Alone and empty were the two words that I probably would have used to describe myself during the spring and summer of 2009. If I had been asked to add adjectives they would have been sad, worried, defeated, and helpless. I may have even mentioned that I felt dead. I was going through the motions in my life. Wake up, take care of personal hygiene, eat, do whatever absolutely had to be done, school, and collapse into my bed. On autopilot, my body was able to do it all though my mind and heart were not there.
I know you’re wondering how I could have gotten to this place because, surely, I hadn’t been like this my entire life. Right? … Right. Mostly.
I can vividly remember entering school, feeling ill and begging my mother to keep me home. I was so young; maybe five or six, and I had nothing to be worried about. Well, at least nothing that I can remember. This illness went on for weeks and my mother took me to doctor after doctor trying to find out why I a stomach bug would be lasting this long. Many doctors said they didn’t know, but one told my Mom that it might be anxiety. Anxiety? She’s too young to have anxiety! What is anxiety anyway? Just a passing feeling that we all have once in a while. She will be fine.
After the beginning of my school career, I don’t remember much of my anxiety until high school. My family had just moved and I had to go to a new school. Again, the stomachaches came, but this time, something was a little different. I actually physically got sick each day before school. Why? I had finished my homework. I didn’t have the hard classes that day. Why was I so sick over this? I managed to get through my freshman year of this new high school with a lot of absences. My mom decided to pull me out of the public school system and home school me in hopes that it would help relieve this illness. It did.
My next run-in with these feelings happened just before beginning college, and this time I believe it was for different reasons. My parents had been fighting, my older brother had begun doing drugs, and my long-term relationship wasn’t what it had once been. I felt sick, but now I started getting pangs of loneliness, though I was amongst many. I started feeling helpless. I started feeling like no one was listening to my wants and needs. And then, when my parents divorced and my relationship with my boyfriend of two years ended – I stopped feeling.
I was diagnosed with Anxiety Disorder N.O.S. after expressing these feelings to a therapist and psychologist. They explained to me that it meant that I have an anxiety disorder that really has no specific title. But, though I was put on anxiety medication, I didn’t really get better.
I fell into a downward spiral until I couldn’t breathe anymore. I didn’t want to live, and soon found myself in Pen Bay Hospital’s Psychiatric Unit. It was there that I really improved. It was there that I found my need to be alive – really alive! There were doctors, counselors, and staff that helped me throughout my weeks-long journey there.
I have since acquired an Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education, graduated from Eastern Maine Community College as their Student of the Year, and become engaged to be married. I don’t believe that I would have reached the level of success that I have without the support of those that I met in the hospital. I owe my life to them.