This blog is not FDA approved
Anxiety can save you or it can kill you. For me, it led to Obsessive Compulsive thinking and Depression. When Eric asked me to be a guest blogger my mind was flooded with ideas of what I could write about. I could write about my date rape over two decades ago and how I just now started actively dealing with it. I could write about my brain surgery and how my perspective on life changed. Or I could write about the moment I contemplated suicide. I chose to write about my depression because it affects so many people and my hope is that maybe someone will read this and see themselves and get help before it destroys them. Depression didn’t just affect me; it affected those I loved most.
I have always coped with things alone. When I was younger I would bite myself to release the anxiety I held in. I don’t think my anxiety had anything to do with my childhood I think it was just how I was made. It’s like being born a certain way; it doesn’t feel wrong because it is the only thing you know. I think my mom suffered from the same thing, making it seem even more normal. She would hide often, cry often, and get frustrated often. These are all things I see in myself now. I feel like sometimes I can see the broken pieces of me in my mom but maybe I am the mending pieces of her.
More than anything, I want to be a positive light to those around me. I seek to be a good listener every day and to be someone people can count on. Nobody wants to be around someone who is depressed, or sad, or emotional all the time. So I hid this side of me. Nearly six months before I contemplated suicide I had started fighting the critical inner voice. I have always had this “mean girl” voice but for some reason I had started to listen to it. For some reason this voice was much louder and I had started gathering real life evidence to support what it was telling me. My therapist told me that we find the evidence we want to find. Part of me must have thought it would prove I wasn’t crazy…that the voice was right. I was worthless and maybe being worthless was safer than being crazy.
The months’ leading up to this event felt like a slow moving storm. All that anxiety I grew up coping with, wasn’t getting coped with anymore. Something inside me was broken. I truly felt a switch had been flipped and I was going crazy. I was pushing all the people I loved away because I felt like they couldn’t be trusted and I justified it because they were all going to leave me anyway. Ha, well I beat them to the punch. Then the storm would clear up and I would think, “What have I done?” The storms were scattered like that at first. I would go a month without an outburst, then I would have an outburst once every few weeks, then every week. Then…well…the storm stayed and the silver linings were starting to disappear.
About six months ago I found myself sitting alone as my family slept. I sat in the dark, on our stairway crying and fighting with the thoughts in my head. I had finally snapped earlier that evening but my family was clueless; I was really good at hiding my problems. I had a fight with my best friend and as I look back on the fight I know it was the anxiety in my head reaching out for help but at the same time I was pushing him away in anger. I had actually started doing that a lot. It was like part of me was begging for help but the other part was sabotaging my attempts. Have you ever seen a movie where someone is possessed and the real person inside can’t surface to ask for help? That is exactly what it felt like.
After some time passed I texted a friend and told him I needed help and I needed a hospital. This was a big deal and in my head I kept thinking, if I go to the hospital I will be labeled as crazy and that is not what my daughter needs. He texted back that he would help me in the morning and he would help me research what to do. He told me to go to bed and get some sleep. I sat for a bit more time and tried to distract myself with social media. I texted 6 of my closest friends and told them how much I loved them and how I am going to take a break from socializing for bit.
The rest of the night is fuzzy but it wasn’t long before I was thinking about how much better off my family would be without me. There was no logical reasons for those thoughts. Eventually, I walked into the bedroom to wake up my husband and asked him to take me to the hospital. He asked what was wrong and I told him I felt like I was going to kill myself. He was half asleep and just asked me to lie down so he could hold me. I did but my mind was doing its damn best to kill me. I was mentally self-destructive and if my brain had been a time bomb it would have blown me to bits.
I went back to the stairs but this time I stopped in the kitchen and grabbed my favorite knife, it wasn’t the sharpest, but it was serrated and I remember thinking how perfect it was for slicing tomato skin. I would like to think I wasn’t going to do anything with it. I would like to think it was like a threat my brain was sending me. But…and I still get chills thinking about this…I started thinking about how warm and soothing it would feel to have my life drain out. I can’t honestly say where my mind would have taken me. Fortunately, I can only guess; and I choose not to play the guessing game.
I can only guess because those thoughts were interrupted by my friend, Yousef. I saw the light on my phone out of the corner of my eye. He had texted, “Are you ok?” I said NO and that I needed help, please call me. He did and he talked to me for nearly an hour. I listened to his voice because his voice drowned out the thoughts in my head. My blog talks more in detail but eventually I went to bed and fell asleep. I woke up the next day feeling like I had a terrible hangover. I felt like my brain was swollen. I made it a priority to be completely honest and get the help I needed to defeat the enemy inside my head. I could no longer worry what being labeled “crazy” or “depressed” would be like. I could no longer trust my own mind to take care of me.
My daughter volunteered to lead prayer in Sunday school one morning several months ago. The mother teaching the class confided to me that my daughter prayed that God would help her mom stop crying so much. I get anxious and my heart picks up speed just thinking back on that day. I tried so very hard to shield her from my insecurities, my doubts, and my excessive worry. The truth is my daughter witnessed the fights I had with my best friend. She witnessed my frustration with my husband. She witnessed me coming home and going straight to bed “sick”. I didn’t want to be that mom, but I was being that mom. Getting help for me was the first step in being the mom she deserved.
My daughter is smart and she is intuitive like I am. She knows when I am upset even when I am smiling. I see myself in her, the way she takes care of younger kids, how she is fun loving and silly: but I also see the Obsessive Compulsive things she does. I worry she will have these same disorders to deal with and I am going to do everything I can to help her cope correctly.
I thanked Yousef for calling me that night. But I haven’t really asked him for his thoughts or his perspective. I wanted to include it in this post. So he wrote the following about the phone call that night. It was helpful for me to see the incident through his eyes. I hope it is useful to you reading this story.Mental health/wellness is not something I can pretend to have knowledge of or understand, so I never want to speak out of line or insensitively. However, it is sometimes hard for me to wrap my head around. Also, I never want to sound like a hypocrite. We ALL have issues. I have issues. This is not the pot calling the kettle black; it’s the pot caring so much about the kettle that he will do anything for her. She asked for brutally honest letter, and this is it –because I care and love her so much. I first and foremost thought “I love Hasty, and I want the best for her.” My phone conversation with Hasty the night she considered suicide was one of the scariest phone calls I have ever had. In honesty, though there were tears and moments of heightened drama, it wasn’t the typical on-screen Hollywood depicted drama; it was quieter. It was the silence and subdued tone of her voice that was the most terrifying. You could hear the darkness in her tone, and feel the depth of despair in the air. Before answering the call, never in my mind did I think this is what was happening on the other end of the phone, but I am certainly glad I did. It scares me to wonder what would happen if I didn’t. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around this dark place. “Hasty, you have a daughter! Fight for her; fight for yourself! We are not the sum of our parent’s mistakes, our husband’s mistakes, our family’s mistakes, or our own mistakes. Every day is new, a chance to make it better, and that’s worth living for. If you think the world would be better without you, you are absolutely wrong. If you think you’ve lived your life to the fullest, you haven’t. You need to live with the assumption that you haven’t had the best day of your life, and tomorrow could be it!” I can recall Hasty asking me point blank if I thought she was crazy. I didn’t. Maybe others did? I don’t know. I didn’t understand where this point of view was coming from. From Hasty? Had other people told her things so much she had started to believe them? Maybe it was a combination of both? I think there are issues in Hasty’s life which have led to the place in her mind where she is now. Do I think that’s “crazy” or “mental health challenged”? I don’t. Maybe, I am wrong, and likely could be. I don’t know her entire medical history, but… Compared to where we were during that phone conversation, Hasty should be proud of herself, and I am SO proud of her. She has gone above-and-beyond in addressing certain areas of her life to make the best for herself, and make a better life. I think the problem(s), which happen from time to time now, still need to be addressed. I think there are a lot of stones left unturned that still need to be worked through… I think some of them are big, scary stones – but I think Hasty knows what they are. She’s getting there. My biggest prayer is that in time Hasty does this not only for her, but her family and the well-being of all involved. Don’t waste time on people that aren’t worth it; or court controversies that are unnecessary. At the end of the day, the first person who should be happy is you, so you can make the people in your life happy – the ones that matter. Another plus is that Hasty recognizes things now, patterns, and warning signs. Self-awareness is key and she is channeling that. Compared to the phone call, we are in a much better place. I love Hasty
My friend Matthew was the one I texted about needing a hospital. He hadn’t known me as long as Yousef but he was there before things started to change for me. Here is his perspective about that night.I met Hasty approximately 4 years ago. When I met her she was so warm and welcoming and seemed like she was constantly on cloud 9! :) You could tell that everyone loved her cause she was little miss social butterfly. Upon meeting Hasty I could tell that she had a beautiful heart. She was always so caring and supportive to everyone and anyone, it didn’t matter who you were. I can remember before we were very close that we would all go out dancing at the Copa and she would always try to dance around everyone and make everyone feel included. I would say it took about a year or so for Hasty and I to really get close for multiple reasons. I was in a bad relationship at the time and she had so many people in her life. It wasn’t until I ended my relationship with T that I really started to hang out with the group more. Hasty still hadn’t changed she was the bubbly girl who always had a smile on her face! I can’t honestly tell you when I started to see a shift in Hasty’s behavior. I can tell you when I realized that she was struggling with some internal issues was when our friend Rob passed away. Not only had that happened but she had other people in her life pass as well and we all know that can be an extremely hard time. I feel like when that happened it opened a door to depression and Hasty started changing how she acted. When Hasty was going through depression it was honestly very scary. I can remember getting a text saying that she wanted to be put into a hospital or that she just didn’t want to do this anymore. I would try and calm her down but sometime it seemed like she wasn’t listening to what I was saying. It was scary. Hasty stopped going out with us as much and I completely understood why but when I saw her she didn’t always have that big smile on her face like she did in the past. It made me sad because no one wants to see their friends feeling depressed. I can tell when she was going through depression Hasty seemed to get frustrated with things easier. When I’d go to her house she would get irritated more often and she would get hurt easily by things that people would say. One thing I will say is that through Hasty’s depression she still was able to give solid advice. I hurt for Hasty because there were times where I knew she wanted to be over this depression and she would try to find ways to overcome it but for some reason it wasn’t happening. Some good ways and some bad, I can remember her telling me she had drank a whole bottle of wine just because she felt bad. I know it’s normal to have a glass or two if you are feeling down but it scared me to think that she was downing a whole bottle and wanting to just not feel anything. I can tell you the moment that Hasty started truly dealing with her depression and that is when she went to Michelle. Being a patient of Michelle’s myself I can definitely see why she was a big help. I love that she gave Hasty tasks to do and things to think about. I can honestly say that I am starting to see the old Hasty back but more knowledgeable and mature! Hasty is really doing well and I am happy to see those big smiles on her face again!
I was so deeply involved with this bully in my head it was hard to see the love surrounding me. I want to thank Yousef and Matthew for giving me their perspective of that night. I was both saddened and deeply touched by their words. It could not have been easy to deal with the kind of negativity I was dishing out but I am truly blessed to have friends who weren’t afraid to try, who didn’t run away and hide for fear of commitment, who were honest enough to ask me to get help.
To finish this post, which is longer than anything I have ever written on my own blog, I would like to list a few important things that have helped me change the voice in my head.