How I Survive With A Mental Illness
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Health and Wellness

How I Survive With A Mental Illness

Mental illness doesn't go away with a pill or therapy, you learn to cope but it is always there. You always have to fight it, it makes you feel alone and it makes you act or do selfish things. But you are not alone and you are so far from selfish.

How I Survive With A Mental Illness
Patryk Sobczak

I had my first panic attack in 9th grade; it was the beginning of the school year and I was sitting in the hallway before the bell rang. Afterward, I cried and went to the nurse to call my mom so she could pick me up because I thought something was wrong with me. A few months later was when I self-harmed for the first time and went to my first therapist.

I hated therapy so I faked my way through it and stopped going after two weeks because I was "all better." High school wasn't easy for me and I always felt like something was off with me; why couldn't I go out like the people around me? Why do I get so sad I can't move? Why, when people ask me to hang out, do I always say I'm busy? So I ignored it until I couldn't anymore.

At the beginning of my junior year, I had my first trip to the hospital. It was one of those rough nights where the world seems so cold and dark and the weight of living is too much for you to carry. Something changed that night: I saw the look in my parents and my sister's eyes.

They cried and I realized it was because of me; that if I would've died that night their lives would be forever changed and their hearts would be filled with pain. They would never be able to walk into my bedroom again, and when looking at pictures of me smiling they would wonder "what happened to my little girl?" So when I thought about all the suffering I would cause, or better yet, that this horrible illness would cause, I chose to fight and stay alive for them.

So I started seeing a therapist and really trying--although the first few visits I barely spoke and would roll my eyes at some of the exercises, like looking in a mirror and telling yourself things you love about yourself. But eventually, I found a way to be comfortable, and instead of speaking would write my therapist diary entries every day to document my feelings.

This is how I found my passion for writing. She would read them and ask me questions while also evaluating my behavior. She diagnosed me with depression and generalized anxiety disorder. I've been seeing her for 5 years and learned so much about myself and coping with my depression and anxiety.

Now I wasn't cured or fixed, but I felt like I could live life and I didn't want to die anymore. I could see a future and move forward in my life. I ended up going to college and living in an apartment alone, which I thought I could never do, and even fell in love and flew to a whole other country. I could see all the strides I had made in my life. I still had moments of anxiety and depression but it wasn't as bad as before and I felt as though I was getting better.

Until the breakup. Anytime someone you love leaves you it's heartbreaking, but this felt different because he blamed me. Not me but my anxiety; he made my mental illness out to be a villain, insinuating that if only I wasn't like this things would be different.

That sent me into a spiral. of hating myself and my anxiety and trying to figure out ways to "fix myself," basically just trying to pretend I could just be a different person. Then the depression kicked in and I would fight it every week, telling myself "you have to get out of bed this week and eat and be OK." The beginning of the week would be good and I would feel better, but by the end I was back in bed, staying up late, sleeping all day and crying at night.

I tried to ignore it and fake it for my parents. I wanted to be OK for them. I didn't want it to be like before but I couldn't handle it anymore and I found those deep dark thoughts coming back. The ones that make death seem easy, like if you kill yourself then you kill the depression and the anxiety too and everything gets better.

But I couldn't do it, so I ended up in the hospital again. I spent the night there, surrounded by other girls my age who also felt as though life was just too much. When the doctor asked me if I wanted to go home I almost said no, I felt like I was in a safe place, like if I left I didn't know if I could survive. But I knew I had to go home to see my parents and my sister and try to make them feel like I was going to be OK.

I've been home for a few days and I'm still having some low moments, but I have to remind myself why I'm still alive. If we keep killing ourselves then we can't fight.

My goal is to raise awareness for mental illness and I can't do that if I'm dead. And if you are out there right now holding the gun, the razor, the rope, the bottle of pills or standing on the edge, please put it down. Reach out to me and join me in stopping the stigma against mental illness so we can get better care, better education and better understanding.

Mental illness doesn't go away with a pill or therapy; you learn to cope but it's always there. You always have to fight it. It makes you feel alone and it makes you act or do selfish things. But you are not alone and you are so far from selfish.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental illness you can find out more here.

If you are having suicidal thoughts call the suicide hotline right away or get yourself to the nearest hospital.


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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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