It has been quite busy these past few weeks. Busy all the time! Non-stop. Today, I was finally able to keep my day off and not run to pick up extra hours. I slept in, relaxed in bed and then looked at my phone. After less than 10 seconds, I saw an article about an actress I really like and admire: Evan Rachel Wood. I clicked on the article and was immediately drawn to it.Embed from Getty Images
She talks about her personal experience in a mental hospital. Details how she went from having a breakdown, to asking for help and how was the experience. It’s always refreshing to see how a woman that I picture as strong and admire for wonderful things, is not afraid to show a side that people would normally try to hide from others, specially her being a public figure.
One of the lines just at the beginning of the article hits straight home:
“The very mention of mental health scares people. We hear the words “mental health,” and suddenly that person is unpredictable and unreliable. People’s lives and jobs become at risk “
I used to hide my mental health issues and experiences from fear that my co-workers or superiors would think less of me and think I was not capable of taking over a project or task. I was always proud and loud of other aspects of my personality, and sexuality, in my every day life. But when it came to mental health it took me a very long time to be comfortable with it and not feel like once I accepted my diagnosis, or issues, I would have to start sporting a sign on my forehead that reads “Too broken to function”.
“ I had collapsed under the stress and pressure of being alive. My white flag was up. But dying didn’t work. “
I felt like she was straight up talking to me. This is the exact description of my first hospitalization. I had already done outpatient treatment before reaching that point in high school. Then in college it got so bad, that I already had plans on how to take my life. I remember being in the train station, breathing deeply and suddenly feeling the impulse of jumping off the platform.
” After a moment I said, “I just wanted some peace.” And that was true. My mind was not a peaceful place. My mind at the time was filled with scars and shadows and, most importantly, so much shame. I was struggling with PTSD and didn’t know it. PTSD is considered a mental illness; it can be caused by a number of things and is not limited to brave service people. My PTSD was caused by multiple rapes and a severely abusive relationship that went on for years. “
Okay, at this point I was already super immersed in her words. I had my teenage years of struggle, my hospitalizations and then a new beginning that ended up in a whole other downfall for me. Years of mental abuse in a relationship surrounded with depression, shame and control.
When I first started outpatient treatment and the many hospitalizations I had, I barely told anybody outside my family about what was happening. I just told them “Oh, I just got sick and was in the hospital for a bit. Now I’m all good and not contagious”. This would put them at ease and wouldn’t make them ask more questions so I didn’t have to come up with a whole story of my whereabouts. I was not ready either to tell the world that my brain was a battlefield and I was losing the war by a lot.
“When you forget how to accept love it hurts when you finally do.”
This is one of the hardest truth. I was numb for four years in my past relationship. I knew just work, abuse and shame. No life nor love. Only love I knew was my family, and that was one he also tried to ruin but, luckily, he never succeeded on that! When I was able to breathe I felt lost, the freedom was intoxicating and overwhelming. It was time to start healing but I had such a conditioned brain that I only knew misery, and when happiness came around I was defensive because it didn’t feel natural but rather threatening.
“ I am not always perfect, I am not always at my best, I still struggle with my PTSD, but I know that I will get through it. I have better tools now to get through what seem like the impossible times, and most importantly, I know my worth. “
That first step is the hardest one. The whole process of acknowledging the situation and accepting that you need help to move forward. I’m so happy she was able to do that and now is so strong that she wanted to share her experience with the world. I already admired her talent, her strength and voice, yet this was a whole new level of admiration and connection.
Still to this day, and after all these years, I’m still working on the process of accepting and learning about the battlefield that is my mind. Especially since I never realized that, besides my original diagnosis of depression, anxiety and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), that I was given on my teen years, I now had the surprise of being diagnosed PTSD. Thanks to close friends that begged me to get back in therapy after almost nine years of no treatment, I reached for help.
I have yet to talk about my multiple mental issues and situation, but seeing how open and accepting people had become gives me hope that when I do decide to open up and talk about mine they are not seen as a bother nor a weapon against my persona but as a better insight of my life.
Here’s a link to the article of course to her whole essay that it’s totally worth a read: Nylon Magazine- Evan Rachel Wood!
Cover picture:By Rubenstein – flickr.com, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7388640