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Voices for Recovery

Kait Schneider (09/26/2011)

Kait Schneider Voice

Severe Anxiety. Depression. Low self-esteem. Loneliness. Abandonment. Pain. Overwhelmed. Worthless…

I felt those emotions continuously during my middle school and high school years. Middle school is when I noticed sudden changes in my mental health. I felt more depressed, no longer “happy” or enjoying life, and intrusive thoughts that made me scared of my own self. I was scared almost all the time and I worried others might have been scared of me too which led to more anxiety and not feeling as though I could be safe anymore. I was unglued.

Middle school was tough and a pain, but more for the emotional reasons. I am very intelligent and I definitely had the potential to succeed, but I never got the chance to show it through those years. Sometimes I wish I could go back and fix or re-do everything with a healthier state of mind and show others and my family what I really can do! I want and have wanted others to be proud of me for something. I want to know what the praise and compliments feel like.  Back then, everything towards myself became more negative and interventions were made to help me succeed and get my mental health on track. It left me feeling worthless because I couldn’t perform how I knew I could and that I needed that much help. It didn’t make me feel good about myself at all, but I knew I probably couldn’t have survived without most of the help I received.

When high school came, I was trying to be positive and start over completely. My family and I had just moved to a small town where we didn’t know anyone and I kept thinking that this may be the perfect opportunity for positive changes. Even though I tried my hardest to start over and trying to socialize (even though it may have not seemed like it), I seemed to hit rock bottom by my sophomore year. I was hospitalized two times in middle school and two other times in high school. My teen years and childhood seemed to be washed completely down the drain. It’s like, “What childhood?” “My teen years were wasted.” etc.

During school and near the times of when I was hospitalized in high school, I constantly felt like I needed to be around someone who I looked up to or admired. It was this strong unidentified need that I never fully understood. It was an intense “need,” almost like a craving. I always seemed to drift to my teachers for comfort or safety when times were tough and then an attachment grew. I felt as if I wanted them to save me from my worries and pain that I couldn’t control myself at that time. When I felt as though I had been rejected or that they hated me etc, I would grow deeply depressed, suicidal, and I felt more alone than ever. I started feeling suicidal quite a bit during high school from the loneliness and unhappiness that was present in my life at that time. My mom, whom I was always attached to, had enough and became increasingly overwhelmed by my illness and behaviors, but she had done everything she could and should have done. My teachers were not responding in the ways that I wanted or expected and I grew frustrated. The comfort and safety felt lost. I felt alone.

One day at school (Junior year, I believe), I felt the need for comfort that day more than most. I stayed after school with one of my teachers terrified of everything. I was feeling increasingly depressed and worthless. I told my teacher things that seemed like a cry out for help or a need for “attention.” I told the teacher I felt like killing myself and felt then as though nobody cared. After about two hours later at after school hours I told them I would be fine and my dad picked me up and I went home. As I got out of the car at home I called my mom and was in tears. She asked “What’s wrong?” and I just replied “I love you, mom” three times in a row at least as my tears poured. It felt as if I were drowning inside as fears and feelings of hopelessness emerged. I got off the phone and began to walk upstairs. My dad asked if I will be okay and I replied with a “yes.” He then gave me a hug and told me he loved me.  I walked up to my room, shut my door and cried. I was thinking of how miserable I felt and kept crying. “How can I keep doing this?” “I don’t want to live like this,” I kept thinking. I walked towards my dresser still in tears where two bottles of 600mg Trileptal sat. I opened one bottle and my entire body seemed as though it was shaking. I took one handful of the Trileptal and washed it down with water. I then took another handful of Trileptal. About a minute after, I suddenly stopped crying as I was laying flat on my bed. I stayed there laying for about five minutes when reality suddenly kicked in and I realized that I truly did not want to actually die, but I was in desperate need for comfort and attention. I walked down stairs to the living room where my dad sat and I told him I overdosed on my prescription Trileptal. He hurried to the phone in the kitchen and dialed my mom and 911. The ambulance got there about ten minutes later, maybe less. We lived in the country which was about a half hour away from a hospital. I was put in the ambulance and my dad followed with his car. My mom left work which was an hour away from the hospital. I asked the paramedic who was in the ambulance if I was going to die and he said “No.” I could tell that maybe he was just trying to keep me calm. He gave me an IV and repeatedly took my blood pressure and temperature. As we were driving over the bridge that led out of the town I lived in, he mentioned that I was quite warm and my temperature had risen. When we arrived at the hospital, I began to feel dizzy as I was being wheeled back into a room. I don’t remember much after that… I was told I was screaming at the top of my lungs and kicking the staff which led to restraints. I didn’t have control of my body and I didn’t even know I had done anything like that. When I became conscious again (thank god), I remember my eyes opening to a very bright light, heard ringing in my ears, and was vomiting and screaming for my mom. I heard her voice and felt a bit better, but I can tell that I was still out of it. I was more uncomfortable that I had ever been and it seemed as though that the pain of overdosing and recovering was worse than my actual problem. Overdosing and the trauma I felt in those school years had been the worst experiences of my life by far. After recovering a night in the hospital, I was still unstable and was put in the psychiatric hospital a few days later. After the incident was over I had promised my mom that I would never do such a thing again. I was sure of it because of the miserable experience I just went through. I was wrong even though I was sure at that time that I would never attempt suicide again… About a year later I was involved in a similar situation with another teacher and wanting to be “saved” with great feelings of hopelessness.  The second time I survived luckily once again, but I had forgotten what a miserable and awful experience it was. I overdosed once again on the same prescription, but only took one handful that time. I was conscious the entire time during treatment which seemed almost worse than the first time. I was forced to drink this black tarry, thick, and grainy substance called “Charcoal.” It was a treatment the hospital used to get rid of the toxins of the medications or substances that were abused. The charcoal drink had the worst taste of anything I have ever tried in my life and I could barely finish it. I was once again hospitalized and began to realize even more that all of this medical attention was not worth what I may have perceived or what I had made out my problems to be even though it seemed unbearable to live as I was. It’s traumatizing to go through a suicide attempt as well as the feelings that had been the cause, but I know now that it is not worth taking your own life. You only live once and it really is a gift even when times seem incredibly unbearable and awful. You have to look inside yourself and be strong enough to ask someone for their help and guidance.

You really have to think before you do anything… Really, really, think about it. I regret both times that I had attempted almost immediately after I swallowed the pills. What if I didn’t make it? What if I actually did die? How would my family and friends feel?  How could I have lived to tell these stories and help others? How could I have fallen in love, gotten my own place, and enjoy all the happy times that outweigh all the bad? How could I have not been able to love anymore?  … Hurting yourself or attempting suicide is not worth putting your life and others lives on the line. You don’t only hurt yourself or end your life, but you deeply and greatly affect the lives of those around you and who love you. It’s never just all about one person..

We all feel really low sometimes especially with having a mental illness and it’s not easy, but sometimes you just have to learn to breathe, love, and live in the moment. Talk to someone. Be open, honest, and be able to ask for help and verbalize what you need. No one can guess what you need or how you may be feeling. Keep communication open at all times. We all have a beautiful purpose in this world even if you don’t believe it or see it at this time. It will come. I have been in this position and some days I still am and I need to remind myself of my own advice. Stay positive and stay strong. You are loved and cared about by someone.

I almost didn’t make it, but every day I am more grateful that I did. Keep going!

I am currently still in treatment and still trying to find the right medications. I have been seeing a therapist off and on, but I still make it to my monthly or every 3 month psychiatrist appointment. I have the support of those I love to fall back on if needed, but I try not to play that card as much anymore.

Some coping skills I use now are:

    talking about feelings or worries
    deep breathing
    going outside- taking a walk, bike ride, a drive, to the store- anywhere, just out.
    games- Minecraft, Sims 3, PS3 etc :)
    reading and collecting inspirational quotes
    chatting, helping, and relating with others in alike situations
    doing something nice for myself or something I enjoy

In closing,  I have felt and been shameful of my illness at times and that I can’t always be happy or enjoyable to be around  like everyone expects or would like, but it’s not that easy. Only I or whoever is going through some kind of distress or pain can truly understand his or her limits and what can be expected of them at that time. Feeling depressed, manic, sad, worthless, hopeless, suicidal etc are not choices and others must realize this. It’s easy for others to walk away and wait for someone struggling to suddenly “feel better,” but honestly, when feeling their lowest, that’s when they need support the most. Yes, it is extremely difficult and physically and emotionally draining for someone to drop what they are doing and help support, but it’s better than watching some you love remain miserable or perhaps, even risk losing them. My advice to any caregivers in extreme situations, don’t walk away. Try to provide and show the love and support by showing and helping them use the coping skills and tools to recover if they are unable to do it for themselves. It’s almost near impossible to fight an illness alone. It’s too hard to swallow. Just be there for them, trust me.

I feel grateful to have a wonderful support system going, but at the same time, I do observe how difficult it may be to be on the other end of the situation too.

And always remember, try not to judge what you don’t understand for I am still a good person and others with mental illness are too.

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