Content Notice: This story contains references to Substance Abuse
In the process of losing my mind, I found my purpose and my place.
I joined the Army in 1990 and served fourteen years. I was first diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety disorder, and military sexual trauma in December 2003. Over the next five years, my condition declined and I became addicted to opioids. I entered detox and rehab in 2008. I have required mental health treatment on and off since then, including multiple stays in the North Carolina veteran affairs hospital, on the mental health floor, between 2014 and 2019.
I would usually go back to my apartment when I left the hospital. Each time, everything in my home would look different and feel different. I was afraid to be alone; I didn’t feel strong enough to be alone. The apartment would seem smaller, gloomy, the colors dull. I couldn’t believe I had lived there. The brightest thing there would be the color of my plants. Even the sunshine seemed a dull yellow.
And I would often wake up afraid. Afraid that I would disappoint myself and my children and those that were in my support system that would believe in me no matter what happened.
When I left the hospital in 2014, I had to move in with my younger children because I needed someone to monitor me. I had to change medications a lot, and the withdrawals were a bit much to deal with by myself. I would fall often and couldn’t transport myself or prepare my own meals.