Swallowing pill after pill, I felt my body begin to let go. Now my mind could be at ease…now everyone could be at ease knowing I was no longer suffering from the illness plaguing my mind…now they would never have to suffer either.

I had just been diagnosed with anxiety, and the medication wasn’t helping…in fact, it was doing nothing but making me depressed about the fact that I had anxiety…that I had a mental illness that made me different.

I felt alone – that I was going to be alone, and that it may be best…it may be best if I found a way to stop my mental illness from harming people I cared about. Already I had faced the aftermath of my alcoholism, and realizing that now, even in sobriety, I had left a trail of destruction behind me.

The problem with having General Anxiety Disorder is that your mind never stops racing, or turning to what may be the worst case scenario, and then reacting as if that is all real.

Sitting in my driveway, my mind began to race – why was it that people I loved and cared about always seemed to turn away? Simply put, I figured they were exhausted by what my mental illness was putting them through. While no one had known until a few weeks prior what was going on with me, years of things I had been told fell into place:

“You can never just leave things be…if you could, this wouldn’t be ending”

“You are a monster – no normal person acts like this”

“I can’t give you any answers, other than this has drained me”

“I understand you have anxiety and your addiction has made you act this way, but I can’t deal with it anymore – it has ruined me”

“Why can’t you just calm down and stop thinking about everything”

“Normal people do not act like you do – I only stayed because I was scared of what you might do to yourself”

I was too different. I was crazy. Could I live with this? Maybe…but if it meant breaking the hearts of people I loved, then why do it?

I remember the sinking feeling…maybe everyone was right. I felt ashamed by my mental illness; I felt it was too much for anyone I loved to deal with; I felt I was just hurting people; I felt that having anxiety and being an addict served no benefit; I felt alone; I felt that, no matter how hard I tried, that I would never get my mind to stop – that I would forever act irrationally, think irrationally, obsessively micromanage all aspects of my life negatively, and be the “crazy monster” I had been made to feel that I was.

I was too different. I was crazy. Could I live with this? Maybe…but if it meant breaking the hearts of people I loved, then why do it? I didn’t want to live knowing that because of my mental illness I would uncontrollably hurt everyone in my life.

It was in this moment that I tried to kill myself. Everyone was right – I was a crazy piece of shit who only left a trail of broken hearts in my path. The hardest part was knowing I had acted so irrationally at points due to something outside of my control – that people had ridiculed and belittled me for something outside of my control.

It was time that I took control.

Swallowing pill after pill, I felt my body begin to let go. Now my mind could be at ease…now everyone could be at ease knowing I was no longer suffering from the illness plaguing my mind…now they would never have to suffer either.

I felt it all fade away…I felt myself let go…

And then I woke up.

I woke up confused – two cops, guns drawn; two friends crying in the drive; EMT’s and an ambulance. The drugs clouded my memory of that event but I remember, once the confusion faded. I was angry…

I was furious – why the fuck did I wake up? What sick joke was it to find peace only to have to face me breaking more hearts of people I loved?

The doctors told me the medication I was on had triggered these suicidal thoughts. But it was much more than that. It was that I had felt ashamed by my disorder – that I could never conquer it because no one could understand.

But upon waking up, every direction I turned, I at least found some people who understood – I had acquired an army of individuals who told me I did not have to fight this alone. That my anxiety was not what defined me, and that anyone who said so, should not be fighting with me in the trenches.

Leaving the hospital, one of my closest friends showed me exactly what this army ought to consist of – people who truly understand anxiety. He shared with me that he too suffered from anxiety, and that I was not alone. Soon, a call from another friend shared the same message, and told me that with surrounding myself with people who had anxiety, I could find the support needed to learn to live with the war in my head.

In my darkest moment I felt that my mental illness was why people were leaving me, why every relationship I was in had ended terribly. There is truth in that – the war fought against an unknown enemy is unbeatable, and the path of destruction, unbearable. Finally though, after years of chaos, I had identified my enemy.

So often in our society we make individuals feel ashamed for their mental illness. I was belittled, ridiculed, told that I was a monster, that my anxiety had caused to much damage for people to even speak with me again. There lies the problem.

When anxiety is dealt with properly, it can be a powerful and beneficial thing, but when we alienate people because of it – or because of their addiction – we further the idea that they are different, and because they are different, they are less than.

Mental illness is stigmatized. When someone is battling cancer, we turn and offer support. When someone is battling a mental illness, we often turn away because, yes, it is hard to deal with. Turning away though is the opposite of what people need to do. We as a society need to embrace mental illness, to offer help, love and support. Be understanding, be patient, be companionate. When anxiety is dealt with properly, it can be a powerful and beneficial thing, but when we alienate people because of it – or because of their addiction – we further the idea that they are different, and because they are different, they are less than.

You never know what battles someone may be facing within their heart and mind – understand that it may not always be in their control. That their actions may not be in their control. Does this act as a blanket justification for my past behavior? Absolutely not. But it does allow me to identify the problem and link arms with those in my army to fight it accordingly.

It’s one thing to make someone wrong – its another to hold them accountable from a place of love. Love everyone you come into contact with – speak with compassion – for you never know what sickness they may be plagued with. Physical or mental.

#EndTheStigma

Ava Love,

Joshua

Written by Joshua Stout

Joshua is a graduate student at the University of Delaware studying sociology. His passions are addiction, mental illness, relationships and violence. When not studying diligently, or writing articles, he can be found at concerts and on a never ending quest to find the worlds best chai.

3 comments

  1. “There is truth in that – the war fought against an unknown enemy is unbeatable, and the path of destruction, unbearable. Finally though, after years of chaos, I had identified my enemy.”

    Joshua, what a powerful post. Thank you for your vulnerability and courage to tell your story. You have just let so many people know that they are not alone in their struggle. I attempted to take my life less than a year ago and can identify with all the horrible and unbearable feelings you mentioned. I’m looking forward to following and reading through your posts.

    May peace find you through your valley, my courageous friend.

    Like

    1. Thank you for your kind words and support! May you too be prosperous in your journey – I am grateful that you are here and sharing your story as well.

      Ava Love,
      Joshua

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Use of the terms “mental illness” and “diagnosis” tend to legitimize false concepts and treatments created by Psychiatry and Pharmacology to wield their wares, and were in fact debunked last year by the National Institute of Mental Health as having NO scientific validity. BRAVO to Josh for having the passion and courage to bring light to an attitude and thought form that need to be transformed. His article is astute and articulate. We need to promote compassionate and truly helpful therapeutic approaches to human behavior that do not stigmatize or denigrate.

    Like

Express Solidarity

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s