Mar 30, 2016
This content contains explicit and sensitive information that may not be suitable for all ages.
On Halloween weekend, I found myself in a vacant lot alone and terrified after nearly dying by suicide. Left sad, confused, angry and just plain exhausted from years of denying that I had a problem, that was the day that ultimately ended up saving my life.
For years, I kept up a ruse that ended up not only nearly destroying my life, but ending it altogether. Despite keeping up appearances that I was leading a happy and fulfilling life in an effort to convince myself and others that I was ok, I had been overwhelmed with hopelessness, despair, numbness and confusion for many years. Left unchecked, I began to rapidly decline.
Much too stubborn to ask for help and frankly ignorant to the fact that I was struggling so much, it was that day that I finally understood that I was trapped in a vicious cycle that I couldn’t escape alone. A cycle that I had endured for most of my life without knowing why. A cycle that made me feel as if suicide were my only solution.
Talking myself out of ending things each day became the focus of my life. I had resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn’t make it to 2016. For months, I kept a suicide note in my drafts folder and a hand-written one on my person nearly every day.
I had no desire to be alive any longer.
I felt as if I were a caged animal that had finally snapped.
I kept the torture that I was enduring internally each day a secret from everybody in my life until it imploded. When you keep up a lie as big as I was, it becomes increasingly easy to deceive yourself and others about much less important things in an effort to keep your head above water. I became a dishonest, unfaithful, erratic person and a stranger to myself and to others. I felt as if I were a caged animal that had finally snapped.
I had destroyed relationships, self-destructed, and even faced the prospect of homelessness.
In the years leading up to my implosion, my life had become an unpredictable roller coaster ride. I would experience long spells of euphoria during which I felt invincible and indestructible. When that spell would end, I would feel so severely depressed that I couldn’t get off the couch. There was no in between. It was a type of turmoil that was hard to describe unless you’ve been through it.
It all came to a head on that fateful November day in that wooded, empty lot, where I stopped myself short of ending my life and decided it was time to regain control.
neurotransmitters in my brain were misfiring and sending the wrong signals
I would learn soon after that neurotransmitters in my brain were misfiring and sending the wrong signals, causing me to have suicidal ideation and act dangerously and self-destructively on impulse. The chemical imbalance in my brain was causing me to be irritable, angry, and unbending in my resolve to fake it until I made it.
Simply put, I was suffering from a mental illness. The day I heard my diagnosis, I realized that life as I had known it was over. Big changes had to be made in order for me to successfully manage my mental illness.
For the next 45 days, I spent my time in intensive in-patient treatment at the start of a long and winding road to recovery on which I’m still traveling today. Shortly after entering the hospital, I was given an official and terrifying diagnosis – Major Depressive Disorder and Bipolar Disorder Type II.
Toward the beginning of my hospital stay, the head of my treatment team sat with me as I sobbed. That day, she told me that even though I couldn’t see it then, in six months my life would be completely different if I committed myself fully to recovery. As I sat at rock bottom, I wondered if she realized how broken I had become.
It turns out, she was right.
Mental illness is not something that should be romanticized. It is an unrelenting monster that can rob people of their dignity, relationships, and ability to lead a healthy lifestyle.
I continue to see a psychiatrist and talk to a therapist every week. I take a regimen of medications that keep me at baseline and ensure that I avoid relapse. Each of those things will be a lifelong commitment for me. I owe it to myself. I owe it to my partner. And now, I owe it to our baby daughter who will be born any day now.
Recovery is nearly a full time job and sometimes feels overwhelming. Despite all of that, for the first time in as long as I can remember I feel something that has been foreign to me for a long time.