A New Person

It has been about a month since I last felt depressed. Realizing that I am not a bad person had a lot to do with that. Most people who know me would probably think it is strange that I would think of myself as a bad person, but it was the one belief that overpowered everything else in my life. It influenced every thought, action, and relationship. It ruled my life for so long that I hardly even recognized its influence because I was so accustomed to thinking that way.

I feel like a great weight has been lifted off me. I feel free. I used to be so scared all the time. I was scared of doing good things because I felt like a bad person so doing something good seemed hypocritical. I was also scared of not doing good things because I did not want to be a bad person. I was scared of getting close to people or making friends because I felt like it was just a matter of time before they found out how terrible I really was.

Looking back, my thoughts seem so strange. They did not make any sense. How could I be a bad person if I did not do anything to be mean or malicious or disrespectful? How could I be so bad if all anyone else saw in me was good? I guess that is how mental illness works though. Your thoughts are not inline with reality. Your thoughts directly contradict reality sometimes, but at the same time, your thoughts are reality. The way you see and think about the world is your reality, even if it is not true from the outside.

Now, I can look at how I used to think and see the flaws. I understand how I came to those beliefs and why I believed I was a bad person, but it is still difficult for me to believe I felt that way for so long. I mean, you would think that I would have noticed earlier. You would think that I would have recognized that these thoughts ruled my life. I guess I did recognize it to some extent, but I did not know how to change it. I would tell myself that my thoughts weren’t true, but I didn’t believe it. I believed my thoughts, not whatever I tried to tell myself.

I am not exactly sure what finally changed my thoughts. I had been going to therapy for a few weeks, and we were working on recognizing mental distortions.  I sat down one night and drew out my life and realized how and why I came to see myself as a bad person. I talked to my friends about it, and briefly to my therapist. Then one day, it was like all the pieces fit together in my mind. I recognized the lie and saw the truth, but, more importantly, I believed the truth.

I have felt like a new person since that time. The world seems brighter, more friendly and happier. I feel at peace with myself and everything around me. It is like clouds of darkness that had been there for years finally dispersed, and I can see the sun again. The strangest (and possibly most wonderful) thing is how I see my past now. I used to see hurt and sorrow and loneliness in my past. There were good times in the midst of that, but my general feeling was that the past was too painful to remember. Now, I see so much hope and light in past experiences. Even in the darkest times, I see the brightness of hope that was just beyond my view back then.

I am the happiest I have ever been! I wake up every day with a newness of life! The world seems wonderful and amazing! I see the beauty in everything! To someone that has been depressed for the majority of my life, it seems like a fairy tale and I am waiting to wake up or climb out of a rabbit hole like Alice in Wonderland. But this is real! The feelings are real because I have been freed from beliefs that weren’t real. It is not that I stepped into a better world, but rather that I stepped out of the darkness. I stepped out of a prison cell I did not know I was keeping myself in. Now I have a chance to be free, to find out what the world is really like without distorted lenses. I can’t express how truly excited I am to be alive now! The world is a beautiful place, and I am so excited to experience that beauty for the first time without anything distorting my view!

 

Childhood Depression and Getting Help

My first year of college, I attempted suicide. It wasn’t the stress of college. It wasn’t a new environment. It wasn’t the people around me that caused these thoughts. I simply had the opportunity to kill myself, and I didn’t know where to go for help.

I have struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts for as long as I can remember. I don’t remember a time in my life when death did not seem appealing. But I was never alone growing up. I shared a room with my sister, and I had two brothers so someone was always around.

I remember sitting in the car on the freeway and thinking that if I just unbuckled my seatbelt and opened the door, it could all be over. The thought scared me. The thought that I wanted to die scared me so much that I knew I couldn’t tell anyone because it would scare them too.

When I was a little older and could look over the side of walkways at the mall, I had recurring images in my mind of jumping off. I never looked over a ledge for very long because it felt like something was drawing me down, that something was calling me to end it all now.

If I ever found myself alone in the kitchen because the rest of my family was in their rooms napping or working on homework, I would be drawn to the knives. I remember fingering the biggest ones a couple times before I got scared and put them quickly away.

I remember being diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. I remember going to the therapists for all the testing, and then doing play therapy after I was diagnosed. It seemed pointless to me. How was playing with an adult and talking about my family going to help me?

I asked my mom if it was supposed to help. I told her that we just played and I didn’t think it would change anything. Of course, my mom didn’t know that I thought about suicide, the therapy was for autism. So my mom listened to me and I didn’t go back.

The point is that I didn’t think anyone could help me and I didn’t think I could tell anyone how I felt. I never heard the phrase “mental health” or “mental illness” growing up. I didn’t even know that there were healthy and unhealthy states of mind. I had no idea that someone could help me process my thoughts so I wouldn’t have to be afraid of myself.

The only terms I was really familiar with were good and bad. So I categorized suicidal thoughts as bad. I was a bad person for thinking those things. I was a bad kid for wanting to hurt myself.

I didn’t know the term, depression. If someone asked me if I felt depressed, I wouldn’t know what to tell them. But adults don’t ask kids if they want to die. Kids aren’t supposed to want to die. Kids aren’t supposed to know what desperation feels like. And I was a smart kid. I was a brave kid. I wasn’t supposed to be afraid of anything so being afraid of myself and my thoughts seemed ridiculous.

So I never got help. In college, I was alone a lot more. I had my own room, which allowed me to feel safe from others, but left me to myself. I drowned in my thoughts.

I desperately wanted to be saved. I tried to tell people how I felt. I just didn’t have the words. I knew the term suicide by now, but I still didn’t really know about mental health. I didn’t know that there was a healthy state of mind. I didn’t know that someone could help me become healthy in my thoughts.

I also didn’t know who to go to. I went to the other girls in the dorm because they were the closest to me. University officials didn’t think that was appropriate and told me I shouldn’t do that. They didn’t really give me other resources though. I went to my residential advisor, who was helpful but couldn’t do everything.

The thing is, we don’t really talk about what to do if you’re feeling suicidal. People say to go to therapy or to call suicide hotlines, but those things are just bandaids for the real problem. No one tells you how to find the help you need. No one tells you how to talk to therapists in ways that will help you get to the real issues. No one tells you that medicine is supposed to make you feel better and want to die less. No one tells you that there is a healthy state you can reach on the other side.

I’m finally at the point where I realize what I need. I have finally reached out for the help I’ve been searching for for years. I’m just hoping it’s soon enough.