Hannah Lo

@hannah-lo | contributor
24

Suicidal People Don’t Want to Die, They Just Want the Pain to Stop

This piece was written by Bria Barrows , a Thought Catalog contributor I know this is an extremely sensitive topic, but it is one that needs to be discussed. Because I know for a fact that at one point in our lives, we have been suicidal or have known someone struggling with these thoughts. One in five people struggle with mental health issues. That means for every room you enter with hesitancy and your head turned downward, believing you are the only one with issues, one in five of those people are going through the exact same thing. For someone who has never experienced suicidal thoughts, the thought of wanting to die in itself can seem ludicrous. The sun is shining, there is a chance for another day, you are in love, the breakfast you had that morning was delicious. The thought of dying seems way too far-fetched. Something left for a time far away in the future. What more could you ask for? But for those who struggle with debilitating mental illnesses, such as depression, the demon of them all, suicidality is a strong risk. Let me make this clear. Depression can kill you. You need your brain to eat a meal that tantalizes your taste buds. You need your brain to have the guts to socialize with people at school or work. You need your brain to feel the warm air on a sunny day and feel relief. You need your brain to kiss and feel the warmth of the kiss all throughout your body. But a depressed mind often feels none of this. You are constantly in a state of isolation in your mind. Enjoyment is no longer something you crave. Simple tasks seem like a chore and your bed is your safe haven. Sleep calls you constantly, just so you can get a short escape. When we think of someone who is suicidal, or just the term in itself, we shy away from even talking about it. It frightens us. The realness of it seems too much to swallow and we just sweep it right under the rug. We do this because suicide is viewed for the finality of it all. It happens, and we are left wondering… “She was beautiful.” “He was smart.” “She was talented.” “He excelled in sports.” But none of that can hinder the mind from becoming unwell. It doesn’t matter what we look like on the outside. The brain is a blessing, but yet can also be a wicked thing when it comes to mental health. I deal with depression on a day-to-day basis, have been through a dramatic relapse, and I can tell you from my experience, suicidal people do not truly want to die, but see it as the only option to end the pain they are in. To the suicidal mind, you feel trapped. You feel suffocated by the state of your psyche and there seems like there is no way out. Day in and day out, you deal with mental agony and anguish that both frightens you and pushes you at the same time. You feel like death is the only way out, but at the same time, the human in you desperately wants to fight to cling on to hope. To cling on to life. It’s human nature to want to survive, to live, to thrive. But mental illness can get to a point where you seem isolated. Mental illness can be a battle. A battle of the mind, a battle that many are unfortunate to experience. But I can tell you that death is the ultimate, last resort for someone who feels suicidal. They might feel like they’ve exhausted all efforts and everything that they try has failed to provide relief. They feel like there are walls in their mind that have locked them deep behind and there is no way out. Most importantly, however, suicidal people do not want to die. They want to live so desperately, but they can’t seem to find a way to. They feel like they have exhausted all their options and the pain they are experiencing is well beyond them. Many will say that people who are suicidal are looking for attention, or they are cowardly for feeling the way that they do. But depression is real and you shouldn’t be judged for going through something that is incredibly scary and lonely. People who experience suicidal thoughts do not need anyone criticizing them or belittling them for having the thoughts they do. If you’ve been there or are there right now, give yourself credit for the tremendous strength you have as a human being for making it thus far. Commend yourself for surviving even though inside you want to just crumble. Congratulate yourself for making it through this hour without acting on your thoughts. I know you want to live. I want you to live too so you can inspire others with your story. I want you to be able to be a voice for everyone who has experienced these thoughts and are still alive to tell the tale. I want you to grow through all of this and know that even though you are hurting and in a place that seems absolutely beyond you, you can get through it. You are here for a reason and you are stronger because of all you have been through. You are a survivor. Use your story to propel yourself further as an individual. Use your story to remind yourself of your strength and all that you have survived thus far. You should be commended for making it this far, to this very moment, and for all the progress you have made. I want you to know your beating heart is the hope you have been looking for, and death is not the only option. Look at where you are right now, look at all the people who have provided you with hope thus far. I know, it is not easy to believe death is not the only option. Trust me, I am where you have been or are. But your life is worth living because you are still here trying to survive, you are still here getting stronger each and every day, getting better each and every day, even if you don’t realize it. I’m still here with you, so don’t give up just yet. This story was brought to you by Thought Catalog and Quote Catalog. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here .

Rudy Caseres

I’m Bipolar and I Don’t Want to Be Cured

World Bipolar Day  was this week, and this is what I have this to say: Bipolar is often seen as an awful disease that needs to be cured. The persistent suffering it inflicts on its victims is something no person should ever have to bear, we’re told. No one could possibly choose to live this way. I beg to differ. Yes, living the bipolar life is often soul-crushing and the suffering can even lead to suicide, among other unenviable outcomes. Trust me, I know. There are few things as painful as experiencing the pure passion that comes with mania, the world momentarily coming into clarity — just to be knocked down into the bottomless depths of depression. Not to mention the never-ending uncertainty of what pole is telling the truth. Personally, I wouldn’t wish bipolar on anyone. Just like I wouldn’t wish any form of suffering on anyone. That said, if offered a magic pill to “cure” me of my bipolar, I wouldn’t hesitate to flush it down the toilet. I’ve repeatedly asked others in the bipolar community whether or not they would take it and many of them (but not all) would do the same. And yet this perspective seems to be given a lot less attention in traditional “awareness” campaigns. Why? Why would anyone be shocked to hear this response? And why is the Bipolar Needs To Be Cured narrative insisted upon us instead? I don’t claim to speak for everyone but I do believe we need to be less close-minded. You see, bipolar isn’t bad. Bipolar also isn’t good. It just is. It’s we the individuals who put meaning into it. At least in an ideal world. Unfortunately, our society coerces us into believing that bipolar is only bad. And any attempt to offer a more positive interpretation is taken as an offense or even worse “just our illness talking.” To be clear, I also don’t see bipolar as a gift. It is an identity. Bipolar is as part of me as my skin color or gender. But it’s not a special power nor is it something that makes me better than others. Even though there are times when I don’t want to be seen as “that bipolar guy,” I also don’t want to downplay what an important ingredient it is in the making of me, Rudy Caseres. It’s not something I want to grow out of and it’s certainly not something I want to be cured of. For me, to hate bipolar is to hate my skin color or to hate my gender. And hate is way too exhausting. A comparison I like to make is with gay conversion therapy. Any reasonable person can see that this is psychological torture and based on the belief that a key element of your identity is bad and needs to be cleansed of for your own good. But if you talk to any of the people who perform gay conversion therapy, they will tell you it comes from a place of love and that homosexualtiy is a burden nobody should ever have to carry. That line of thinking can even convince gay people that homosexuality is indeed bad and a cure is the only hope to end their suffering. Hmmm… Obviously, the entire concept is absolutely abhorrent. It also meets the definition of a hate crime. But no one seems to bat an eye when this same concept is applied to bipolar. Am I missing something? Even without a magic pill, I see many mental health advocates talk about “recovery” and how they are thankful to be “stable” or “high-functioning.” For the most part, I see this as virtue signaling that suggests to be accepted in a neurotypical society we need to act as “non-bipolar” as possible. This is similar to the dilemma autistic people face. Is it worth being myself and embracing my differences at the risk of being discriminated against by a society that sees me as sick and in need of fixing? The key difference is that they are a lot better at fighting to have their identities treated as such and not some scourge that should be erased for the benefit of all. If they can band together and demand to have their human rights respected without needing to disavow their identities why can’t we? Anyone? The main point I want to stress in this essay is this: to live the bipolar life is to live a life of suffering. There’s no other way around it. At least not at the moment. Sure, meds can take the edge off some of the more undesirable aspects and finding non-judgmental people who get it can help immensely. But suffering — whether it’s suicidal depression, uncontrollable manic psychosis or the trauma resulting from forced psychiatric treatment — is still inevitable. There’s a silver lining, however. I truly believe no one can achieve greatness in their life without the presence of suffering. True, bipolar in of itself doesn’t make you a hero (or even brave) but just like any other form of adversity it has the power to. It also has the power to destroy us from within, not to mention destroy the lives of others. But it doesn’t have to. Like I mentioned before: bipolar just is. So why not be positive and use bipolar to our advantage? Why run away from that which resides deep within? Bipolar may not completely define me but it’s without a doubt an accurate way of describing me. And that’s OK . For all of the good and for all of the bad. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here .

Rudy Caseres

I’m Bipolar and I Don’t Want to Be Cured

World Bipolar Day  was this week, and this is what I have this to say: Bipolar is often seen as an awful disease that needs to be cured. The persistent suffering it inflicts on its victims is something no person should ever have to bear, we’re told. No one could possibly choose to live this way. I beg to differ. Yes, living the bipolar life is often soul-crushing and the suffering can even lead to suicide, among other unenviable outcomes. Trust me, I know. There are few things as painful as experiencing the pure passion that comes with mania, the world momentarily coming into clarity — just to be knocked down into the bottomless depths of depression. Not to mention the never-ending uncertainty of what pole is telling the truth. Personally, I wouldn’t wish bipolar on anyone. Just like I wouldn’t wish any form of suffering on anyone. That said, if offered a magic pill to “cure” me of my bipolar, I wouldn’t hesitate to flush it down the toilet. I’ve repeatedly asked others in the bipolar community whether or not they would take it and many of them (but not all) would do the same. And yet this perspective seems to be given a lot less attention in traditional “awareness” campaigns. Why? Why would anyone be shocked to hear this response? And why is the Bipolar Needs To Be Cured narrative insisted upon us instead? I don’t claim to speak for everyone but I do believe we need to be less close-minded. You see, bipolar isn’t bad. Bipolar also isn’t good. It just is. It’s we the individuals who put meaning into it. At least in an ideal world. Unfortunately, our society coerces us into believing that bipolar is only bad. And any attempt to offer a more positive interpretation is taken as an offense or even worse “just our illness talking.” To be clear, I also don’t see bipolar as a gift. It is an identity. Bipolar is as part of me as my skin color or gender. But it’s not a special power nor is it something that makes me better than others. Even though there are times when I don’t want to be seen as “that bipolar guy,” I also don’t want to downplay what an important ingredient it is in the making of me, Rudy Caseres. It’s not something I want to grow out of and it’s certainly not something I want to be cured of. For me, to hate bipolar is to hate my skin color or to hate my gender. And hate is way too exhausting. A comparison I like to make is with gay conversion therapy. Any reasonable person can see that this is psychological torture and based on the belief that a key element of your identity is bad and needs to be cleansed of for your own good. But if you talk to any of the people who perform gay conversion therapy, they will tell you it comes from a place of love and that homosexualtiy is a burden nobody should ever have to carry. That line of thinking can even convince gay people that homosexuality is indeed bad and a cure is the only hope to end their suffering. Hmmm… Obviously, the entire concept is absolutely abhorrent. It also meets the definition of a hate crime. But no one seems to bat an eye when this same concept is applied to bipolar. Am I missing something? Even without a magic pill, I see many mental health advocates talk about “recovery” and how they are thankful to be “stable” or “high-functioning.” For the most part, I see this as virtue signaling that suggests to be accepted in a neurotypical society we need to act as “non-bipolar” as possible. This is similar to the dilemma autistic people face. Is it worth being myself and embracing my differences at the risk of being discriminated against by a society that sees me as sick and in need of fixing? The key difference is that they are a lot better at fighting to have their identities treated as such and not some scourge that should be erased for the benefit of all. If they can band together and demand to have their human rights respected without needing to disavow their identities why can’t we? Anyone? The main point I want to stress in this essay is this: to live the bipolar life is to live a life of suffering. There’s no other way around it. At least not at the moment. Sure, meds can take the edge off some of the more undesirable aspects and finding non-judgmental people who get it can help immensely. But suffering — whether it’s suicidal depression, uncontrollable manic psychosis or the trauma resulting from forced psychiatric treatment — is still inevitable. There’s a silver lining, however. I truly believe no one can achieve greatness in their life without the presence of suffering. True, bipolar in of itself doesn’t make you a hero (or even brave) but just like any other form of adversity it has the power to. It also has the power to destroy us from within, not to mention destroy the lives of others. But it doesn’t have to. Like I mentioned before: bipolar just is. So why not be positive and use bipolar to our advantage? Why run away from that which resides deep within? Bipolar may not completely define me but it’s without a doubt an accurate way of describing me. And that’s OK . For all of the good and for all of the bad. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here .

Juliette V.

People Are Warning Each Other About Ableist Plot Line in 'The Witcher'

Netflix’s new fantasy series, “The Witcher,” has generally been well-received ( it has a 92% audience approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes ), but some have taken issue with an ableist plotline in the show. If you are planning to watch the new series, please be aware there are spoilers below. Yennefer (played by Anya Chalotra) is a disabled character in the series born with a hunchback. Throughout her childhood, she is abused at the hands of her father because of her disability. During the third episode of season one, Yennefer (now an adult), seeks out the help of a magical enchanter to remove her hunchback. At this point, Yennefer is transformed into a non-disabled woman, and later becomes a powerful sorceress. Though the message was likely intended to be empowering, this plotline actually reinforces a tired and harmful notion that in order to be successful, people must “rise above” or “erase” their physical disabilities in order to succeed.  Vox writer Alex Abad-Santos commented on the problematic nature of her transformation: At some point, you get the sense that Yennefer will represent a lesson about how greatness can come from the people, women especially, who we overlook the most. Which is a fine lesson to teach, except that Yennefer is almost immediately transformed into a hot, booby witch. In addition to this plotline, Yennefer is played by a non-disabled actor — a common casting practice in the entertainment industry. According to the Ruderman Family Foundation, only 2% of TV characters have disabilities, and of those, 95% are played by non-disabled actors. Social media users have also weighed in on ableism in “The Witcher,” warning those who may feel vulnerable to ableist triggers: i’m not saying that difficult content cannot be explored but it’s…ableist. I was struck with emotion, as someone who spent childhood being bullied, not considered pretty, to become “beautiful” in adulthood but I doubt that offers the same catharsis to disabled folks.— Yennefer of Vengabus (@ellementalevil) December 21, 2019 I was troubled by the use of physical disability as a backstory (shorthand for being abject), and by fertility as a singular motive.Also: STOP TALKING ABOUT DESTINY. Just no. #thewitcher— Damon Young (@damonayoung) December 23, 2019 Though “The Witcher” doesn’t do a great job of empowering people with disabilities, there are some shows that have made an effort to “get it right” when it comes to disability representation. One such show (in the same fantasy genre, no less) is “Game of Thrones.” The Mighty’s disability editor, Karin Willison, wrote about the role of disability representation in “Game of Thrones,” in her piece, “In the ‘Game of Thrones’ Finale, Disabled People Were the Real Winners.” (Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers for the “Game of Thrones” Finale.) In the first season, Tyrion says, ‘I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples, bastards and broken things.’ Despite all of its brutality and horror, ‘Game of Thrones’ ultimately does too. In Westeros, a ‘broken’ man with a spinal cord injury becomes King, an ‘imp’ with dwarfism becomes his most trusted advisor, and an abuse survivor with PTSD becomes Queen. The series proved that people with disabilities can be complex, multi-dimensional characters and that a disabled actor can become a star. Whatever you may think about the final season, one thing is clear: in “Game of Thrones,” disabled people rule. And long may they reign. If you’re someone who’s sensitive to ableist depictions in pop culture, it’s OK to skip “The Witcher.” Or, if you still want to see it, it might be helpful to watch it with someone you trust. Stay safe and take care of yourself. Your well-being is more important than being “in the know” about a popular show.

Disability Advocates Call StandardToilet's Sloping Design Ableist

In an effort to reduce long wait times to use the toilet, one British inventor created a sloping toilet designed to make doing your duty uncomfortable in just five minutes. People who live with a chronic illness or disability, however, called out the toilet’s ableist aims. Wired UK reported on what’s being called the “StandardToilet” on Monday. It boasts a seat that slopes at a 13-degree angle (instead of the standard 11 degrees), which designer Mahabir Gill claimed makes it uncomfortable to stay on the toilet for more than five to eight minutes. That angle creates leg strain similar to doing a squat unaided, hence, Gill said, reducing the time people spend in the bathroom. Gill was inspired to create the StandardToilet because he got tired of waiting in long lines and figured too many people were goofing around on their phones. “It came from my personal experience where I stopped off at the motorway to go to the loo and realized there’s a huge queue,” Gill told the BBC. “I wondered what people were doing in there, some were coming out with their mobile phones.” Currently in the prototype stage, Gill already filed a patent and earned an endorsement from the facilities group British Toilet Association. The StandardToilet’s main draw is increased work productivity for employers. A U.K. study published in July suggested workers in London spent an average of 28 minutes on the toilet during work hours. Gill said his toilet can save companies money while moving people through the queue much faster. “It’s main benefit is to the employers, not the employees,” Gill told Wired. “It saves the employer money.” Users on social media didn’t waste time shitting on the StandardToilet’s premise. BREAKING NEWS: Say goodbye to comfort breaks! New downward-tilting toilets are designed to become unbearable to sit on after five minutes. They say the main benefit is to employees in improved employee productivity. pic.twitter.com/lfDbeXJdCX— Dave Vescio (@DaveVescio) December 17, 2019 This is a straight-up movie villain origin story. Pray his dastardly creation not be unleashed upon the Earth. https://t.co/VOkbVkoJj0 pic.twitter.com/h4fy3y6gDn— Brian Resnick (@B_resnick) December 17, 2019 Advocates in the chronic illness and disability communities also called out the design as ableist, especially for people with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), who already have a difficult time accessing restroom facilities. In February, a former Amazon employee with Crohn’s filed a discrimination lawsuit alleging the retail giant fired him because he needed longer bathroom breaks than the company mandated. This is horrible. Shame on the designers and businesses that might install this toilet. People with chronic and invisible diseases like #crohnsdisease and #colitis already have a difficult time with bathroom access. source: https://t.co/9ih3DknYK9 #spoonies #chroniclife https://t.co/Rdb1H9GNcV— CreakyJoints.org (@CreakyJoints) December 17, 2019 Making having a poo more uncomfortable targets people living with conditions like #Crohns or #Colitis, who may need additional time to use a toilet. This is discrimination, plain and simple. #NotEveryDisabilityIsVisible #PooTaboo— Crohn's & Colitis UK (@CrohnsColitisUK) December 18, 2019 The StandardToilet also makes using the toilet — a basic human right — difficult for those with low muscle tone, arthritis, chronic pain or other disabilities and chronic illnesses. Was waiting for someone to say this! I have severe joint pain and arthritis throughout the majority of my joints due to a connective tissue disorder. I guess it's just "screw the people who have a disability of any kind." Damn..— ☆~°Kayla Miller°~☆ (@KaylaxRenae) December 18, 2019 Gill claims on his website the StandardToilet has health benefits, like reducing “swollen hemorrhoids and weakening of pelvic muscles” and “reduction in risk of musculoskeletan disorder.” The website also suggests the StandardToliet offers a great benefit to people with disabilities because it will ease “queuing congestion” and therefore reduce “overspill usage of disabled facilities.” However, as Mighty contributor Dawn Koedyker-Beck pointed out, “innovations” like the StandardToliet won’t fix the fundamental ableist attitudes those with visible and invisible disabilities face when trying to use an accessible bathroom in the first place. “People who are misinformed, uneducated or simply ill-advised say some downright disrespectful and/or ignorant things towards me and other disabled people and act with poor judgment,” Koedyker-Beck wrote, adding: Our society has a real status problem with disabled people that manifests in attitudes towards us. Disabled people do have a place in society and should be treated like everyone else. We don’t want pity or unsolicited advice — we want to be treated fairly. Author Yvonne Pierre said it best: ‘When you focus on someone’s disability you’ll overlook their abilities, beauty and uniqueness. Once you learn to accept and love them for who they are, you subconsciously learn to love yourself unconditionally.’ The Mighty reached out to StandardToilet for comment and has yet to hear back. Article updated Dec. 19, 2019.

Ellen Stumbo

Colin Farrell Answers Question About His Son With a Disability Driving

On Tuesday, Ellen DeGeneres interviewed Colin Farrell about his upcoming movie, a live-action remake of the Disney film, “Dumbo” on “The Ellen Show.” During the interview, Farrell said he was unsure his 15-year-old son, James, who has Angelman syndrome, will ever be able to drive. A statement that many parents who have teens with disabilities may relate to. This interaction began when Farrell mentioned how tough his travel schedule is on his family. Because of this, he made the decision to only work one month during 2018 and spent the rest of the year with his two boys, James, 15, and Henry, 9. “Fifteen, is that driving age?” DeGeneres asked after learning the ages of his sons. The talk show host’s question was innocent enough. She may not have realized which of Farrell’s sons has a disability, or, perhaps, was unaware of how Angelman syndrome can impact development. “No, James is not driving,” Farrell replied. “I don’t know if James will ever drive. I’m not one to limit the potential of what he’ll experience in his life, because James has Angelman syndrome, so I don’t think.” Angelman syndrome (AS) is a neurogenetic condition. Approximately one in 15,000 people — about 500,000 individuals worldwide — have AS. Children and adults with AS typically have balance issues, motor impairment and seizures that can be debilitating. Not all people with AS are able to walk or speak. “I just didn’t know if that was something that was possible,” DeGeneres said. “No, I don’t think so,” Farrell responded. “But as I said, I never know, it is a world of possibilities.” This isn’t the first time Farrell spoke about his son or his experience as the parent of a child with a disability. In March of 2017, he spoke at Gatepath’s “The Power of Possibilities” event. “Be careful of judging what your child is capable of,” he said. “You have to watch your child and give him every opportunity to see how they respond. Let your child decide what his limitations are.” You can watch the full interview with Ellen below.

Community Voices

If you deal with #ChronicPain how do you cope with social isolation?

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Hannah Lo

When You Don't Want to Admit Your Medication Is Helping

I’d grown comfortable with my morning routine: wake up, stay there. I had no classes to go to after I dropped out of university due to a severe relapse. I had no job to go to since being fired for excessive illness. That was until I woke up and cleaned my room — threw away old lists, shredded old documents, changed my godforsaken bed sheets, opened my damn windows. I was making room for the newly present emotional balance I had been waiting eight years for. I started baking again. I joined the gym (I’d later have to cancel my membership due to deteriorating physical health but nevertheless, I wanted to be there). I shaved and dyed my hair. I ran from the idea of the medication working. Not because I didn’t want them to work and not because I didn’t believe they could. I didn’t want the placebo, I didn’t want to be naive, I didn’t want to be a “pill popper.” The further I ran, the closer I came to the only real conclusion. It worked. I went to my general practitioner to discuss my disordered sleeping; I swung between insomnia and hypersomnia, frightening nights of sleep paralysis and hallucinations, wild and vivid dreams. “It’s just the side effects,” he said. I’d assumed so. “Try taking them in the morning rather than at night,” he continued. I received my repeat prescription. “But they are working?” he asked. No, I wanted to say. “Yes,” I said. It’s not so much that my mood changed. I still wasn’t laughing because I was still lonely, but my energy picked up. My motivation. My ambition. A year earlier, six or so months into university, my mother came to visit me. I didn’t want her in my room. I never let anyone in there.“OK,” I said after she wore me down. “It’s messy though.” When my mother saw the state of my room, she was horrified. “This is the room of a sick person,” is what she told me. My room now is worlds apart from what it had been. And I’m proud. I opened up to my friends about the last few years I’d had. I’ve never felt closer to them. Is this the “it gets better” they told me about? Because, for the first time in my life, I’ve seen they’ve been right all along. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock photo via Sudowoodo.

Hannah Lo

What It Was Like Losing My Job Because I Was Sick

A week after starting an exciting new job, I fell sick with the flu. Less than five months later, I would find myself being fired for excessive absence. I couldn’t believe I’d be offered the job. I got hired the same day, only a few hours after my interview. I’d officially deferred from university in the beginning of September and had been jobless for the first month and a half of the new academic year. The depression was suffocating. I struggled to lose the weight I gained during my stressful year of study. I spent my time feeling sorry for myself, hating myself, thinking I’d made a big mistake. This job was about to change things. I was about to do something valuable with my time. Less than a week into my new position, I fell ill with a bad case of the flu. I’m asthmatic – I blamed myself for not getting my vaccination that autumn. I turned to social media to make my distress known. I spoke of my severe body aches, migraines, and fever. I talked about my inability to leave my bed or eat the food my mother prepared for me. I talked about wanting to sleep but being unable to due to the coughs that consumed me every time I would lay down. I talked about how I couldn’t walk but instead crawled to the bathroom, thinking I was dying. After a week or so I found myself improving, eating in small amounts and feeling myself again. This, however, was only the beginning. I found symptoms coming and going; severe nausea and flu-like symptoms. I thought to myself, “There’s no way I’m getting the flu again am I? I just had it!” Then, three days before Christmas, on my way to a family member’s birthday dinner with my mother, I was hit with sudden pain. Pain that took me off my feet and caused me to collapse. Pain that started in my right knee and, by the end of the night, had spread to every joint in my body. Every. Single. One. It was reminiscent of previous bouts of pain I’d pushed to the back of my mind; occurrences I had assumed were isolated. I remembered staying home from sixth form because I couldn’t walk. I remembered the anxiety of missing classes and falling behind. I remembered the severity of that pain. This was when I realized things were worse than I’d previously thought. Over the next few months, I bounced from referral to referral, playing the waiting game, as suspicions of conditions arose from my GP. I waited, patiently. I pushed the pain to the back of my mind as I left the house at 7:15 a.m. each morning. I pushed the pain to the back of my mind as I worked my 10-hour shift, returning home at 8:30 p.m. with just enough time to eat a late dinner and wind down before going to bed. I became more and more ill, having more flare days, calling in sick more and more often as time passed. But damn, did I try. A few weeks into my harrowing work routine, I had my most severe flare up yet. I called in sick, imagining that I would improve within a few days. Two weeks of staying home from work and the depression was kicking in again. I was lucky I didn’t live alone, but this was easily the loneliest I’d ever felt. Most of my friends were at university, having daily adventures and making friends. I drearily tapped through Snapchat updates from my colleagues, socializing and joking in the break room. I wondered if they’d noticed I wasn’t there. I travelled back in time to the periods of loneliness I’d felt months prior and it felt all too familiar. Another two weeks later; four weeks since I stopped coming into work; I got my doctor’s note. At 11:30 a.m., I was prescribed fluoxetine. At 3:30 p.m., I was dismissed from my job. My measured collection soon cracked and crumbled into a full blown anxiety attack in front of my manager, complete with depersonalization and total loss of sight. I felt my being fall out of my body and my vision turn black. I blindly fumbled for my inhaler and took a dose. And another. And another. I was a breathless pile of tears and saliva and mucus. I was ashamed of the sounds coming out of me but I had no control over them. “How did this happen?” I asked myself. “How did the girl who only had two days off throughout her whole time in primary school become the person fired for being unreliable?” This really put things into perspective, making me realize just how serious my health issues had become. This, to me, was total loss of control. I didn’t say anything after that. The girl who always had something to say suddenly became speechless. I felt cheated, I felt wronged, and I felt as though life was unfair, but I didn’t appeal my dismissal. This is why. Staying at my job was punishing myself with something I thought was my duty. I thought it was my duty to work through my sickness and pain. I thought it was my duty to say “Yep, I’m fine!” with a half smile when people asked how I was. I thought it was my duty to stay at my job and downplay just how ill I was. I stayed at my job for over a month longer than I should have, working through pain I should not have been working through, only taking days off when it was physically impossible to go in. I pushed myself to an unjustifiable limit until I couldn’t come in for a month straight. I pushed myself until the thought of working made me sick. I pushed myself until a five-minute walk from my house to the local shops was too much. I put off looking after myself for so long that I was unable to look after myself. The stress of my dismissal alone struck my body with severe fatigue and pain, leaving me unable to walk and, for the rest of the day, eat. That in itself tells you enough. My management did me a favor. They didn’t mean to do that when they did, but they did. They did what I should have done for myself a month earlier. I should have put my health first but I didn’t, and I’m grateful they forced me to. Maybe I’ll get a handle on my condition and will be able to manage it – I hope, pray, and believe I will – but as it stands, I’m not in a place to keep up such level of work. If losing my job was the shock I needed to realize I was neglecting my health, then perhaps it was a good thing. I always say I turn negative experiences into positive action. Though this isn’t the life I pictured for myself at 19, I spend every day preparing myself for what may happen next, and turning negative experiences into positive actions, as difficult as it can be. Positivity is productive but denial is not. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock photo by Rawpixel Ltd