I decided to get help on a Thursday. It was a couple of days before my 22nd birthday. I’d been having trouble getting out of bed for a couple of weeks up until then. I was always late, and I didn’t care or want to do anything.
But that Thursday, I couldn’t get out of bed. It wasn’t that I was playing on Facebook or Instagram and didn’t feel like starting my day – I physically could not move my body.
I missed work. I may have texted my boss but I don’t remember. I stayed in bed for a couple of hours before my mother called me.
My mom and Tess are the only people I consider answering the phone for when I get in these states. Every one else – no matter who they are – get ignored. I still love them though.
I put off getting help since high school. The stigma was too much for me to handle. The medication would affect the way I live. Anxiety, suicidal thoughts, mood swings – you name it, I feel it.
“But I’m fine. Right?”
I’ve asked myself this question too many times. I always thought I needed to be able to handle whatever life gave me.
“I just need to get a hold on my emotions. Others around the world go through much more, so I need to be okay. If I’m not like the patients in McLean Hospital, then am I really in a position to ask for help?”
Those are the things I’d tell myself. On top of feeling worthless and hopeless, I felt like a spoiled, ungrateful person who could not appreciate life. To me, feeling that way made my suicidal and depressed thoughts worse.
Since that Thursday I’ve been through two medications, now I’m on my third. I’m seeing a psychiatrist, and I’m on my second therapist.
Not only do I feel better, but I also feel free. Free of my painful thoughts. Free of a constant groggy feeling. Free of hating myself and not understanding why my relationships don’t work. I notice more things. I care about my existence.
My moods still switch rapidly, but I don’t have to apologize for things as much as I let people know I’ll talk to them when I feel better. Even though I can’t control it, I’m aware that something’s happening. My friendships and relationships are improving.
Like I said, I’ve been going back and forth about seeing a therapist and psychiatrist for years. In high school, I just ignored how I felt. In college, my busy lifestyle made it easier to avoid help.
After taking the first step to let someone help me (my primary physician), I decided to help myself. I made changes in my life.
- I quit one of my jobs.
- I went to a therapist.
- I scheduled a psychiatrist appointment.
Now, I won’t pretend like hitting my rock bottom (and the push of my mother) weren’t major factors in my decision to act. But there are a few other factors that helped.
- The suicide of Robin Williams
- The suicide of Titi Branch
- Beyond the Lights (2014)
- Silver from 90210 (2009-10), She was bipolar
- Blog post from my college classmate
I’m not Noni from Beyond the Lights – she’s a singer/song writer. But relating to her removed some of the negative feelings I had about not “being okay.” I’ve seen the movie three times. Maybe for the black love story and maybe because I related to Noni, who attempted suicide in the beginning of the film.
All these instances sparked conversation and discussion, which helped me realize that “Hey, maybe I’m not alone. Maybe it is okay that I don’t have it all together. Getting help can help is an option.”
In the past three months, I’ve scheduled so many doctors appointments I can’t keep track of how many.
I’m currently diagnosed with a “mood disorder.” I’m not sure what that means specifically, but I will learn more as I continue sessions.
I write more now. I write to get the weight off my chest and to track my thoughts in the middle of the night. I write to channel my negative thoughts and use it to my advantage to create something meaningful. I write to help someone feel the way that Noni helped me feel – and to let any one who reads my words know that it’s okay to seek help. I want you to be free, too.
If you’re thinking about harming yourself call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1.800.273.TALK (8255).
Visit mentalhealth.gov for tips for “Young People Looking for Help.”
My Journey: Why I Got Help