If You Struggle With Any Sort Of Mental Illness, You’ll Find Your Moment Too.

**This article is about a 10 minute read and goes into some more depth than the average person might appreciate. However, if you just bear with me through the end, you’ll understand why it’s so lengthy.**

You may be asking right now, “What on earth do you mean by ‘my moment’?” Well if you’re here just to quickly find that answer and then get back to scrolling through your feed, good luck. There isn’t really an accurate way to put this into words.

I’ll get right to it. I have battled and fought against depression, an eating disorder, self harm, and suicidal thoughts/tendencies/actions for 8 1/2 years. Well, depressive feelings and self diagnosed depression is what started when I was 12. The self harm didn’t pick up for 2 more years and suicidal thoughts followed about a year after that. The Eating disorder is super off and on but I first showed signs at about 15 as well, when I was a sophomore in High School.

Now, I didn’t tell you all this personal stuff just to get some sort of pity…I don’t want that or anything of the sort. I told you simply so that you, the reader, will know I’m not just going to lecture you about how you may not be thinking positively enough. Or how much you matter to this world, How much you’re missing out on, how beautiful you are, etc. I’m most definitely not going to tell you that after you find a new healthy coping mechanism, all this emotional trauma will go away..because it won’t.

Last year, at this time, I had jumped off a cliff into the dark abyss of my mind. It had been a month since a broke it off with a guy I dated for a year and a half, and with that breakup, came losing all the friends I had known for 3 years. I was alone, and I felt lost. I was starving myself and was food free for 4 days by the time I finally decided I needed to go to someone for help. But who could I turn to? I didn’t want to turn to any family members as I didn’t want to scare them or make them think I was broken. I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and didn’t think I could bear the shame I would feel while praying but I knew that God was where I should turn. So, I texted my ward Bishop to get an appointment with him as soon as possible so I could express to him how I was feeling. Upon speaking with my Bishop, he made me promise that I would eat *something* (or at least try) every day and then text him afterwards. I tried to come up with excuses as to why I may not text him every day because I hate feeling like I’m being babysat or like I’m a burden to anyone, hoping he would assume that I had eaten something on those days and then I would just not eat. But he shot down every excuse in the book. The next few months were rough, but my Bishop and I managed to communicate every single day about whether I had eaten or not and whether or not I felt the urges to cut myself and acted upon them.

During this spiral, my instructors at the Steiner Education Group massage therapy program I was attending started to notice that there was something very wrong with me and that I was cutting myself. Every night, after class, I would hang out in my car and enjoy the way the freezing cold air would shorten my breath and stop me from crying. I just find comfort in that. One night, an instructor (For privacy’s sake, we’ll call her Nancy) approached me, probably thinking it was weird to see someone hanging their head of their car with all the windows down and no jacket with it being only about 35°F. I expressed my stresses to her believing I probably wouldn’t live long enough to face the embarrassment of knowing I told yet another person what I’m going through. But, Nancy was really good about it all. She listened to me every time she could see that I was struggling, she took my tools away from me when she knew I wasn’t emotionally stable, and she hugged me when she knew that was all I needed.

On one particular night, I went into the bathroom after school and hurt myself with some thumbtacks I bought earlier that day. After exiting the bathroom, I saw Nancy. She knew something was wrong. Nancy asked, “Hey, how are you tonight?” I said, “I’m fine, thanks.” hoping to be able to rush passed her before she could ask any more questions. But I lost that race. She said, “No, what’s wrong?” I just gave her my thumbtack and tried not to cry. She gave me a hug and said, “You need to talk to [We will call this other instructor Dave]. Hang on a second.” Dave told me about how he can really relate to me (Which I actually already knew. There’s just a different energy about someone in these sort of situations.) and told me about a ‘now or never’ moment he had the last time he had cut himself. He chose never. At the end of our conversation, Dave told me “Don’t worry, Kenna. You’ll get your moment. It’s just a matter of when.” He gave me a friendly smile and asked if he could hug me. (Being a touchy ‘Hug everyone!’ type of person, of course I accepted it with great gratitude)

The whole point of this story was to sort of give you a background story of what your ‘moment’ really is. Let me share with you another story. This story is the story of a time I thought I had my moment and then when I actually did have my moment.

About a month later, I was listening to a Disney playlist on Spotify while driving home from school. The song ‘Let It Go’ came on and I was listening, words like “Let it go” “Here I stand and Here I’ll stay” and “The cold never bothered me anyway” really hit me deep. Plus, if you’re anything like me, I think you’ll agree when I say I feel like I relate to both Anna and Elsa in Frozen. (Like it’s my positive, happy side constantly reaching out to my sad, isolated, misunderstood side. But the depression has too much anxiety to accept happiness) Cheesy..I know. But in all seriousness. Those words never meant so much to me. I felt these feelings similar to the thought, ‘Yeah, who cares what anyone has to say! I am who I am and I don’t need to be ashamed. Besides, I already know I’m not alone!’ I felt inspired! I texted my Bishop as soon as I got home and told him all about my new inspiration. The next day, Dave pulled me aside to make sure I was doing okay and I explained everything to him. I told him that I truly felt that this was my moment. He expressed that he was really proud me and that he worries about me (in the protective older brother type way that he does).

That happiness only lasted me about 2 weeks and then in just one night, I had been spun back around..facing this escape-less dark cave and couldn’t find a way out. It was like my tour guide, with my only source of light, had hopped onto a train that came whizzing past me. I honestly have *never* been so desperate to torture myself, hurt myself without any obvious physical sign, and hope for someone to save me from killing myself as I was that night. Later that night, I emailed Dave in a panic and I texted a friend that was there for me every time no one else was.

“The urges to hurt myself in some way just turned into a flash flood, drowning any sense of logic and reasoning I have in my brain. And, normally, if I couldn’t find a tool I could use to create that comforting pain, I’d just buy me another one. But I don’t have money. So, my back up plan would be to go for a run. I did that till I fell from exhaustion, threw up (Well, not that there’s even anything but stomach acid to throw up), and then forced myself to get back up and keep running. Then I tried running more, but didn’t make it very far before throwing up and falling again.

Eventually, I ended up walking the long trek home so I could get in my car and just drive. But, I have nowhere to go. So here I am in the canyon, pulled over at a gas station..using every muscle and ounce of willpower I have to keep myself from doing something I wouldn’t live long enough to regret.”

That’s what I emailed Dave and texted my friend. My friend invited me to come over to his house so we could go for a walk and he could keep me at a slower, steady pace. Dave suggested I go to a therapist from a list of really good ones he knows about. I reluctantly agreed to it as I was very concerned I wouldn’t be able to afford it. Dave told me about his brother-in-law, Jamison. Jamison does free consultations and actually specializes in self harm and trauma. After seeing him once, he gave me a diagnosis. “Depression, Borderline Anxiety disorder, and a hint of PTSD.” were his words exactly. I felt so much closure, getting a professional diagnosis that just confirmed everything I had already self-diagnosed.

In February of 2016, I tried really hard to find a way to put into the universe that I am done letting these things take over my life. It took a lot of courage but on February 22, 2016 I walked into Dave’s office. I said, “Dave, I’m giving this to you. Not because I need you to help me stay away from it, but as a symbol to the universe that…….I’m done.” He gathered a look of interest and curiosity. I continued, “I’m tired of cutting myself. I’m tired of this unhealthy routine. I started this to get control in my life and then it turned into an addiction that I now have minimal control over.” He started smiling, I could tell he was beginning to feel relieved. “I am taking control back into my life. I am done.” I started losing hope as I waited for him to process everything I just said and respond. I told him, “This tool is not the only one I have, I’ve got another one that I actually prefer, but I’m giving you this one just…” I didn’t know how to continue. So Dave said, “..as a symbol. you’re putting it into the universe that you’ve had enough.” I nodded. He was smiling and asked, “Remember a few months back when we talked about you needing your moment?” I nodded again and there was a longer pause. “This is your moment. And I am so proud of you.” We hugged and as we were walking out of his office he said, “Now I just hope you can give up your other tool soon.”

If you have had multiple times when you thought you had your moment but then lost all hope a few weeks later, that’s perfectly normal! (My therapist said so ;) ) And if you are still stuck in this horrific round-a-bout with no exit, or a cage while everyone silently documents every breath you fail to breathe..It’s just not your time yet. You may have something to learn from your experience and just can’t possibly imagine what it would be because you’re so dizzy from going in circles.

I invite you to take a step back. Step away from yourself and examine what defines you. I used to always say, “Well, nothing defines me. But the only thing I’m good for is pain.” If you think the same or similar, try seeing if you are being controlled by your addiction. If your addiction has a tight grip on the control panel, try finding a way to symbolize what you want. Say it out loud, write it on paper, write an inspiring message to yourself on your mirror, in addition to these, physically do something that will tell the universe what you want. And document anything you found inspirational or anything that made you feel worth something! I call it my positivity journal and it has helped me through some really tough times. I’m actually 8 months clean! It’s never been easy…I don’t ever expect it to be easy. But I’m still alive and I just take it one challenge at a time.

Thank you for reading! I hope you gained something out of this. :)