How do you determine if you're depressed or just sad? Navigating emotions while recovering from mental illness is incredibly tricky. For me, mental illness completely broke my internal emotional compass. Before I experienced depression, I could identify emotions like sadness, worry, and joy fairly easily. But after I experienced depression, it became nearly impossible to distinguish between depression and sadness or nervousness and anxiety. Even though I've been recovering for years, this is still one of my biggest struggles as a human being. Luckily, all those years in therapy have taught me a few things, and I'd like to share them with you.
Mental Illness Relapse
September is Suicide Awareness Month, and in honor of that, I want to share my experience with feeling semi-suicidal. My hope is that other people who have occupied this awful in-between space will understand that what they're going through is very real, and someone else has been there too. (Note: This post contains a trigger warning.)
As a mental health worker, I am always concerned about how first responders treat mental health concerns and crises. Two such duties are safety checks and dealing with suicide attempts. (Safety checks are when law enforcement checks on someone who has been reported in danger or will possibly harm himself or others.) Here in Toledo, suicide attempts are taken very seriously by emergency services. However, safety checks are of low priority. (Note: This post contains a trigger warning.)
I've resisted recovery for all kinds of reasons, including because I was sick of trying to be perfect. I spent most of my adolescence trying not to be like other teenagers, not to go through "phases" or be bad. I tried so hard to do things "right." When mental illness appeared in my life, I could barely do things at all, let alone do them "right," so I got angry.
Have you ever wondered what it's like to hear voices? Hearing voices is a classic symptom of schizophrenia. The bad news is, they're sheer torture. The good news is, medication can help--I haven't heard voices in several years. But for those of you who wonder, here's what it's like to hear voices.
I lost a friend to suicide last week. A friend who struggled, triumphed and sadly, lost the battle with his mind. I have witnessed many of my friends and loved ones struggle with mental illness and it is heartbreaking on many levels. Yet a *blessing* appeared in the form of a friend who experienced watching another friend’s depression and wanted to understand the cycle of depression better. I will share with you what my response was.