Dani s Story
Charleston, SC USA
"I will never be able to describe what it’s like to be afraid of yourself. To be trapped in your own mind, absolutely terrified that you might do something to cause yourself irreversible, permanent harm. I’ll never be able to find the right words to describe how it feels when part of you is screaming to shut the lights off and keep them off- forever. Feelings, thoughts, breath, pulse…off. Forever.
When I finally had enough of being trapped inside my own head, I walked myself over to the emergency room and calmly told the woman sitting at the desk that I had severe depression, and that if I didn’t get help soon, I was afraid I might hurt myself. The following week was a combination of white walls, group therapy, medication, fear, and relief. Many of the things I had grown so accustomed to, being able to open my own door, go outside as I pleased, wear sweatpants with a string in them – were suddenly off limits to me.
Every morning began with being woken up by a stranger at 6:30am to take my vital signs. The only thing connecting me to the outside world was a phone with a cord, one that could be turned on-and-off by the nurses. I had to show strangers my scars, both physical and metaphorical. It was not an ideal situation, to say the least, but it was what I needed. It helped save my life.
I spent those six days in the hospital surrounded by individuals with stories that resonated with my own, and I realized I wasn’t alone. I realized that the madness going on in my brain didn’t have to exist on maximum volume and repeat. I realized that my harmful coping mechanisms didn’t have to take over and make me feel helpless and hopeless any longer. This wasn’t the first time I had spent a week in the hospital due to my depression and anxiety.
When I first started getting treatment six years ago, by working with a therapist and a psychiatrist, I ended up spending ten days in the hospital. This visit was a terrifying blur. Needless to say, I am no stranger to the inside of the hospital walls, the endless therapy appointments, constant painful thoughts that eventually ended up as marks on my body, and the hit or miss medications that come with attempting to level out serotonin levels. For me, it is a simple chemical imbalance of the brain.
I grew up thinking I was weird for feeling what I had been feeling. I had a great life, I was extremely blessed, and yet I felt miserable, and even worse, I felt guilty for feeling miserable. I turned to self-harming behaviors to cope with what I no idea how else to deal with. It took me many years, two hospital visits, and many prescriptions to realize depression and anxiety are a part of me. Not a part of me I need to be ashamed of, or hide, but a part that I must live with.
I know that with the right combination of help, I can live a free life with my depressed and anxious self as nothing but a distant memory, and a reminder that I am worth the fight each and every day. Learning how to live with my depression and anxiety is a challenge I now face with vigor.
I have accepted that this fight will be one I will fight the rest of my life, the only difference being, it’s not a losing battle anymore. Feelings, thoughts, breath, pulse…on."
- Photo by: Cheyenne Abrams, College of Charleston Campus Representative