It is hard enough being part of a minority but being at the crossroad of several has a multitude of disadvantages. But we are here. People like us exist and our stories should not be confined to closed doors or personal statements. The narratives of people who live with mental illness every single day deserve to be listened to.
I am ridiculously open with my students about my mental health when I need to be. If there is a student who is struggling emotionally and is diagnosed or is wondering if they should seek intervention, I will tell them that I have biploar disorder, that it’s really hard sometimes, but that there is also hope that it won’t “ruin” my life. I think it’s good for them to know that you can have a mental health issue and still be a functioning member of society.
There is such stigma surrounding postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis. We do not want to be seen as "crazy" or as an unfit mother. We are neither of those. Rather we are mothers, fathers and families trying to work our way out of the dark. If we focus on a perfect world in pictures and worry about what others think of us we stay lost.
I found a purpose in my life after the psychosis episode by attending a particular discussion group that runs on every Wednesday afternoons. I am always looking forward to it as I can meet with peers and learn new things and topics from this group.
A dark depression took hold of my life when my marriage began to end and consumed everything around me. Eventually I lost my job, my marriage, my home, my car, my son didn’t want to have anything to do with me, and then I lost all my belongings in a tornado. I sat in the ruins, just like I sat in the ruins of my life. I was done.
I woke up one day and realized that I couldn’t take much more. I was done feeling hopeless and worthless. I was done with the exhaustion no amount of sleep could fix. I was done with the intrusive thoughts. I was done, period. I started becoming reckless. I didn’t want to die; I was scared of it. I just yearned for an end to my constant pain.
Is this what a doctor feels like when they "did everything they could" to save someone's life and ultimately lose them? But what more could I have done, really? What more can anyone do when someone sees death as the only solution to a life of pain? We can’t control someone else’s actions. We can’t “fix” anyone else, no matter how hard we might try. I know that I did everything in my power to support her. But I still feel like a helpless six-year-old fatherless child all over again.
But 2 weeks after discharge, I attempted something more serious. I tried to jump under a train. The police helped me down but all in all I attempted suicide 7 times and I am here now 18 months later very happy and very confident.
This, I think, is the great gift of coming through a depression. Learning that life is much bigger than your perception is a gift. It can lead to being a little more humble, a little more hopeful, and little more open to learning about someone else’s perspective…it could make up for a blind spot in your own.
I understand that we all carry a weight on our shoulders, of responsibilities, of judgment, of being a particular way but how are we ever going to deal with it until we set this bag down and peek into it.
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So when I’m down and looking for a way out, I think of what I’m looking forward to, what I’d miss were I gone. And it helps every time. All you need is one thing, whether it be a baby sibling, a book, a class next semester, a new song, or the next episode of The Vampire Diaries.
This is my journey through IBD and depression (the black curtain). So many people suffer in silence. This is so very sad. My hope is that more people will openly talk about their illnesses and get the support and help they need to move through the black curtain.
That’s why when somebody tells a good joke at a funeral, you laugh even with tears streaked across your face, when you feel like you shouldn’t be laughing so you laugh harder. When it’s over, for a moment, everything is okay.
My childhood memories are of me and my sisters visiting my mother at the mental hospitals every now and then. While kids made wishes of toys they wanted on their birthdays, my wish was always the same - for my mother to be well again.