Some years ago, I reached an extremely low point in my life. I was in a marriage that was destined to end trying desperately to be the wife I thought I should be. I was on the other side of the country, away from my family, struggling to find my identity. I was a young military wife and editor just trying to keep my mouth above water.
One day, the arguing and sadness became too much. I took 2 blue aleve capsules. Then, 2 more. Then, 3 more. I laid down on the kitchen floor and I cried and cried until the crying stopped. I laid there, numb, unable to move, not knowing if I would die, and not really thinking about it. My dog Micah was still a young pup at the time. He kept coming in to the kitchen, sniffing near me, and then leaving, as if to look for help. My partner, at the time, was unstairs.
Eventually, I pulled myself up and made it to the living room. I sat on the couch for maybe an hour, feeling everything and nothing at the same time. At some point, my partner came down and we talked.
The next day, we boarded a plane for a surprise trip to my hometown. The entire 3 day trip, I was numb. I don’t remember much of that trip, but I remember not having enough time to see my paternal grandparents. And I always remember it would’ve been the last time I saw my paternal grandfather as he became ill and passed away a month or so before I’d planned to return and see him.
I’ve intentionally left out some details of this experience that still cause me heartache because this isn’t about my ex or our relationship. It’s about me and my constant battle to put my health first.
I have an addictive personality. I know this. It’s easy for me to overindulge, so I’m constantly fighting to be aware of what goes into my body (and my space). I’m not concerned that I’ll get to a place where I’m taking pills every day, or smoking everyday, or drinking every day… I’m more concerned that a slip up will cause me to have too much.
That day in my kitchen with the aleves wasn’t the first time I overdosed. An old journal revealed that I’d had a similar experience before. I don’t even remember it except for I wrote about it and I believe myself.
Just last week, I hit the wall. My depression was at an all-time low. I thought about taking a substance to numb myself, but I didn’t. Instead, I became vulnerable and told my husband, who is an amazing supporter, that I’d thought about hurting myself and that I wasn’t going to, but I wanted him to know the place I was in. He asked if I needed to talk to someone or get a new wig or if there was something that I needed to help me. We talked and went to bed and the next morning, I actually felt better.
Since then, I’ve felt some feelings, but not as low as I felt that day. I’ve actually been having some pretty great moments.
But, what if I had taken codeine, or made myself a drink, or had physically harmed myself instead of allowing myself to be vulnerable and say, “Hey! I need support!”? What if I had given into the despair and let it continue to consume me?
I knew better. It took me awhile to remember, but I knew what I didn’t need to do, which helped me get to what I needed: to connect with my partner and allow myself to be supported during this tough time.
I’m not saying talk therapy is the answer for everything. I’m not even saying that I constantly feel tempted towards substance abuse. I can have one glass of wine. I can take one norco for my oral surgery recovery pain. I can not drink vodka if I haven’t had enough food or water to tolerate it. And I can go out and party with my friends without any substances at all and have a great time.
What I am saying is that self-care and self-reflection are key to living a healthy life. The more I know myself and can admit where I am weak, the more opportunities I have to find ways to be strong.
So many people in the world are suffering in silence because they fear judgment and are ashamed. However, mental illness is real. Addiction is real. Depression is real. Anxiety is real. These things are as real as a broken leg and should be treated with the same understanding and care.
If you are experiencing feelings and moods that you don’t consider healthy, I encourage you to seek support from a trusted friend or family member and get medical or professional assistance if you need it.
The therapist I had in San Diego was great. I highly support you doing whatever it is that you need to do to get healthy so long as it doesn’t endanger you or anyone else.
Be strong. Be safe. Be healthy. You are not alone…