Little did I know that this was the painful beginning of becoming a new person. I became a new person who can integrate the bad and good in life and have compassion for those struggling on the margins of society. I developed the humility to understand that I don’t know everything and that’s okay. What I thought I knew and valued were actually blocking me from growing on every level including spiritually. My mental health journey felt like tearing down an unstable building to build a new sturdier one. But with one huge difference: I didn’t have much control over the tearing down process. It felt like my life was falling to pieces.
For years I couldn’t accept that I was ill.
I couldn’t control many aspects of myself including my emotional reactions. I was in the dark as to why I would have sudden episodes of paralysis, intense self-destructive urges, and the inability to maintain routines like studying and cleaning. Part of me fought tooth and nail against the changes. I felt like I was losing everything I held dear including my sanity and perfectionism. I felt I was failing at everything, including being a person of worth. It got to the point where I didn’t and couldn’t care about anything anymore, but at the same time, I cared too much.
I tried bullying and hurting myself to get back to functioning regularly but, of course, it made things worse. As time went on like this I would attempt suicide 11 times just to get a break from my own punishing mind. It took me a very long time to learn to lower my expectations of myself and give myself a break. For years I couldn’t accept that I was ill. I didn’t want to accept my lower level of functioning and I didn’t know how to show myself any compassion. My third and more serious suicide attempt led to a month-long hospitalization (my first of several)— first in the ICU, then in the psychiatric ward. At this point, I thought I must be the most miserable person on the planet. Quickly I saw in the hospital that I wasn’t the most miserable person. Suddenly I was living with people with many different types of mental illnesses and I saw for the first time their torment, but also their strength and solidarity. I realized I wanted to help people like myself to deal with the particular difficulties that I face and together create lives worth living. I decided I wanted to work in the mental health field and enrolled in a second Bachelors in psychology that I am still working towards today. I found a direction and thought, for a long time, that maybe things would get better, but they only got worse.