Coming to terms with mental illness

Every story is different on how someone knew or came to terms with mental illness. This is purely my experience, as briefly as I can make it. Kudos for you if you sat and read through the whole thing! ☺

I never thought I would ever take medication for depression or anxiety. I was completely against it for years, even though I was told I suffered from both. I tried various things so that I wouldn’t have to take prescription meds, like herbal medication, acupuncture, therapy, writing, drawing, exercising, breathing techniques, yoga, and meditation. All of this effort was simply to try and alleviate my anxiety and depression without having to be put on anything.

For awhile, all of those things did work until I was unable to find a cheap yoga place, I became extremely busy with grad school and realized I didn’t have time to exercise, I lacked motivation to draw or write like I used to, and acupuncture was too expensive. I did try a bit of yoga on YouTube but, for me, I need an instructor and a classroom setting to get the most out of it. I even tried St. Johns Wort for awhile, until it gave me extremely vivid dreams, paranoia, and I had hallucinogenic side-effects.

It wasn’t until I moved in with my fiance that I started to get really bad. I know it had to do with the fact that there were a lot of big life changes that were happening at that time and I didn’t know how to handle it. My therapist also mentioned that for years I was afraid to open up to a past boyfriend and express my true feelings of anxiety or depression, for fear of how he would react. However, now that I am with someone, who accepts me for me, I can finally be myself. Unfortunately, those years of hiding in fear of my emotions and how they would make people react, caused quite a stir on the inside. All of my emotions were tightly bottled up and sealed. Then, they all decided to flood out of me at the same time. This is why they always say, “Don’t bottle up your emotions.”

I became angry, had mood swings, couldn’t control my emotions, contemplated suicide often and even drank more. I couldn’t understand why I was feeling this way and I felt terrible because I knew I was acting childish but couldn’t control it.

I would lash out, cry often and sometimes not get out of bed because I physically couldn’t. I stopped trying to connect with anyone because it required energy that I didn’t have. I just put all of my being into work, but would come home so exhausted and overwhelmed because I spent 8 hours every day pretending to be positive and happy when, in reality, I was a mess.

I became someone I really didn’t recognize or like anymore, and I had no motivation to do anything that could help release these confusing and volatile emotions. It was terribly hard for my fiance as well, because I changed so dramatically from who he knew a year ago. I turned into somebody completely different. He would ask me why I was feeling the way I was and I would become frustrated because I couldn’t explain it.

Then, last year for Valentine’s Day, he planned a surprise trip to Chicago. We would stay at a wonderful hotel, go to a fancy restaurant and just take a break from reality so that we could focus on us. I was thrilled because I really did need a break from everything. I felt like I was losing my mind and I certainly didn’t want to lose him.

So, we went to Chicago, and on the train I was so nervous leaving behind our new puppy for the first time. It wasn’t at all a normal nervousness, like a parent leaving their baby with a babysitter. It was way more than that. I kept asking him to text his friend, who was watching our dog, just to see how he was doing. My fiance kept telling me to relax and not to bother them because they need to settle in together. I couldn’t help tapping on my leg, biting my nails and having my brain go a mile a minute as I worried that our puppy would run away or get hurt somehow. I felt like a crazy person because I knew it was irrational to think these thoughts, yet I couldn’t help it. I was sitting there for hours, theorizing the worst possible outcomes and scenarios that could happen.

Finally, we made it to our room and it was lovely! I was so excited for the evening and to have dinner at a wonderful restaurant with my man, especially because I bought a new dress and shoes for the occasion. We spent the day going to random stores and visiting a gaming lounge until we made it to dinner at Fogo De Chao.

It was amazing!

The food was fabulous, the atmosphere was breathtaking and the two of us just laughed and laughed like old times. I was on a high because I finally was able to relax and enjoy myself. I finally felt happy for the first time in almost a year and I couldn’t wait to get back to our room and finish out the night.

On our way upstairs, my fiance bought a bottle of my favorite wine from the hotel restaurant and they gave us two glasses to carry up to our room. I was smiling from ear to ear. I was taking selfies in my dress, of my makeup and of the wine because I wanted to document everything and share the experience on Facebook. I had it in my head that we would share an intimate evening together with our wine and the bright lights coming in from the big, bustling city. I already envisioned how romantic it would be, like some sort of thing you’d see in a movie.

Unfortunately, I always seem to become too excited about intimacy in my head and then, when it doesn’t happen the way I want, I become severely depressed.

We tried to have sex, but it just wasn’t happening. I cried because it hurt too much so, obviously out of respect, he stopped. Then I said I’ll just drink some more and maybe that’ll help my muscles relax. It didn’t work. Oral was even painful, and that was the first time I had ever experienced that symptom.

After realizing that oral hurt, I felt numb. My gynecologist and physical therapists always used to joke with me saying, “Well, at least you can still enjoy oral,” and now I couldn’t. I literally felt stripped of everything and didn’t even feel like a human being anymore. I felt beyond worthless. I took a swig of the wine and told him I’ll be right back, fighting off tears as I stood up. He asked me if I was okay and that we can sit and talk about it. I tried to compose myself as I said, “I’m fine. I just need a minute.”

I grabbed the bottle on my way to the bathroom and just stared into the mirror and silently wept. I cried so hard my eyes became blood shot and all I wanted to do was hurt myself in some way.

What was supposed to be the perfect evening turned out to be a disaster. My emotions were stirring and I couldn’t focus on anything. It almost felt like the room was spinning and, mentally, I was spiralling down with it.

I knew my fiance would come get me if I took too long, so I wiped away my tears, threw cold water on my face, and left with a smile.

“I’m fine!” I said, with a large grin. He furrowed his brows and looked at me concerned, “Are you sure you’re okay? You seem off.”

“No, I’m perfectly fine. Really! Besides, even though I can’t get anything that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy yourself.” That was always something I was expected to do in previous relationships, so it was almost second nature to offer this. I always thought that made me a good girlfriend because I was pleasing them.

I could feel the tears swelling in my eyes, so he grabbed my hands and just pulled me close to him. As soon as he did that, I wept. I couldn’t control the sadness I was feeling anymore. He cuddled me and brushed my hair away from my face, kissing my forehead and telling me that it’s okay and to just let it out.

Before too long, I pretended to gain composure again and said enthusiastically, “Hey! Let’s watch a movie or something?” Clearly, he was taken aback and asked, “Are you sure? We really can talk about it if you want. I think it’s important that we do.”

“No, I’m fine! Let’s just watch something.”

I put on Harry Potter and we watched it together for about 20 minutes before he fell asleep. As soon as I realized he was asleep, I silently began weeping to myself again, whispering that I was worthless and thinking that I should just end it and save everyone the trouble. I felt like such a burden to everyone around me.

I drank the entire bottle of wine by myself throughout the night, hoping to dull the pain I was feeling on the inside.

Now, at that point, I still wasn’t thinking that I needed to be put on medication. I was still convinced that they would do me more harm than good. It wasn’t until we got back on the train the next day that I came to terms with how severe my anxiety was becoming.

We were sitting in a seat that didn’t have an outlet close by and watching a TV show on his phone. The guy behind us happened to get off at a stop and my fiance realized that he was sitting next to an outlet. Now, keep in mind, this was a seat literally right behind us. He said, “Hey let’s move back so my phone doesn’t die.” I just stared at him, muscles tensing and panic forming on my face. “I can’t.”

“What do you mean you can’t? It’s literally right there? We have over an hour left on the train and my phone is going to die soon.” I began to sweat and twist my hands in knots. My eyes darted from side to side because I felt like everyone was staring at us. “Please,” I begged, “I don’t want to.”

He sat back down next to me and seemed a bit upset. I can completely understand why. It didn’t make much sense to me either why I couldn’t just move back one seat. When I told him how I felt and that all eyes were on me, he said, “When we get back home, we really need to look into getting you a psychiatrist.” I had tears welling up in my eyes because I felt like a complete failure and lunatic. However, I knew that he was right.

Today, I’m doing much better than last year. I am taking 3 different medications and, even though I’m still depressed and anxious on some days, that’s way better than what I once was. I’m positive that my anxiety and depression will only get better in the future, since I have seen such vast improvements in less than a year. Looking back, I can’t even imagine what would have happened if I didn’t seek professional help. I’m so glad that I listened to him and faced my fears to get the help I needed.

It’s also interesting to think how we portray people’s lives from the pictures they post on Facebook. When I posted the pictures on the train going back home, it was simply to keep my mind from my thoughts. Everyone commented that it looked like we had a great time and that it looked so romantic. Little did they know what really happened that weekend.

Without the real story behind it, would you have been able to tell I was severely depressed based off of these pictures?

14 thoughts on “Coming to terms with mental illness

  1. Thank You Dude…
    I’ve suffered from SEVERE performance anxiety my Whole Life, and it has Literally destroyed me, Too often…
    Suicidal Thoughts aren’t far behind each episode, and it feels like it will Never get better, bc I don’t know what’s wrong, or why I rarely feel intimately romantic connections. So I always run from relationships, bc I’m afraid that I’ll inevitably fail my partner, and Myself…
    But I’ve been failing myself, my whole life…
    I Pray it Gets better…
    I’ve always been against medication as well, and can’t see myself opening up to a therapist…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing ❤ I know, it took me a VERY long time to come to terms with meds and seeing a therapist but I think the therapist, if it’s a good one, will definitely be helpful. Mine is more of a free thinker 🙂 I truly hope it gets better for you and I’m proud of you that you had the courage to comment!

      Like

  2. I suffer and always have struggled with severe anxiety (generalized and social) dealt with too much depression in my past (It is something that comes and goes and I don’t think I will ever officially beat it completely) and I can definitely relate to how hiding those feelings, emotions and illnesses for too long that it can mess you up inside. In short, I can’t completely relate to your experiences but I can understand some. I appreciate your honesty, and I hope writing helps you like it helps me. 🙂
    No you cannot tell you fought depression from your photos, but people often judge too much from a quick glimpse on the outside. I believe everyone has their own stories and struggles. I hope you are in a better place and keep fighting, because you deserve to be happy! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am glad you decided to get help when other methods weren’t working. It was a hard lesson for me to learn. I too did not want to go on any medication but so far the anti-depressants have been a big help. They give me the energy, motivation, and focus I had lost. I now have a certain self-confidence that have not felt in a while. I have no idea how long I need to take them or how life will be off of them however it has given me a glimpse of how good life can be.

    Every once in a while I wonder how different high school and college would have been if I had addressed the depression sooner. I look at the energy and motivation I have now and try to think what else I might have accomplished. Although I have accepted the fact that I cannot change the past it makes me wish that I would have done something sooner. The main reason I can think for not doing so was because I believed it was just my attitude on life and something I could fix through change of habit. I never stopped to think that maybe I needed medicinal intervention.

    Anyway thank you for sharing your life experiences!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your response and your experience as well. I sometimes worry as well what will happen if I get taken off the meds and what life will be like for me then. But I am so happy you have found medication that can give you a self-confidence, as well as a glimpse of how good life can be. I always try to say to myself, “Don’t regret the past, because all of the actions you did back the got you here. Everything had a purpose.” I think it’s interesting though to see how a lot of people don’t realize they need help. Even in college, I was personally asked to go to the college therapist because of scores I gave on a random personality test. They asked, “how do you get out of bed in the morning?” I simply remember laughing, pretending I was okay, and said that I just wrote in random answer bubbles so that I could be done faster.

      Like

  4. Pingback: Honeymoons for people with Vaginismus | Girl with the Paw Print Tattoo

  5. Thank you for sharing this story. It will help so many! It takes courage to admit you are having mental difficulties, it takes courage to seek treatment and it certainly is difficult to find the correct medications but when all these things are fought through, you win! No, not every day, but certainly more days than not. Carry on, brave lady! ~Kim

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s