Sorry I Was MIA, I Had A Mental Breakdown

TRIGGER WARNING: Suicidal thoughts

I realize no one is sitting here wondering “Hmmm, I wonder why Berkeley hasn’t written in a month? I sure do miss her oversharing her life on her blog!” But I felt like it would be disingenuous if I didn’t share what’s been going on. And you know, I live into vulnerability and breaking the stigma, after all.

I have been struggling with my depression pretty much for a year or longer. As you may know, I was on short term disability because of a depressive episode in February. I upped my meds, kept seeing a therapist, and the sun came out for spring and summer. I felt “stable,” but I don’t think I really felt happy. The pandemic went into full swing, my company took pay cuts, I got Covid, someone in my family was really sick, I moved back to NC for the rest of the year, and I have to find a new job by the end of the year (long story). 

Yeah, so we can say this year fucking sucked. 

So here I am, living in North Carolina, feeling a bit lost, and broke af. Do I want to live here? Do I want to live in New York? What kind of work should I do? And worst of all, I was binging Vampire Diaries when I learned it was going off Netflix November 1st and I was only on season 3 out of 8 (don’t worry, it’s only going off Netflix in the UK *sigh of relief*).

All that time, I neglected the true issue at heart. I was slowly withering away. My hope was drying up inside me day by day. Each day I let my depression slowly take over, inch by inch. Small problems felt impossible. Annoyances became boulders. And the timeline over my head to find a new job by the end of the year was growing. 

I was getting help, but not really. I was in therapy biweekly, seeing a psychiatrist for medication management, exercising every day, AND using my light therapy daily. But, if I’m being honest with myself, I wasn’t putting in the work. Seeing a therapist biweekly just means you’re letting them know the big problems at hand, not really getting into it. I mean, the first clue that I wasn’t getting help was that I was crying every day over dumb, little things. Or maybe that I cut 10 inches off my hair to feel something, and still felt numb. Idk.

I talked to my doctor about changing my meds because of my seasonal depression ramping up. Nothing like a cold, dry day to remind yourself how much you barely exist inside, am I right? He tapered me off one med and onto another. 

And I broke. Completely. 

The days did not feel any lighter. They got way worse. The only way I can explain it is that I was in a glass room (think, Joe’s glass box in the basement), filled with fog. I could see that there was light and flowers and greenery and sunshine outside the box because of those little slivers of light coming through, but I couldn’t access it. I was stuck in this miserable box. Dying inside slowly day by day. Maybe that’s just a really “me” analogy and no one else gets it, but I think you might. 

By the fifth day of the medication change, I started to journal about dying. Feeling like it was the only option. The only way to get relief from this misery. The worst part about a mental illness is that, for the most part, it’s invisible. No one can see your pain. On top of that, I masked my illness. I smiled and laughed and then I went home and cried. I’ve masked for pretty much my entire life, and I wasn’t about to learn how to stop now. I was in a full-swing depressive episode, baby. Ain’t no stoppin’ me now! 

A week into the medication, it was the weekend of my mom’s wedding and my birthday. And honestly, I don’t remember much of that weekend. I remember smiling with people, crying alone. I remember being so overwhelmed around so many people. Honestly, the only thing I really remember was this tiny voice in the back of my head yelling “Die! Die! Die! Die!”

And that, my friends, was how I ended up in the psych ward at the hospital the day after my 25th birthday. 

In full transparency, I admitted myself. I didn’t try to hurt myself, but I knew if I didn’t get immediate help, I was only hours away from finding a solution, and not one that would promote living. I don’t remember much about that day, except for waiting after my therapy appointment to go. She told me that if I didn’t go, she’d call 911. I remember holding my dog in the car, squeezing him to my heart. It was a humid day. I remember that. I remember the shame of wearing the paper scrubs. I remember hugging my mom goodbye and following the security guards to the fifth floor. Silently sobbing the entire way. I took a deep breath as the door opened. 

I spent four days in the hospital, and it really was the right thing to do. I’ll write more about it one day when the wounds don’t feel so open, but know that it was a safe space for me to wait out the initial side effects of the medication. And they had really good food, contrary to belief.

I’ve been out of the hospital for two weeks. Am I better? I mean, death doesn’t feel like the only option. I do feel like I have hope to climb that mountain of depression, even though I break down and try to give up at the smallest inconvenience. I know that depression is not who I am. That little voice chanting “Die” is not me. There was also a little voice weakly whispering “Hope! Hope! Hope!” at the same time.

I am focused on living. Day by day. I can’t think about the job I might get or my blog or applying to school. I literally can only focus on how to live each day. 

The first few weeks since the hospital have been the hardest. I have daily breakdowns around 2:00pm. I have a hard time regulating my emotions. I’m learning how to get the right support from the right people. And it’s fucking hard, guys. Living is hard. Waking up every day, not seeing any sunshine beyond the clouds of your mind, and actively choosing to try? It’s exhausting. But I have no other choice. Death is not a choice. I have shit I want to accomplish in life. I can’t do that if I’m literally dead (“No shit, B!” you all scream). 

Point of this long rant is: Keep going. Get help. Feel the sadness, and know it’s not you. You deserve help. You deserve to live.

I reaaaally didn’t want to write this. These are still fresh wounds. I feel so much shame and guilt and like an emotional burden on others. But I know that if I’m feeling this way, chances are, there is someone out there that is feeling the same way. And I NEVER want anyone to go through this alone. If you’re reading this, I have been right where you are. It’s hard as hell, and there are days I wanted to give up. But I’m starting to see a sliver of hope. You will too, even if you don’t feel like it yet. You are not alone, and even though we can’t take away the pain for you, we can hold your hand as you sob. We’re in this together, ok?

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