I have been battling anxiety disorders all my life. Looking back I am able to remember struggling with it as young as 2 years old. Most people grow up in imperfect homes and while mine may not have been as bad as some, it still wasn’t ideal. My mom worked all the time. My dad was always out of work battling his addictions when he wasn’t locked up. I am the oldest of three daughters. Most of my life, I only looked back at the good times my family had. Though my dad was far from perfect, he was responsible for my sisters and I while my mom made ends meet. I chose to only remember the times he took us to the water parks and the times he skipped paying the bills to buy us toys. I chose to not look back on his drug usage, his drinking, his unhealthy attitude, his verbal abuse, etc because even though it wasn’t perfect, he was always the one that was physically there.
As I got older, my mental illnesses started to consume me. It got so bad by the time I graduated high school that my body started to shut down. I was unintentionally anorexic. I was experiencing panic attacks so severe that for two weeks I was a vegetable. My boyfriends family had to watch me 24/7 during that time. His youngest brother couldn’t go out after school with his friends because he to take over the next shift of watching me. I was so weak I couldn’t even change the channel on the T.V. when they would put the remote in my hands. I recovered. My life went on. I used to consider this time to be my lowest point… but not anymore.
That relationship ended and I moved on and made new friends. I changed my job hoping to find less stress. Unfortunately I have a knack for choosing occupations that abuse me. I started to break again. So I quit, and changed my career path again. I went into banking. I was one of the top sales people in the district and I found myself the victim of verbal abuse again by my superior. At this point my thick skin was cracking. I was so worn down that I began to wonder if it was all my fault. So I sought therapy.
I spoke up and asked for help…
My therapist suggested I go to an Intensive Outpatient Program though Ohio State. I spent one month on FMLA to participate in this program. Upon my release my therapist was suddenly no longer accessible. The practice attempted to pair me with a new therapist however, as I’m sure you are familiar with that intense fog that invades your mind when you are in a truly low stage. I missed three appointments. I understand that it was their policy and I understand why they have it in place. I know it’s not their fault. But they could no longer offer me their services as a result. Dwayne, I have a hard time thinking that it was my fault too. I’m sick and at that time, I had no control. I was already doing the best that I could.
FMLA only paid me 60% of my pay while I was seeking treatment and unfortunately it was not enough to cover my bills. I became victim to pay day loans. I’m sure you are also very familiar with the time that it takes to recover and go into remission but I was not given that time. I attempted suicide for the first time. A friend of mine recognized that something was not right and rushed over to my place, he took me to the emergency room. Upon my release, I lost my job when the FMLA ran out, and I lost my apartment because I wasn’t able to make rent. I was no longer able to meet my most basic of all needs.
I moved in with the guy I was seeing at the time and to my demise, he was an alcoholic. Again, I fell victim to verbal abuse and gas lighting. He kicked me out one day because I let his son take a late nap. I had told him I couldn’t watch his son that specific day because my best friend was having a horrible panic attack of her own. She was literally crippled by it. I took her to Urgent Care that morning while he slept in. I notified him when Urgent Care said she was pre-stroke and I had to rush her to the emergency room. When we got back to the apartment I told him a third time that I couldn’t watch his son because my best friend needed me to be there for her. He left me with his son anyway so that he could drink. When he came home he was so mad to find the two of us asleep on the couch that he threw me out with nothing. No car, no money, no phone, no time. To this day he still has over $500 worth of my belongings that I can’t even sue him for in small claims court because I cannot afford the filing fee.
I found myself in less than one year homeless a second time. I had tried to find other jobs after the bank. I worked briefly for a towing company hoping that it would be a new start. I was horribly wrong. A traumatic event at work left me with a whole new mental illness. I now entered the world of PTSD. I lost my job because I needed time to seek treatment for this new mental illness… I was unable to continue treatment because I lost my job, I couldn’t afford it. Being kicked out onto the street only made the problem worse as I was reminded just how much of a failure I was. I wasn’t strong enough, smart enough, or worthy.
I moved into my parents home. I got a new job working third shift for a security company. I lost that job when my parents kicked me out because I was unable to meet their expectations. Since I wasn’t working they had hoped I would be able to clean their home and take care of their dogs while they were at work. I wish more than anything that I could’ve done more but I was up all night, every night. I wasn’t out partying like most kids my age, I was panicking. My PTSD brought on night terrors and so I couldn’t sleep, It’s because of this that I thought I could manage a third shift job. During the day I would crash. They came home from work one too many times to find that I hadn’t been able to clean the house and they were fed up. They threw me out. For the third time in less than a year, I was homeless. I still had your advice in my head and I knew that I was spiraling. I checked myself into the hospital voluntarily. However I didn’t have insurance and they didn’t have enough beds so they released me too soon. I ended up there again in less than a week. The hospital set me up with Concord Counseling where I was assigned a psychiatrist, a therapist, and a social worker.
After two weeks my parents said I could come back. I tried really hard to be better for them. I cleaned my room and kept it clean. You see, their expectations for me were kind of unrealistic. They wanted me to uphold a standard that they themselves have never been able to uphold. They have 8 dogs and 4 cats. No matter what time of day it is, no matter how many times I would let the dogs outside, there was always an accident somewhere that needed cleaned. I couldn’t possibly keep up with it every single time. So one day, after having been up all night panicking, I went to my doctors appointments, came home and cleaned after the dogs, let them all outside and then I crashed in my room. I woke up to my father yelling at me. I could see the surprise in his face when he saw my room was clean because he had hoped that he could yell at me for that too. He had enough and I was kicked out again. This time for good.
I wasn’t just kicked out of their home. I was kicked out of the family. Less than one year and I was homeless for a fourth time. My mom told me that she just could bare to witness my struggle with depression any longer. Can you imagine someone saying that to a cancer patient? To a diabetic?
Now homeless for real I was looking at my only option, the homeless shelter. My mom threatened to re-home my cats because I wasn’t able to take them with me. I had to find last minute transportation to move my cats to a friends house out of town. I’ve essentially been homeless now for 1 year. I applied for medicaid and it took 6 months to be approved. I applied for food stamps and it took 2 months to be approved. I signed up with a food bank and they provided a lot of essentials but not feminine products. Can you imagine what it’s like to menstruate monthly like I’m from the middle ages while everyone else is living in 2017? I was just denied for disability.
I’ve lost three jobs in a row due to mental illness. I have lost my family. I have to struggle with housing and food insecurities while facing my depression. What did speaking up and asking for help really get me? Everyone now knows that I am unstable and my life is at a new low… But I can’t say that my pleas for help were ever truly answered. It is still going to take a lot of time for me to deal with my illnesses let alone get back on my feet. Had I not spoken up Dwayne, I could’ve ended this a long time ago. I could’ve spared my family the pain of watching my illness. I could’ve spared myself the torture of being thrown out to crawl on my own. I could’ve saved my friends from having to dodge me because they know I’m not any better yet. I could’ve spared the new people that have taken a liking to me from ever knowing the pain of losing me because I’m not making it.
I’m not surviving.
I needed you to know Dwayne. Speaking up and asking for help did not work out for me. I still hear you saying those words every time my depression tells me to end my life. More than anything, they just make me angry now. Angry because I don’t want to be me anymore. I don’t want to wake up tomorrow to find that while the world is still turning, I am still unable to provide for myself. I can’t blame you but I don’t feel like I can totally blame myself either. I know the popular opinion will be that it was all technically my fault. I know people will think that I can technically change my situation and that I need to change it on my own. But I am sick. Can you imagine them saying that to a cancer patient? To a diabetic?
I’m all cried out but I’m not better. I will wake up to the ever faithful reminder that I have no home, no family, and no peace. Hopefully your advice doesn’t put anyone else through what I have had to go through. Until then, please pray for me. Please have faith for me because I can’t have it for myself.