A Bump in the Road: My Experience with Mental Illness

[Trigger warning: this post discusses mental illness and self-harm.  If these topics are triggering, feel free to read some of my other, more lighthearted posts!]

It’s not a good day for me.

I’m sorry to be writing to you all under such negative circumstances, but I’m determined to be myself in this blog, and days like these hold a certain significance in my life.  Not only that, but if there’s a chance that one of my readers deals with the same issues that I do, maybe I’ll be able to provide some measure of comfort through this entry.  Who knows?

For a long time I’ve battled generalized anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder.  I was diagnosed with these only a short time ago, but when I look back on memories from my childhood I know that they’ve been a part of my life for years.

Taken from emotionalresourcecenter.com.  I was tired of seeing the stereotypical black and white photo of a person hunched on the floor, cradling their head in their hands.  So, please enjoy this frowny face in a sea of smiley faces!  Come on, give me a little credit.  I’m a writer, not a professional image selector.
It was the last two years of high school when things became nearly unbearable.  I was a constant irritation to my parents, I was a mystery to my friends, but the one I pissed off the most?  That would be me.  I couldn’t stand myself.  Every day I woke up in the same body, riddled with ugly scars from self-harm, and I felt like I could scream.  I fantasized about running away.  My group of friends got smaller every day, and with every broken tie I sank deeper and deeper into the hole that I was digging.  For a while I thought it was a temporary barrier, a bump in the road, but as time dragged on I had a feeling that it might be my grave.

I had a best friend.  She was gorgeous and lovely and the light of my life, when I wanted to sink into my sheets and never wake up, she came over and dragged me out of the house.  When I wanted nothing more than to sit down and stare blankly at the wall until I couldn’t remember where I was, she picked me up and drove and drove and drove until we were in a new and exciting place and I was laughing and the music on the radio was the perfect soundtrack.

Taken from pinterest.com
I fell madly in love with her.

And then everything fell apart.  She got a boyfriend, I was jealous, we started to drift.  There weren’t as many sleepovers or movie marathons.  I stayed at home more.

Don’t fall in love with your straight best friend, readers.  Don’t do it.  It will ruin you in ways you can’t even imagine.

One day last summer, we had a fight.  It was one of many similar arguments.  I can’t even remember what started it, I just know that it happened at the pool in her apartment complex.  All of our friends were there.  They stayed by her, I sat on the curb by the parking lot by myself.

And then I went home.  I went home, I went into my medicine cabinet, and I grabbed a bottle of pills.  My palms were sweating.  I slipped it into my pocket.  The bottle made a harsh rattling sound that reminded me of hard candies.

Taken from lhsfna.org
I spent that night in the hospital, high as a kite.  I couldn’t move, I could think but I couldn’t speak, I stared with empty eyes at a merry-go-round of hellish hallucinations.  When it was over a large, intimidating nurse came over to me and spat, “Don’t you ever do something so stupid again.  Don’t you ever do that.”

I shivered but said nothing.

That was the worst night of my life, by far.  My eyes still get misty when I think of my parents leaning over me in that hospital room, asking, “Why?” over and over with tears running down their cheeks.

Things got worse before they got better.  I tried living with my best friend in college.  It didn’t work out.  I ended up in the hospital yet again, this time spending a brief period in a psychiatric unit.  That was where I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety.  And, it turned out, borderline personality disorder.

This one came out of left field.  Borderline personality?  There was only one me, I didn’t feel like there were different personas all crowded into my brain.  But that’s not what borderline is.

Borderline personality is characterized by having an unstable sense of self, volatile relationships with others , impulsiveness, emotional outbursts, black-and-white thinking, etc.  People with borderline feel emotions more strongly and more exaggeratedly than other people.

Taken from sondranderson.wordpress.com
For instance, I’d have a fight with my best friend and it felt like the world was ending.  I’d be sure that this was it, this was the argument that signaled the beginning of the end of our friendship,  she obviously hated me and never wanted to see me again.

Ironically, this type of thinking was probably a big contributor to the actual, literal end of our friendship.  But I didn’t know that.

If you think you might have borderline personality disorder, I encourage you to research it and go to a professional in order to get diagnosed.  I am not an expert.

Taken from twitter.com
Furthermore, a large percentage of those who engage in self-harm have BPD.  So I guess I fell into that category.

Anyways, today is not a good day.  I’ve drastically improved since everything went down last year, but I still have days where I don’t like what I see in the mirror and I feel like a failure and who am I kidding?  My writing sucks and I’ll never get published and I might as well just fucking give up.

I guess that sums up today:  I want to give up.

But I won’t.  I can’t.  Without writing my life is infinitely boring.  I know it’s cheesy, but I feel like writing is what I was put on this earth to do.  And even if it isn’t my calling, that’s too bad.  I’m going to make it my calling.  Take that, universe and fate and God and whoever else calls the shots around here.

Taken from kwaminyamidie.com;  This is basically what life feels like right now.
Also:  The search for a literary agent isn’t going very well.  Lots of rejection letters.  I’m constantly revising and editing my novel, so hopefully that will pay off soon.  We’ll see, I guess.

And now it’s time for:  V’s Tips on How to Keep it Together if You’re Struggling with a Mental Illness!  These tips won’t work for everyone, but they’ve worked for a real live person who’s going through some Stuff and Shit, so maybe they’ll work for you, too.  Many times I’ve come across advice on the internet that seems to have been written by someone who doesn’t know what it’s like to have a mental illness, and it’s not very helpful.

1.  Get the hell out.

Get out of the house.  Just leave.  Go somewhere new, where you don’t have access to things that could hurt you.

2.  Surround yourself with people.

They don’t have to be your friends.  I know for me, sometimes I didn’t have any friends that I could hang out with.  Just go to a public place and watch people.  Lose yourself in their lives.

3.  Listen to happy music.

I’ve found that when I’m sad, I want to listen to sad music.  This is a terrible idea.  Listen to something happy, and it’ll start to lift your spirits too.

4.  Escapism.

This is where good old-fashioned American escapism comes into play!  Go to the movies.  If you can’t get to the movies, watch one at home.  (A happy movie, of course.)  Read a book.  Play a fun video game.  Do a crossword puzzle if that’s your thing.  Read Calvin and Hobbes.  Do anything that will make you forget what’s going on.  There’s nothing wrong with trying to forget your feelings until the wave of emotion passes and you’re in a better state to deal with the situation.

I know that wasn’t a lot of tips, but if I’m going to be completely honest, there’s not a lot that could help me until I got on medication.

Taken from samahospital.com
That’s another thing:  There is absolutely no shame in going on medication.  It changed my life, guys.  I was scared at first, but my meds didn’t take away my personality or dull my emotions or turn me into a completely different person.  It just gave me the push I needed to be happy again.  It quelled that uneasy feeling I always had in the pit of my stomach and allowed me to just relax.  For the first time in years, I could sit on the couch and do absolutely nothing and not feel like I was going to burst into tears, or have a vague inkling that something bad was about to happen.

If you feel like it could help you too, once again, see a psychiatrist.

Thanks for listening to me,

V

P.S.  I’m currently watching Scream Queens to cheer me up.  It’s a fabulous TV show, and I highly recommend it to anyone who’s an Emma Roberts fan.

My mom wanted to watch it with me, but I think it would be weird.  Too many gay characters, too many attractive actresses, too many necrophilia jokes.  She wouldn’t be able to handle it.

But, Chad Radwell?  Chad Radwell is a stellar character.

Taken from tumblr.com