UPDATE: June 20, 2011 this post was published on the group blog Band Back Together.
I hit my head against the dresser over and over. I had never “hurt myself” this way before but I was so depressed I needed to feel something.
I was becoming suicidal and I had started to make myself physically sick.
I was late every day to work or just missed days entirely.
I was drinking and partying way too much. And alcohol just made me weepy and more depressed.
If I had my way, I’d stay in bed all day, never get dressed, never shower, never go out.
I even had a “psychiatrist.” I put that title in quotes because he was not a good one, and I was young and inexperienced and didn’t know that I should advocate for myself and find a good doctor. I guess I didn’t even know he was a bad one.
My friends began to notice, and without me knowing talked to each other. I was living in Los Angeles at the time far away from most of my family. And this was my group of girl friends who I had only known for a few years. But we loved each other dearly (and still do although we all live apart now).
I didn’t know John. We hadn’t met yet. So that support was not there.
But I was confronted by friends. My tight knit group of LA girlfriends. Guy friends from college. One even came to visit from New Orleans to check on me. It was that bad.
Finally I saw that others were there for me and I didn’t need to suffer alone. I asked for help. I went to my boss and my bosses boss and asked for leave. It was a difficult thing for me to do because even though recently I had started to be late, miss work and such, I prided myself on keeping it together when I WAS there and doing a great job for my clients.
I found out about the Family Medical Leave Act. I could legally take time off and still get partial pay because of a severe medical need.
And so I left my apartment and job behind for a few months. Traveled to my parents’ home in Florida and went to therapy. Intense therapy, 3-4 times per week for two months. I saw my Grandmother’s psychiatrist in Tampa (she’s a good one) and started trying out new medications.
I faced a few demons left over from a date rape in college with hypnotherapy. I told my parents I had been raped.
It wasn’t the end of my mental health struggles by any means, but it was the start of an amazing learning experience that has brought me to today. I now trust my heart. I listen to my inner voice. I advocate for myself and my mental health.
When the bad days come, and yes they certainly still do, I know I can ask for help. I know its OK to be a “Sad Bunny” once in a while (whether from PPD, depression or just the regular stresses of life).
Its just letting those days turn into weeks or months that becomes a BIG PROBLEM.
Letting those days turn into hitting your head against a dresser.
Letting those days turn into thoughts of suicide.
Letting those days and your mental illness take away your life.
On Saturday I walked for Suicide Prevention at Seattle Pacific University, and it felt good. I felt like I was making a difference in honor of my own struggles and my friends who have died by suicide. In honor of Dina.
On October 1st, the larger Out of the Darkness Walk for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention will make its way around Green Lake Park in Seattle with me and many other supporters. I’m formulating plans for a fundraising and awareness campaign and I’m SO excited I could cry.
This is SO important. We are not alone in this fight. My friends proved that to me about 8 years ago when they confronted me. Today I am confronting you.
Have you asked for help?