I’m curled up in a ball, buried in the couch. I’m angry at the world and I’m weeping. I am wishing I would get diagnosed with a terminal disease that would quickly dismiss me from this life. My entire body is void of energy, my muscles unable to propel me anywhere. Kyle sits next to me, at a loss for words as this has happened so many dozens of times before.
A week goes by and, suddenly, I’m excited about life. I’ve got boundless energy. I’m reading and painting and baking and talking about all the lovely things in the world. I’m starting project upon project, committing to too many things. My anxiety is through the roof and I sometimes pace around the house, feeling there is something important I have to do but not knowing what that is. I’m the most extroverted employee today but have a panic attack and can’t go to work tomorrow.
Then the darkness returns. I hate the sun. I hate the town where we reside. I hate that we live in an apartment. I hate that I was raised Christian. I hate that people have children. I hate that people are happy when the world is so harsh. I tell Kyle that he doesn’t understand me and that I should’ve married someone else. I hate God on the days that I believe in him.
Every time the light comes, it’s a revelation that has created it: wow, I have so many things to be thankful for! Look at this life! My frustration came from bitterness I have towards things because of hurts I experienced. Look how I am overcoming all of this! And there is no way that anger and exhaustion could return. I can’t even remember what it felt like.
Every time the darkness comes, I forget all of that goodness. Kyle can’t speak any truth to me without getting bitten by thorns. He is exhausted, lost, and rejected. But he doesn’t leave my side. He doesn’t bow out of the commitment he made for me. He carries me, loves me, treasures me. Somehow.
This was my life two years ago.
I’d always dealt with some depression, but it was always overcome through some magical means or another – prayer, self-help books, hugs, whatever. Out of nowhere it would suddenly be “cured” and I’d forget it ever happened. But then I would have breakdowns. I would feel out of control, as if there were a parasite within me, breathing fire into my mind and my heart. This has to be a spiritual attack. Or maybe my sensitivities to everything. I’m just too weak to be successful in this crazy world.
These cycles continued, unattended and unexplainable. Until, finally, I snapped. I fell, I broke. I found a canyon where no person should ever have to fall.
Kyle was at work; I was at home, supposed to be getting ready to go to work. But I lay in bed, afraid to move: I wanted to die. I listed off all the ways I could make that happen and I was afraid. Afraid of life, afraid of pain, and afraid of myself.
I called my mom, begging her to call me in sick at work for me. I couldn’t communicate much else of what was happening.
Tick, tick. Time vanishes.
It’s night. I’m still in bed. Kyle, my mom, and my dad are around me and I’m crying. I’m terrified and I feel alone. I don’t want to be by myself. I’m dangerous to myself. I’m not myself. Who the hell am I?
Four days go by like this: emergency room. Psych center. People barely older than me staring at me, judging me, speaking to me like I’m a baby. Phone calls, pamphlets, recommendations, appointments. Money wasted. Energy spent. I’m so done with this.
Weeks pass. I sit down in front of a desk, finally confronting a doctor who knows what he’s doing. I share as much as possible, though I don’t hear what I’m saying. But then words begin piercing the white noise.
This was two years ago.
If you’ve met me within the last year or so, you wouldn’t know that girl that I was. You wouldn’t grasp that she is also me.
Another year passed, bringing me to the end of summer 2016. And because of Kyle’s inexplicable patience, undying love, selfless devotion, creative humor, and unimaginable resistance to emotional stress, we survived.
I honestly don’t know how to accurately portray the impossibleness of Kyle’s character. I also don’t know how to accurately portray the feeling of being thrown from one mountain to another valley so viciously, so loudly, so out-of-bodily. It’s something that you cannot understand or imagine if you have not experienced it. You cannot “put yourself in my shoes.” You cannot “know what it’s like.” You cannot.
But some of you have been there.
Maybe you’re there now.
And if you are, dear one, I want you to know: you are not alone. You are not worthless. You are not an immoveable famine. Life doesn’t end where you are. You may never become that perfect image you so deeply want to be. But you also can become you. Not the reflection of the monster living inside of you. You, my dear… you exist.
Let me make three things clear:
- Medication is GOOD. And more often than we would like, it is NECESSARY. I am living a more stable, happy, hopeful life than I have EVER LIVED IN MY ENTIRE LIFE. And it was something that changed when medication entered my narrative. It’s not a chain, it’s not a label. It’s a tiny little pill, one small second of my day, that ripples into every inch of my sanity.
- Counseling – when you find a counselor who clicks with you – IS NOT a waste. There are things that you friends and family do not understand; there is advice you can be given by loving hearts that is absolutely terrible. And then there are professionals who know what they are doing. They can hear your words and make the right connections. They can help you.
- IT IS GOING TO BE HARD. And even if you never fully recover to the “level” you wish, even if you feel that you’re not succeeding or changing, even if you think you’re just weak, you will not cease to matter.
If you don’t feel like there is anyone who would understand, message me. I don’t believe I lived through this just to go on and live my life like I’m the same as all the “easy going happy people” in the world. I can’t be silent, I can’t move on: I know and understand something that not everyone does, and I am here for you.
I am thankful for my life. I am thankful that after torture and lost memories, I am functional again. I started making friends again. I have energy again. I can go to a store by myself and not suffer horrendous panic attacks and fears.
If you haven’t experienced any mental health issues, you still have a role to play. 1 in 5 adults in America suffer from a mental illness. Look around you. There are more people suffering than you know. Do you know that some of the top-searched phrases and questions on Google have to do with anxiety and depression? This is because people believe they are alone. They believe nobody cares or understands or that people will stop caring about them or stop trusting them if they open up. So start listening more and talking less. Show your love for people in ways that lets them know you don’t love them because of how put together they are or how chill they are. Let them know that you love them for their soul and that things beyond their control do not dictate you love.
I still am hard on myself a lot. Why? Because I feel like I kinda lost two years of my life. I have friends who have gone on to get college degrees and travel the world and achieve so much worldly success while I was at a standstill, healing from deep and throbbing wounds. But it’s when I reach out, when I remind myself that I’m not alone, that I realize my life still matters.
Our purpose is so much greater than the money we make or how athletic our bodies are or whether or not we get married or have children or can afford to send our kids to college. I personally believe that our purpose is to love people. Unconditionally and deeply.
If you want to know more about my story, the pain I’ve dealt with, the stuff that happened behind closed doors, and the journey I’m still on, PLEASE don’t be afraid to ask me! I am very open about all of this and I think that the only way we can overcome stigma and fear is to talk about stuff. I could have written a lot more in this post. But it is my hope that in what I have written, I have reached the hidden alleyways and islands of fear where some of you live. And that you may see that though we may not understand why were are who we are, life is still worth discovering.
There is hope, my friends.
We matter. And we exist.
If you want to read another piece I wrote on this over a year ago, click here.