One thing I always remember from my darker days is the effort it took to move. I remember waking up at 6:00 am, trying to go back to sleep because I didn’t have class for another two hours and I just couldn’t. I would lay in bed, staring at nothing, thinking about nothing. Every 10 minutes, I would tell myself to get up and take a shower but I couldn’t. I couldn’t move.
When I started to tell people I was not doing well they would tell me to stay positive. They would tell me “You’re fine.” as if they knew how I was doing better than myself. At my lowest point, I contacted at least five to eight people to tell them I was struggling. I felt like I was screaming so loud, and no one could hear me. Of course, I don’t blame them for not knowing how to respond. Our society tells us, that having a mental illness is shameful. People also get so uncomfortable with others struggling with mental illness, because of the stigma surrounding it. They think, we’ll put all our issues on them and that we’ll be over baring, when all we want is the acknowledgment that they can see us in pain. All we want is support.
See, I was always anxious. I was always struggling with my self esteem and I was always hard on myself. Before I was 15, my anxiety and depression was tolerable. I could live my life and the only physiological issues I had, was the inability to sleep. I took melatonin pills for my sleeping issues and everything was okay. That was until I moved cities for my first year of high school.
The first few months were hard because I had a really hard time making friends. I felt horrible and at some point I lost the will to live. The days were long, and I was unable to maintain meaningful friendships. I was trying to be like everyone else and I was eating to feel some sort of happiness (there is no problem with this, I am just saying my appetite increased which is a symptom of depression.) I always knew there was something wrong, but since I had a nice smile and a good sense of humour, no one wanted to believe that I was feeling so low.
After high school, I went traveling abroad for a year. I thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to “find myself” and to “stop being so negative”. The night before I left, I had a one of my “episodes”. I was hysterical. I was laughing and crying on and off. I couldn’t breath. I realized that I was going to be all alone for nine months. My parents were so confused because they thought I wanted to travel and I did. I was just not ready at all and I was so scared of being alone.
I still left. I was traveling for nine months. While this experience did help me grow, my depression went to an all time low. I had started smoking to relax. I stopped eating. I was going to the gym every day. I was being self destructive and unintentionally ruining relationships. I knew I wasn’t okay. My friends were worried about me, but I kept going. I kept pushing because for so long people had told me that I was fine, even though I wasn’t.
I remember at some point, I had been seeing this guy. He was really kind and funny. At some point I just decided it was over, and I told him that even though something in my chest was questioning my decision to end it. My heart was screaming at me to turn back now and make things better. But I didn’t. My head was screaming get out now, you don’t need him, you don’t need any one. My mind was telling me that I would be better off alone, because no one could hurt me that way. I listened to my head, and from then on everything went down hill.
I’d like to point out that I didn’t get worse because of the break up. I got worse because of the overwhelming regret and loneliness. I kept questioning my decisions. There were weeks were I didn’t move from my bed, unless it was to work out or to eat. I didn’t talk to people. When I would go out with my friends, I would go one drinking binges. I would get so drunk that I couldn’t feel any regret any more. I would drink so I didn’t have to think about the loneliness and the hurt I was causing to myself.
When I got home from my travels, I was not doing well at all. I thought everyone hated me, and that no one wanted to talk to me. I thought that my friends were annoyed with me all of the time. I thought that they all hated me and that it would be better off if I wasn’t here. I never told anyone this of course. So this isolated me even more, and made the depression worse than it had ever been.
University started the fall of 2018. I walked onto campus thinking that, this year would be better than the last. I thought that I would start trying really hard in school and that I could get to medical school and become a doctor. I hardly passed my first midterm. I studied but never retained any information. I would go to every class, not understand anything and move on with my day. I would put 50% effort into my studies and my friendships. I would go to the gym every day. My mood was going down again, and I started feeling lonely and shameful of my feelings.
Then my friend killed himself.
The death of my friend, awoke something in me. People were so sad, and would place blame on the kids in our small community at home. No one was looking at the real sickness that took our friend from us, which was mental illness. The minute I heard he died, something in me understood why he did this. In the pit of my stomach I envied him, and I wished I was brave enough to do the same.
I know how messed up that must sound. I can’t help how I felt back then. Suicidal thoughts were not new to me, but when I heard he had died, I actually started to plan. The suicidal thoughts were not fleeting any more. I would stay up in bed, tossing and turning, thinking about it.
Then one day, I went on a food binge. My stomach hurt so much and I felt so disgusted with myself that I took scissors from my drawer and cut myself. I then put on a long sleeve and went to the gym. This routine continued for quite some time, until finally I went to see a councillor. For the first time in my 3 years of seeing a therapist, I cried in her office. I cried and cried and talked and talked. I hadn’t told any anyone about my self harming, and I hadn’t told any one about my suicidal thoughts. But I told her and my sister and they saved my life.
I can’t say that after my lowest point, that every thing magically got better, because it didn’t. I am still struggling to this day. I am still plagued by horrible thoughts. The main difference is that, at least now I notice them and sometimes I can distract myself enough that they will go away. I am also medicated, and am actively working on bettering myself. But no one is perfect and my mental health journey is no where near over. There will be days when I can’t move, and my motivation is low. At least now there are also days when I can push those thoughts aside and tell myself, you know what I do deserve to live, and to live an enjoyable life. I can silence the thoughts that tell me that no one wants me here on this earth.
Today my loud mind tells me: that I am dumb, ugly and annoying.
What to I have to say to that?
I am smart, beautiful and fun to be around.
How will you challenge your loud mind today?