It’s OK to be Human
Who am I? I am 23-year-old daughter from the rolling hills of Appalachia in Kentucky. I am a high school and college graduate. I was the top of my class both times I graduated. School is my happy place. I’m comfortable. I was never really a risk taker nor “dabbled” in areas I shouldn’t growing up. Yes, I stole a few traffic cones, but who doesn’t do that? However, I have a dream and that is to be a social worker. My calling is to help people. I want to help people like me. Wait, people like me? I sound like a normal stable young adult? Wrong.
Here’s the missing links. I am the daughter of a recovering alcoholic (20 years) and a recovering addict (five years). My mother also is diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. I come from a broken home. I’ve lived in nine different homes. I was my mother’s last priority. My father did everything to raise me right, but worked more than he was home. I knew he loved me more than anything, but I was lonely. I didn’t really understand this feeling. I just knew I didn’t feel right.
Around 13, my friends began to mock me because of my extreme mood swings. I never understood why any of this was happening. I had a key catch phrase: “I’m just having a bad day.” It was awful and I didn’t understand why I was so different. I would go home and cry almost daily. Friendships were unstable and I was told that I would grow out of it.
Can you guess that I never grew out of “it?” I was able to graduate high school being fairly “stable” and called hormonal. However, college took a turn for the worse. 19 was the worst year I had. I came home from college my freshman year and struggled. I struggled really hard with leaving my house, my room and my bed. It was my safe zone. Nobody could touch me there and I didn’t have to worry about anything. I didn’t care about work. It didn’t matter. Nothing mattered. All I did was sleep and cry. Apathy is an understatement.
I went to the doctor confused. I was supposed to be normal. I was supposed to be like everyone. I need to be in control but I wasn’t. I explained everything to her and without a blink of an eye, I heard it for the first time:
“You are depressed.”
What does this mean? I had no idea. She threw medication in my face and sent me on my way. My family didn’t know how to handle it. My father just kept saying “I was afraid this would happen.” Nobody would explain anything to me. I called my “best friend” at the time. She handled—or didn’t handle it—with little empathy. I had no one. I was alone in a sea of questions.
What was once easy for me became hard. I became paranoid. Everyone was out to get me. I gained 25 pounds. Nobody liked me. I was fat. I was crazy. I cried. I slept. I didn’t care. I cried. I slept. I went to class occasionally. Friends were impossible because they pushed me away. I found myself sleeping on an air mattress in the floor of someone’s dorm. Three medications later, I was “normal” again. However, I had no friends and I was alone. I knew I was stronger than that and I powered through college.
That brings me to now.
I moved 2,074 miles away to get away from the confusion. I am different. I have depression. Alright, fine. I just didn’t expect my next “episode” to happen this far away from home. I was medication free and doing great. Then, the paranoia set in—I learned in between that I’ve got GAD as well—and I was getting those feelings. I confronted them head on. Medication and counseling. That should work, right? Nope.
I was working as a case manager, going to school full time and about to start my clinical year of internship. I had tons of pressure on me at work and I couldn’t handle it anymore. I didn’t want to be there anymore. In fact, I was just done with waking up. Sleeping needed to last forever. I went to counseling and that’s where I realized it was worse than I thought.
I was admitted to the behavioral health unit that night for “passive” suicidal ideations. That is one of the hardest things I’ve ever written. I never wanted to hurt myself, I just didn’t want to wake up. I was placed in an extremely acute unit and quickly wanted to go home, but couldn’t. I needed help. However, you know what I learned? It’s OK to need help. The hospital isn’t a big deal and I can talk about it now. I go to a support group and discuss my struggles with people just like me. Not everyone will understand, but as a future social worker and survivor, it’s my duty to share my story.
I live with depression and GAD.
I am a grad student.
I am a daughter.
I am a human.
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