TRIGGER WARNING: Suicidal thoughts
“In my head, I’m in a pitch-black, dark room. Things are scattered all over the floor. I can’t see what’s in front of me. Every time I get the courage to take another step, I trip over something else. I fall back down and hurt myself… and I can’t get back up.”
Constance was first diagnosed with a mental illness when she was 15. She went to the doctor because her heart was racing, but the EKG came back normal. The doctor diagnosed her with depression. She didn’t take it seriously, assuming it was just some bullshit paper diagnosis. She didn’t stay on schedule with her meds and wouldn’t go see the doctor for a refill. And it got worse.
She wasn’t getting out of bed. She was too anxious to even go to a grocery store. She hooked up frequently to try to curve the loneliness she felt. She stopped going to school. When she did go to school, she wouldn’t go in – she would park her car and sleep in it. Her anxiety of going to school (and, consequently, the anxiety from not going to school) had made going a daily activity that difficult.
She knew this wasn’t who she is. She didn’t want to live like this anymore. After six months of hopelessness, she worked up the courage to see a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist diagnosed her with Major Depression Disorder, Generalized Anxiety, and Panic Disorder. She recommended medication and therapy.
And it took 13 medications before something worked.
On the 11th medication and half a year into therapy, Constance was losing hope. She didn’t want to do this anymore. She didn’t want to keep living like this. No one understood what was going on. She didn’t want to die, but it seemed like death was the only escape.
Throughout this period, her family didn’t really understand the severity of her mental illnesses. While they are comfortable with and understand mental illnesses, they didn’t get that each person’s journey is different.
It took Constance sobbing to her mom in the living room, describing her mental illnesses as a dark, cluttered room, for it to finally click for her mom that it was so much more serious than she thought. She put Constance in homebound school her junior year to encourage learning without triggering the panic associated with the physical school location. Constance considers graduating high school and making it to college through her depression her greatest accomplishment yet.
When she got to college eight hours away from home, she struggled with her mental health, like so many college freshmen do. But once she got settled in her new life and battled through the homesickness, she felt like life had meaning again. She had a new support system and created a toolbox of coping mechanisms, like coloring, journaling, and writing. She joined an online publication on campus as a content creator and worked her way up to Editor in Chief. Writing became her outlet for her mental illnesses, and when she published her struggles, she saw the hope it gave others. It gave her a purpose.
Since then, she’s become a vocal advocate in the mental health community. “I love talking about mental health, and every time I do, I learn something new about myself. When people read my content, they know they aren’t alone. It helps make it less scary. It’s not some unexplainable thing.”
Constance wants you to know that you’re not alone in what you’re going through, even if it feels like it.
“Your life has meaning, even though you may not understand. You will get through it, even if it will be the most life straining thing you’ll go through. You’ll be a stronger person, and you’ll be able to help other people with it. It’s not over. Keep fighting.”