“Ty, what’s wrong?”
When I think about dealing with my mental health during childhood, the first thing I think about is the day I was lying on the couch at a very young age crying my eyes out and my mom asking me what was wrong in this confused, concerned but yet tired voice.
“Idk.” I replied to mama. The truth was I didn’t know what was wrong. Honestly, I was confused myself because I knew I was sad, but I didn’t know why I was sad. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t stop the tears from coming, or why I couldn’t just be happy. This was just one of many episodes that I had throughout my life though.
It was during elementary school that I had my first of many encounters with a psychologist and psychiatrist after a start with the school counselor. This has been a battle of mine for as long as I can remember. It was during that time that I received my first diagnoses of clinical depression. I was also prescribed medication to help with the symptoms of depression that I was experiencing. However, I was in denial and refusing the treatment that was being given to me.
I grew up wanting so badly to be what society views as being “normal.” This had me trying to hide the mental health issues that I was dealing with by trying to act “normal” and fit into society. However, I’m not their “normal,” and I had to realize that that’s okay. All those times that mental illness would have me wishing that I was normal, praying to God that I could just be normal, and asking why I’m not normal and why I had to be one of the ones battling it, I had to keep reminding myself that God loves me anyway. Although at times we may experience difficult life experiences, it may be that very thing that separates you from everyone else that God will use to help you reach your growth, next level, success, and help others get set free.
That continued for a while, and then I had my first suicide attempt when I was a freshman in high school. This attempt involved me taking pills until my mom walked in my room after being told by a friend’s grandmother what I was doing. My friend found out after calling me and hearing how suicidal I was. It was after this attempt that I received a second diagnosis of major depressive disorder.
Another diagnosis of major depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, and bipolar disorder came while I was in my early 20s after being referred to community mental health facility after a night of being in crisis and a mobile crisis unit coming out. Depression, anxiety, community mental health facilities, mobile crisis units, doctors, emergency rooms, suicidal ideations and thoughts, and more were a part of my life from then on. However, I was still in denial and refusing treatment. And then, something changed my outlook and view on my situation.
When I looked up and seen my daughter standing right outside the kitchen, looking at me with tears rolling down her face with scared and confused look, I knew it was time. It was time to surrender. It was time to get help. It was time to accept that something was wrong with me. It was when I looked up to grab the water I had for myself to wash down the pills that I had intended to take to end my life that I noticed that I noticed my baby standing there silently crying as she watched her mother try attempt to take her own life. “As if my siblings and I aren’t enough for her to live for,” she must’ve been thinking.
I asked God for strength, and he sent my children- literally. After looking at my strength (my daughter) right in the face, I knew I couldn’t go through with it. It was that situation that made me aware of the fact that I needed help. The haunting and disturbing image of my poor baby having to witness me in crisis kept popping up in my mind as I kept telling myself, “this is for my babies.” I knew I had to do it for them if for no one else.
After receiving help and accepting that something was wrong, I decided that I wanted to take a psychological test to get an accurate diagnosis so I could receive the proper treatment. After doing the psychological testing, I received a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, depressive type.
After the diagnosis, I was prescribed an antidepressant and an antipsychotic. The antidepressant is to control the symptoms of major depression, while the antipsychotic is to control the symptoms of psychosis. For me, these symptoms have been delusions, obsessive thinking, paranoia, mood swings, and more while I was going untreated. I also started taking DBT therapy, in which I did successfully complete.
Today, I THRIVE with the diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, depressive type by continuing my treatment of medications, therapy, exercise, trying to eat well balanced meals, writing, reading, spending time with family and friends, and continuing to following in the path that God has for me.
I am THRIVING as a wife, mother of five, student, author, and mental health advocate. I’d like to say that I did not just grow through that concrete that was at one point weighing me down. I did a glow up, and I am GLOWING through the concrete. Schizoaffective disorder doesn’t have me; I have it!