Do Not Keep Silent

You Are Not Alone In Battling Mental Illness.

It has begun. The pushback from family and friends who do not appreciate that I’ve chosen to write about mental health. That is why I will continue. People battling through each day need to know they are not alone, that others do understand and will listen without immediately trying to “fix” them. Healing is a multifarious process and is gradual. The average time bipolar 2 can go undiagnosed is six years. For me, it was ten. Following diagnosis, the process of pursuing the best path for healing begins.

The road to healing is different for everyone. Trial and error occurs with medication; treatment that works for one, may not work for another. Therapy and other lifestyle changes are slow. I can only share my personal experiences and observations. I can only share someone else’s story if we’ve come to an understanding. Don’t be so quick to silence someone because you disagree with his/her viewpoint. Don’t discredit feelings. Feelings just...are, they are not right or wrong.

With that being said, my story begins in my youth.

My experiences in a nutshell
 (a jam-packed, enormous nutshell)

  • Early elementary age is the first time I voiced, “I wish I were dead.” I remember hearing those words from my own mouth. In response I heard, “You know that’s permanent,” or something similar. My reply, as far as I recall, was “I know. I just wish I could be dead for a little while.” In my mind, I understood what I meant. I was hurting, and I wanted the hurting to pass. Undoubtedly I had gotten into trouble for doing something I shouldn’t have done, but my feelings inside were intense, and I didn’t know how to process them.
I wish I could be dead for a little while.
  • In my later elementary years, I was bullied…the kid everyone picked on. Name calling, gossip, isolation, vicious words flying through the air and plunging into my heart. I cannot imagine how I would have dealt with bullying in our age of social media.
  • By the end of eighth grade, depression appeared to have set in. I couldn’t bring myself to breach that conversation with anyone out of fear of not being taken seriously. I recall standing in front of our medicine cabinet, staring at the possibilities. Wondering which one I could down and end it all.
  • Before high school one morning, shoveling spoonfuls of cereal into my mouth, I flipped through the Dallas Morning News. The front page of the Health section leapt out. It was a full page about depression: symptoms, warning signs, and avenues of help. I felt relief; my masked feelings were validated. Epiphany: I was not alone. However, I could not bring myself to begin that conversation with anyone. Instead, I saved that news page under my bed, pulling it out when I needed to know someone else like me existed.
Someone else like me exists. I am not alone.
  • 1995. Severe motor-vehicle accident. A concrete mixer runs a light and plows into the driver’s side of my car while I drive to work. Miraculously, I survive. The healing process, grueling. The pain, immense. Numerous times I wished that my life had ended. I endured a vicious loop of both physical and emotional pain.
  • Blundering through life, I graduate college, marry, relocate, and have my first “real job.” I’m making it, but I feel like I’m floundering emotionally. I tell myself it’s typical, no biggie, it’ll pass.
  • Life goes on. My first pregnancy didn’t go as planned, and we lost our little one. It was devastating. Soon enough, though, a son blessed our lives. Life went on, but I became more emotional. Eventually, I felt I was losing control of my sanity. I sought help from a doctor. Embarrassingly, I broke down in tears in his office, and before I left I held a prescription in my hand. Depression. I hated being on meds; I felt that I was failing as a human being. Over the years, I changed doctors, changed medications, unsuccessfully attempted to stop medication. Ultimately, I sucked it up and realized medication was an appendage I could not sever.
I felt that I was failing as a human being.
  • My job. I was in a life-sucking, time-sucking, unappreciated position. I had a sixty-hour workweek that I struggled to keep up with and involved so much office and state politics to allow a person to remain sane. Eventually, I hit a wall. Functioning at work and at home no longer happened. As a result, a breakdown. I took a leave of absence for three months.
  • In January 2013 we relocated to Dallas, hoping that being closer to other family members and friends would help make life more manageable. Initially, I saw the light of hope…but life soon snuffed it out. Our marriage, which hadn’t been perfect (no one’s is), became rocky. I was mentally losing it, and I moved out. During this time, I developed suicidal tendencies. I restrained my desire to down my bottle of Klonopin. I was curious as to how bad it would hurt to bleed out in the tub. Driving home from work one day, I visualized how simple steering my car into the concrete wall would be. I became scared of my life…and of myself. Just let me lie down and be done. Fortunately, my husband, parents, and sister in Japan had an intervention of sorts. I finally agreed to yet one more path for help. It couldn’t hurt, but I had no hope.
Just let me lie down and be done.
  • My new path to mental healing began. For the first time, I felt hope by virtue of my new doctor. I had finally been diagnosed with bipolar 2. Eventually, I moved back in with my husband and son.; we began marriage counseling.
  • My first major setback was September 2016, the passing of my younger brother, my best friend. However, now, I have the knowledge and support needed to push through.

Countless stories of my life are condensed within that nutshell. Perhaps over time, I will allow a few to unfold in following posts. Today, my life is not perfect. Every day is a battle, but it is a life worth living. (Click to Tweet)

Feel reassured you are not alone. Let’s discuss, support each other, and provide hope. Don’t be silent.

Copyright © 2017 Alicia T-Rust. All rights reserved.

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