Personal Stories

To Oblivion and Back

About five years ago, the stability of my life began to slip away. I began to change. I was starting to become paranoid and anxious. Sleep was becoming impossible. Then the impulsivity began to set in. I couldn’t control myself. I couldn’t control my thoughts. I became suicidal. I was consumed by thoughts of dying. I acted on my impulses and landed in a mental hospital. Medication was prescribed, therapy was arranged and I tried to get on with my life despite the humiliation I felt because of my actions.

Time went on and I started getting worse. The paranoia was out of control. Conspiracies were beginning to occur – with my family, at work, with the neighbors. I was convinced everyone was plotting against me. Sleep became more and more elusive. Focusing on anything became impossible. I felt like I was ruining my son’s life because I believed a bad mom. I was convinced that somehow I was evil, which would explain why, in my mind, people glared at me everywhere I went. The anxiety was overpowering. The thoughts of suicide were overwhelming. I was taking anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medication and sleeping pills, but they didn’t seem to help. This time in my life is literally a blur. I barely remember this year. I stopped taking care of my finances. Suicidal ideation led me to start planning an end to my suffering.

My actions resulted in another stay at a mental hospital. After I was released, I started seeing my psychiatrist more frequently. I was prescribed new medication to help with the insomnia. I was finally able to start sleeping by 2:00 in the morning. The down side was that I couldn’t wake up. I started showing up late to work. I got reprimanded – which I fully deserved. But at the time, I believed I was being attacked somehow. I became hostile toward my supervisor. I firmly believed she wanted to destroy me. I was told I needed a doctor’s note by a certain deadline to keep my job. I was offended because I stayed late every night and worked hard. I completely stopped sleeping. Conspiracies were flying everywhere. I was convinced that my supervisor was sleeping with the CEO and that they were determined to ruin my life. I even wrote a threatening letter to the CEO stating that I was going to expose his actions to his wife. I truly thought I was doing what needed to be done. My judgement was completely gone. In the end, my psychiatrist wrote a lengthy note on my behalf. I was fired before I could turn it in. I had gone over the edge.

It took some time, but I was able to get another job. I thought I had gotten a second chance. But the lost income was catching up to me. I couldn’t pay any of my bills. To make matters worse, the stress was wearing on me and the delusional thinking had come back in full swing. Shortly after starting my new position, I was convinced that the people I was working with were collaborating with each other to bring me down somehow. They all wanted me fired and wanted to destroy my life. I was consumed by paranoia.

The depression and anxiety gripped me so tightly that my thoughts were reduced to nothing but a thick fog. I simply stopped going to work, no phone call to tell them I wasn’t coming in or anything. I remember the phone ringing, but I didn’t care. I lost all will. I stopped showering. I stopped eating, I stopped brushing my teeth. My life stopped. I don’t remember much about this time. I wanted to die, but I didn’t have the energy to do anything about it. My brain was like gauze.

After about a couple of weeks, my father came down from Nebraska to Kansas to check on my well-being. I required yet another hospitalization. All I remember was how exhausted my father looked.

It was at this time that I lost everything. My son had to go live with his father full time. My car got repossessed. I was evicted from my home and became essentially homeless. A friend took me in and let me stay in her attic. I had to go to therapy for four hours a day, five days a week. While I was physically there, my brain was checked out elsewhere. Anger and irritability consumed me. My thoughts whirled at 1000 miles an hour. I felt so high and so mad. The suicidal ideation started again. I felt that it was imperative that I die. I rationalized that it would be in everyone’s best interest. The longer I put it off, the more positive I became that I had to do it. I became obsessed with death. Unfortunately, I acted on my impulses.

I was sent to yet another mental hospital. My diagnosis had changed from major depressive disorder to bipolar depression. I was discharged to a group home - transitional housing for the mentally ill. 

I stayed at there for three months, the longest amount of time allotted. I had started dating someone while living in the half-way house. When I was told it was time for me to leave I had nowhere to go. Two options came up: I could stay in my boyfriend’s studio apartment with him or go to the women’s homeless shelter. Reluctantly, I chose to stay with my boyfriend.

By now, my psychiatrist had weened me off the anti-depressants and started me on mood stabilizers—drugs used to treat bipolar. It was a turning point in my life. I started participating in therapy and began to get my confidence back. The support specialist at the community mental health center arranged for me to start volunteering. It was there I realized that my paranoia had subsided. No one was plotting my demise.  The suicidal ideation was completely gone. The impulsivity dissipated. I finally felt confident enough to start applying for jobs. Soon, I was working again full time.

I started squirreling away most of my paychecks. My ultimate goal was to get my own apartment so I could get my son back. It took eight months, but I finally saved up enough money to reach my goal. I was able to put away enough money for the deposit and first month’s rent on an apartment and put a large sum of money down for a car. I managed to save thousands of dollars to accomplish this.

I have now been working at the same job for two years. My son is living with me again.

I attribute my success to two main behaviors: I am diligent about taking my medication and keeping my therapy appointments. Thanks to the community mental health center, I was able to gain skills to turn my life around. 

 


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