This I believe. I believe that faced with horrendous experiences, you must find a way to persevere. No matter how contrite this might sound, it is something that echoes in my head every morning as I climb out of bed. For most of my adult life, I have struggled with depression. This has been exacerbated by childhood sexual abuse, rape, and an eating disorder. At one point, I thought ending my life was the best solution. I don’t exactly know when the transformation began, whether while laying in the hospital after trying to overdose or staring aimlessly out the window in a group therapy session, desperately wanting to be outside but not fully trusted myself. However, I know it really resonated when I began to take responsibility for my actions. I don’t mean that it was my fault that I got raped, because it certainly wasn’t; but, it was my responsibility to take care of myself in the aftermath. And if I couldn’t do it alone, then I needed to seek out assistance.
The circumstances that put me in a mental hospital are inconsequential because in the end, I made the decision to overdose. For far too long, I blamed other people for hurting me, emotionally, physically, and mentally. It’s ironic that an overdose put me in the hospital, but that in order to sustain any level of functionality, the doctors prescribed so many medications that during my first week, I could only make out fuzzy shapes as they ventured into my room: concerned family, anxious friends not wanting to say the wrong thing, and other patients who were in a world of their own. We were all there because life had become too much to bare. The doctors taught us to identify our feelings and take control of our lives while simultaneously providing a safe environment—safe from both outside pressures and ourselves. We did art therapy, group therapy, and individual counseling. There were cutters and burners, biters and chronic smokers. At first I shied away, not wanting to believe I was like them. I wasn’t crazy. I wasn’t sick. But then I realized I was both of those things at that very moment and that there wasn’t anything to be ashamed of.
Later, through counseling and the support of my family and friends, I slowly began to break free from this new identity. I wrote in my journal. I went back to work after a four-month break. I reclaimed the life that I previously wanted to throw away. I realized that no matter how much I had been hurt in the past, I could survive. Recently, because of prolonged reproductive problems, I decided to become a mother.
Whether or not you agree with my decision is irrelevant. My family certainly doesn’t and that is painful. However, with the support of my friends, I got off my medication and quit smoking. I can honestly say that my life has never made more sense. The medically induced fogginess has dissipated. I still write in my journal but the entries are hopeful and every month I wait with baited anticipation to see if this time it worked. I know it won’t be easy. I don’t glorify the challenges of being a single mother, but I also know what it is to be desperate. And I know how it feels when you think your life is over. But most of all, I know that despite the horrible events that shaped my past, I persevered. This I believe.
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