Mental Illness is Real: Let's Talk About It
Earlier this year. I decided I was going to commit suicide. And I almost did. Twice. Once in February and then in March again.
Just a month before, I posted an article on my blog about how I had found a new trust in the Lord and was on my way to recovery. But sometimes, mental illness is brutal, unrelenting. And just a few months later, I found myself curled in a ball on the ground, sobbing, wondering what the last words would be I was going to tell my parents. I was suffering from anxiety almost every second of the day for months on end, constantly feeling as if I was on the edge of a complete nervous breakdown. I had sunken so low into depression that I did not see hope for my life at all. Because of my anxiety and depression, every little task felt overwhelming, and I was convinced there was no way I could function on my own in the real world after graduation. My future seemed so dark and murky, and I wanted no part in it.
Often, when one is in a state of deep depression and is suicidal, they know they are going to commit suicide but they don't know when. Sometimes, in moments of sheer panic or when triggered, they feel as if they need to do it immediately.
The first time I almost took my own life, I left class, writing my suicide note in my head. I must have walked around campus for an almost an hour sobbing, trying to calm down enough to drive home and end it all. Thankfully, when I walked into work to tell my boss I couldn't work that day, she saw the state I was in and took me to the counseling center on campus. That counselor saved my life that day.
The second time, I reached out for help on my own. Once again, I roamed around campus with tears flowing from my eyes and found myself walking into the chapel, almost as if it was against my own will, asking if any priest could hear my confession.
That night, the priest in that confessional saved my life.
As I look back on these days, I can't really tell you why I asked for help or accepted it. Almost everything inside of me wanted to die, but there was a small voice within that kept whispering "No, not yet." I realize now, that was the voice of the Lord, leading me to the people who could help me.
I tell you these stories because over and over I hear about people taking their own lives without asking for help. They've become trapped in the prison of their mind and have fallen prey to the lies that they are hopeless and unwanted. They feel as if no one can help them. I felt that way for a very long time, and even when I reached out for support on my own or was forced to, I had little hope that someone could help me.
Thankfully, I am here today to tell you this I was wrong. After receiving proper long-term treatment and starting medication, I've learned to manage my depression and anxiety. I still have my bad days, but I am no longer berated by the debilitating symptoms or thoughts that the world would be better off without me.
I look forward to my future, and I am happy to be alive. I made it thought the darkest and dirtiest valley of my depression and anxiety, and although I climbed out with bruises, cuts, and scars, I made it. And I'm here.
Some people don't have an ending like mine. They never make it to the other side.
Some people never ask for help or lose hope after the treatments they have tried fail them.
And it breaks my heart. It breaks my heart everyday because I know I was in a place similar to theirs and I got better. I made it out alive, and now I am thriving. And it pierces my heart to know some people didn't stick around to see what their life could have been.
So I guess the point of this article is: if you are struggling and believe no one can help you, please, please get help. Reach out. Talk to someone. Go to a professional. There is no shame in needing medical attention for a mental illness.
I know the voices of mental illness are loud. And extremely convincing. But they are wrong. It can get better.
Although the road of recovery can be long and brutal, it is worth it.
Your life is worth it.
If you know someone who is struggling, encourage them to get help. If you think someone is a threat to themselves, step in. It is only because of friends who pushed me to receive medical attention that I am here today.
(That being said, it is not your fault if someone close to you commits suicide. We cannot always see when others need help, and sometimes they never show any signs. I will write a whole blog post on this soon.)