The past few weeks have been quite gruesome to say the very least.
I have gone through a couple of things; some I was able to talk about, some I haven’t been able to address yet but I hope I will be able to in due time.
This journey, living with a mental health disorder, working everyday to continue on my journey to recovery is not an easy one but as I’ve said before, I have made it my life’s work to address mental health issues far and wide. I shared with my friend and mental health champion from Kenya, Sitawa Wafula that this journey to address mental health is one that perfectly fits the anecdote “If you want to go fast, go alone but if you want to go far, go together.”
And with this, I hope Sitawa and I and other mental health champions around the world will have a team compromised not only of us, but of all of you that read our blogs and support the cause.
In addressing mental health, I have shared very personal experiences with you on this blog. And today is no exception. For me to omit this experience would be a disservice to many people (1 in 4) that are dealing with the same or similar challenges we deal with on a daily.
Because of my experiences over the past few weeks, not only did I sink into a depressive state even though I continued to push on and work for the cause, but my anxiety got worse and with that came very many sleepless nights (insomnia).
I saw my doctor who prescribed aides to enhance my appetite, reduce my anxiety and help me sleep. But our bodies are very funny creations because sometimes they just won’t cooperate however much medicine we pump into them.
I was excited that I could finally eat and get a full night of sleep but the resistance to the medication only grew. From half a pill to sleep, in a day I graduated to a full pill, then 2 and some more.
For me, sleep has always been the best escape and growing up I did not realize this was an attribute of my mental ill health. But this time round I just had to sleep. Little did I know that by slowly increasing my dosage and my increased need to sleep, I was doing a disservice to my body.
Until one night after a few days on treatment and gradual increases, my body had had enough. I accidentally overdosed and went into a state of unconsciousness on a day when I was looking forward to starting my book writing workshops (yes, a book will come)
I woke up in the hospital after my mom found me unconscious. I was mad not only because I had missed the workshop, I was mad that I had almost died. Dealing with mental health I have always contemplated suicide but remembering I have a lot to live for most importantly my 5 year old has kept those thoughts in control.
I was upset that I almost left my daughter. I was upset that I had hurt myself and my family. I was upset that my need to sleep and escape and rest took me to the emergency room. I was upset that I had worried my best friend who had rushed to the hospital so worried about my state. I was even more upset with life and those feelings made me wish I didn’t exist at all. That my issues had affected those around me so much. And that didn’t help how I felt one bit.
See my plan that night hadn’t been to die. No. My plan was to escape for a few hours into a deep sleep. To wake up well and rested enough to fight another day.
But thinking about that event and how I ended up there showed me that so many we’ve lost to suicide did not wish to die. So many have died looking for an escape because they have failed to find their safe place and have resorted to substances, medication and things have only gone left.
I thought about people like Michael Jackson who have died from an overdose. Did they wish to die? I think not.
Many of us look for that temporary escape, it’s not unusual, whether it’s through alcohol or drugs or prescribed or unprescribed medication, we have looked for an escape at some point. Even those that consider themselves to have positive mental health, shopping, partying, alcohol… Name it. We all look for an escape. Some of us, that need to escape has taken us to the ER, some to jail, some have been left in debt.
But how harshly do we judge?
I’ve received some stigma and isolation from people close and dear to me because they have failed to understand that need to escape, even for a few hours. Because they do not suffer from mental health issues that some of us have to deal with on a daily. They do not have a can of pills that says 1/2 x 1 that they push push to 1×1 then 2×1 to 3×1. They don’t get it.
Those of us in recovery say, you never know how it feels to have a mental health issue until you have suffered from one. Just like you really can’t know what it feels to suffer from cancer until you have it.
This has made me realize and empathize deeper with suicide VICTIMS (yes they are victims) that suicide isn’t what kills people. It’s the emotions that kill people. That is why I do not agree with the term that “Someone took their own life”.
They do not take their own lives because at that moment of so urgently needing an escape, they make a wrong decision.
Our escape mechanisms vary and we must always remember that when dealing with people that have been on the verge between life and death, we must remain empathetic because we all have an escape that has at some point led us or will lead us down the same road.
Suicide is not and will never be an act of selfishness.
We all have a lot of reflecting to do. What is your escape?
In AA meetings we say to each other to look for the similarities and not the differences in each other’s stories and tonight, I implore you to do the same.
Love + Light. Always