I am hoping you can speak to the symptoms of the depression side of your illness…as it is very much related just as we are Marybeth! I think there are so many people major symptoms of depression (other than suicidal thoughts) that caused you to seek help? I think there are people out there who don’t realize they could be happier or handling life so much better if the just recognized a few symptoms. I have become friends with gals that remind me of myself before I sought help and it is hard to just stand by. So…question…what are some of the major symptoms of depression that caused you to seek help?
When I entered sixth grade in 2007, I swore to both my mom and myself that this year would be different. This year I would do my homework, get straight As again, and do everything I was supposed to. It was the same thing I had been saying for years now. Yet, all of us wanted to believe it. We were exhausted from the last few years, as everything had seemed to continue to go downhill. I was miserable; however, I still wanted to believe all this could be fixed if I tried harder. Even though at this point we knew that something deeper was going on, it was easier to go ahead thinking it would all go away. Unfortunately, sixth grade would provide no hope, and the year that sent me, frustrated, seeking for answers – on my own.
The year started off well enough. As my experience with school usually goes at the beginning, I did my homework, looked forward to school, and liked my teachers. I was excited about owning a locker, and while anxious about it, enjoyed switching classes. While I still had no friends, was having panic attacks, scratching, and other things I had grown to see as normal, I was coping enough to keep my head above water. Then, within less than six months time, it all fell apart.
My grandmother’s cat, who I had been extremely close to, got sick and eventually had to be put down.
Three months later, my grandmother had a series of mini-strokes.
It left her mentally impaired, trouble remembering, and manic despite no personal history of bipolar (though, looking back, she was extremely self-conscious, body image-obsessed, had discorded eating at times, a violent temper, history of alcoholism, and may have been depressed. You see so much once you know what to look for) .
She had racing thoughts, went on ridiculous spending sprees, paranoid, delusional, was impulsive, and could not be left alone.
At twelve years old, my father would leave me alone with her.
I was being sexually abused by an older boy, something he had done for six years, with a brief pause the year before.
At school, everything went downhill. My grades plummeted.
I couldn’t concentrate. Started cutting. Broke down a lot.
Kids teased and alienated me every chance they got.
Teachers purposely humiliated me – in front of everyone.
Often, I would provoke kids with violent tendencies so I could get beat up and sent home.
I could no longer stay awake in class.
I started melting down at school nearly every day.
Rages were more frequent.
I lashed out, no longer able to tolerate anything.
To be honest, I’m not sure which specific symptom made me go to internet and began searching information on depression. All I know is that I was overwhelmed and just wanted it all to stop. Most likely, it was the combination of it all building up. The more I read, the more I knew the symptoms fit how I was feeling. It did not explain all of it; but it was enough that I felt I had found an answer. More than that, there were medications to treat it. The image of me taking a pill and stabilizing was enough for me to reach out to my mom and tell her I was depressed. We talked for awhile, and I remember her holding me. She said we would make things things better. Only days afterward, I had an appointment with my nurse practitioner, who then referred me onto a psychiatrist.
This psychiatrist, who I refer to with names too crude for this blog, treated us terribly in my opinion. I still remember the disgusted look she gave me when I admitted to cutting myself, replying with a repulsed voice that, “I hope you cleaned it.” More than that, though, her “evaluation” lasted a mere five minutes. The questions she asked – such as, “If I had three wishes, what would they be?” – were useless and revealed nothing. At the end of it, based on what she had heard me say, she wrote a script for Zoloft – an antidepressant. When I asked about the risk it carried of making me suicidal or violent, she dismissed it as “never happening to her patients.” In the end, I refused the medication and told my mom I preferred not to see her again. Knowing my Bipolar diagnoses now, I sometimes wonder if things would have gotten much worse had I taken that medication. Either way, we didn’t pursue things any further.
Around the same time, I told about the sexual abuse.
It was stopped.
Only a few months later, school came to an end.
A few days before that, my grandmother died.
I plummeted as if I were a falcon going to catch its prey. Everyday I woke up wanting to be dead, and I stayed in bed for hours each day, telling my mom I was just staying up all night. I even started drinking. My head felt like it was in a cloud. By the third day of this, I saw no other option; but to kill myself. As I was starting to think out the details, my closest friend at the time called and asked if I wanted to sleep over. To be honest, I saw it as a goodbye.
Instead, my world dramatically changed as I was introduced to a friend that would pull me through: music. I had never been much of fan, not listening to radio or owning any CDs. The band that I heard there*, however, was different. Literally, within seconds of hearing those songs, I knew I would be OK. At least for now. As I read more into the band, their message – to reach out to people, say they understood, be their lyrical venting, and save lives in the process – the band members, and their stories connected with me. I watched their documentary a countless number of times. To be honest, without that music I would be much worse off. To this day, music is a huge part of my life, and I am eternally thankful for it.
Of course, this stability did not last long, and I was soon plunging downwards again. Except, this time, I told nobody. The only reason I got back into therapy at all is because the school forced it due to my grade patterns. Despite being under watch of a professional, nobody knew what was truly going on. How I was wandering ever deeper into psychosis, and I was essentially stuck in what I now know is a mixed state. The next time I vocally sought help is when I had a plan for suicide set up, and only then was I willing to speak up.
Being a minor, I think it is the norm that the adults around are the ones that seek help for us. Either it be we don’t know how to communicate, or we don’t want want to. To my Mom and those teachers at school I am forever grateful to. God only knows how worse things could have been.