How Did I Get Here?

In Opinion/Personal, Personal, Random, Work Related on December 28, 2017 at 3:13 pm

**Heads up: this post contains introspective statements on sensitive subjects to include eating disorders, mental health, and thoughts on suicide. No details, no lengthy descriptions of sensitive matters, but they are briefly present from my own point of view and should be taken into consideration for those that may be negatively affected. I encourage anyone struggling with any degree of mental health issues to seek help and support through friends, family, professionals, your local Community Mental Health Center, support groups, etc.***

I was around 16 years old when I finally had the realization that I was struggling. I had these… feelings, I guess, since I was much younger but could never really put my finger on it. I had these thoughts that I couldn’t determine an origin for or figure out why they hit me when they did.

Like when I was 11 and lying in bed unable to sleep (I think my insomnia and anxiety were at least partially triggered by the extreme night terrors I experienced as a child) and burst into tears over the sudden and unexpected thought “you’re never going to be as good as anyone else you know.”

And that rooted, somehow, in my subconscious and grew into this cancerous anxiety and depression that at 15 had me clawing my arms until the blood was just under the surface – but always stopping. A red mark is easier explained that scabs or cuts, and that burn of peeling back layer by layer of my own skin…well, it was release of the pent up sadness and anger and confusion. It was a physical thing to attach these thoughts and emotions to. It was a punishment for just being me.

That anxiety and depression had me skipping all meals, exercising twice a day – if not more, and pocketing diet pills discreetly slid across gas station countertops from other girls with the same struggles who knew I couldn’t afford them on my own.

I was 16 when, while running water for a bath, I thought for the first time “I wonder what it feels like to die.” I thought of how the world would go on, how I wouldn’t have to battle these internal forces any more, but then I thought about how selfish that would be of me. I thought about how it would make my mother feel; it would break her and she would blame herself, and I couldn’t put these feelings I have on another person. So I figured it was almost the perfect punishment. For whatever was wrong with me to make me not worth happiness, I must deserve punishment and living like this would be it.

It was also not long after that when I realized that this was not normal. My high school began offering a psychology class as an elective, so I took it. I fell in love immediately with the studies of the brain, of human behavior, of how chemical and physiological causes could be determined for the symptoms and feelings and actions. You know what they say, anyone who studies and makes a career in psychology got there by trying to figure out what their own problems are. I knew my problems, but I also knew that if I didn’t understand them then they were going to kill me.

I threw myself into the studies of human behavior, of synapses misfiring, of a specific chemical in the brain produced at a slightly lower than normal amount or rate, of the still unknown causes and still developing diagnoses and treatments. I became a total psych nerd. I didn’t solve my own problems. I haven’t figured out why I’ve had the thoughts and feelings I’ve lived with. I haven’t 100% successfully figured out a way to quiet them, but I did find my own way of stopping things from getting worse when I start to feel that gnawing in my stomach or that tickle at the back of my brain of these negative thoughts trying to erupt. I can’t stop them when they hit, but I am now able to stop myself and actively remember that this will pass, that it isn’t legitimate, and that I am okay.

And even better, I’ve taken all that in and used it to help other people, people that aren’t able to do it for themselves – to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of the intellectual/developmentally disabled population, many of whom battle a dual diagnosis within the mental health world. I love my job. I love being able to see the difference made for individual lives. I go through the difficult cases that pull on your heart strings or send you home feeling completely defeated because the success stories are just that rewarding to still make it feel worth it. And in looking back now, I don’t hate the person I was or the feelings I had when I was younger because it gave me the inspiration, the insight, and the determination to get me here now.


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