Disclaimer, this series of post will focus on my opinion, my fight and me. For me this takes a lot of courage, I might face fall out or bashing but I know the support I will receive and the information i can give to others will help make it worth it. Please read with an open mind and leave your judgy pants at the blog post door.
Last August, my life spiraled out of control. In July I made the decision to go off of my depression medication. I convinced my doctor, my family and myself that I only needed them to get through the stress of college. I knew it was a lie. I told it anyway, I said all the right things to get the okay to go off them. You are probably wondering why and it is simple. I was under the impression that needing medication for my depression made me weak. Society may not realize it, or maybe it does, but it is constantly belittling Mental Illnesses. Many people will say things like “Just think positive” or “I get sad some times too and I don’t need meds” or “are you doing this for attention because there are better ways.” All of these comments and more lead many MI sufferers to go off medication.
THIS IS A BAD IDEA.
If your doctor put you on a medication, then there is a good reason for it. If you decide you want to try to go off of it, don’t fight through it, the moment it starts getting bad, stop and call your doctor. Don’t try to fight it just so you can say I don’t have to take anti depressant or mood stabilizers. It is not wrong to need these medications. I wish I knew all this. I wish I paid attention and was honest with myself and honest with those around me. Instead I lied. I said I was fine. I reached back in time and took the mask I use to wear when I was first diagnosed with depression. I put it back on like an old friend. I thought I use to be fine with out my medication and it was only supposed to be temporary so I can do this. The moment I found out I couldn’t, I should have called my doctor, but I felt like people were counting on me to tough it out.
So I tried and I hide behind my mask. But this fall was a lot quicker then the first one. I look back now and know that I always had anxiety and depression. I can trace it back to being in elementary school. I didn’t know any better. I didn’t know I was sick and neither did my family. So by the time I hit my freshman year I had been a pot slowly boiling. We caught it before my suicide plans got serious. This time was different. This time I was a bomb waiting to go off.
I think really the crash took place in a matter of a week. I had a little issue with going off the meds but I was going on week 2 or 3 off of them and felt pretty good. I was experiencing a Mania High. It’s common when you go of meds. But then things weren’t so great. It started on a Sunday paranoia. Anything and everything made me jumpy. I started getting irritated really easy. Then I had my first panic attack in over a year. For anyone who doesn’t know what a panic attack is like let me just tell you that many people go to the hospital the first time they have one because it feels like a heart attack. For me it feels like this until I eventually pass out.
All of that probably happened in the matter of 36 hours and progressively got worse. I started getting so emotional that anything I did led to a crying episode which in turn led to a panic attack. Over the course of 3 days I have 8-10 panic attacks. 3 of which I woke up on the floor and then had another one because I didn’t know what happened. I had one at work and then called in sick the rest of the week. I stopped leaving my house. One day I spent 9 hours sitting at my door because I couldn’t move. I called my mom. I didn’t tell her how bad it really was but just said I needed to come home. On Wednesday I went home and even then I was already forming my plan.
I have a really close immediate family, my parents are great role models, my brother is one of my best friends and my sister-in-law is probably the other. I love my family. I was hoping that by seeing them I would either feel better or it could be my last good-bye. My aunt and uncle were also in town and I kept thinking how good it would be for my family to have them there as support when I finally ended things.
I started out trying. I really did. But it is hard. A mind in the middle of depression is a twisted reality. You don’t see things how they truly are. You see them under the veil of depression. After my 3 panic attacks in one day this was Thursday I was ready to use my Friday as my last day. That night things got more complicated. I ran in to an old friend that told me my former youth pastors cancer was back and this time it was not good. That night I went to bed thinking how unfair it was that he was losing his battle and I wanted to give up mine. I pleaded with God. I decided maybe just a little longer. I will find hope to keep fighting. But that little depression voice wouldn’t shut up, it kept saying things like “you are worthless” “your families lives would be so much easier without you” “you are a waste of space” “other people deserve life more than you”. That night I didn’t sleep.
I want to pause my story to say while on the outside suicide looks very selfish when you are in that black hole you are actually thinking just as much about others as you are yourself the difference is that your vision and judgment is skewed and clouded.
The next morning I don’t remember much. I don’t remember leaving my room. I remember writing a letter. I remember trying to say I was sorry and how I was doing this so they could have a better life. By being around I was only going to make them depressed. I only vaguely remember counting my pills. I found old pain meds from surgeries, I found sleeping meds and I decided what I had been enough.
I didn’t want to do it at home. Not where my family would have to go every day. I couldn’t go to my apartment cause I didn’t know when someone would find me. I decided my car or a hotel was best so I planed to go back to Brookings.
When I packed my stuff and went down stairs I couldn’t stop crying. Part of me just wanted it done then and there. I could barely make it down stairs. I said good-bye to my mom, and I said good-bye to my aunt. My dad wasn’t home but I couldn’t face him. My mom told me aunt I couldn’t leave. I said fine I am going to Andy’s. They wouldn’t let me drive. My aunt drove me over there. On the way I told her my plan, I tried explaining why I was doing this, how it was for them and me. She Left me at my brothers and took my car.
The rest of the night is a blur. I remember crying and telling Andy and Sam I just wanted to die. I remember the look my brother gave me. I remember seeing how upset he was and helpless he looked. At some point my parents showed up. My doctor was called and it was decided I was going to the ER. After discussion, tests and hours later. My parents drove me to Avera behavioral In Sioux Falls.
My Family Saved My Life. The support, understanding, action and love that they gave me is why I am still here. That week was only a blip in my radar and has now lead to probably the best year of my life. That is why I am speaking out.