Personal Stories

Just Keep Trying

I suffered from suicidal depression for years. I didn’t ever give up. I kept searching for a “cure” or at least relief. I have been in over 20 different inpatient and outpatient psych hospitals, been on more medication then a lab rat, had more doctors and therapists than I can even count. I thought it would never end. I thought hopelessness was going to be my lot in life. I thought I was better off dead. But still, I never gave up.

The story I want to share is the end. The situation I was living in was toxic. A drug addicted sister who was violent both physically and emotionally. My drug addiction not helping. Depression so bad I was no longer even suicidal. I didn’t think I was worth the trouble to even die. I just lived like a ghost. I considered myself already dead. And eventually I just broke.

Doctors will call it a “dissociative fugue.”  I have no memory. My mind just went somewhere else, to sleep maybe. My conscious self was no longer in control. Something primal came over, like sleep walking, when your body is acting in a dream, not realizing that it’s not in bed. I have flashes, but even those I don’t trust. The last thing I remember thinking was breaking the promise to myself. Telling whatever it was beyond me that I couldn’t do this anymore. That I didn’t want to give up faith, but if something didn’t change soon, I would die here. And my conscious did.

I “woke up” committed. I was in a regular hospital’s psych unit, on their commitment ward. I wish that was the end of it, but the hospital was not run very well. I have a reaction to anti-psychotics and I guess the way I was acting before waking up suggested that I needed to be medicated with sedatives.  I tried to tell them I had a Psychiatric Advanced Directive registered with the state of NJ. But they didn’t listen. And since anti-psychotics can make me psychotic (a syndrome known as Nueroleptic Malignant Syndrome- among other symptoms) I was getting worse. Rather than actually see if my claims were true, after a week and a half of getting seriously worse and more violent, I was transferred to a state mental hospital.

Believe it or not, as scary as it was, this was the best thing that could have happened to me. And yes, it can be terrifying. Luckily the Advanced Directive the previous hospital said didn’t exist, this new facility found with a simple phone call to the state. It took them ten minutes and I heard the best news I had for a while. “We believe you.” I was immediately detoxed off everything to allow my body to recover. Since we were now starting clean, they were able to get me on the right medications.

I could go into some of the horrible things I saw. Which I did. I don’t want to scare anyone off, because the truth is that this hospital saved my life. Once I was stable, I was a completely different person. And after explaining my home life, they offered me a way out. I didn’t have to go home. They worked with organizations that went into mental hospitals to find housing for patients stable enough to live on their own, be it in their own apartment or in a group home.  In two weeks, I was "discharged pending placement.” Meaning, I was still a patient, but no longer committed, but since I was technically homeless, they referred me out to housing. I waited three long months, during which I was shown an apartment, accepted it and waited for the furnishings they provided to come in, as well as the Certificate of Occupancy (mandatory state inspection to prove the rental is suitable for people to live in).

That was a little over three years ago. Since then my depression has lifted.  I am safe and no longer in an abusive environment. I am on disability, but I have started to work again. I started small, working with a telephone survey company to get me back into working. It was easy and mindless, but having not worked for over six years, it was needed. I then went into retail for more responsibility and a tighter schedule. I joined SMART Recovery for my drug addiction, and realized I had a lot to share in experience and knowledge of the mental health system. I wanted to get into that as a career, but having such a large gap in my resume and no actual work experience, I went into direct care for the developmentally disabled. While the job can be both tedious and rewarding, it’s a start. I currently work in a home for five girls with various mental and developmental disabilities. I work part-time still (so I still get my SSI and SSDI benefits), and my goal at this point is to move into full-time, preferably in the mental health field.

While I love my apartment and the mental health association for everything they did, I am currently being discharged from their program. I am doing extremely well and no longer need a case worker to check up on me. On top of that, I got a grace from the government, with me getting approved for Section 8.  I am currently waiting for the voucher.  

The point of my sharing is to not give up hope. Keep hanging on. I had to find something beyond me to live for, because I couldn’t live for myself. There was nothing in myself I found able to live for.  I’m not saying everyone must do that, but it was how I coped with years and years of wanting to die. I made a promise to something outside of me to keep living. Whatever it is you do, and how you chose to do it, is up to you. But I didn’t give up, not after ten years of suffering both abuse of myself and those around me. And it got better.  It does get better. 

My life is happy right now, and while it’s not always perfect, it’s 200 times better than what it was. I found the right medication, I found the right treatment and I found the right job that gives me meaning and purpose. I have never been happier. I know everyone can find their happiness. Just keep getting up every day. Just keep trying. I am proof that it will get better if you can hang on. If you try. If you don’t give up on the life you deserve.  


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