A few months ago I had the absolute pleasure of working with Alice to document my journey with mental illness in photographs. It was a very real and cathartic process and I am ecstatic to show those to you now along with sharing my story.
So here’s the thing. It’s easy to be supportive and to spread awareness for others with mental illness. But to admit to myself and to others that sometimes I’m not okay, has been hard. So by telling my story. I hope to help some of you not feel so alone. And to help myself realize that it’s okay to be vulnerable.
When I really think about, my history with depression and anxiety roots farther back than I would imagine. I wouldn’t say that I had depression and anxiety exactly when I was a teenager, but I think the tendencies and signs were always there.
Here’s my story.
May 2015 my life was turned upside down. Two weeks after our anniversary and one week before my birthday. I had just gotten home from church. I brought my two babies (ages 1 and 3 months) inside and laid them down for naps.
I walked into my living room where my husband, Kyle, was sitting at the table. I noticed that he was acting strange. He was holding a sandwich but was acting like he was falling asleep while eating it. I thought he was just being silly, and didn’t think too much of it. I said something to him and he gave me a slurred answer. That’s when I got a feeling in the pit of my stomach.
Kyle had been dealing with severe depression for a while, and I knew he wasn’t doing great. I had the gut reaction to go look in our medicine cabinet. I opened the doors, my heart beating out of my chest. I started picking up each pill bottle, only to find everyone of them empty. I’m talking a huge bottle of tylenol. And lot’s of strong pregnancy meds from just having our second baby. Every single pill was gone.
Frantically I turned around and looked at Kyle again. “ Baby, did you take all of these pills?!” He lifted his head for a second, still out of it, and said “yeah.” My heart dropped, I started crying hysterically.
I grabbed my kids out of their cribs and put them in their carseats as fast I possibly could. I called Kyle’s mom, and blurted out “He just took all of the pills in our house!!!” She screamed, and said she would come right down.
I did my best to help Kyle down three flights of stairs, still crying and shaking with adrenaline. We got into the car and I sped to the closest hospital. I didn’t park I just drove right up and ran inside. I remember just being totally horrified. Was I going to lose my husband tonight?
Kyle’s parents met me at the hospital and we stayed in his room for a while. He got very very sick. He was throwing up a ton from all the medicine in his system, but the doctor said he should be okay. I was so grateful.
Because he had tried to commit suicide he was forced to go to a mental hospital for two weeks. Those two weeks were horrible for me, he wasn’t in the right state of mind. So he didn’t talk to me at all. I was at home devastated taking care of our two tiny babies alone.
The road to recovery once he got home was hard. He had been on medicine for his depression but had stopped taking it about a month before his attempt. He told me that he didn’t want to take medicine because he just wanted “to be normal.” This broke my heart. He shouldn’t have felt that way.
This incident affected me significantly. I now had awful PTSD. I would be triggered easily and feel like I was in the room discovering him passed out, thinking he was going to die. I would start sweating and my heart would beat fast. and everything around me would close in. It was a really scary feeling. The PTSD lasted for almost 2 years, and I still feel it a little bit every once in a while.
Around this same time I also went through a faith crisis, which was extremely hard on me mentally. I won’t go into details about that, but basically my entire life was turned upside down. So on top of dealing with the after math of Kyle’s attempt. I also had this on my plate.
I started having anxiety attacks. When I have an anxiety attack it feels like I can’t breathe, like something is sitting on top of me and I can’t move. My mind starts racing, and rational thinking is gone. When I have an anxiety attack I am super hard on myself and I start to feel depressed too. Anxiety is awful, and you can’t really explain it. But I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
Sometimes I feel really out of touch with reality during an anxiety attack. Like I”m not really here, and things don’t make sense. Feeling like that is the WORST.
It was strangely very hard for me to admit that I am dealing with mental illness. I say strange, because I promote awareness so strongly. But something kind of made me feel like maybe I was faking it or over reacting, because I didn’t deal with it until my husbands attempt. Now I have come to terms that sometimes things that happen in your life can trigger that illness in you. I want you to know that your feelings are VALID. You are not making them up. You deserve to find help, do NOT put it off. It could be the thing that saves you.
What I’ve learned from having this all happen to me, is this. Yes, you may have to deal with mental illness. Yes, this is NORMAL. So So So many people deal with this, you are NOT alone. The hard days will be very very hard. The good days will be very very good. There WILL be good days, fight through those bad ones. Because it really is worth it in the end. You are worth it. You matter. You matter. You matter.
I am still maneuvering through my mental health journey, but I am feeling very hopeful for the present and the future. <3