It was 1994 and I was 15 years old. I had been struggling for a while after having been brutally sexually assaulted the previous year. This had brought about flashbacks of being molested as a toddler. Eventually... death beckoned.
I answered the call.
The pills led to cardiac arrest and my death lasted but a few moments before I was shocked back to the here and now.
I shared this on my facebook yesterday, mentioning how I had been dealing with the ups and downs of my illness and how I am finally winning the battle.
"20 years ago on August 11th, 1994, my 20 year battle with mental health began. I tried to end my life by overdosing and was rushed to the hospital where I suffered cardiac arrest. My parents were warned that I may not make it through the night. They were told that if I did I may suffer severe brain damage and be in a vegetative state. Well, *spoiler alert* I did survive and was left with only frontal lobe brain damage that sometimes causes seizures (and I will often lose train of thought mid sentence) I was diagnosed with bipolar.
It took 17 years and 13 hospitalizations later, but, I was also diagnosed with ptsd from childhood traumas.
I rarely discuss this on here, but this is why I am so passionate about mental health. I am living, breathing proof that the right team of doctors, medications and, in my case, a healthy dose of Jesus, work.
On here you are usually bombarded with my funny quips (maybe that is an opinion;) food pictures, cocktail recipes or our frequent travel. My pictures are usually of my smiling face, but that is oftentimes a facade.
Everyone has a story...this just so happens to be mine.
You can click on the link here to see how I beat PTSD and am working every day to show bipolar who is boss. It is the most difficult, yet truthful, piece I have ever written.
Then, just two hours after I posted that on facebook and as I was watching Jeopardy, the news broke on the passing of Robin Williams and the belief that it was suicide.
It took me a few moments to wrap my head around what I was seeing and process the news. I am still not even sure that I actually have. The sadness and desperation he must have felt, such a familiar foe. The stark reminder that none of us are immune to this illness.
The various people who have taken to commenting about how it isn't a disease , he chose to kill himself and he "had everything going for him and they don't feel sorry for him"
I sat dumbfounded and sad at the ignorance. Surprised? Not so much.
Mental Illness (especially depression) doesn't care who you are. It cares nothing about your stature, your career, your mark on the world. It cares little about the perception that anyone may have of your life. It just doesn't give a damn.
It rears its ugly head whenever and wherever it feels like and sometimes it can be beat. Other times, it wages war and comes out on top. Nothing can stop it.
I know this truth firsthand. I had people who loved me, who surrounded me with help and support and my illness still didn't care. This illness is full of lies and takes away your ability to see the truth.
Getting help for depression, or bipolar or anxiety or any form of mental illness does not make you weak. It simply means you have an illness and you are doing your best to combat it.
When someone ends their life, it is not because they are selfish. It is not because they are weak minded or the opposite of strong. It simply means that they lost their battle and the illness won out.
Just like cancer. Just like heart failure. Or kidney failure. Or car accident. The illness simply couldn't be denied this time. When you "choose" suicide, it is not a logical choice. That is what this illness does, makes you completely illogical and unable to see a way out. Your mind leads you to believe you do not have a choice.
This illness is devastating. Robin Williams death is devastating, but he is not the only face of mental illness. Look around the sea of people you are in everyday...and one of them (probably more than one) is wearing a mask that enables them to get through their day by pretending.
The faces of mental illness are everywhere.
But with more and more people bringing awareness to this disease, with more people talking about it, surely we can lessen the stigma and more and more people will find a combination that works.
We must do all we can to combat the fight against mental health.
If you are struggling and need help, please call someone, reach out to someone you trust and if you don't feel comfortable talking to someone you know, please call the suicide prevention hot line.
I know how simple it is to say that. and I know when you are desperate...how hard it is to decide to do that. but just in case...
My ordeal has taken me 20 years to get to a healthy place. There may be no miracle fix, but I promise you the road is worth it.