May is Mental Health Awareness Month….Here’s my Story

May is Mental Health Awareness Month….Here’s my Story

Suicide.

For most people, talking about suicide is considered a taboo topic; so we avoid it. However, if we avoid such an important topic, how will we ever learn from it? I believe that in order for me to share how my grief differs from others in a similar situation, I must put you in my shoes. Yes, you heard that right. You have to understand my very own battle with my demons to understand why my dad’s suicide hurts me more than you can imagine.

Now I must tell you, this is not a story I share…ever. Honestly, up until about a month ago, about four people in my whole life knew this story. The reason? I was scared. I was scared of being judged, I was scared of being called names and I was scared of being treated differently by people I had known my whole life. These are also the reasons I decided to tell people now. Nobody should be scared to say how they feel, regardless of what it is. Nobody should go through what I went through and most certainly not alone.

So, let’s rewind a little bit in time.

I was 16 when I was first “diagnosed” with having depression. I was a sophomore in high school and after hearing that news, I immediately went into a deeper depression. Depression wasn’t a word used yet, especially not in high school. I wasn’t a cool kid in school but I certainly didn’t want to be deemed more weird than I already was. So, I hid it. From everyone.
Fast forward to freshman year of college. I was 18 and living in a new town with new people and I could not figure out how to cope. Change was never my strong suit and I struggled hard for the first few months. I honestly thought it was the school that I was struggling with…until I went to look at transferring schools. The anxiety I felt thinking about starting over again was more than I could handle. So, second semester of freshman year, a friend of mine advised me that we had a free clinic on campus, that I should go try and at least talk to someone. At first, i was very wary of doing such a thing. My depression and anxiety were starting to affect my every day life and people were starting to notice. So, I took a bus over to the clinic one day and when I say it literally changed my life, I mean no exaggeration. My therapist there was probably the kindest human beings I had ever met. She explained to me that a lot of what I was going through was fairly common and that I shouldn’t make myself out to feel like a weirdo or an outcast. She also put me on my first dose of anti-depressants that were the best thing she could have done. Lexapro helped me survive those four years of college and i will forever be grateful for that.

When I was 22, I graduated college and I thought life was just grand…for a little while at least. Then, real life set in. No longer did I have my free therapist I saw once a week. No longer did I have my psychiatrist who gave me my monthly dose of Lexapro. Now, at 22 years old, I was forced to become an adult and figure out insurance and what was covered and what wasn’t and how to find a doctor in my network. I was working at a supermarket at the time and although we had insurance…it wasn’t the best insurance by any means. So, instead of putting myself through the mess of finding new doctors, I found that my family doctor could continue prescribing me the same dose of Lexapro I had been on. Great! Except…eventually medicine starts becoming less effective over time, which is something no one had told 18 or 22 year old me. So, when I asked my family doctor why I wasn’t feeling right, she advised that sometimes that happens to people who had been on a medicine for awhile. She suggested adding a new medicine to my regiment to see if that helped at all. We went through this trial and error several times. And do you know what eventually happened? *dramatic pause*

SHE TOOK ME OFF ALL MY MEDICINES. EVERY.LAST.ONE.OF.THEM.

Yes, you read correctly. A DOCTOR decided that the best thing for this 22 year old girl at the time was to COLD TURKEY take her off every single medication she was on. In case you are not aware, THAT NEVER SHOULD HAVE HAPPENED. Except I didn’t know it then. I had never stopped taking medication so I was very ill prepared for what was about to happen to me.
Over the next several days, I felt myself starting to feel…off. Not just off, even more than “off”. Something was wrong but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I couldn’t concentrate. I had trouble keeping my attention on anything for periods of time. I felt like I wanted to jump out of my skin and then crawl into a hole all at the same time. My doctor told me she would not give me anything else until I had an appointment with a psychiatrist. Easy, right? Except remember my awful insurance I spoke about? The earliest appointment I could get was 4, yes 4 MONTHS AWAY. I went insane when i found that out. Here I was, suffering the withdrawal symptoms of my medicine and literally not a single person could do a thing. I was driving everyone around me crazy because there is no right way to explain what you are feeling at the time. Not only was i feeling the insane side effects but my depression and anxiety came back full force.
Now. Let’s chat for a second. Up until this point in my life, suicide had never really been on my radar. When my therapists and doctors would ask me, “Do you have any suicidal thoughts?”, I would always answer, “No, that’s why I am here and taking my medicine.” It was something that I had control over and I was proud of that; my disease was NOT who I was. Or so I thought. During this meltdown, I started considering the things I could do to make this awful pain go away. I was not myself during this time, I was a stereotype. I was the insane woman people see in a hospital and whisper about behind her back. I was lost. I remember calling different clinics in the area, begging someone to help me, to do anything to make this go away, and everyone said the same thing. “Sorry, no appointments for 4-5 months”. I felt like the world was against me. Here I am, begging for help, begging for my LIFE, and nobody can do anything?! I specifically remember leaving my (ex) boyfriend’s house at the time to take myself to Hampton Hospital in Westampton. I walked in, burst into tears and asked the woman at the reception desk…”Help me”. Long story short, I was too sane for them to help me then but I could try coming in the next few weeks for a group therapy. That was my last straw. This was literally my life or death situation and I was failed. I sobbed my way back to my car and literally lost my mind. How could no one see how much pain I was in? How could this industry fail someone who was begging for life? Why am I still putting myself through this? Wouldn’t it just be easier if I wasn’t around?

At this point, I had no real support system. I had a dad who didn’t understand my disease that was away overseas, a sister who had a similar disease that was away at college, a mom who I loved dearly but just couldn’t understand what I was going through and a boyfriend(ex) who let me drive to Hampton Hospital ALONE. I had never felt more alone in this world. At that point in my head, I had literally nobody, so why was I still here?

While I was still having a breakdown in my car, I gave the google search one more shot to not fail me. I saw that Lourdes Hospital had a SCIP program made for dealing with problems such as mine. I decided I might as well give it a shot, and headed over. I have to be very straight and honest with you, I was not expecting anything life changing. I was expecting what everyone else had done and that there was a real possibility that I could not be here anymore if this continued. What I didn’t expect was for Lourdes Hospital to literally save-my-life. I sat with a counselor for over an hour and just talked. I told her everything I was feeling and thinking and it was the most terrifying conversation I’ve ever had. Being that open with depression and suicide will never be an easy topic to talk about. To have someone listen to you and then DO something about it is the most amazing thing I could have asked for. While they could not get me to see a psych right away, they got me scheduled to see one 4 days later. 4 days!!!!! FINALLY!

And fast forward to today. I am 31. I have a steady job. I have my own condo. I have an amazing human being of a boyfriend. I see a therapist and a psychiatrist on the regular but…I-AM-STILL-HERE.

Dad chose to not continue that fight. Dad didn’t have it in him to keep fighting and that absolutely tears me up. I am not perfect by any means. Just last week I was having a very serious case of being manic and thought, wouldn’t it just be easier if I wasn’t around? Yet, i will ALWAYS continue to fight, especially after dad lost. Dad didn’t understand his disease enough to understand that YOU ARE NOT YOUR DISEASE. It is something I have and that I deal with and it will not defeat me. Living is something I will do not only for me but for dad when he felt like he couldn’t.
if you have made it this far, i thank you. Thank you for following my journey of appreciating life and trying to live now for more than just me. I hope you all can find that one thing that keeps you going ❤

Please follow and like us:

6 Replies to “May is Mental Health Awareness Month….Here’s my Story”

  1. This was very emotional. People usually do not understand how at such a young age, teens or young adults can be diagnosed with depression. I feel that each personality has its own way of feeling. Anyways nicely written 😋😘

  2. Hi Krissie,
    I just want to let you know that you are amazing and I appreciate you sharing your story with such raw honesty. It’s very powerful. Also, I’m sorry to hear about your father. Continue to live, laugh and love and as you say, remember that you are not your mental health condition.

  3. Thank you so much for being so raw and uncensored about your experience. I struggled a lot with my own depressive episodes since the age of 11, but I only got diagnosed with bipolar type 2 at age 19 when I had hit rock bottom, one step above death to get that diagnosis.

    I didn’t tell many people for the first few years, you have these fears of being judged or having your opinion hold no weight because you’re “crazy” etc, but I’ve learnt to overcome it and openly talk about it when the topic comes up. It’s actually extremely liberating to talk about your mental health and feel confident doing it.

    *warm hug* we need more people to talk about mental health openly

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)