The following is a contribution from an empowering and extremely brave lady i.e Sophie Young. You are such an inspiration love. To all those souls who are struggling to keep afloat, your struggles make you who you are and all of you are truly the greatest. Our heros!!
It was 5 weeks and 2 days that I spent in a mental hospital. 37 days. In a psych ward, an insane asylum, whatever synonym sounds less eerie. I was admitted very suddenly. I suppose it could have been considered an “emergency situation”. I was at an appointment with my usual therapist, where I talked about the usual things, when he brought my mother into the normally private room, gave her a phone number and told her to call the aforementioned number. I was terrified. I never thought I would reach this point. It was quite literally the tipping point. I has reached the brink of being suicidal. I try not to use that word too much, though. I didn’t even get to pack my own bags. I was taken straight to the Menninger Clinic from his office. I didn’t want to understand why I needed to go to a place like this, but I did understand.
In the past couple months I had been diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder, although the symptoms had been affecting me my entire life. My therapist specifically defined one of my issues as “perfectionism”, which was later described as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. This perfectionism meant that I had a constant desire to make things perfect whether it was in school, athletics, extra curriculars, or socially. Yes, this meant I was an over- achiever. But it was never something I was necessarily proud about; it was just what I was supposed to be.
Initially, my methods of working and living were beneficial to me. It meant I was doing well in everything I put my effort into. However, these methods eventually proved to not be sustainable. That is, there really is no such thing as perfection. That’s what people always said, but it didn’t matter. I felt like I was doing what I had to do. High school is hard though. There simply wasn’t enough time in the day to do everything I felt like I absolutely had to do. I was quickly reaching a wall – a wall that I would come crashing into, causing me to break down. I was exhausted. None of these things were excuses though. I had to keep going somehow.
Towards the end of the second semester of my junior year, working became a daunting task. It wasn’t that there were incredibly excessive amounts of assignments, or that the difficulty level was suddenly beyond me, I just couldn’t do it anymore. I now know that this was when I hit my wall. At the time, though, all I could be was angry at me when all I could do was stare at a single page in my textbook for hours. Why couldn’t I just read? Why couldn’t I just write? Why couldn’t I just make things work? This was the advent of my depression. Once you begin to have a certain hatred for yourself that seems so reasonable in your head, you begin your fall.
Once you are depressed, everything seems to stop working. My thoughts felt either chaotic or absent. I had no energy, not even enough to get out of bed some days. That was the hardest because it felt like I was just lazy. It looked like I was just lazy. But I really couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do anything. Then, when you aren’t angry, you just become sad, so so utterly sad. It’s not the kind of sad that can be fixed by a funny movie or a warm hug from a best friend though. It’s the kind of sad that you just accept because it feels like your only option. It feels like forever.
Eventually the sadness becomes too much, and you just want it to end. This “end” isn’t just to stop the sadness, though. It’s to end the life that you feel like you keep failing. Or at least what feels like failing in the mentally ill mind. And that is the only thing your intrusive thoughts can focus on. You just want everything to stop. You don’t want to disappoint anymore. You don’t want to be lazy anymore. You don’t want to be angry anymore. You don’t want to be sad anymore.
I asked for help though. I told my doctor. I was vague. The words hurt. But he knew. That’s when I was sent to Menninger. And that’s when what felt like the end turned into a new beginning for me – a beginning that I will forever be thankful for.