom refused to look at me, her tear-stained cheeks smudged with mascara, quiet gasps of air escaping her lips; the aftermath of crying so hard you hyperventilate.  My dad was on edge, running his hands through his rustic gray hair, crouching in the seat of the chair facing me, looking expectantly at me for something…but for what, I will never know.  Maybe an answer.  An answer I didn’t have at the time.  An answer I still don’t really have, except for some shitty brain chemistry and a stigma that silenced me for over 5 years.  They looked exhausted.  I was exhausted.  The girl was exhausted too.  She made that clear, as she began her tangent about how the in-patient unit is for people who are in danger of hurting themselves or other people.  Was I going to hurt myself?  The question of the day.

“She’s not cooperating with me, and you know her better than I do.  We can send her home with you, but I’m not able to gather if she’s telling me the truth or not. ” The girl said to my parents, gesturing toward the chart she held in her hand.

Point blank.  Did they really know me THAT much better than her?  I’d been keeping the entirety of my life…the impulsive spending, the binge drinking, the way I cried myself to sleep every night until one day, the tears just stopped coming…a complete secret.  Did they REALLY know me any better than a stranger, a Registered Nurse who was supposed to be licensed in helping people like…me?

My dad stood up.  “Maybe it’s best if she stays here for the night until she can have a REAL specialist evaluate her then.” Zing.  You go, Dad.  I look back and realize at the time my sweet father, he was standing up for me, when I was convinced he was throwing me to the wolves because he didn’t want to deal with this entire situation.  He was going to keep me there forever.  But in reality, he knew this woman was unkind and unequipped to help me, but it felt like the biggest betrayal.  I started to cry as my parents said their goodbyes.  “We love you more than anything, B.  We are going to do anything we can to make you better.” He said to me, as he walked out.  My mom still couldn’t look at me, but she whispered a meek “I love you”, and clasped my hand into hers before following my dad out of the door.

The next hour or so are very blurry for me to recount.  Internally I was in a state of complete hysteria, although outwardly, I kept my composure relatively calm…aka, I didn’t speak.  My purse, cell phone, and the clothes I wore in were all secured into a bag and sent with me on my wheelchair ride up to the psychiatric unit I’d be staying in.  The security guard pushed me as I slumped back into the chair, closing my eyes and listening to the rhythm of the wheels against the floor.  The girl passed us, plastic baggy of pretzels in hand.  “Good luck” she said, breezing past me, into the adjacent elevator, with nothing as much as a comforting smile.  Hell, I would’ve even settled for a head nod.

Even as I sat in that wheelchair, I had no idea what led me here or why.   This was the moment where anything I had worked for in the past didn’t matter…I was now seen as a crazy person.  Was I crazier because I didn’t even know why I was crazy?  Was I even more fucked up for not having a reason for being so fucked up?  Was I even fucked up…or was I just dramatic with petty problems that allotted me to overreact in times of pressure?  I spent days in bed…but maybe I really WAS just lazy.  I had no name for the demons other than ones I(as well as friends and family) had used in the past to describe my behaviors: moody, lazy, hormonal, aggravated, pessimistic, crazy.  Crazy.    All I knew is that being dead would have sure surpassed this feeling of complete hopelessness.   At the time, I was convinced this was the end.  And I was right.  It WAS the end.  The end of the silenced fight I led against a stigmatized disease which held my mind captive for more years than I can count on one hand.  The end of the self-medicated abuse I would wage against my body in an attempt to mask the hurt I felt internally, making sure everyone I knew held no serious suspicion to my self-loathing.  It was the end of knowing something was wrong, but without knowledge and connection to any healthy and available resources.  It was the end of my ignorance.  It was the end of my consistent heartbreak.  It was the end of letting my demons win.  And although I couldn’t see it at the time, the end was the beginning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Clusterfuck Of Thoughts On Moving On From Mindfuckery

I’ve been conditioned to play games and beat around the bush when it comes to my feelings since I first sat down with my sister and watched “10 Things I Hate About You.”  The girl who plays coy, so in this case, Kat(and if you’ve never seen the movie…DO SO NOW), the one who doesn’t show immediate interest in her male suitors, the one who provides the challenge…SHE is the one who gets the guy in the end.  Or so I thought.  After a multitude of situations where I shied away from any serious potential with guys over the course of my life, even when they have been straight up and forward with their intentions with me(which again, I can conclude I have always suspected weren’t pure but hey…that’s guys for ya) have left me just as alone when I throw myself out there.  Where can I find a happy medium to let my guard down but also not feel 100 percent vulnerable?  That’s what I’m trying to figure out here.

I am not someone who particularly ENJOYS meeting new guys if not in a group setting.  There is something terrifyingly awkward to me about knowing someone is interested in me, because just as much as I like to play mind games, the guys I tend to be attracted to also do.  It freaks me out when guys WANT to take me out on a date or text me…and then double text me when I don’t reply because I’m still in shock he actually responded in the first place.  I’m not used to compliments or sincere gestures with no ulterior motives.  I’m wary of all men, and I never give myself TRUE reason to believe they aren’t in it for…well, you know.  This isn’t a sob story or a chance for me to divulge into my past where I bitch about my former relationships and how I was mistreated.  Because no matter what kinds of bullshit I’ve been through with dudes, I know I’m the only one who has the power to push through my trust issues and emerge stronger, hopefully with someone I believe is for my highest good.  The amount of “things” I’ve had far surpass any official boyfriends.  As a matter of fact, I’ve only truly had a “real” relationship with one person, and even then, I was young, stupid, and didn’t even know what I was doing.  I wish I could say within the last 4 years that has changed, but to be honest…I’m still relatively young, a bit more academically educated, but I sure as hell don’t know what I’m doing.

I’m reaching the age where people ARE more blunt about their feelings, even in this hook-up culture we live in.  When I talk to a new guy, I just immediately assume he only wants to hook-up.  That notion is still ingrained in my mind from my college days.  And although it isn’t fair to the guy, it’s like because of who I am, I almost PREFER that vs. him interested in wining and dining me.  I mean, in no way, and it’s not like I NEED to share this with the world because it’s noneya biz, but just so we’re clear…my number isn’t particularly high or anything.  I’m not actively seeking a FWB or a fuck buddy.  Been there, done that, caught feelings…was the worst.  So no.  If he’s only texting me after bar close or seems to disappear out of my life for weeks at time, I usually chuck up the deuces and bounce out with the cold shoulder.

If I can’t get a good read on someone, it makes me so much more interested in playing the game.  Witty, sarcastic, and mysterious guys…that’s my real aphrodisiac.  Entice my mind and make me wonder what you’re doing and just WHY you haven’t texted me back instead of at my beck and call.  I don’t want to be this way.  Sincerely, I don’t.  Not only because my friends are SO annoying about how I handle all of these situations “wrong”(and yes, if you’re reading this…you are fucking annoying and YOU KNOW IT), but because I think I’m ready to actually date someone.  I have the capability to put myself out there and truly dive head first into something new BUT my mind bounces back and forth between being too scared to open up or to continue living my life vying for the title of game-maker in the love battlefield.  But for the mots part, I think I’m ready for this. I think.  I don’t know.  Maybe not.  UGH. YOU SEE MY PROBLEM HERE?!

I’ve been emotionally independent for the majority of my life.  It’s not like I was born this way…but yeah, for the most part, I would classify my demeanor as heartless when it comes to guys.  Do I get upset when a guy fucks me over?  YUP.  But those times are far and few in-between because I am picky as all hell.  I know myself well, and I don’t just jump on to any D.  Any time I’ve ever truly given my heart away, it’s been stomped on.  AGAIN…I am not looking for sympathy or pity because guess what?  Everyone has been there, and I know this!  This isn’t a sad story at all, in fact I can laugh at most of the my relationship flaws in the past because they’ve made me who I am…it’s actually something I can turn into positivity, because I have been doing 100 percent kick-ass by myself.  Do I dwell on the past once in awhile?  YUP.  But I stop myself from turning back the pages instead of moving on to the next chapter.  It’s just taken me awhile to like…I’m gonna text this boy back right away, and I’m going to be honest with myself form the beginning, even if that means getting hurt early on.

Just wish me luck on this transformation from mindfuckery master to something…”normal.”  I will need it.  But I know I’ll thank myself later.