Mental health update: a bad depressive episode

Hey lovely blog-readers and friends and family peoples. I wanted to give out a little mental health update, and it felt too long and personal and everything to just post on Facebook or Twitter, so I'm blogging about it. You should be warned going into it, though, that this post will deal with mental health issues including depression and suicidal thoughts.

*

*

*

Basically...I'm not OK. I wasn't feeling great all week, beginning with an incident last Friday that led to very strong suicidal feelings (including making a plan to kill myself). It passed—at least the suicidal part did—and although I was still having panic attacks, depressive thoughts and all-around sorrow over the next few days, I though I was past the worst of it.

Cue yesterday. Although I know what the trigger for this latest episode was, it doesn't change the fact that things have devolved to a point far beyond what I logically should be feeling today. And so, yesterday. Yesterday I began to have a panic attack which quickly turned into uncontrollable sobbing and with that came thoughts—a desire to hurt myself—to potentially do more than that.

I left the house in a rush, worried that I would end up harming myself if I stayed. So I ran out and met a good friend, emailing my therapist and psychiatrist as I went.

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetWhich leads us to now. I'm sitting on my best friend's couch in Alphabet City, view of One World Trade Center to my left, "Friends" on TV and help within easy reach should I need it. I'm taking a break, surrounding myself with friends and staying safe. Because after a chat with my doctor yesterday, we concluded that my options were simple: find somewhere to stay for a few nights and someone(s) to be with for a few days, or go to the emergency room and check myself into a hospital.

For safe-keeping.

Because of the fear that if left alone or to go about my normal life, I might harm myself, temporarily or in a more permanent sense. I say that not to worry or freak you out, but to impress upon you the seriousness of the situation.

There was fear for my life. I felt fear for my life, as did my doctor and others concerned. So I'm hiding out in Manhattan for a few days, taking things slowly, and riding out this latest episode.

Episodes like this don't last forever. They come, they wrack you and wring you dry, and then they leave. It's mostly a matter of riding it out as safely as possible until you can return to a semblance of normalcy.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetI say "semblance." There's little normalcy in life when you're depressed. Almost every day is another opportunity to be sad, to be wracked with sorrow. Even this past Sunday, as I left a wonderful service at church...I was crying. I took a picture while waiting for the subway cause, well, that's what I do. I chronicle what depression looks like.

It looks like that. It looks like waking up, getting dressed nicely and crying off all your makeup.

It looks like going out, smiling and laughing with friends but as soon as you're alone, sinking so quickly you can barely catch your breath.

It looks like being chronically and hopelessly depressed. It looks like knowing that a "cure," a "healing" is unlikely, and slowly (strugglingly) coming to terms with that. It looks like accepting that sometimes sick days mean mind-sick days, because when your brain is against you there's little you can do.

And it looks like worrying about this, because I know so many will take these words and be sad about them, when really...this is me being hopeful. This is me saying, "it's going to be OK." Because in the end—this is a good scenario.

The bad scenario is one in which I didn't reach out, didn't ask for help, didn't take time off or work to get through this. The bad scenario is one in which I hurt myself or worse. The bad scenario is...it's really bad.

The good scenario is the yet-sucky one I'm living, and yeah, as much as it stinks that this, what's happening right now, is considered good...it could be worse. It could be much worse.

So I'm grateful for what I do have: life. Friends who can help me. The ability to reach out. A support system.

I know I have much to be grateful for, and I am grateful for it all. But that doesn't negate that I have depression, a disease, a chemical imbalance, something hard to manage. It's real, and it's hard, and it's chronic. My depression does not mean I am not happy or joyful or grateful.

All it means is that I have depression. I want y'all to take hope from that. Knowing that even in the darkness, I see light. I know that God is with me even in this time, as dark as it gets, and I know that the act of sinking is not a rejection of Him. It is simply the way it is.

If you have questions—encouragement—concerns—feel free to comment or email or reach out. I can't promise I'll respond immediately, but I will read and be grateful. <3

 

How I survive depression because of a dream

The anticipation is nearly stifling me. I've waited so long — so very, very long — to move to New York City. And honestly, throughout the three years that I've held firm to this dream, there have been times that I didn't think it was possible. It's not just that I didn't know if I would be good enough to get into grad school, get a book published or find a job (and only one of those things has happened, by the way). It's not just that I didn't know if I could survive living with eight million other people in a city that TV shows like Castle and Gossip Girl have shown me can be more than cruel — because to balance that I had shows like Friends and, yes, Castle, that showed me how great it can be. It's not just that my days in Kentucky felt eternal, like I was caught in a perpetual whirlwind of college that I wasn't 100 percent anxious to leave.

It's that there were days when I didn't know if would make it. I wasn't sure if my physical body would survive the war my mind waged inside of me.

Visual representation of said scars and one of the reasons I'm alive today.

If you know me, you'll know that I was hospitalized for intense depression two-and-a-half years ago. If you know me better, you'll know that I was diagnosed with a mild form of bipolar disorder last January. And if you know me best, you'll know that the scars on my arms aren't just cutting scars; they're visible records of times I tried to take my life.

There were days when I didn't think I would see the next hour, much less a moment when my dreams would come true.

So to be here now, five days away from moving to pursue my dream of being a journalist in New York City ... that is an amazing feeling. To know that I have written two novels that I fully intend to publish and have at least six others marinating in my brain is empowering. To even let the idea cross my mind that someday I can be happy — that I even deserve to be happy — is a feeling I never thought I would have.

Yes, I made it to Sochi, and yes, it was so very worth it.

Interestingly, the dreams that I'm now about to live out are the very ones that saved me. Two-and-a-half years ago, if I hadn't dreamed of visiting New York, wished to attend the Winter Olympics in Sochi and aspired to be an editor on my school newspaper, I wouldn't have made it out of that hospital.

There was this moment when I was curled up on my paper bed in the place I had nightmares about for months that I looked at a picture of a beautiful landscape. The thought crossed my mind that I would love to someday stand in that very spot and soak in that beauty.

And that was it. That tiny picture sparked something in me, a desire to live. A desire not just to exist in this world, but to be a part of it, to be woven into the tapestry of others' life in such a way that my time on earth could be as rich as possible.

I don't doubt for a second that it was God who put those dreams in my heart and gave me the strength to move forward. And I don't doubt that those dreams are the reason I'm sitting here today, in a hotel room in Florida, getting ready to watch my cousin get married to the girl of his dreams.

There are so many, many layers of depth to how incredible this moment is. I'm about to be a witness to the happiest day of my cousin's life less than a week from moving to study what I love in a city that seems to promise everything. I'm tearing up just sitting here thinking about it.

And this subject is too important for me to be subtle with the moral of this story: if you're going through anything at all that makes you wonder what there is to life, allow yourself to dream. You don't have to plan out your ideal future; you can just decide you want to visit Yellowstone National Park, get a tattoo, lose a few pounds, give some food to a homeless person ... whatever allows you to recognize that your life is precious and so very worth living.

I don't know if anyone is going to read this and take me up on this offer, but I want to say it nonetheless: I'm a safe person to talk to about all the hard things you're struggling with. I'm a sympathetic crier with the ability to imagine myself into every scenario and feel pursuant emotions deeply. So if you need help — let me be there for you. Let me help you forge a dream, a series of a dreams, a reason to live.