In case you haven’t noticed, May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I was wondering if I should post anything about it since I already have some posts about mental health and self care. But I didn’t have anything too personal so this is what this post will be about. My personal struggle with mental health…
So let’s start with how as a child, I was always vey anxious. Very, very anxious. My parents never thought much of it they just always reminded me to “calm down” (insert eye roll) This started maybe in Pre-K and lasted until… well forever. Then sometime during my High school career, I started to feel depressed. And that also lasted until forever.
I graduated HS, dropped almost all of my friends and went to college. During freshman orientation, they had us take a survey and now that I think about it, it was in poor taste… They asked questions like:
“Do you find it hard to trust authority figures?” …I’m black why would I trust them??? ( btw their campus safety team were full of racists and didn’t know how to talk to people sooooooooo)
“Do you trust teachers?” No I do not. (btw that school had terrible teachers who hated their jobs and they were racist soooooo)
“Do you get sad?” ….duh?
“Do you get nervous?” ….obviously
By the time I finished the survey, they told me that I should visit the counseling center. I was like wow all this because of a survey that asked you to check “agree” or “disagree.”
But I guess back then I was like whatever and I made an appointment to see a counselor. I saw her once a week every week for like a year. Did talking to her help? Not really. There was a disconnect. I was just never comfortable with her. I felt like she cared but something was just off. I dreaded going every week. But I went. After a few sessions, she diagnosed me with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Phobia, and Depression. (Also Insomnia but who needs an actual diagnosis for that??)
As the first semester comes to an end, I start to feel hopeless, angry, overwhelmed, and done. That was the day I made plans to take my own life. I know there’s no easy way to talk about that so I’m just going to keep it short. It was actually really scary for me. I felt like I was in a trance. I felt alone. I didn’t get to make such a drastic decision because my boyfriend at the time came in and noticed what was happening. When I snapped out of my trance, I had scratches all over my hands and arms. My eyes were swollen and red, my room was a mess (I guess I destroyed it during my trance.) My friends were scared and crying. I made a huge mess of things.
The next day, i took a final, and the following day I went home for winter break. I came back to the counseling center and told my counselor what happened and she made me an appointment to see the psychiatrist. I was prescribed Lexapro and that was terrible. The first day I took it, i fell asleep, woke up because my heart was beating so fast. I sat up, felt dizzy, jumped out of bed and vomited all over the floor. Now imagine me scooping up throw up out of carpet with a plastic spoon. I was on Lexapro for at least 4 months. 4 months of me feeling sick. So I stopped. I was also prescribed Ambien for my insomnia. Did it help me sleep? No. But it did turn my brain off… and there’s a lot of silly stories and screenshots of me trying to text my friends because of that. I was taking Ambien on and off for like 2 years.
Next on my mental health timeline comes in during my sophomore year of college… or what was supposed to be my sophomore year. I moved in, went to maybe 4 classes and stopped going. I dropped classes, switched classes but nothing felt right. I knew I didn’t belong there. There was nothing there for me except one friend and a toxic relationship that was disguised as healthy and happy. I had the feeling like it was not my semester. No one was understanding me. I was feeling alone again. I was feeling overwhelmed and hopeless again. That scared me. So I dropped out 5 weeks into the semester. I went home and fell into the deepest of depressions. I was taking my Ambien during the day. I was sleeping, I wasn’t eating. I didn’t even leave my room. I want to tell you how long it lasted but a lot of it is a blur. I can’t remember anything. I do know that by the time that Fall semester was over, I was enrolled at a new school for the Spring semester. I got back on track and I made new friends. But this didn’t solve my mental health puzzle.
I went to the counseling center at my new school. I saw a new counselor once a week every week for about 3 years. I also saw the psychiatrist. I was put on Zoloft and Wellbutrin. Eventually it was just Wellbutrin.
At some point I was doing really really well. And then something weird happened. My family somehow scraped up money for me to live on campus for a semester. So I lived with a stranger for the first time in my life. She wasn’t terrible but like she could’ve been better… But as I tried adjusting to living with her, she made comments about me being “OCD” I didn’t think of her as the most politically correct person so I shrugged it off. But then my best friend started noticing it too. After pointing it out several times, I started to realize that there was a huge shift in my routines. Everything I did became a little obsessive. Maybe more than a little but again that’s a blur too. I couldn’t sleep unless everything on my desk was squared off, my shoes were in the shoes section of my room, my clock was facing my head, my phone had to be charged before I slept. I had to clean everything with clorox. My room smelled like clorox for a really long time. I spoke to my counselor at this school and she asked me to try to fight it. I said okay and never tried. But after I moved out and went home I was back to the normal me.
I adjusted very quickly to going back to being a commuter. It was no big deal. It does affect my sleep, my energy, my social life, and sometimes my grades but what can you do? But let me get to how counseling/therapy is accessible to everyone. So I saw the same counselor off and on for about 3 years. I started dreading our time together. I felt like she didn’t really listen to me and she didn’t take me seriously. I felt that way with psychiatrist as well. Neither of them bothered to learn my name either. I was always called “Tanya” but I don’t know that hoe. Because MY name is Taina (tie-ee-nah.) Anyways, I stopped taking my medication and I stopped going to see a counselor. Call it self-sabotage if you’d like. But I can’t deal with people who are supposed to help and they just don’t care. I remember a few months ago going there feeling suicidal again because they always say come in even if you don’t have an appointment if you’re feeling down. So I did that and a week later, I saw my psychiatrist and she looked me in the face and said “I heard about your little meltdown.” I’m still trying to figure out if they treat the white kids the same way… I doubt it though.
So what I’m trying to say is help isn’t always accessible. Whether it be the fact there’s a large supply of terrible professionals available, or help is out of your price range, or just not enough time in your day… please talk to someone. Keeping things bottled up can’t be good for you. Talk to a trusted friend, family member, teacher, anyone. If they try to invalidate your feelings try someone new. Write about your feelings, sing them, dance them away. Just help yourself the best you can.
I feel like I’ve had you guys here long enough. So I’ll leave this here. But talk to me, let me know your mental health timeline. I’m listening!