My sister’s wedding was soon approaching, and I was the maid of honor. I helped her plan and celebrate with a bachelorette party that I did not attend because I was in the hospital for a psychotic break. I hosted her bridal shower, but it was a struggle with my continued mental health treatment, and so our mother helped me out. As the month of the wedding came, I noticed my depression associated with my schizoaffective disorder had been progressively worsening. The happiest time of my family’s life became overshadowed by a suicide attempt. And the most unhappy moment for me was waking up in the ICU at the hospital, realizing I was missing my sister’s wedding. Suicidal thoughts are frightening, and my depression mixed with abuse of alcohol led me to act on them. I am choosing to take this failed suicide attempt as a blessing for my life to be fully lived. Not just for my family and loved ones, but for me.
When I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, the hardest part of coming to terms with it was the difficulty of managing the voices that come and go. Medication plays a large role in keeping the auditory hallucinations at bay, but much of the work comes from the therapeutic ways that I cope with it on a daily basis. Having a thought disorder comes with a lot of stigma, and telling people that I am hearing voices initially made me feel vulnerable to being seen as “crazy” or “nuts” or “psychotic”. However, by using humor, coping skills, a strict medication regimen, and being honest with my treatment team, I have learned how to quiet the voices.
What my depression looks like: It is the Jabberwocky.
It rears its ugly head when you least expect. It fights to tear your soul apart and spit it into the flame. Your passion is dulled like an unsharpened knife, but it cuts you piece by piece. You hold your head high but your shoulders slouch. You only have energy to stay on the couch. Tears bottled up inside, but you don’t have the strength to cry your heart out or even stay awake. Hurt so bad, it aches; life so fragile, it breaks. All your past mistakes conglomerate into one big hate: of yourself. Please don’t let this be my fate. I only want to be great again. A dragon lies at the foot of my bed, laying wait until I feel good again, only to find that day won’t come: is this the end?
Mind, body, and spirit all require care. If one is being neglected, it affects the other two. Sometimes it can be a neglect or damage that is out of your control. This is the story of how my damaged mind, body, and spirit became whole again.
It begins well: a happy home, a supportive family, an excellent student. I never showed signs of having a mental illness. There was the emotional stage going through puberty, but these were the things that I believe are typical of a teenage girl or boy. I got into a great college and was excelling there.
Dreaming of Paris all my life, I decided to study abroad in France. That is when the unthinkable happened. I was sexually assaulted, and it was done by two young men whom I knew (or thought I knew) fairly well. It took a long time to recognize the gravity of what had happened to me. I came home about a month after my program was complete, but told almost no one what had happened.