My Mental Health Almost Broke Me, But I Am Learning To Love My Cracks

recovering after suicide
Photo by Alex Green

There I sat alone in the emergency room, waiting for a doctor to come and speak to me. I had just told my family everything that was happening to me and because of me.

Now I mean everything. That I was drinking too much, hadn’t really slept in months, was struggling, and had tried to overdose on sleeping pills to make the pain go away.

This unbearable and horrendous pain constantly shot through me like lightning striking the sand. It was destroying every ounce of love and beauty that I had ever felt. Repeatedly striking and breaking.

The second my dad would leave for work, BOOM. The minute I was alone with my thoughts, BOOM. The moment I would consider being happy about something, BOOM. These booms were painful and decapitating, but nothing would prepare me for the reality of what they meant.

It’s hard to pinpoint where exactly this pain started or came from.

My childhood was less than ideal. Filled with fighting, family turbulence, divorce, moves, and horrible memories. My mother walked out when I was twelve years old after creating painful memories of abuse and screaming. I had lived with my father ever since, alongside my brother and sister. We fought the good fight. We stuck together, protected each other, and the four of us became a powerful family unit, the best I would ever know.

However, the pain was still there. The ache of not having a mother as I became a woman. The stress of having a single parent working two jobs. And the indescribable confusion of trying to push down the memories of my childhood.

This pain affected me deeply and made me feel alone, except I wasn’t. I had my siblings who stood beside me, and my dad would lift me up. But eventually, my siblings moved away to university. Something that made me incredibly proud but unexplainably heartbroken all at once. My dad worked nights and days, so he was always busy trying to give us the best life possible.

I felt that I was alone. Being alone scared me. In my brain, I was alone because I deserved to be. I was not worthy of having love or a family. Whenever my siblings hung up the phone or my dad went to work, I was reminded that people leave me.

The pain of being alone and feeling like I deserved it brought me to pills and suicide. This is not to say it was anyone’s fault. My siblings needed and deserved their university experience; this I always knew and never resented. My dad needed to work like all of society. But to me, there was a deeper meaning to the separations. It was not just life; it was me.

Being alone is not a reason to kill oneself, but being alone was all I knew, and I just didn’t want to be lonely anymore.

Once I told my family the reality of what was happening, they sprung to action. We packed bags to go to the hospital, expecting me to be admitted to a special ward. We walked around the hospital trying to find the right place, crying in corners, looking for this elusive ward that would save me.

Finally, after what felt like years of searching, a lovely nurse informed us that suicide attempts were not an automatic admittance. I would have to go and get seen in the emergency room.

So, together we sat, as a family, holding hands, crying and waiting for my name to be called. I felt so much guilt; each minute that ticked by, I knew my family was making another sacrifice for me. This did not help things.

Finally, they called me, and I was separated from my dad for the first time since I had uttered the words “I tried to kill myself.”

The room was colder than I expected, isolating and lonely. It mimicked my mind and heart. Then a wonderful lady came in, I don’t recall her title, but for the first time, I knew someone other than my family wanted to help me.

There we sat. We talked about my thoughts, my feelings, my hopes, and my fears. We discussed what had happened the previous night and on two other occasions. What would happen next. And for once, I felt a glimmer of hope. Not a lot, but it was as bright as a stage light in that moment.

The following week was a whirlwind. I moved in with my grandparents for support while my dad worked, and I had appointments based solely on my thoughts and feelings—this I had never heard of. Finally, after nine days of swirling, I landed on solid ground in a psychiatrist’s office.

Severe depression, severe anxiety disorder, and almost bipolar disorder. Well, isn’t that a truckload of emotional shit? I was prescribed medication for the anxiety and depression. The almost bipolar was just a few yes questions from being diagnosed, so therapy for that. I was officially an individual that suffered and was diagnosed with multiple mental health disorders.

So, what now, I thought. Medication, check. Therapy, check. Shame and disappointment, check and check. This was now my life.

Even after finally getting help, the negative feelings did not go far, and one question constantly swirled in my head.

How could this happen to me?

Sure, I had a traumatic childhood, and things had been rough for a while, but my siblings were fine. People have way worse than me, and they are fine. Yet, here I was. Poor little spoiled drama queen having what I thought at the time was the biggest battle in my family.

I had made everyone a slave to my emotions. My family was consistently on edge about what to do and say to me. My dad was heartbroken, even if he would never admit it. His little girl was broken, and I know he blamed himself. My siblings were confused. Everyone now revolved around my illness, and it caused me horrendous pain.

See, the horrible part about mental health is it never just affects the person diagnosed.

Everyone from my dad and siblings to my cousins and grandparents felt the ripple effect. For years I felt broken and a burden. I felt like I made everything worse. My anxiety attacks would stop family dinners, my depressive days would cause arguments on how to handle them. I would miss events because I could not leave my bed. I was just as much a burden as ever. Except now I had a title as to why and I couldn’t hide it. I was so ashamed and felt so ugly.

Until one day, I decided that I did not want to anymore.

One day I realized that the most beautiful things have cracks. The stained glass in churches, the stone statues in Italy, the breaks in the clouds. These cracks let the light shine through. They allow the glimmer to start to sparkle.

The cracks in my heart make room for the sunshine in my soul. They make me gentler and more aware. They make me care more and love deeper.

Mental health and trauma may have almost broken me, but my cracks make me beautiful.

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