This story is part of a blog series called, “Your Story: a conversation on mental and emotional health and disabilities.” Please read with a heart open and understanding -free of judgement.
Please be aware that the interviewee mentions her struggles with anxiety, depression, depersonalization, derealization, suicidal thoughts and ideation; she also briefly mentions staying in a mental health hospital. If these topics affect you in any way please stop reading, talk with a someone you trust, or contact a mental health professional immediately. You may also call the Suicide Hotline 800-273-TALK (8255).
A Note On Editing
Minor changes were made to help make the interview easier to read.
Defining Mental Health
Depersonalization – a psychopathological syndrome characterized by loss of identity and feelings of unreality and strangeness about one’s own behavior.
Derealization – a feeling of altered reality (such as that occurring in schizophrenia or in some drug reactions) in which one’s surroundings appear unreal or unfamiliar.
Allow me to introduce…
This story comes from Kira. What I love most about her story is her honest admission that she has spent time in the hospital as part of her mental health journey. Hospital stays aren’t fun, and they definitely aren’t easy, but I know they can be the fresh start that some individuals need to work through their struggles in a safe and healthy way.
I hope that anyone who has taken a stay in the hospital as part of their mental health journey knows that they are stronger than they could imagine. A stay in the hospital doesn’t define you. If anything it shows 2 things, 1. someone loves you, and 2. you’re brave enough to face your demons head on.
When did you realize there was something mentally or emotionally wrong? And what did you do about it?
It was in 4th grade. I snapped at my friend during lunch and realized that something was wrong with me. I felt tense and anxious all the time like my limbs would freeze if I did anything wrong and everything I did felt like it was wrong.
Are there/were there moments in your life where this mental/emotional struggle becomes more present and you’re more aware of its existence?
I have depression, anxiety, depersonalization, and derealization. I feel like I am constantly juggling them. If I don’t feel one, I usually feel another. Stress and fear of failure has been my most constant trigger for these feeling
How has this experience affected your relationships with others?
It’s been hard. I often feel like I am a burden to my family and friends. It has also brought me closer to my parents because they, constantly, are the ones who are willing to lift me when I fall.
What methods have you found are beneficial for your treatment and healing?
Therapy mixed with some medication has changed my life. After about 2 years of this, I finally want to live after being paralyzed with feelings of wanting to die. The best coping mechanism I found is meditation and viewing myself as a child who I need to nurture to grow instead of berate and punish.
What keeps you from receiving or accepting treatment and healing?
It used to be my anxiety and not thinking I was worth the effort to be helped.
What symptoms or behaviors of your mental/emotional health experience are the most difficult for you to handle? For example: self harm, disordered eating and sleeping, suicidal thoughts, loss of motivation.
Suicidal thoughts and wishing I could give up were particularly hard for me because death seemed the easiest way to stop pain.
Have you shared your struggles with family and friends? If yes, what have their reactions been? Are they supportive, or do they wish to keep your struggles hidden?
Yes, for the most part. My parents are willing to help me and talk to me. With my friends, it can be harder. I can tell when I mention my stay in the hospital for being suicidal is not something they want to be reminded of.
What inspires you to stay hopeful through this experience? Or how do you find hope during this experience?
Happiness. When I am happy, I could just hug everyone who ever feels a smidgen’ of what I feel.
If you could travel back in time and visit yourself just before or just after recognizing there was something amiss, what would you tell yourself?
Hey Kira, nothing is wrong with you as a person. You are loved, and it’s ok to make mistakes. The whole world is not made of glass – you are not made of glass. One wrong move will not upset the balance of the universe. You feel this way for a reason, and it’s ok to talk to people about it. You are going to be ok. Things are going to be really hard for a long time, but you are strong, and you will be ok.
If you met someone else going through a similar experience as yourself, what advice and words of courage would you give them?
Mental health problems are tricky because they are just as individual as the people they affect. You need to find the right fit for you. It can be a really long and hard process, and you will have to push yourself and hurt. BUT! You are loved and worth the effort.
Is there any final part of your story or thoughts of encouragement you wish to share with the readers?
Be kind! You really never know when people are hurting.
Thank you for bravely opening up about your mental health journey.
Continuing the Conversation
The final question I asked as part of this interview was whether she was willing to connect with others about her story. She agreed with an ecstatic, “Yes!” And said that she would be willing to talk with those interested over email. To continue to protect her privacy though, I will not disclose her email in this post. If you are interested in connecting with her, please send your request to firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will forward your message to her directly.
Feel free to continue the conversation on mental and emotional health in the comments below. But please understand that your comments are being moderated and will be deleted if they are hurtful, hateful, or inappropriate in any way. This is a safe space to share your story about mental and emotional health and disabilities. Please do what you can to keep it as such.
A Note For Readers
If reading Kira’s story has inspired you to share your own story, please click here to be taken to the introductory post where you will learn where the inspiration for this blog series came from as well as how to participate.