Full Circle

Every so often, life makes you painfully aware of how far you have come. Life chose to do this as I drove up to a new location to meet my therapist during one of the lowest weeks I’ve had with depression to date. I thought everything looked too familiar…

I’m sitting with my therapist telling her about how I’m ready for all this suffering to be over when I remembered why it looked familiar. I could see the place through the tiny window in the room – the place I first went to therapy eight years earlier. I couldn’t help to think about how far I have come, rather how far I haven’t come. I still don’t have friends, I am still suffering with my weight and self-esteem, I am still going through crippling depression. Life had come full circle and I couldn’t help but cry.

Had I known I would be sitting across the street eight years later, balling my eyes out about suicide and self harm, about my weight and lack of friendships, I would have killed myself at 15. If only I could go back in time and tell 15 year old me that I was right, it isn’t worth it to live in this world. I couldn’t help but wonder if in eight years I’ll be having the same revelation.

At the same time, I was thinking about all the experiences I have had in the last eight years. Both the good AND the bad. Life isn’t about weighing the good and the bad; it’s about enjoying the good. It’s such a damn shame that depression makes this difficult. I’ve been so focused on my mental health that I’ve let life pass me by. Eight years has gone by and I haven’t let anything change. I’m in my own way, standing between myself and my happiness. In eight more years, after I’ve done everything in the world to change my reality, I can revisit whether or not life is worth it. But for now I need to keep on trucking along.

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Venting: “There is help out there, don’t worry.”

Disclaimer: Pardon the somewhat graphic nature of this post, also I am writing this stream of consciousness style (as I do with all my venting posts), so no judgement please. Trigger warning for sure.

***** IMPORTANT: If you are just now starting to look for help, I highly recommend that you read this carefully, if you do at all. I am a bitter old woman when it comes to the mental health field because of my experience with it. There IS help, you just have to look in the right places and be patient. For me, this makes me angry considering my current situation. It saved my life when I heard it first, eight years ago. So please, get help, just know that it takes incredible patience and hope. It will be ok; it just takes time. And they don’t always tell you that when they say “things will get better.”

 

Ok, now for the angry venting you have all been waiting for:

“There is help out there, don’t worry.” This is a statement that I have heard over and over again and it pisses me off to no end. As someone who has struggled so much for so long, I don’t believe this anymore. Sure, there is help for some, but there isn’t help for all. The mental health field in general does not take anyone seriously who does not have a gun to their head.

Psychiatry

Psychiatry drives me crazy, which is ironic. It takes months to get into a psychiatrist and then another month at least to see if the medication is going to work. If it doesn’t work, it takes another month to try the next one that likely won’t work either. Something like fifty-percent of people do not respond to antidepressants at all, so it’s trial and error and trial and error, over and over and over again, until a patient finally gives up. What pisses me off the most is that it takes so long to get into a psychiatrist. As someone who needs a high level of psychiatric care, being told I won’t be able to see a psychiatrist for three months is grounds to cause a freak out that lands me in the ED or inpatient – or worse.

Therapy

As far as therapy goes, yes, it is wonderful for some. Especially wonderful in conjunction with medication that works. Many people can get through a bout of depression with therapy alone. Whether it be DBT or CBT, it can change lives. However, paying for therapy is impossible for many struggling people. It is difficult to find a therapist in network and if they aren’t in network, that’s probably $100+ a week. Even if the therapist is in network, a $30 copay a week is not feasible for all. Especially for those who can’t work because of their mental illness or addiction. And that is only if you are going to therapy once a week. I am so blessed to have top tier insurance through my parents, without it I don’t think I would be here today. However, I am now looking at three therapy appointments a week and until I get to my out-of-pocket maximum, which thanks to inpatient I am getting very close, this is still a burden to pay for. It also takes time to find a therapist that works for you. It is a lot like trying to find a compatible loved one – it takes time and money. In conclusion, therapy does not help everyone.

ED

The emergency department probably angers me the most. So either you try to kill yourself, someone intervenes because it either didn’t work or they catch you in the act, or you voluntarily walk yourself in (as I have twice). Prior to the previous inpatient treatment, I was unaware that you could just check yourself in to inpatient programs directly. However, I can only imagine that you are much more likely to be accepted if you are admitted through the ER. That was the case with getting into IOP. Prior to going to the ED, I was told it would be three months before I could start IOP, but after going to the ED, I was in the next day.

Additionally, the ED is TERRIFYING. If you can avoid it, I highly recommend admitting yourself directly to an inpatient facility. The first time I went to the ER, I was traumatized by what I saw. They offered no help and they simply sent me home because they had no beds for me. The second time I went in, they were much more accommodating. This probably was because I was about to kill myself and I was committed involuntarily, so they actually took me seriously. I get so pissed off because I feel like you aren’t taken seriously if you haven’t attempted suicide.

 

In conclusion, I apologize for the post obviously being written from a place of deep anger. I am at a point where I feel like I have gotten all the help I can get and I still feel incredibly depressed. I have tried almost all the medication I can and I don’t know what other options there are for me, except for ECT. Also, this is clearly a chronic, genetic mental illness that will be recurrent throughout my lifetime. I was told by a psychiatrist (don’t get me started about how angry this makes me) that each subsequent episode gets worse and worse because the neural pathways are strengthened in your brain each time. As a neuroscience major, this makes perfect sense to me, but as a human being, why the hell would she tell me this?!? I have yet to confirm that statement, although I doubt its validity, but it still is burned into my brain as a possibility. I have exhausted my options and I don’t know what’s next. This is a lifelong battle that I know I can’t win, so what is the point of continuing to try?

Also, if you are one of the few reading this, please let me know what kind of posts you want to see. I would love to hear your suggestions as well. I have a ton of ideas and I don’t know what I want to post next!

A Letter to My Ex

I started this out originally with “I don’t hate you,” but upon further reflection, I absolutely do hate you. I have tried so hard to be indifferent, but I can’t sit back and act like you don’t deserve to be hated. I spent 4 years of my life on you and you destroyed me. Now I know it isn’t fair to put all the blame on you, I know my explosive emotional lability did not help anything. For that I take responsibility, but I don’t take responsibility for anything else.

When you smacked me, hunted me down on campus, and I had to hide in a random bathroom from you and your anger just because your best friend told me he was going to rape me, I went back to you. When you repeatedly told me you were embarrassed by me because I was sexually assaulted and you did not want to go out in public with me in high school or college for that reason, I stayed with you. When you hit me for inviting you over and my family was there, I stayed. But when you told me that the college sexual assault was my fault, I couldn’t stay anymore. The problem was (and still is) that I wanted to stay. Despite everything you had done to me, all the emotional hurt and damage, I wanted to be with you forever. It’s taken me almost a year of not seeing you to realize how absurd that is. Had you not gotten a girl friend, had you not been separated from me by miles and miles, this cycle would have continued. And that’s what bothers me the most. But, I finally have the rose colored glasses off.

For four years, I listened to your digust of me and I believed it. Because I was so depressed in high school, I drank quite a bit and you blamed me for all the guys who took advantage of me knowing that prior to having met me. You told me you couldn’t sleep at night knowing I was known as easy and as a whore. You told me it was eating you to your soul. If we hung out and you didn’t make me cry, I would think something was wrong. Even though you were my first real boyfriend, I should have known all this was wrong. I should have known when you told me you wouldn’t go to prom with me or take you to yours. I should have known when you did take me, but didn’t once dance with me or acknowledge me. I should have known when you cheated on me because it, and I quote, made you “feel better about all the guys I had been with,” so it was “good for the relationship.”

What made me stay was the connection we had. I thought you knew me to my soul. We explored every dark, painful corner and we talked about it, worked through it. After being depressed for so long, you simultaneously brought me out of it and pushed me back into it. I cannot thank you enough for the part of our connection that pulled me out of depression. I got to know myself through you. But now I look at you as just a sounding board, nothing more. You were a forum where I could learn about myself and what it meant to be depressed in a world that didn’t quite accept that yet. I needed someone, anyone to listen to me and go on that journey with me, as I didn’t have the strength to go alone.

However, I cannot keep acting like that connection made everything else worth it– it was not. The emotional problems I have now because of you and because I stayed are not worth it. I keep trying to justify your behavior and I have to stop trying. My self esteem is non-existent, my social anxiety is in part due to you, maybe even part of the exacerbation of my BPD. My college experience, in part, was horrible because of you. I can’t leave my apartment or walk on campus without constantly scanning the area for you. The instant I see you I start to have a panic attack and I turn running in tears. I have nightmares worse than any childhood fear of monsters; I fear you and everything you are. You are my monster.

The part of you that constantly put me down and judged me is part of me now. It echoes painfully in my skull. The echoes keep me from loving someone else, from letting myself be vulnerable. They keep me from being who I am and who I want to be.

But I stayed for four long years, and that’s what keeps me up at night.

5-25-17

Dear Diary,

Well I have tried to write a million different posts, but it’s bad. I’m so beyond depressed and I can’t do anything. I started work last week and I think that is the only thing keeping me sane, even though I hate it so much. It keeps me busy during the day, but then I cry all night. I self-harmed again (not as bad as it was a couple weeks ago), and I started purging and restricting again. I can’t restrict so much when I’m at my parents house for the summer for an internship, so that causes more purging. But I really don’t care anymore. I am writing this in the middle of staring at the ceiling catatonically, while one or two tears fall down the side of my face. I always say being moderately depressed is the worst because you have to function while hurting, but this sucks a lot too. This feels a lot like the worst episode I have ever had and I’m scared. I don’t know what to do or how to do it because it’s really clear now that this is going to keep happening over and over again. I have “turned on autopilot” which helps me to get through the day, but it only makes things worse, I know. I just can’t deal with my reality and I don’t have another choice. This is the absolute worst. I need help again already and I don’t have the courage or strength to get it.

Blast From The Past: Introduction

Blast from the past (BFTP) is a new category I have started after discovering old journals of mine from the first depressive episode I ever experienced in 2009. Reading this journal has shed light on what I am going through today and has validated what I am going through. Considering I have no memory of these times in my life, I am very glad I have written documentation. Unfortunately, an abusive ex made me rip up a lot of the really bad posts as a way of moving on, so I don’t have the worst ones. The ones I do have are still interesting. This category is more for me, that I always have access to this documentation of this time. But I hope this can help others who maybe feel similar to the way I wrote about.

5-1-17: Denying Emotions

Dear Diary,

Transitioning back to the real world after inpatient has been difficult and incredibly busy, considering it is finals time. I am really trying to finish out my classes without accepting any incompletes. I have been overwhelmed, stressed, exhausted, and emotionless. Such a lovely combination.

I haven’t yet let myself process what I am going through which is probably why my impulsive behavior has been worse than ever. I have spent so much money, drank to the point of being drunk, and had horrible SH urges. I know it’s because I have all this inside of me, but I won’t let it come out yet. After finals, I will use these posts to process everything. I just can’t let my mental health ruin the GPA I have worked so hard for. But I also don’t want to ruin my mental health by working so hard for my GPA… rock and a hard place.

Today I saw an old friend from out of town (fling, if you will) and we went to breakfast. I have always been so comfortable with him, he is like a brother – we are just so similar. And things were weird on my end. I dissociated, I almost had a panic attack, my eyes were darting. He noticed it too, which made things even more strange because neither of us knew what to do. It made me really upset because this is one of my really good friends and my mental health is impacting that relationship as well.

So this a brief update I’ve been trying to get myself to write for days, I just don’t know what to say, how to feel, or what to do. In one week, I will be actively working to get control back in my life. Finally.

Edit: Forgot to mention that I am starting DBT treatment tomorrow. I am excited and I will hopefully have some things to say tomorrow. ALSO, I have created a team for a NAMI walk in my town and I have raised almost $500 for mental health SO FAR. It has given me a sort of light in this darkness and it makes me almost feel genuinely happy. I’ve found something that is giving me meaning in this rough time, thankfully. Ok now, trying to go to bed now.

Inpatient Day One: 4-20-17

**Written on 4-20-17, published 4-27-17 from my inpatient journal**

Well, what a doozy it has been. I was feeling quite awful the last time I posted and I went to the ER. I had taken six shots, knowing fully well I was being self-destructive and that it would land me in the ER if I didn’t self-harm horribly or attempt to OD. I knew I would purposefully trigger myself. I knew I would end up self-harming. I didn’t know I would end up legitimately wanting to kill myself, and preparing the pills and alcohol. I freaked out and began self-harming like never before. I have always believed strongly that I would never be able to kill myself because of my aunt, so the fact that I was willing and able shocked my system. After about 40 cuts, one needing stitches, and six shots, I asked my roommate to take me to the ER.

I am writing this on a yellow legal pad with an illegal pencil I snuck into my room in an inpatient unit at a private mental hospital. I took an hour and a half ambulance ride to a hospital that actually had a bed for someone like me. I am absolutely horrified. I feel like my problems still aren’t bad enough to warrant this and I feel like I am wasting so much of my parents’ money (**I no longer believe this, but at the time I fully believed this**). I see the thinner, sicker girls, and it is so triggering. I am still fat and yet they put me on this stupid eating disorder protocol. I don’t know, I am very exhausted, but I want to document my experiences. I’m sure I will post more details after the fact.

What have I done…

Inpatient Day Three: 4-22-17

**Written on 4-22-17, published 4-27-17 from my inpatient journal**

Today I was exhausted. I passed out this morning during 5am vitals. From sitting to standing, my blood pressure dropped, my pulse increased dangerously, and my vision slowly turned black. Orthostatic hypotension I suppose, but I don’t know what is causing it. I am so tired from being woken up by check-ups throughout the night, from 5am vitals, from constant groups, from being forced to eat and being watched, from not being allowed in my room for an hour after every meal. I want to go home so badly. I hate eating and I want to go back to restricting. I just need to figure out finals, ugh it is adding so much stress and making things worse.

Keeping this short and sweet because I can’t keep my eyes open anymore.

I adore the people on the eating disorder protocol with me. Joy and Megan are angels and I am not sure I would make it through this without them keeping me as sane as they can while inpatient at a mental hospital. The dry, crude humor and sarcasm with Megan has me laughing for the first time in a while. I wish I could make Joy and Megan’s pain go away… They deserve the world and then some. Everyone here does. It hurts me that everyone here is hurting so terribly.

I got a lot of positive affirmations today. People told me I have great energy and I bring a light to their day. I was also told I was gorgeous and that my beauty is awe inspiring. This made me feel so good, but I still don’t believe it.

Okay must sleep. Goodnight.

I have to be discharged Monday for finals. Please….

 

Venting: Torturous Dreams

I’ve always loved to dream. Ever since I can remember, I have had vivid, colorful journeys across space and time after I close my eyes at night. I escaped to countries that don’t exist, flown across cities, and even took a trip into space once or twice. With medicine, my dreams got even more vivid. I used to think I was insane because of how messed up some of my dreams got, but my grandma assured me it was just a sign of great creativity. I willingly accepted her explanation.

When times are tough, however, my dreams get nasty. I get murdered, stabbed, tortured. My worst fears come to life. With vivid, lifelike dreams, comes both amazing adventures and terrifying nightmares. To me, that’s still worth it.

Last night, I had two dreams I can recall, both of them involving not getting into this PHP program. People may think I’m overreacting about this program, but to me it is life and death. Without it, I will have to admit myself to the local psych hospital and probably have to stay inpatient, because if I don’t, there’s no telling where my complete breakdown will lead. The second dream shook me the most. Normally, I am aware of the fact that I am dreaming, that my alternate reality is not in fact my reality. However, after waking myself up in my first dream, I apparently woke up into my second dream thinking it was reality.

I was in the hospital waiting room for another appointment when I got the call. I told them I had to take the call and I went out into a quiet hallway to talk. They immediately told me I didn’t get in and I dropped my phone. I instantly fell to the floor in shock. I was crying like I have never cried before. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t speak. The hallway suddenly became busy and the people stepped over me and pointed and laughed. The nurses walked right past me and told me I was a joke for thinking I had it bad enough to need to be in a PHP program. No one was helping me.

I tried to wake myself up, to no avail. I remembered that I had woken myself up from my first dream, so this must be real life. I began telling the nurses I was going to kill myself and they supplied me with the pills to do it. They laughed and told me I wasn’t worth taking up a bed in the ER or the psych hospital, even if I was going to commit suicide.

I eventually woke myself up and I was curled in a ball, crying my eyes out. I was so shaken. My grandma, who is very into dreams and spirituality, once told me that every character in your dreams represent a part of yourself and I believe that wholeheartedly. Every aspect of my being was represented in that dream and I cannot get away from those parts of me anymore, not at night and certainly not during the day.