As Mental Health Awareness Month draws to a close, there is a lot I want to say, but the words and thoughts swirl. This isn’t a pity party, it is what I hope will show strength and dignity… but most of all acceptance to say “I can’t keep going this way”.
To look into the eyes of darkness and to realize what it was and to stand up and say “I need help” that and even now was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. The biggest part of this journey is saying “Suidcide is Selfish”, in a lot of cases, that is so 100% not true and comes from judgment towards someone who is sick. “What about my faith” some would ask, my faith is the only thing that kept me going in recovery. It was the same talks by Jeffrey R. Holland and Dieter F. Uchtdorf that kept me going.
What has the journey over the past year shown me…. I was given a deck of cards stacked against myself and my husband that we had no choice but to keep drawing losing hands.
I suffered a severe Traumatic Brain Injury on 12/31/2019 and by the time I was ready for all the help I needed to recover, the world shut down. No physical therapy, no speech therapy, and no occupational therapy. We met with my sports med doctor, but even to meet with a Neuro back Opthamologist… I had to wait. I waited until almost July to receive treatment and only then, did I receive Physical Therapy. It became my husband and I to figure out how to do other parts of my recovery without medical care. I eventually became the patient and the caregiver over time… gone was “NO, it is too soon for this” and it had come to me challenging myself to do things. Not having patience, grace, and empathy.. It was “You know you knew how to do this before so go do it” I would fail each and every time. I wouldn’t rest my body, I kept going and kept having setback after setback.
When we moved to Utah, I felt like I HAD to be better. I didn’t set up the help I needed and the masking of life began. strived to mask my injury, the subsequent lasting effects I was trying to get over, and the mental exhaustion. I went and did things I was 100% not ready for and when I couldn’t do it… I thought that everyone was passing judgment. I didn’t want to be the patient anymore
Social Media was no help, I had joined a few TBI survivor groups that also had caregiver members. Little did I know what I was reading was not someone in my position as a patient should ever read. Caregivers divorcing their spouses left and right because it became too much over the years. I feared 100% that I was going to lose my world and hurt everyone because I, the TBI patient, could not figure out life at all.
Last fall, I hit about the lowest point. I was about to learn the lesson I hated most “Time was my enemy and Time was my friend.” I sat in the dark about a year ago, with a bottle of pills. I felt so lost and I was angry. I didn’t know why…. But I was just angry at what I was. Existing to Fail. My only accomplishments were failure in my eyes. I had failed myself, my husband, our blended family, my family, my friends.
I did end up taking the pills and regretted it. I felt like I didn’t deserve this amazing gift of Life Heavenly Father gave me. I learned in the week after, I wasn’t alone. People showed up, we had a support network for myself, my husband, and our kids. I wanted to recover in dignity and we tried to have our kids outside of the darkness I was battling.
However, my entire life shut down again. No working, no household management, nothing… I was to sit and recover. It was as if it was early 2020 for me all over again. I started therapy immediately and until I could get in for my first session, #988 became a lifeline. I used every tool I could get my hands on to stay safe. Things changed rapidly and it wasn’t until Thanksgiving I was even able to cook again.
As I started to recover, I realized, while Covid took a lot from everyone, it took my recovery. I did not have the care I needed to be safe and to recover. We did the best we could and the strive to not fail was a perfection that I would never achieve.
1 year later, I am healthy. I realized I wasn’t selfish for wanting to end it all. I was in a place that felt extremely hopeless. One thing didn’t just put me there… It was time and a series of events that I didn’t have coping skills to handle.
People with TBI’s no longer have fully functional brains and no one injury is a like. The chemistry is altered and things like ADHD meds, Anti - Anxiety Medications, and Antidepressants are hard to figure out because your brain has some mis-fires.
Even beyond that, you can’t just go to someone who is depressed and say “Cheer up” and expect them to be like “OHHHH I hadn’t thought of that” Often depression is someone that you can’t find your way out of. Life compounds on it and you don’t have a healthy outlook. Some, like me, won’t ask for help. We feel as if we have become a burden
Often we hear after someone chooses to take their life “I never suspected they were in trouble” however, you look and start to see the signs that something wasn’t okay. Take those signs and be observant. Anger is often one of the signs someone isn’t okay, they are just angry at everything and it’s because they don’t know what is going on. Complacency is the scariest part, they are accepting that there isn’t help and now how are they going to fix it themselves.
It isn’t selfishness at all, it is being so far gone in a thick, dense, black fog, that light can’t reach. The person is normally scared, unsure what to do, and looking to stop the hurt. No one wants to be in pain.
A year later, I am 100% on a good path to continue to recover… I can say I remember a year ago, and I still have to remind myself to breathe because it scares me what I was in. I am safe now, but that place was the scariest unknown I have ever been in.
While everyone could have said “you need to do this”, it was ultimately up to me to do the work to get better. I had to look long and hard in the mirror and want to live for the person I was staring at. Looking back at pictures, there was no life in my eyes or my smile. I was faking every second. I now know I am worth something and I pray I never go back into the darkness. I have safeguards in place and I now know the path I was on, it wasn’t anything I could fix. I needed medical professionals to help me recover from something that took away my ability to walk and talk. My husband could not be a caregiver 24/7, we had kids to keep entertained in quarantine, he had to work, there were things… we just didn’t know the lack of medical care at the time would impact me so greatly years later. People can mask and act like it’s all good and be hurting so much on the inside…. And the biggest lifeline anyone in any relationship has… is communication.