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Coming Back to Life MAG
When I woke up on Friday morning, I didn’t quite know where I was. Then, as I looked around the room and realized I was in the psychiatric hospital, it slowly came back.
I remembered that I had refused to get up for school on Thursday. Then I had written a letter to my aunt and uncle – with whom I’d been staying – and left.
I had no destination. I remembered wandering around, stopping at the bank, playing on the swings at the playground, and finally catching a bus into the city. I remembered staring out at the harbor, then walking along the river. I felt lost and confused, and I was cold and lonely.
I can’t remember exactly when I decided that my life wasn’t worth living. I had a bottle of sleeping pills, and I remember sitting on a bench in the train station, swallowing the small white pills a handful at a time. I felt more frightened than I’d ever before. There were policemen and an ambulance with flashing lights.
Then there were ants crawling on the ceiling and blinking lights in the sky, but the nurse said they were in my head. I just wanted to sleep. They wouldn’t let me, though, and made me drink charcoal to absorb the drugs. Finally, when I was stable, I was transferred to another hospital. That’s where I awoke on Friday morning.
Not again, I thought. I had been in the hospital before, though never for anything quite as serious. I was first diagnosed with depression at 13. Since then, I had had three or four major depressive episodes and been hospitalized twice. I knew just what to say to convince the doctors and social workers to discharge me.
The first few days, I refused to talk about the problem. “I just had a bad day,” I said. “I’m fine now.”
But, of course, it had been more than just a bad day, and I definitely wasn’t fine.
I hadn’t been fine for a long time. I couldn’t concentrate on my schoolwork, and my grades were declining. I rarely slept more than four hours a night, so I was tired and irritable. I wasn’t eating and had no energy to do the things I used to enjoy, like swimming. I tried to convince myself that if I only waited long enough, the dark clouds would disappear. I understood that this time I wasn’t fooling anyone with my false optimism and assertions that I was okay, but I still couldn’t reach out for help.
Finally, I began expressing my feelings on paper. Writing about the feelings of hopelessness and frustration made it easier to talk. I realized that there were people willing to listen, who wanted to help. At last I took what for me was a very big step – I decided to risk trusting people again. I was amazed how much better I felt after making that first step. Letting go of that fear opened many doors for me. It’s also good to feel capable of telling someone when I am feeling bad before it gets to the point where I am contemplating suicide.
Of course, re-establishing my trust in people was only the beginning. There was still a long, hard road ahead. I was forced to face things and the people I cared about that were not always pleasant.
One of the major issues was my relationship with my mother. It seemed as if she and I were in constant conflict. Finally, becoming too much to deal with, I had left home. Too late, I realized my mistake. I wanted to return home, and my mother wanted me to come back. However, each of us wanted something which the other could not give. Acknowledging that perhaps home is not a healthy place for me was very difficult. I need to take care of myself, and that means being where people can accept me for who I am, depression and all. I have found that place in my aunt and uncle’s home, and though it is not my home, it is a good place to be.
Another issue that I was forced to confront was how I cope with my feelings. I tend to keep them bottled up inside until finally, when the pressure is too much, I explode. Once I realized that this was a dangerous way to live, I was able to become more open and express my feelings in more appropriate ways.
I am not completely well yet. I am making progress. I am sleeping better, and my concentration has improved. I have more energy, and have started to enjoy school and work again. Most importantly, I feel better about myself. I have finally accepted that there are many things I cannot change, so I plan to focus on those I can. I have learned that life may not always be easy, but it is always worth living.