Welcome to the first in a series of blogs written by real people suffering from mental illness. I hope that reading the stories of other helps you to know that you’re not alone in your struggles and that others are sharing similar experiences.
I want to give a huge shout out to Niki from nikichapmanblog.wordpress.com for being so open and authentic in this piece. It’s an honor to work with such inspirational people like her. Go check out her blog for more fatastic stuff!
Her story is one that I think a lot of us can connect with. It’s important to know that even though depression is a constant struggle, major life events definitely contribute to how we feel. I hope her story is one that helps you through hard times. Without further ado here’s what Niki has to say.
The year is 2015. Its January 1, 2015 to be more specific. The day I decided I wanted to end my life.
It started when I was a mere 13 years old. I had experienced a tragedy within my family, and that’s when I really started to become aware of something being “off” in my head. I noticed I thought different than others, I became cold and distant from the people around me. I grew an attitude, and never wanted to follow the rules. I became your typical rebel teen, but it was much more than that on the inside.
My junior high and high school experiences were, in a word, trying. I tried desperately to make friends, and was constantly changing my look in hopes of the “popular” crowd reaching out a hand of friendship to me. But it never happened. Instead, I got bullied for being a poser and trying too hard to fit in. If only I knew then what I know now…
The first time I ever self-harmed was in the 8th grade. It grew into an unhealthy obsession, a sweet release. I’ve struggled with it since then, and still do to this day. I remember when my parents found out, they tried everything to help me. They wanted to “fix” me. They didn’t understand that this wasn’t something that could just be fixed. I went to therapist after therapist, dreading each appointment. I was only willing to go because I got to skip school, but once in the doctor’s office, not one word out of my mouth. How could these people possibly understand what’s going on in my head? They’re getting paid to tell me things I could easily read in a textbook or hear from a motivational speech on YouTube. I was never willing to open up to anyone. No one could possibly get me on such a deep level.
The hell I called high school eventually ended, and things were great for a while. I moved to a town about an hour away, took some college classes, started a new job, made a new circle of friends that I really got along with. My mental state was undisturbed. What could possibly go wrong?
A boy! Of course, a boy. I got my first real boyfriend that summer. We were only together for a few months, but it was enough. It was enough to shatter my heart when he dumped me. A week before my birthday, I might add. My first true heartbreak. It was just like the movies. I stopped going to school, I was nauseous and tired every day. I didn’t eat besides my nightly tub of ice cream, I didn’t sleep, I cried lakes of tears every night. But worst of all, the sickness in my head struck like lightning, after a year of being “okay”, and it took over my entire mind.
I was able to fight it pretty well, but not for long. Thanksgiving came and went, and soon after, I got kicked out of my parents’ house. It was my fault, but I didn’t care at the time. I wanted to be alone. I had a sick craving for being alone with my twisted thoughts. I stayed with a coworker through the end of that month and all of December. That was the worst Christmas ever. I laid down New Year’s eve thinking “How could I have let everything get this bad?” I was without a home, a family, friends, self-worth. I woke up New Year’s day and decided I had nothing left to live for.
I attempted to commit suicide sitting in my car in the parking lot of my job at the time. I panicked at the last minute and called family who called an ambulance for me. I don’t know what made me panic, I don’t know what made me at the last minute want to live. But to this day, I’m thankful I’m alive. An ambulance came for me, and I was angry and scared all at the same time. I was loaded into the ambulance and taken to a hospital, where I stayed overnight. My mind was empty, I didn’t know how to feel. I was extremely nauseous when I got to the hospital, so I just went to sleep. The next day I was transferred to a psych hospital, where I’d stay for one week. I arrived there very early in the morning, around 6 or 7 AM I believe. I was terrified of being there. I’d only seen psych hospitals in movies, so I had no idea what to expect. I was walked to my section of the hospital and introduced to a couple of girls. I was scared out of my mind, I couldn’t bring myself to speak a single word. I just sat at the front desk and waited for them to tell me I could go to my room and go to sleep. The next morning, and the mornings that followed, became easier and more comfortable. I made friends, I colored, did puzzles. I talked to counselors, I did group therapy, both things I’m not a fan of, but it had to be done. I was officially diagnosed with “major depression”. I was put on medication, and an action plan to make my life better. That week felt like the longest week of my life, but also the most rewarding.
Getting out of the hospital was weird. I felt like I was stepping out into a whole other world. Reality was a strange thing for me. It took me a few days to get re acclimated to the real world again. I went home with different family and lived with them for a few months. Shortly after being released from the hospital, I met another boy. But don’t worry, this one ends a little better.
It was a sappy, love at first sight kind of love. It’s a long, complicated story on how we met and became a couple, so I’ll spare you the details. The important thing about us is that we’re a team. My boyfriend struggles with similar troubles as me, so it’s very comforting to have him around, and we’re able to help each other through dark times. I think it’s crucial to have someone like that in your life. Someone who you can turn to and confide in, who won’t come back with a “Oh, honey, it’s okay, just think of something happy” or “Don’t be so dramatic, life is just hard sometimes”. Some people don’t understand these things, and that’s okay. But it definitely helps to have someone who you know will understand you on a deeper level, and be able to be there for you.
Even a pet! My cat, Raptor, is my best friend, and there’s no better feeling for me than coming home at night and snuggling his soft little body and hearing his comforting purrs. Pets of any kind are therapeutic and are the best kinds of friends you can have. They’re so oblivious to the real world, making them the happiest and most loving companions you could ever find. They will love you unconditionally, so even a pet would be a good way to escape reality for a little bit.
To this day, I struggle with depression and everything along with it, but I’ve also grown strong with it. Some days, it beats me. Some days I can’t leave my bed and I cry for no reason. Some days I feel empty and lonely, and wonder what my purpose in this godforsaken world is. But other days, I jump out of bed and swing open my blinds, soaking in every ray of sunlight I can get. Other days, I wave to strangers and drive around just to sing at full volume with all of my windows down. See, depression may be a monster. It may be a menacing darkness lurking inside of you, tempting you to give into it. It may be a huge thunderstorm rumbling in your head for days, weeks, months, even years. But…don’t the monsters always get defeated in the end?