My mental illnesses do not define me; however, they do explain what I go through and what I feel. Together we have to fight the stigma.
It was a Monday. May 22, 2017, to be exact. I had been thinking of this day for years, ever since I was 15 years old. I had always thought about suicide. It had always fascinated me as topic, as I had never truly grasped the idea of why people decided to end their lives—until depression hit me.
When I turned 15, everything started to change. My mood started to change, my behaviour started to change, and my social life changed, as well. Such problems may seem normal at that age; in fact, there had been multiple times when I tried to find a solution to these problems. However, I found it impossible to get the answers I was looking for online. From age 15, I started daydreaming about suicide—and as I got older, the feelings grew stronger and stronger. I knew that at some point in my life I would try to kill myself.
As I have said above, it was Monday, the 22 of May, 2017. I had just finished my final exams. My future depended on these exams, as they would determine whether or not I would go to university in October; however, I did not really feel much pressure. My motivation to actually pursue my educational aspiration was non-existent.
As I sat for my final English exam, there was only one thought going through my head, and that was that in a couple of hours’ time, I will be dead. I had thought this completely through. The previous day I had written a suicide letter; however I decided against the idea and threw the letter away, as I thought that it would only add to the trauma my family would go through. I also had also thought out how to carefully execute my plan. I would swallow all of my antidepressant medication, and I would wait for the effects to kick in.
I had no idea what I was actually writing in my exam—obviously, I had far more important things in my mind. The three examination hours went by extremely slowly; however, they finally passed. When I went into my father’s car I started to notice every single detail. I started to notice the sidewalks, the corner shops, everything, as I knew that this would be the last time that I would be seeing such things with my eyes.
When I arrived home, the first thing I did was rush to my room and empty all of my pills on my table, carefully lining them up and waiting for the right moment to go ahead with the plan. To be quite honest, as I sat in my room, I had no idea what I was waiting for; however, my anxiety was at an all-time high, and panic was starting to kick in. I paced around my four-cornered room for minutes, until I decided it was time to man up for once in my life. At that very second, I grabbed every single pill and swallowed.
The moment I swallowed the medications I felt everything falling apart. Every single thing I had done in my life, it had become irrelevant. My school, my family, my favourite bands, everything. All irrelevant. I stared at the mirror for a solid five minutes before I had a full-blown panic attack. I realised that I did not really want to die. I just wanted the sadness and pain to go away. However, it was all too late now. The damage had been done.
I quickly rushed downstairs with tears in my eyes and a pounding heartbeat. I found my mother on the sofa, watching a series. She immediately noticed something was off. She looked in my eyes and begged for me to tell her what was going on. “Please take me to the hospital, I took all of my medication.” That sentence changed everyone’s life. Shock, fear and hope. All three emotions evoked by one sentence. My father rushed downstairs with a look on his face I will never forget.
As I sat in the backseat, my father called an ambulance and gave them all of my details, informing them of the medications I had overdosed on. I felt completely destroyed. I did not feel sad, however. I felt disappointed in myself, as I could not even kill myself properly without messing it up.
When we arrived at the hospital I went into a room where my vitals where taken, including my heart rate, blood pressure and so on. The primary doctor asked why I had overdosed, and I answered that it was an impulsive act based on my depressive episode I was in. After a couple of minutes the nurse came with a bottle of activated charcoal. Yes, it tasted as bad as it sounds. It was completely horrible. The texture, the colour and the taste. As I downed it, two further nurses came by and asked more questions, this time more detailed.
I mentioned that I'd battled mental illness ever since I was a child. I had been suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder ever since I was just 9 years old, and I also suffer from major depressive disorder and borderline personality disorder. All three disorders drove me to where I was at that very second. On a hospital bed drinking charcoal after a failed suicide attempt.
That night in hospital was hands down one of the roughest nights of my life. Apart from the fact that I had numerous wires attached to my body and an aching IV tube, I also had a suicide watch nurse sitting right beside my bed, making sure I would not kill myself in a hospital, with all the possible methods I had around me (it’s meant to sound sarcastic). Anyways, after the roughest night of my life, a psychiatric team visited my ward. They asked the same questions I was had been asked the day before, and I gave the same answers. OCD, depression and borderline personality disorder. A summary of our forty-minute conversation.
After their evaluation, the psychiatric team told me I could return back home as soon as I was physically well. Physically I was well; mentally I was not, obviously. My brain felt as fragile as an egg. Every single thing going on around me was affecting me much more than usual, and I am usually very prone to mood changes and swings, thanks to my personality disorder.
After another night of observation, I returned back home. However, the second night was surprisingly worse than the first, as now I was completely aware of the decision I had made the previous day. I had wanted to kill myself. I was so desperate to escape the sadness that I thought that ending my life was the only solution.
On the second day, the day I was meant to return home, I felt completely broken. I looked around the hospital ward and saw elderly people, in their last moments of life, most of them on life support, and I felt completely worthless. I felt guilty. All of these people who were fighting for their lives whilst I tried to end mine. The guilt was suffocating. However, that is what mental illness does to you. It makes you feel guilty for experiencing a different type of pain. Unfortunately, not many people grasp this idea, as there is still a lot of stigma surrounding the topic.
So what did I learn during these three days? Mostly the importance of mental health. It is completely useless to have a fully functioning body if you suffer from mental illness and you do not seek help. Mental illnesses are as important as physical illnesses are. Some people have a damaged liver—and I have an ill brain. Both are organs, both are as valid as each other. As I am still trying to find reasons to stay alive there is one thing I know for sure, and that is that I am not ashamed of who I am.
My mental illnesses do not define me; however they do explain what I go through and what I feel. And I am not ashamed of it. I am not ashamed that I have to take medication in order to have a somewhat normal day. I am not ashamed of what I go through. I am ready to fight the stigma, even if it means being called ‘crazy’ or ‘weird’. There are many people out there who struggle on their own. This should not be the case. There is no shame in asking for help. Once you do, things will not necessarily get better; however, things will definitely get easier to handle. Together we have to fight the stigma.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
DanaRiashi on June 07, 2017:
Some people deal with the misery of our world better than others. I think it is because we all much in common. We all have to follow the constructs of our government, but all also have access to free information online to educate ourselves. I congratulate you on having your 1st article published here while mine is requiring some non-specific redo. Regardless, 'where you are at' perhaps is at a threshold to reinvent your self-esteem
where you ultimately will carve a rightful place to contribute to our common world. No one can take away your self empowerment. I went through such younger experience(s) and started reading & writing Jung styled journals, Numerology (try 'Numerology and the Divine Triangle' - F, Javane & R. Bunker, book) and anything Art related. You have to simply explore and experiment with whatever will turn your Off to your On. Pursue a liberal arts education - it's all about living life as a human. I have faith you will discover a strength and humility for the misery of this world - as - it's not all about you, but you can seriously help to ease common pressures - when you accept that duty to get yourself back up first ;)