Monday, August 6, 2012

It's (Not Really) a Funny Story: My Take.

I recently picked up the book "It's Kind of a Funny Story," a novel about a teenager's battle with depression and anxiety, and how time spent at a psychiatric hospital had helped him attain happiness.  This is going to be the hardest post I have ever written, so bare with me please. This post is about my own trip to the psych ward, and the process it took to overcome my depression.

I started feeling depressed when I was very young. My parents had been divorced for as long as I could remember, my mom was a struggling 30 something who cried almost every night when I was little, while my dad was an abusive alcoholic womanizer. Although they didn't always love themselves, they loved me. I was bright, I was funny, I loved to sing, but I got into a lot of trouble. I matured early so I experienced a lot of things earlier than most girls. However, my breaking point was in 2006, when I found out my dad had cancer. I was 16 and felt this was criteria to drink and party even more. I felt bad for myself. So bad that in early 2007, I found out that I was carrying a baby. It was so painful, especially because it was the baby of someone I liked, but definitely did not want to start a family with.  What's worse is that he completely dropped me, acting like I was just some tramp off of the street. His family met with my mom and me one day and they simply said (in the most pretentious way I can put this... since... well, they are), "So and so has a lot going for him. He is going to college next year, and you'll only be a senior in high school. Please do not have this baby and ruin everything for us." Do you know how devastating that feels? They basically told me I had nothing going for me, but I shouldn't be ruining SO AND SO's LIFE!! What about mine?

I never told my father I was pregnant, or that I was going to give the baby up for adoption. Not even when his cancer came back and he was laying on his death bed. My dad had always been about 200lbs+. He was strong and focused on fitness. The last time I saw him before he passed away, he was about >90lbs. It was so awful and that image will never be burned from my mind. I lost the baby a few weeks after seeing my dad. I went in to finally find out what I was having, and it was still. I was about five to six months pregnant, and it hadn't grown since month four. I cried for a long time, thankfully I had great family and friends to help me through it. But when I had finally been able to smile again, I got the news my dad had passed on. This is the first time I can remember hating my life and, especially, hating God. How could this greater being let my life pan out like this? Didn't I deserve to smile, to be happy? I ended up sitting on my kitchen floor holding a knife and sobbing hysterically for two and a half hours straight, until my mom came home from work and found me.

I overcame a lot of sadness for four years, until my junior year of college, when I broke down again. This time because I was scared. I had just turned 21, I was partying constantly, I wasn't going to class, I was failing class, I shut myself out to a lot of people. One night, on Thanksgiving break, after an elusive argument with my boyfriend (aren't they all), I took half a bottle of Tylenol. I just wanted to fall asleep without feeling anything. I woke up feeling sick, dizzy, nauseous... I knew I had done something wrong but figured, like always, I would push through it. My aunt and goddaughter came over, and the two year old was not making me smile as she usually did, but rather her presence, had made me hurt even more. As soon as they left I started crying, telling my mom I needed help. I didn't feel good and I just wanted to talk to someone. Our car was in the shop at the time, and my mom immediately called a cab to the hospital. That was the first and only time I have ever smoked a cigarette in front of my mom.

...I remember my shrink asking if I had thoughts of hurting myself or thoughts of worse, suicide. I remember starting to cry and saying, "I would never kill myself, that would hurt my friends and family so much... but I think sometimes life would be easier if I wasn't in it." She asked me if I had ever sought help, I told her twice. Once I went to a counselor, but I stopped calling her back for appointments; and once we brought a shrink into the house, and I never returned his follow up call the next day, but instead, had my mom tell him I was fine. This shrink shook her head, she knew these stories all too well. I told her I thought I was fat, ugly, stupid, and troubled.  People would be able to get over my absence. She told me I was beautiful. She said she couldn't find anything wrong with my looks and to never let anyone, especially myself, convince me otherwise. She said I couldn't be stupid, because after going through so much, I was still a junior in college, pursuing school with ambitions. "Some people come in here because they have some really BIG problems," she said. "But some people, have a lot on their shoulders, like you. They're just sad."

Depression is very real. I met some very, very sad people in the psych unit. A girl not much older than me who couldn't feel any ounce of love for her little child, a man who tried killing himself  and was found after his mishap a few days later by a family member, someone who lost everything and everyone as he suffered from lupus, and a bipolar schizophrenic who found herself more of a regular at the unit. These are people I think about daily. Are they feeling any better? Does she love her child yet? Is he still going or did he give up? Has anyone come back for him? Have the voices settled down in her head? 

I was prescribed an anti-anxiety pill and an anti-depressant, though I have since stopped taking them, I know that sometimes these drugs can help.  Some people feel empty inside, some people feel weird. I felt the happiness that was in my heart multiplied and sometimes I found myself talking too much about my family, or myself, or how well I was doing in a certain class. Once I got off of the medicine, I was able to just be normal.  I'll admit, once in a blue moon I feel sad. But all of these events have led me to feel as I should... it's not always rainbows and butterflies, but I feel functional. I am no longer going through the motions, but living to reach my full potential.

"Hard days are the best because that's when champions are made. If you can push through the hard days, then you can get through anything."
 - Gabby Douglas