I am living with Depression and PMDD
4 years ago
As I lay here the only thing that comes to my mind is "I am in trouble".
T R O U B L E
How did I get here? In hindsight, I can see the steps that had led to this spot. On my bed in my room confused by my mind and how it has betrayed me. I thought I was possibly having a nervous breakdown.
Therefore, I asked my parents to check me into a mental institution.
One Sunday afternoon, as they prepared lunch I walked into the kitchen and said very casually "I think I should be checked into St Ann's (the mental institution in my country). I had reached out to the rope, grabbed it and launched out into the open. Inside I felt the weight of my revelation being removed from my shoulders.
However, when one weight is rested, another is placed. I would never forget the silence that greeted me. Have you ever met that silence? It's small, it's brief but it's the silence of people gathering their thoughts as you hear their mind rushes in all directions. My father spoke first (as he usually does), "why do you feel that way?" he asked.
I went on to explain the feelings I was having as a nervous breakdown to my parents. However. with time, advice, and a whole lot of therapy from two counselors, one psychiatrist and one medical doctor eventually I was diagnosed with Depression and PMDD
On that Sunday afternoon, all I knew was that I needed,
N E E D E D
I needed a break from life. If you asked me around that time what that meant, all I would tell you is I needed a reset button to life.Life felt suffocating. I needed life to stop moving for a second to just pause for a second so that I could breathe.
As I write this four years later, I would be lying if I told you that after my revelation things went any smoother. I romanticized the effects of my confession. I thought opening up would be 90% of the problem and that I could move on and get back to myself. That was me looking for a magic pill. In reality, for the past few years, I have been fighting for my mental health. FIGHTING!!!
yet I am here.
After I shared my diagnosis with my loved ones they responded with a range of emotions: from disbelief and doubt to "you probably need to go out more", from think more positive thoughts" to "God will not allow you to have that, pray it away".
Lord knows, in my heart, I wish it was as easy as everyone suggestions. I had to explain to some that if I could stop this experience, I would. No one who goes through Depression and PMDD would like to stay there. To say that on some days, it's literally like living on a thin line between life and death would not be an overstatement. The level of comfort I felt when I reached out to some family and friends, even my priest, was a life preserver. They didn't try to fix me or immediately cure me with suggestions. Their sole response was "how can we get you back on the path to feeling better?".
Some days I didn't feel safe with my own self, can you imagine that? With mental illness sometimes the monster in the night and the boogie man is actually your mind. In the four years since my first conversation with my parents, I have been on numerous combinations of pills to regulate my chemical imbalance. When dealing with mental health, choosing to take medication is always a choice that is very personal. In my journey, I have decided it's the first best step for me, the medication has helped me out of the clouds. Today I can say that I don't feel like my old self or new self, but just my self, the me I need to be today. I am still learning to eat right, exercise, sleep and improve my daily habits but at least on some days, I can think clearly about these things.
There is help
We take time to see about our bodies: our eyes, teeth, hair, skin, eat healthily and exercise. Most times we neglect the most important part of our body, OUR BRAIN.
Having a mental health condition can be a complicated, frustrating and lonely experience but on many days when I thought I was crashing, I decided to reach out for help. You don't have to go through it alone. If you know something doesn't feel right check a doctor, see a psychologist or psychiatrist. Reach out and confide in a trusted friend or family member. I know I would not be here today without some friends who literally had to hold my hand, help me dress, help me bathe, help me eat and guide me through some days from beginning to end. Sometimes just on the phone.
In the beginning, it was hard to accept me and accept the situations happening. In the early part of my journey, I fought what I thought I was experiencing. Today, although I accept my diagnosis, I still have to work to do. Everyone's journey to healing is not the same I still have my own misconception on how I am to function daily. The medication that stabilizes me are not magic pills.
Once I stopped seeing my diagnosis as a curse and freed myself from the stigma attached to it, I was able to see a light. Some days I feel I am still in the tunnel but once I deploy the survival tools I have at my disposal: prayer, talking to family, seeing friends and regular visits with my doctors, I am able to believe there is hope especially on the days when I can't see it.
The taboos, stigmas and misconceptions associated with mental illness in the Caribbean are overwhelming. While there are many people who reach out and are surviving, I know so much more are lost and suffering. I want you to know that you are not alone. I am an intelligent young woman who comes from a very loving family, with many friends. Some would describe me as extroverted. From the outside looking in, I am not the stereotypical image of a person diagnosed with mental illnesses. I am sure that of the people reading this, those who know me would be shocked at this revelation. In spite of that, I am here today to tell you my truth.
Mental Illnesse fills your mind with false truths. Know that you are loved and those that love you will help you find your way out. Mental health is a taboo topic, especially in the Caribbean, but there are people and places that offer help. If you or anyone you know is suffering from a mental health condition, reach out to the local hotlines, the hospitals and NGO's that can help. For me simply using social media or Google helps me find great resources.
One way to break the darkness of mental health is to realize that there are others who are walking the same path as you. I feel compelled to speak to those who feel alone as I have felt in the past. When I found articles of those who put into words emotions I didn't have the words for. It helped me feel (for lack of a better word) less "crazy". Thus I am sharing my journey with you to let you know that you are not alone. You are loved. You are worthy and deserving of a great life. We all are.
Listed below are some resources that can be used if you or anyone you know is suffering from mental illness.
Trinidad and Tobago Suicide Hotline (868) 645 2800
These are some of the links that have personally helped me get through some tough times