Do Not Keep Silent

Do Not Be Silent

It has begun.

The pushback from family and friends who do not appreciate that I’ve chosen to write about mental health. That is why I will continue. People battling through each day need to know they are not alone, that others do understand and will listen without immediately trying to “fix” them. Healing is a multifarious process and is gradual. The average time bipolar 2 can go undiagnosed is six years. For me, it was ten. Following diagnosis, the process of pursuing the best path for healing begins.

The road to healing is different for everyone. Trial and error occurs with medication; treatment that works for one, may not work for another. Therapy and other lifestyle changes are slow. I can only share my personal experiences and observations. I can only share someone else’s story if we’ve come to an understanding. Don’t be so quick to silence someone because you disagree with his/her viewpoint. Don’t discredit feelings. Feelings just..are, they are not right or wrong.

With that being said, my story begins in my youth.

My experiences in a nutshell
(a jam-packed, enormous nutshell)

  • Early elementary age is the first time I voiced, “I wish I were dead.” I remember hearing those words from my own mouth. In response I heard, “You know that’s permanent,” or something similar. My reply, as far as I recall, was “I know. I just wish I could be dead for a little while.” In my mind, I understood what I meant. I was hurting, and I wanted the hurting to pass. Undoubtedly I had gotten into trouble for doing something I shouldn’t have done, but my feelings inside were intense, and I didn’t know how to process them.

I wish I could be dead for a little while.

  • In my later elementary years, I was bullied…the kid everyone picked on. Name calling, gossip, isolation, vicious words flying through the air and plunging into my heart. I cannot imagine how I would have dealt with bullying in our age of social media.
  • By the end of eighth grade, depression appeared to have set in. I couldn’t bring myself to breach that conversation with anyone out of fear of not being taken seriously. I recall standing in front of our medicine cabinet, staring at the possibilities. Wondering which one I could down and end it all.
  • Before high school one morning, shoveling spoonfuls of cereal into my mouth, I flipped through the Dallas Morning News. The front page of the Health section leapt out. It was a full page about depression: symptoms, warning signs, and avenues of help. I felt relief; my masked feelings were validated. Epiphany: I was not alone. However, I could not bring myself to begin that conversation with anyone. Instead, I saved that news page under my bed, pulling it out when I needed to know someone else like me existed.

Someone else like me exists. I am not alone.

  • 1995. Severe motor-vehicle accident. A concrete mixer runs a light and plows into the driver’s side of my car while I drive to work. Miraculously, I survive. The healing process, grueling. The pain, immense. Numerous times I wished that my life had ended. I endured a vicious loop of both physical and emotional pain.
  • Blundering through life, I graduate college, marry, relocate, and have my first “real job.” I’m making it, but I feel like I’m floundering emotionally. I tell myself it’s typical, no biggie, it’ll pass.
  • Life goes on. My first pregnancy didn’t go as planned, and we lost our little one.  It was devastating. Soon enough, though, a son blessed our lives. Life went on, but I became more emotional. Eventually, I felt I was losing control of my sanity. I sought help from a doctor. Embarrassingly, I broke down in tears in his office, and before I left I held a prescription in my hand. Depression. I hated being on meds; I felt that I was failing as a human being. Over the years, I changed doctors, changed medications, unsuccessfully attempted to stop medication. Ultimately, I sucked it up and realized medication was an appendage I could not sever.

I felt that I was failing as a human being.

  • My job. I was in a life-sucking, time-sucking, unappreciated position. I had a sixty-hour workweek that I struggled to keep up with and involved so much office and state politics to allow a person to remain sane. Eventually, I hit a wall. Functioning at work and at home no longer happened. As a result, a breakdown. I took a leave of absence for three months.
  • In January 2013 we relocated to Dallas, hoping that being closer to other family members and friends would help make life more manageable. Initially, I saw the light of hope…but life soon snuffed it out. Our marriage, which hadn’t been perfect (no one’s is), became rocky. I was mentally losing it, and I moved out. During this time, I developed suicidal tendencies. I restrained my desire to down my bottle of Klonopin. I was curious as to how bad it would hurt to bleed out in the tub. Driving home from work one day, I visualized how simple steering my car into the concrete wall would be. I became scared of my life…and of myself. Just let me lie down and be done. Fortunately, my husband, parents, and sister in Japan had an intervention of sorts. I finally agreed to yet one more path for help. It couldn’t hurt, but I had no hope.

Just let me lie down and be done.

  • My new path to mental healing began. For the first time, I felt hope by virtue of my new doctor. I had finally been diagnosed with bipolar 2. Eventually, I moved back in with my husband and son.; we began marriage counseling.
  • My first major setback was September 2016, the passing of my younger brother, my best friend. However, now, I have the knowledge and support needed to push through.

Countless stories of my life are condensed within that nutshell. Perhaps over time, I will allow a few to unfold in following posts. Perhaps over time, I will allow a few to unfold in following posts. Today, my life is not perfect…every day is a battle…but it is a life worth living.

Today, my life is not perfect. Every day is a battle, but it is a life worth living. Click To Tweet

Feel reassured that you are not alone. Let’s discuss, support each other, and provide hope. Do not be silent.

Copyright © 2017 Alicia T-Rust. All rights reserved.

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13 thoughts on “Do Not Keep Silent

  1. Marian says:

    I think you are doing important work. Readers will identify with your struggle, but, more importantly, you have the chance to write about what works for you and why. It’s important that you focus on the daily steps of the healing/adjustment process as you learn to manage your illness. Best of luck to you! (I’m a fellow Tribe Writer)

  2. Alicia, you are my hero.

    You’ve been through hell on earth and have lived to tell about it. Not only can you encourage those with mental illness, you can truly say you know how they feel.

    I applaud you for sharing this. I feel I know you so much better now. And I know without a doubt that you are just the person to do this work.

    All the best to you as you serve and heal people with your message.

  3. Alicia,
    This is such a personal testament to your strength and I applaud you for the courage to share your personal story. I know it will touch the hearts of many and help others know they are not alone. I also lost my youngest brother (to stomach cancer at age 34) which spiraled me down a road of depression and despair (my mom has lost both of her sons tragically and he left two young kids behind). Needless to say, I had to seek the help of a licensed counselor to begin healing. I really related to your story and I know others will too. Thank you for sharing your helpful heart, Alicia. It will go a long way in your own healing! Much love to you!

  4. c says:

    Thank you Alicia for sharing your story. I think the title of your post sums it up perfectly. If there is no dialogue about mental illness than how can it be addressed.

    I’m so glad you have answers and are on your path; you’re right that it is different for everyone. But I hope knowing you’re not the only one in the battle (and there are so very many) gives some solidarity. I’ve watched family members struggle with mental illness and witnessed the ebb and flow course it takes; so having a strong foundation with your family is a wonderful thing.

  5. Thank you for sharing your story with the world Alicia! I know it will impact so many through the telling of your experiences. Know you are loved and valued, even all the way down here in Plantersville!! Please keep sharing your experiences, as you never know how many others you may help.

    Love ya my friend,
    Kathryn

  6. Alicia,

    Wow. Just read your introduction piece and I’m honored that you shared your personal journey with me — with all of us. I’m the daughter of a psychiatrist and social worker couple, so I’ve often taken for granted that people “just know” about mental health stuff. They don’t. You’re helping. You’re helping someone else have that same epiphany you once had, “I’m not alone.” There are so many people who will benefit from your sharing. Thank you so much.

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