I just recently turned 22. A birthday is always a good time to stop and reflect on the previous year and make goals for the coming year. And currently being in quarantine, I can’t help but remember where I was a year ago on my 21st birthday.
The period around my 21st birthday was the worst point in my life. It was a few days after Pesach, and I had barely left my dark room in three weeks. I had been pushing through school and waiting for vacation, so I could stay in bed. I had just gotten my wisdom teeth out, and I knew that I had the perfect excuse in my pocket. I was in a bad place, but I didn’t realize it then–and my friends and family didn’t either.
Dark Room, Dark Frame of Mind
I wasn’t hungry, and I barely ate. Every time I was forced to leave my room–let alone my house–was torturous. I wish I was exaggerating. I didn’t join my family on any trips during Pesach; I just stayed in my dark room.
Pesach ended and it was time to go back to school. I couldn’t bring myself to get out of bed and go, so I simply stayed there. My friends from school were asking me where I was, and I answered that I was just exhausted. They laughed. If only they knew what I meant. I wasn’t just tired, I was exhausted from life.
That Tuesday night, my mother came into my room. We got into an argument, so she left. She asked my dad to come in and try to convince me to go back to school. By that point, I knew for sure that I was planning on not being around the next day. I assured my dad that I would be on the 6:00 AM bus the next morning to make it on time for my 8:00 AM class. My dad, thrilled that he had convinced me, left my room–but my mother was not fooled. She came back into my room a couple hours later and started asking me questions. I finally broke down. I told her I was planning on killing myself in just a couple hours, and she rushed me to the hospital.
Stepping into the Light
For a while after that time (and sometimes even now) I was petrified of myself. I didn’t want to be alone. My mother moved in to sleep with me in my room. Eventually, I had to go back to school for labs, but I couldn’t go by myself. My dad would join me, staying in the library while I was in class.
I’m Not Two People (Try As I May to Hope Otherwise)
At the time, people often asked me, “How could you have been planning this (suicide) for so long while you were happily engaged?” I honestly didn’t know how to answer that then, but now I do. I felt like I was two different people that weren’t communicating: one a happy fiance, and one a person on the brink of suicide. The actual reason why I broke down to my mother was because my fiance had just texted me that his aunt wanted to buy us cutlery for our wedding. It was something so simple, but it made me realize that I am not two people. Life can be so normal and good and if I kill myself, I would not be marrying him. I would be saying good-bye to him forever. It really only hit me then, even though I had already written him a good-bye letter.
We were considering postponing the wedding. Even after being in the hospital, I refused to go to therapy. I just hated–and still hate–the concept. My psychiatrist told me that if I didn’t go to therapy, I could not get married. I was so mad at her. Who did she think she was that she could say that? It was another punch in the stomach reminding me that I couldn’t be two different people, no matter how much I wanted to be.
Everyone gets nervous right before their wedding for different reasons. The reason I had the jitters was that I was truly petrified that I would refuse to get out of bed that morning. Not because I didn’t want to get married, but because you don’t choose when the depression hits you and it often comes at the worst times… and I was terrified that it would hit me the morning of what is supposed to be the happiest day of one’s life. I am so thankful the way my wedding day and my wedding itself turned out exactly how they did. It was not a given that I would manage to be happy all day. I knew my mom was watching every move of mine to make sure that nothing or no one could ruin my happiness.
Thank God I am where I am today. I am happily married, and I am happily living. Every day, I am pushing to get better. I couldn’t have done it without all my friends, family, and professionals, whether they knew what I was going through or not.
Anyways, happy 22nd birthday to me:)
PS: My Friends
My friends from school were instrumental in getting me to the happy place I am today. They were always available and happy to help me. When I missed classes (which was quite often), they would text me to make sure I was okay. They would fill me in on what I missed without making me feel guilty for not showing up and depending on them. During the year, there were many times my friends knew more about the poor state of my mental health than I did. I would tell them to not come over or ignore their calls, but they still always continued to visit and call. Many times my friends would pull me out of my house even when all I wanted to do was sleep.
I have been to many psychologists over the years. I have not lasted by one for more than a couple sessions. I wanted someone who would not make me speak at all and that was very hard to find. I was advised to do Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) because that would involve minimum speaking on my part. Someone in the neighborhood I live in actually practices DBT. I was very hesitant to use her because she is a family friend, but I decided to give it a shot, and I am so happy I did. She really respects what I want and has never made me feel pressured to speak. After several months of sessions, I voluntarily began opening up and sharing with her. Her patience and respect are what made a huge difference in my healing process.
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