February 19, 2010
My Purpose for Writing, Part 1 – My Story
It was the evening of January 3, 2010. I blinked into the glaring fluorescent lights on the emergency room ceiling as I rubbed the stinging handcuff marks on my wrists. Dazed and lethargic from the 24 Nyquil pills still running through my veins, I stuttered my way through an awkward series of questioning from various nurses and doctors who forced their way into my consciousness. Talking was the last thing I wanted to do. Giving them reasons was not only daunting, but seemingly futile at this point.
“Why did you overdose?”
“Were you trying to kill yourself?”
“What’s going on in your life that would make you want to do this?”
All I could do in response was shake my head and say, over and over again, “I don’t know.” I don’t know. I don’t know why I took all those pills. I don’t why I’m so hopeless and depressed. I don’t know why I hate myself so much. I don’t know why I hurt so badly. I don’t know why I just want my life to end. All I know is that I don’t want to feel anything anymore. I’m tired of my life. I’m tired of being me.
The entire scenario – the paramedics, the ambulance, the emergency room, the subsequent seclusion in a psych unit – was all too familiar too me. This was my third suicide attempt in the last two months. My first attempt involved overdosing on liquid Nyquil and slicing my arms, wrists, and neck with a utility knife. During the second episode, I submitted myself to the hospital before I followed through with my plan. And here I was again, in a hospital, choking down charcoal. This time was a bit more dramatic, as I had actually written a suicide note to my parents and, in my medicated state, apparently attacked the paramedics…hence the handcuffs. Even now I can’t say for sure whether or not I truly wanted to die. I figured, whatever happens, happens. If I die, so be it. If I don’t, I guess it wasn’t mean to be. Either way, I didn’t care. Either way, I hoped to somehow escape the overwhelming intensity of the emotions that bombarded me from moment to moment, making life meaningless and unbearable.
Episodes of severe depression and turmoil have become a way of life for me. My first episode occurred at sixteen years old, accompanied by severe anxiety and panic attacks. I have dealt with both depression and anxiety on and off for seven years now. I have also struggled with eating disorders – first anorexia, then bulimia and uncontrollable binges lasting days at a time. Though I have experienced social anxiety, perfectionism, low self-esteem, and excessive shame and guilt for most of my life (largely as a result of childhood sexual trauma), the severe symptoms of depression, as well as other self-destructive behaviors, had become especially prevalent over the last several years.
I could never understand why the very act of living was so difficult for me. Why couldn’t I just be happy and normal? I felt stuck in destructive patterns of behavior that affected my health, my relationships, my schooling, and my work. Over the few months leading up to my first suicide attempt, and continuing on until the third, sexual promiscuity, binging and purging, drinking, and cutting had become the norm for me. I absolutely hated these things, but I felt as if I had no control over myself. I no longer cared what happened to my body, because I hated it. I no longer cared what happened to my spirit, because I already felt dead inside. Dead to everything but pain, loneliness, and self-loathing. I turned my back on God. I was somehow angry at Him for what my life had become and, at the same time, felt I was a filthy, disgusting creature unworthy of His love. I felt that I had nothing, no one, to turn to. I was in complete darkness.
Two weeks ago I was officially diagnosed with chronic, recurrent depression and borderline personality disorder. Though depression is commonly known, BPD (borderline personality disorder) is not. The symptoms of BPD include frantic effort to avoid abandonment; a pattern of intense and unstable relationships; identity confusion and disturbance; impulsivity in a least two areas that are self-damaging; recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures or threats, or self-mutilating behavior; emotional dysregulation and instability; chronic feelings of emptiness; inappropriate anger or difficulty controlling it; stress-related paranoia or dissociation. I exhibit every single one of these criteria. Believe it or not, I was actually very relieved to hear this. Finally, there was a reason for everything I was feeling and experiencing. I am not a horrible person. I am dealing with an illness that is brought on by a combination of abnormal brain functioning, genetic predisposition, and negative and stressful life events. I have a difficult time dealing with emotions, and I have certain thought patterns and beliefs that are a result of childhood trauma and that lead to unhealthy ways of coping (eating disorders, self-harm, acting out, isolation, etc).
Now that the underlying cause of my distress has been pinpointed, I have hope that I can overcome this illness that has kept me down for so long. Through medication and therapy, I CAN get through the depression, through the BPD, through my eating disorder… and become healthy and whole again. But although meds and therapy sessions are an important part of my recovery, I am fully aware that the strength motivation to achieve full mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health MUST come from somewhere inside ME. And THAT is where my biggest challenge lies.