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Finding your purpose is something almost all twenty-somethings struggle with…

and it’s a huge topic of conversation on this blog. You might already know this if you’ve read my About page, bu Uninspired is all about helping women in their twenties build their futures without sacrificing their now. And it’s specifically because you’re all so stressed about finding your purpose that you forget to enjoy this part of the journey. That’s why stories like Ana’s are so important. Yes, it’s a cautionary tale that warns you not to stress so hard over jobs and finding your purpose. But it’s also a story of hope and overcoming immense hurdles. Not everyone’s path is the same length, and you certainly can’t compare your chapter one to someone’s chapter ten. But everyone does have a destination.

Before I turn it over to Ana,

I want to explain a little bit more about Mental Health Monday for anyone who hasn’t joined us before. If you’re new, welcome! I’m so happy you dropped by my little corner of the internet. Since you’re here, you’re probably a woman in her twenties looking to become a better adult. The biggest part of that, in my opinion, is self-care. You can’t be your best self in any aspect of your life if you’re not taking care of yourself first, but a lot of you struggle with that. You either feel guilty about putting yourself first, you don’t know that you should, or you want to but you don’t know how. Well, Mental Health Monday takes care of that.

The Mental Health Monday series is a series of guest posts by writers who have something to say about mental heath. It can be literally anything! We’ve had posts about autism, insomnia, postpartum depression, practicing gratitude, and tons more. Each posts opens up a conversation for people struggling with those issues, and urges them to help themselves. Sometimes they offer super actionable advice, like Millie does in her post on how to process pain and negativity. Other times, like in Courtney’s case, they offer hope, which can change lives just as easily.

This week’s post, as I said earlier, is about what it feels like when depression gets in the way of finding your purpose in life. Our guest blogger, Ana, knows exactly how it feels to get dragged down by the weight of planning for your future. She’s a severe burn victim, and yet it was trying to figure out what to do after college that landed her in a deep depression. Her post explains her emotional experience in detail and, unfortunately, it might look familiar to a lot of you. So, with that, I’ll turn it over to Ana and her fun, bubbly writing style! For someone who has suffered so deeply, she sure still radiates positivity!

You know finding your purpose is hard when you're a severe burn victim, and THIS is what sends you into a spiraling depression.

When Depression Gets in the Way of Finding Your Purpose

“Greetings Bloggers,
I’m here to enlighten your perspective on what it means to be a survivor of severe depression, and how finding your purpose isn’t worth what I went through. But don’t worry! It won’t be too depressing to read about.
It all began on a dark and gloomy night as the wind howled into the darkness… nahhh lol got ya. I’m being silly, but here’s the real story. I was enrolled in USF to get a B.A. in geography, and I literally had a semester to go. As I was preparing to graduate, I started to think:

“damn, these loans are coming up, so I better get ready to pay them off.”

So, I made a plan that I would find a job. I spent a couple nights in a row just googling jobs left and right, and right and left. I literally went down the list of all possible careers or jobs I could attain, and applied to them all. But as the days passed, I got no results. I began worrying heavily, and my sleep began to diminish little by little. What was I going to do with my life? Here I was, twenty-four years old with no career, no degree yet, no car, no nothing. If I couldn’t even get a crappy job, how would I ever get a career? Figuring out what I was going to do with my life was crashing and burning like no other.

I hadn’t realized it myself yet, but this was the start of the depression that would turn this summer into the worst four-month period of my life. Really quickly, I was spending entire nights just thinking in this negative perspective, to the point where I was only getting an hour or two of sleep. I didn’t have any medical coverage, so seeking medical attention wasn’t at my disposal. I did use over-the-counter sleeping pills when I couldn’t take it anymore, but they barely had any effect. My symptoms were way more severe than the over-the-counter meds could handle. At some points, I literally thought I would have a heart attack at any point, because my heart pumped so rapidly it felt like it would pop out of my chest at any moment. I had lost my appetite completely, and I experienced constant shaking that I couldn’t control.

I hate to admit it, but eventually the depression was so severe that I became suicidal.

In addition to actually being depressed, I also had a really hard time accepting that I was depressed. There was an extra layer of pain.

I didn’t want to accept that I had driven myself to this point with all the negativity I constantly thought. I constantly blamed myself for being weak. Not only could I not get a job, I made myself so upset about it that I put myself through hell. And my family, because they had to care for me. They literally forced me to go outside, when I didn’t even want to look out a window. I couldn’t even make simple decisions of what to wear, because my negativity made me feel like everything looked awful, and I was ugly. As a burn survivor, I was used to the stares, but during this time, I knew they could just see the emptiness on my face. I just wanted to die peacefully by the depression or end it myself.

So, how did I get here, talking to you guys about what I went through?

I thank God above all, because His mercy upon me has been overwhelming. That, and the support of my family were the two key ingredients in my survival. Basically, I came out of depression by resorting to my faith. Believing in something bigger than you can be a really great help in finding your purpose. Another motivational thought was that yes, I fell into depression, but so had many others before me. And they came out of it, so I probably wasn’t the exception to a road to recovery.

Little by little, I slept more hours, and weaned myself off the sleeping pills that were only supposed to be very temporary. I began facing my situation instead of hiding from it, and eventually I did seek psychological evaluation. This was a booster to a full recovery as my therapist made me realize that I DID have the potential to achieve my goals in life despite this huge bump I had to encounter in my life.

Overall, depression is an experience I wouldn’t wish upon the worst criminal.

Nobody deserves to experience that kind of mental and physical pain and agony. Depression kills the mind, but as I learned in the darkest part of that summer, it can also kill the body. But even so, it is possible to stop someone from experiencing this sever depression, and it is possible to recover yourself. I survived raging flames, so I know recovery is a reality to all that seek help, and most importantly seek help from above.

Thanks for taking the time to read this super long story of my life. The biggest takeaway is the one thing my mommy always says to me:

While there is life, there is still hope!

xoxoxoxo

🙂

– Ana

Looking for more on finding your purpose? Check out this hilarious yet amazingly poignant post by Mark Manson on the subject.

Today, we’re super lucky to have Jem from over at Little Adventures sharing her story about suffering from chronic depression.

Before we get started though, let’s talk a little about what Mental Health Monday is about. Some of you may be familiar with the series, but for the newbies, I wanna make sure we’re all caught up.

Uninspired is all about helping twenty-something women live passionately now, even while we’re building our futures. That’s why it’s so important to talk about mental health! Our twenties are this wild free-for-all where we haven’t quite figured out the logistics of who we’re going to be, or how we’re going to set the stage for the rest of our lives. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how exhausting that can be. It can be so exhausting that it causes people to need medication for anxiety or chronic depression. If we don’t talk about how common these things are, and if we don’t talk about people who have successfully gotten through it, these people might lose hope.

So, why don’t I just write the Mental Health Monday posts myself? I am a grad student in marriage and family therapy, after all. I’m a prime candidate to answer all your questions about the mental health field.

Well, lemme tell ya.

I only have one personal experience. And unfortunately, my personal experience is highly textbook-based. When I tell you guys that people survive being depressed, and they live happy lives even through anxiety, I want to show you examples. Not textbook examples. Real people. So I got some real people.

I’m so grateful to everyone who has volunteered to tell their personal stories for Mental Health Monday. This series is helping people– just look at the comments. Jenn from the postpartum depression and anxiety post from July was able to help a brand new mom find hope. Nour’s post from June about overcoming social anxiety for a job interview gave some seriously actionable advice on what you can do to calm down in an important social situation. Today’s story is going to give you hope that even when you have chronic depression, even when you’re lying in a hospital bed after attempting suicide, you can come back. You can come back and live the life you’ve always wanted.

Every Monday is Mental Health Monday here at Uninspired! I feature a new blogger each week who has something to teach about mental health. This week's story is about Jem, and how she overcame suffering from chronic depression


“I have been suffering from chronic depression in varying degrees since my early teens.

I’m very open about the basics of my experience with depression, but I don’t tend to discuss it in great detail. I’m used to talking about the fact that people bullied me. And the fact that there’s a large history of chronic depression in my family. But there’s much more to it than that.

Bullying led to many scars that I still carry with me to this day. Lack of self-worth, self-esteem, and confidence are some, along with the core belief that I don’t deserve anything. I’ve fought hard to change these beliefs, and they don’t inhibit my life as much as they used to, but they’re still there, lurking like some creepy stalker hiding in the bushes, waiting to approach. Bullying is evil and cowardly, and children can be so cruel, not realizing the long-lasting effects their actions can have on someone.

In addition to this, all the women on my mother’s side of my family have been suffering from chronic depression. As a matter of fact, we recently learned that my maternal grandmother had her children taken from her for a month while she recovered from a breakdown. No one spoke of it until after she died. I’m glad we now live in a time where  we talk about mental heath. Even if there is still a stigma, we don’t brush it under the carpet as much as we used to.

When I was at my worst a few years ago, the inside of my mind was a hell I couldn’t escape.

There was this large back hole constantly hanging over me that sucked the joy out of everything. There was an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness and despair. Nothing could lift the fog I was living in– I was drowning and saw no way out. The worst feeling was the emptiness– I felt like a shell of myself, not really participating in life. My chest felt heavy all the time, I was constantly having irrational thoughts, and my motivation was at rock bottom. Even eating seemed too much effort. My only way of coping was to sleep. It was an escape from reality, and if I slept, the next day would be closer. One step closer to the end where I could finally free myself of this awful burden I carried.

One day, I’d had enough.

The strange thing is, I don’t exactly know what led to that decision. Nothing out of the ordinary happened that day; I was just tired. Tired of living, tired of even existing, tired of being tired. So, I took matters into my own hands.

I took pill after pill hoping each one would make more of the hurt, more of the despair, everything, go away.  I thought I was a burden to everyone around me, too. To me it seemed everyone would be better off without this moody, irrational, empty shell of a person sucking the happiness out of their lives. I was texting a friend as I took the pills and with each message, my words were more and more jumbled. I don’t remember much of what happened next, but I was told he broke the speed limit driving through town to reach me. He got me to the hospital, and had to carry me through the doors. They took me straight in and put me on a drip. Apparently, I’d gone blue.

When I woke up the next day, I saw my parents. They lived six hours away, and they’d driven the journey to be by my side and I felt so ashamed that I’d made them worry. Lying in that hospital bed, taking in the things people had done to save me and support me, was a turning point. No one realized how low I’d sunk, because I never talked about it with anyone. Now that I had the support of my family, friends, and therapy, I could begin the long, hard road to recovery.

I started taking a cocktail of pills.

Often,  I felt worse, and they’d change the cocktail. About a year of that, and I once again decided that I’d had enough. Only this time, instead of having had enough of life, I wanted to take it back again. All the pills made me lethargic, nauseous, irritable, and a whole host of other unpleasant things. Through sheer bloody mindedness and against my therapist’s advice, I threw all my pills in the bin. As I was on at least seven a day, and I didn’t wean off of them, I went through withdrawals. I was sensitive to light, had constant headaches, was even more irritable, the nausea increased, and my body ached. Honestly, I don’t recommend that method at all. But, I got through it.

Eventually, I found myself again.

I found myself through friendship, exercise, and proper nutrition. Not long after I came off the meds, I found roller derby, and it saved my soul. Through derby I formed those positive relationships, found an exercise I enjoyed, and found a release for my emotions. I gained confidence in myself because I was able to see that I am capable and can push myself beyond my limits. My suffering from chronic depression is one of the main reasons I am so passionate about friendships. Without my friends, I don’t know where I’d be now. And laughter really is the best medicine. Talking things over with someone close is invaluable, and that’s something I have only learnt in the past few years.

I will always have chronic depression floating in the background. But as long as I look after myself, and am aware of my warning signs, I can keep it under control.”

This Mental Health Monday, think about the people who love you unconditionally, and spread some love yourself. You never know who is suffering from chronic depression, or who you could be saving.