Hi again :).
Time for another late night post. So, in my last post I talked about what life was like for me during high school and where I believe my mental health journey to have started.
We last left off with me feeling relieved that I got to go away to university. To give you a frame of reference, I got to move out of my house and 2 hours away from my parents. I know this may not seem like a lot compared to others moving from different countries, but at the time, I thought this was the best thing ever to happen to me. And in some ways, I still believe that moving out was the best decision for me, but we will get to that.
I started my first year of uni in September 2017. During this first semester, it was obviously a huge learning curve, but I had a group of friends I studied and hung out with and life was seemingly okay. It was when first midterm marks started to roll in that I once again felt the pressure of my parents. The university plainly tells all students that most of us will see a drop of at least 15-20% in averages from high school to university. However, at first, my parents did not understand this and were disappointed with the 60s and 70s I got which was a vast difference to the 90s in high school.
This time around however, it was easier to ignore their pressure because I was not living with them and I almost never visited home. At the time, my relationship with my parents was so rough that even when I did go home, I always planned out my weekends so that I spent the least amount of time possible at home. As I found out later, this was probably not the smartest thing to do.
Things continued this way well into second semester, but it was in March when things really started to fall apart. My dad was upset that every time I came home, I never spent any time hanging out with him and my mom and barely even talked to them. So, one weekend when I came home, he said I wasn’t allowed to go out. This of course upset me and I ended up just shutting myself away in my room. However, my mom would have none of that and continually pestered me about what was wrong. It was at that point I snapped.
I finally broke down and screamed. I yelled at my parents for suffocating me, for invading my privacy, for being the reason I never came home. That night, crying and yelling on the couch, I finally started to let go of 3 years worth of pent up hurt and anger towards my parents. To say the least, both of them were shocked. While my mom tried to comfort me and listen, my dad did the opposite and lashed out saying I was ungrateful and even stopped talking to me for a while.
The weekend ended and I went back to Waterloo. My dad only speaking a few words to me and mom trying to be overly supportive. I’m not sure exactly what caused what happened next but it was definitely one of my lowest points in life.
Once I got back to Waterloo on Sunday, I thought everything would be fine. I woke up the next morning and didn’t feel like going to class, so I skipped and slept all day. I woke up around 7/8 pm that day, used the bathroom, had a chewy bar and went back to bed. This went on for 2 weeks. Every morning I’d wake up, being unable to muster the energy to move, and then fall back asleep. During these 2 weeks I sleep for 22-23 hours a day, only waking up to use the bathroom and sometimes eat.
Honestly I’m not sure how I survived. I barely remember eating or drinking much water during that time. I had fallen into a deep depression. I couldn’t move, only when I really had to use the bathroom, and then I would come straight back to bed. No one close to me knew what was happening because I made sure to respond to texts so no one would bother me.
However, my Waterloo friends did notice since I did not go to class for 2 full weeks. They tried to ask me what was wrong and I just brushed it off as I needed a break because I was burnt out. I don’t and never will blame them for not trying harder because at the time, I didn’t want that. And I told every lie that I could come up with to make it seem like I was okay.
I honestly think that if finals season didn’t roll around, I would’ve been in that semi-comatose state for a lot longer. After 2 weeks had passed, I realized that it was the last week of class and if I didn’t get my act together and study, I was going to fail the semester. I really think that this was the only reason I got up and started living again.
I pulled myself up, went to class, studied 24/7 so I didn’t have to think about my life, and passed my courses. I never told anyone about what happened during those two weeks. I knew that I had the signs of depression but I really did not want to admit that to myself at the time. A big reason for this was my parents.
At the time, they had no exposure to people dealing with mental health issues. Multiple times when I had talked to them about suicides that had happened on campus and how sad it was, their response would be “only crazy people do that”. At the time, I was angry and felt like I could never open up to them about what I had been going through so I didn’t.
Summer came and went and everything was still seemingly fine. I hadn’t had another depressive episode and all in all my summer was okay so I thought that I had put everything behind me and I was okay. Boy was I wrong. All I had been doing was letting my feelings build up more.
In Sept 2018, I started my second year of university. And in October I had my second depressive episode. Similar to the first, I barely functioned for 2 weeks. This time around, I stopped trying to fight it after the first few days. I told myself this happened before, that this was what I needed, and that after two weeks I would be fine again and able to finish my semester. So I let it happen, didn’t function for 2 weeks, hid it from everyone, and then continued about my life as if nothing was wrong. However, I was wrong again.
In November 2018, my best friends (who all went to different universities than me) and I all met up for a weekend of fun and partying. This was definitely not one of my finest moments, but I got black out drunk. It is the only time it has ever happened to me and to this day I still only have flashes of memory of the night.
Turns out, once we got home from the club, I broke down. I cried and sobbed and begged my friends not to make me go back to Waterloo, to go home. I told them I hated my life so much, that I just didn’t want to be here anymore, that I didn’t know how long I could continue like this.
Being my friends for 10 years, this obviously concerned them. They sat me down the next morning and said listen, we don’t know what exactly has been going on, but you need to get help and talk to someone. As much as they wanted to help me, they knew they weren’t equipped to do it alone. They gave me an ultimatum and said if I didn’t tell my family (at the time my cousins were my biggest support system) within the week, then they would do it.
I’m not saying this is the answer to helping everyone, but it worked on me because honestly I did want help, and I did want to get better. The next night, I told my cousin everything, about the depressive episodes, the anxiety and the thoughts about self harm and suicide. She immediately told my parents, knowing that this wasn’t something we could solve alone.
The next day, my parents texted me that they were at my front door here to see me. We had a long discussion and this is when things started to get better. I could see that as I talked about what I was going through, that they didn’t understand. They were brought up in very conservative households and are immigrants. Mental health was a whole new topic that they didn’t understand and were not informed about. But, I could see they were trying.
They took me to my family doctor and when he diagnosed me depression and anxiety, they sat and listened to all he was saying. When he suggested I start taking SSRI’s, I could see that this not what they wanted but they still wanted what was best for me so they agreed.
It was from here on out that our relationship started mending and we are where we are today. Them accepting my mental health did not happen overnight. Sure they tried to be supportive, but I could tell they were uncomfortable with the topic for a long time. Although it bothered me a little, I was happy and relieved that they were trying to help me get better.
Months passed and I started going to therapy. I really do value therapy and think it is a very helpful tool if the person them self wants to get better.
Lets rewind a bit. In March 2018, before my first depressive episode, my cousins could tell that something was wrong but they could not get me to open up. So to try and help this, they asked if I would see an on campus counsellor. I agreed and went to one session, however at the time, I did not want to get better because I told myself I was fine and that they were just over reacting. Obviously, because of this mindset, that session did not help much at all.
Back to Spring 2019. I started going to therapy about 1-2 times a week, and went for about 6 months. For me, it was a world of help. It was through therapy that I realized just how far back everything started, but also where I realized just how far I had come. It not only helped me come to terms with what I was going through, it helped me fully forgive my parents and move past all the hurt and resentment I carried towards them.
My parents and I are now closer than we have ever been. I talk to them about almost everything in my life (of course some things your parents just don’t need to know haha) and they are very open and accepting towards my mental health journey. As soon as they realized this was something serious, they read every article and book they could find about mental health and depression in particular. I was so thankful for this because never in a million years did I think my conservative parents would be accepting of all that I was going through and it really meant everything to me.
I have now been on SSRI’s for a little over a year. Although I have come a long way in my mental health, it has not been without its ups and downs. Mental health is one of the hardest things I have had to fight for in my life but it’s worth it because I want to be happy.
I think that is at the crux of it all – you have to want to get better, want to be happy. For whatever the reason may be, you have to want it before you can truly start to take the steps to get better.
Do I think that I am 100% better? Definitely not. Do I think that I am on the right path? Definitely. Even though I still have days where I really struggle to get out of bed or to do my homework or to do anything, I am happy with where I am in life. I am happy and proud of the progress I’ve made and thankful that I’ve been surrounded by love and support from those around me.
I know that we all have those points of things just feeling absolutely hopeless, where we just want to give up, but you have to think, is this all I want, where I just want to stop? Or do I want to one day be in a better place? Although others will be there to support you, no one can fight your battles. You have to do that yourself, and if and when you do, the progress you make is so worth it. At least that’s what I believe.
Anyways, I think I have rambled on in this post for long enough. I know I didn’t get into too much detail about my highs and lows after starting my SSRI’s and actually accepting my illness but I will get to all that in future posts. For now, I just want to show everyone that this is my mental health journey so far and that if you thought you’re the only one going through certain things, that you’re not.
I kind of suck at ending these things haha. But yeah. I’ll try and have the next post up soon. Don’t even know if anyone is reading this but it’s a good goal for myself lol. Also I apologize for all grammar mistakes, I’m trying me best :).
With lots of love,
Your mental healh Mathie ❤