I went back to school in August 2015 to City College of San Francisco feeling confident that I would do well with my studies. It was like a breath of fresh air as I passed test after test and scored A’s on my psychology papers. Then my life seemed to go down a road that I had gone before, but this time I wanted to see where it went while trying to get on track again.
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I sit every day on the third floor of the student center eating my lunch. Today I was ruminating about how up until now I was usually eating lunch with friends, laughing and having fun, but these days, it is not at all like that. I do not have friends at school, or at least any friends that invite me over to their house or where we go out to a bar and eat. I am often by myself most of the day, going home and sitting on my couch and watching British TV shows with my dog. It is a cycle.
I made fake social networking profiles, lied about boyfriends, and of course thrived in the many fantasy worlds I had invented when I was really sick. For the longest time I believed I was destined to be someone other than the person that was living with my flesh and blood. Mentally I began to envision a more ‘attractive’ college student, model body, acne free skin, and a striking smile. Sometimes I would even add in something sexual into my fantasy of who I wanted to be or become.
I was once a compulsive liar and it is something that changed people’s perceptions about me. I am not a compulsive liar anymore, but I can tell when my parents, my sister, my friends, and even my doctors question whether what I tell them is true. Some of us struggle with our past and our mistakes and we have to face those mistakes but it brings me down knowing I lost friends and some family by doing something I ironically did so I could be alive.
I have been battling a depressive episode for the last two months. We fool around with my medications but I haven't felt like myself in about five months. Three days ago I posted a photo on my Instagram account about recovery and thought a quote about recovery would be a good addition. The quote I found was by Diriye Osman and the last sentence connected with me:
"…I TOOK EVERY TRAUMATIC ELEMENT OF MY CONDITION AND CHANNELED IT INTO SOMETHING USEFUL."
For most of my life I made it possible for myself to pay attention to what was happening in front of me but also be in this well designed, heavenly, whirl-wind sort of fantasy world that I had created to save me from myself. Of course I did not realize this until recently but I think it is important to write about the unimaginable because these things happen to people and they are embarrassing but they sometimes have a purpose. I realized we have to recognize when this purpose has passed and when we have to move on without things that create a comfort zone.
We all know someone or have gone through the experience of losing friends because of a mental illness. I don’t have many friends right now and I go day by day watching my two sisters, my Mom, my Dad, and even going into a store, I see girls laughing together and the sad thing, is that, that was me a few years ago. That was me.
November 22, 2014 is International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, a day that much of society most likely does not know anything about. The American Foundation of Suicide Prevention (AFSP) in recognition of a resolution that Senator Harry Reid introduced to the senate, pronounced the Saturday before Thanksgiving to be “Survivors of Suicide Loss Day”. AFSP observes November 22 as being “International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day” to encompass the global population.
Mental Health Awareness Week occurred from October 5-11 and on October 11 I participated in one of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s ‘Out of the Darkness Walks’ in Northern California. I was planning to go alone because I had attempted to persuade friends and family to join me, but I got the same response, ‘Susanna that is too depressing for an activity on a weekend’. I thought some of my friends who were in college would want to join me, but they said the same thing, ‘The events at school are too depressing for me, I tend not to attend those events’.
Being diagnosed with bipolar disorder three semesters before you are supposed to graduate with a bachelor in psychology and neuroscience was not written in my life plan. In fact having a mental illness and anything that would stop me from pursuing my dream of becoming a doctor or a therapist was not in my life plan.