Wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast.William Shakespeare
A little less than a year ago, I wrote about my struggle with my mental health for the first time. As I continue through my mental health recovery, I would like to keep talking about my experience, and the different things that I have gone through. I’ve chosen to put my life out there for everyone to read and listen to, in the hopes that I can help just one person. I touched on my most severe depression symptoms the first time I wrote about my mental health, so today I figured I’d go into some more detail. The thing that my depression destroyed the most for me was sleep. For 3 months, I didn’t sleep for more than 3 hours a night. I was quite literally a zombie, someone who went through the motions of day to day life without actually living. I had a panic attack almost every single night. All of my thoughts were irrational, but that didn’t stop my brain from freaking out about them. I would talk to myself, shake uncontrollably, cry myself to sleep. I would wake up in the middle of the night sweating. My thoughts would run so wild that I would drag myself out of my room, and sit at the top of the stairs, because I was so incredibly terrified of being alone in my room with those thoughts. Some nights I would go into the bathroom, look out the window and count the stars in the sky. I would have done anything to just stop thinking, and sleep. I didn’t shower, I didn’t eat, I didn’t smile. I was a shell of the person I used to be. I lost 3 moths of my life. Once I got on medication, and saw a psychiatrist, things started to get better. It’s been over a year since I started my recovery (although I don’t think you ever recover, you just learn to cope). I’m 1000 times better than I was back then, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t still struggle. Every time I go into a Lupus flare, my mental health takes a beating. Every time I get nervous or worked up about something, my mental health takes a beating. Sometimes I’ll wake up on certain days, and I know before it even happens, that my mental health will take a beating that day. But, every time, I get through it. I’ll admit, most of the time I don’t know how I overcome it, I just do. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished that there was a handbook to living with mental illness. Someone to just tell what to do, how to act, how to cope. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. Everyone is different, and everyone has different things that work for them. I don’t think that mental illness is one size fits all. There are people that can function without medication, there are people who can function without therapy, and there are people who can’t function without either of them. I think that people should be supported no matter what. I’m incredibly fortunate to have more support than I know what to do with, and I’m fully aware that some people don’t have any. All I can do is hope that my story will help someone else. I recently read the book One Day in December by Josie Silver, and one line in particular stuck in my mind. She wrote, “this is real life, where hearts get kicked and bruised and broken, but somehow they still keep beating.” I think that it is so true. I often wonder how, after everything, my heart still beats. I also think that the same thing can be said about our brains. How our brains can think such horrible things, betray you in more ways than one, but, in the end can still understand and accept the good things, that they can be put back together again if you put in the effort. My journey has not been easy, but is anyone’s ever? Shouldn’t we all be a little bit easier on ourselves for how hard we are trying? I will continue to be a mental health advocate for myself and for others. My story will be heard. It’s okay to not be okay, and it’s okay to need help. I wish I could tell that broken girl who was sitting at the top of the stairs in the middle of the night almost 2 years ago, that everything will be okay. So I’ll tell all the people that feel broken now, that it does get better. I am living proof of it. I’ll leave you all with another line from One Day in December, “there comes a point where you have to make the choice to be happy, because being sad for too long is exhausting.”
One thought on “My Mental Health Part 2”
Dear Eleanor, your blog is so beautifully written. For a young woman you have gone through so much mental and physical pain and anguish. I sympathize with you. My son was in so much physical and mental pain as well. My heart hurts to think so many young people have to suffer so much in the world we live in. Life is not an easy path.
I commend you for putting your story out there for people to read. Maybe one day more individuals will understand the mental part of an autoimmune disease. It’s just as crippling as the disease itself.
Sending you love and hugs always!