Kelly is a good friend of those at Unpolished Journey. In addition to this, she is also a mental health warrior. In honor of Mental Health Awareness Week, Unpolished Journey wanted to share her story. This post may be triggering for some readers, but I believe it is essential that we begin to share our stories: our true, authentic, and messy stories. So be weary of content. Remember that mental illness is real and begins to be understood only when we are willing to hear each others stories.
#imnotsorry for crying. I’m not sorry if I make you uncomfortable with my tears. I will not apologize to the people who think that I’m too sensitive or too emotional. When I was little, around the age of five or six, I remember whenever I would start to cry, people would tell me things like “Stop crying” or “There’s nothing to cry about.” This led to a future of constantly invalidating my own emotions because others often had before. This led to undiagnosed depression in high school that escalated during my first year of college. I grew up in an upper class neighborhood, I got good grades, and I was athletic. I had good friends and an even better family. I thought I had no reason to feel the way I was feeling. There was no reason for me to want to kill myself, but mental illnesses don’t work that way. They do not discriminate. You can have a seemingly “perfect” life on the outside, but still feel completely broken on the inside. During my first year of college I cried alone, I cried to my roommate, and I cried over the phone to my parents.
I remember one night telling my mom over the phone that I just wanted to hurt myself. I wanted to feel anything except the emotions that were overwhelming me. I went to the counseling office at school and they referred me to an outside therapist because they felt that my problems were too overwhelming for them to handle. Still, I was not convinced that they were valid. I resisted following up with any of their referrals because I thought I could make it to the end of the semester. Then I would be home and things would be better. A couple weeks later, I realized if I wanted to finish my first year of school, I would need to address the issue at hand. So I began seeing a therapist in Boston. My mom flew out for a weekend and offered to stay until the end of the semester, but I didn’t want to be an inconvenience even though she said it wouldn’t be. Note to reader: Your feelings, your emotions, your tears, your illnesses—none of these are “inconveniences” to anyone that truly cares about you.
Fast forward about a year. I finished my first year of college by the skin of my teeth. I did not return to that school mostly because it was too far away from home. I was hospitalized a couple of times because of my suicidal ideation and I started to self-harm for a brief period of time. I was taking time off of school to figure things out. It was February 27th, 2013. I was feeling suicidal. Again. It was bad this time. I can’t explain it, but there are times when I just know I am in more danger to myself than others. It wasn’t a fleeting thought. I went to see my psychiatrist later that night. He wanted to keep me out of the hospital even though my thoughts were strong. He talked to my mom and she agreed to keep an eye on me, even though I am almost positive I told him “If I go home, I will try to kill myself.” My mom said, he didn’t tell her I said that.
#imnotsorry for crying because if there is anything worse than feeling overwhelmingly depressed to the point of tears, it is feeling nothing at all. When I attempted, I felt like I was a zombie or like I was sleepwalking. I went through the motions. I calmly told my mom I was going to take a shower and I took my pills to the bathroom. Shortly after, my mom called up to me asking if I had my pills. I had already taken them all. She knocked on the locked bathroom door. She asked what I did, and I began to cry. I woke up.
Things did not magically get better for me, but they have gotten better. Although I wish I could tell you that I have never had the thought “I want to kill myself” since my suicide attempt in 2013, or that I have not been hospitalized since then, I can tell you something that I am very proud of. I have worked and talked and screamed and laughed and cried myself into the healthier person that is writing this post. I’ve learned how to express how I’m feeling, I’ve learned to validate myself, and in general I’ve learned to take better care of myself. I’m no longer afraid to feel. Rather I feel lucky to be someone that is able to feel the entire spectrum of emotions—even if it gets overwhelming at times.