It's easy for me, now in a more recovered state and with over a year's time between me and these occurrences, to doubt what happened to me. Maybe it wasn't as bad as I thought. Maybe it was all in my head. Maybe I could have dealt with things better. Maybe if I had just done stuff to take my mind off of things...
Even when I don't question that things were bad, I do spend most of my time not thinking about what happened to me. I pushed a lot of things from my mind. And when I recall some of the acute pain and desperation I was feeling during those times, my heart breaks for my former self. It was truly scary and lonely for me. And why shouldn't it have been? I was going through a serious medical issue but didn't know it. I'm surprised I made it through as in tact as I did.
Like I've talked about on here some before, I was on a few antidepressants and other psychiatric medications to treat anxiety and depression, but it turns out that I have a rare condition where I can't process these medications. Don't let this discourage you from seeking medical treatment, please, because it is a wonder and a gift. But my particular story meant that I was actually getting sicker and sicker from these medications basically being dumped in my bloodstream with nowhere to go. My biggest symptom was that I was EXHAUSTED. I slept so, so much. But sleeping a lot can also be a symptom of depression, and I was operating under the assumption at the time that I was just in the midst of a particularly bad depressive episode, not knowing that the medication was making things worse. My other symptom was the awful low moods and periods of self-doubt, self-hatred, unspeakable sadness and hopelessness. It was the worst I've ever felt in my life, physically and mentally, and I've felt pretty bad.
So I thought it would be interesting to share these "primary sources", if you will; the firsthand accounts from the time of how I felt. It's kind of validating because I forget how sick I was and there were friends who doubted I was sick and who judged me about what they saw as laziness. My roommate who has been my "friend" of three years was quite judgmental about how much I slept. I almost wish I could write her a letter and be like, "Look, you poophead, look at my genetic testing files. I WAS BEING FREAKING POISONED AND COULD NOT KEEP AWAKE. GROW A HEART, YOU - " I will cut myself off there for the sake of women everywhere.
Here's one list I kept of my symptoms. I was worried that I might be bipolar because of some family history, so that's why I paid attention to a certain things that might seem a bit random to include. But I think this demonstrates my fatigue and just that I was generally barely holding on, muddling my way through things, which is very unusual for me and was quite frustrating.
Sleepy: slept in late, slept in car, could barely move in evening when got to school; perked up after talking to people - slept soundly at night
Very sleepy all day after good night's sleep
2-3 naps; slept soundly at night
Got mad at friend
Lying down, all these ideas for pranks popped into my head
Made a lot of jokes
Irritable again; got mad at lots of small things
Went to bed so wouldn't be grumpy
Trouble falling asleep, woke up in middle of night - muscle jerks, restless (probs due to my panic disorder)
Slept in a little; hard to wake up
Feel jumpy, twitchy (note: this was probably due to my panic disorder, which can make me produce extra adrenaline)
Want to be out doing stuff
Hungry a lot, esp at night
Here's an email I wrote to my psychiatrist, though I couldn't find the end of it:
- I haven't been doing very well. I've been struggling a lot with depressed moods. I have lost motivation to do school work and have difficulty concentrating when I try to do school. I have very low energy and I've struggled with having a lot of negative thoughts but I have little motivation to try to combat them. I also sometimes wonder if I'm having mood swings - I might feel positive part of the day and then feel very dark and negative later. Last week, I was walking to the store one afternoon, feeling fairly positive and then when I was walking home, my thoughts and mood began to spiral downwards and I got back
Here's my email to friends announcing I wouldn't return, which received few replies. Maybe it can be a help to others who need to write similar letters.
I wanted to let all of you know that I won't be coming back to ----- this year. I'm definitely sad that I won't have the chance to live with you all for one last year…I have made some dear friends at ---- and so many of you have touched my life with your humor and compassion. However, after much, much thought, my family and I have decided it would be best if I stayed close to home in the coming year.
I still have not recovered from the depression and anxiety I've been struggling with for some time, most acutely in the past eight months. Between the fatigue and difficulty concentrating, it doesn't look like it would be wise for me to go back to school. I'm still working with my psychiatrist to find a medication balance that works and seeking counsel to work through past hurts to move forward with my life, so I think it would be best to remain nearby my family and doctor so I can get the support I need to recover fully. I've had a rough few semesters that really took a toll on me mentally, physically, and emotionally, and I don't think I'm yet ready to take on a full academic courseload again.
As for the future, I plan to take some community college classes this fall and then probably transfer to a Maryland school to finish up my undergrad. I wasn't completely satisfied with my major at ---, so I'm hoping this transition will also give me some time to get a better idea of what career I want to pursue.
I will take with me many fond memories from ---, many featuring friends like you. Thank you for the prayers, laughs, late night talks, dance parties, gossip sessions, and chats over incredible, inedible Bon Apetit entrees. Thank you for being patient with me in times where I wasn't doing well, for any notes of encouragement, for coming to hear my performances…it meant a lot to know people cared.
I hope this news isn't too upsetting…Throughout my time at ---, God has closed a lot of doors for me, which left me questioning whether I was meant to be there. Last semester, it slowly became evident that it might be time to move on. Leaving before my last year is crazy, but I'm hoping it's a leap of faith.
Best wishes to you all, and best of luck especially to my senior friends!! Hopefully you will be allowed to get the senior citizen discount at restaurants and museums. I wish I could strut the stage with all of you all next spring. You all have accomplished and endured so much.
Lastly, I hope that we can continue to keep in touch and visit each other! My normal people email is xxxxx and my address is xxxxx if you ever want to write.
Wow. I'm amazed at how friendly and non-passive aggressive I managed to make that sound, knowing how disillusioned I felt at the time...But in all seriousness, reading this back, I feel really proud of myself for taking a bold step to care for myself. For listening to my body and to the signs around me. And for not giving up in the face of adversity, not just during my struggles that last semester, but also throughout my time in college and beyond. I faced a lot of rejection, isolation, and inner turmoil, but I kept going and forged my own way. You go, self.
Well, that's about it. I guess the archivist in me thought those might be worth preserving and sharing.
Stay strong, kiddos. If you're teetering on the brink of taking a bold step to work for your own recovery and break yourself off from a toxic environment of toxic people, I hope this inspires you to do so. If you're physically or emotionally struggling, I hope this encourages you to seek help. It's a process, but it's so worth it. Because recovery is possible.