Angela, 28 years, Germany
I have been ignoring the signs most of my life. But I just couldn’t live that way anymore. I felt it every day. In my head, my heart and my body. The many days where I couldn’t motivate myself to do anything anymore. As a teenager I didn’t go out much like my friends did. I would rather stay home. I had constant mood swings – like a heavy weight pulling me down and lifting me up again. But when my body started to show signs of distress I knew I have to do something. After my physician diagnosed multiple food allergies I decided to join the day clinic. To live temporary in a psychological hospital was one of the most difficult decisions I had to make in my life. And today I wish I would have done it earlier. Consulting a psychologist in the early stages could have made a big difference in my life. But at that time this wasn’t possible for me.
That’s where the crazies live, right
I grew up in a small town in Germany where etiquette is very important. Admitting to have a mental illness, a weakness I couldn’t handle myself, wasn’t really an option here. People didn’t know anything about depression. Everyone made it seem like it wasn’t real. Just pull yourself together and stop crying. Stop making such a big deal out of it just because you are having a bad day. Even my parents had a very hard time to understand what I was going through. So I was scared to be judged by every single one of them. Would they look at me and whisper when they see me on the street? Would they point fingers and start laughing? The term “psychological hospital” often worries communities since all the crazies live there right. In the past it was used in horror movies and crime dramas which formed the public opinion. Unfortunately, not many people see that modern institutions are nothing like this anymore. So instead of getting help I kept it to myself. It took years until I finally had the courage to approach a psychologist. But I felt this wasn’t enough. So when I finally decided to join the day care (which meant I would go home at the end of the day and return in the morning) I automatically admitted that I have a mental illness. There was no hiding anymore. No pretending anymore.
The week before I went to the hospital I cried a lot. I think I have never felt so lonely before. I traveled the world by myself for one year and this was nothing compared to the feeling I had now. There was no turning back. I had to face my daemons. I trusted my psychologist, my physician and the day clinic personal. With my loving partner, who supported me through all those years I thought after that point, it could just get better.
The first days were horrible. I just wanted to cry and be alone. Unfortunately, the other patience were really nice and tried to get me out of bed to cheer me up. I hated them. One of them actually went so far to point it out in the middle of a group activity. That bitch! All I wanted to do is run out and cry. But I didn’t have the courage to actually get up and walk through the big room and leave. So I stayed. My plan was to slowly get used to everything before I would actually start to open up and talk about my feelings. But this plan blew right up into my face. Everything what I managed to hide perfectly outside the hospital didn’t work anymore. My cover was gone on the first day. Everyone saw it. I did too. For the first time.
Apparently, I was the only one who was ready to fight my depression
Even after I was ready to openly talk about my depression, people in my environment weren’t. There was this big elephant in the middle of the room and everyone chooses to ignore it. It seemed like it made them feel uncomfortable. I made them feel uncomfortable. So nothing changed. At that point I wished they would have said something. Anything! I would even have been ok with stupid comments or jokes. Anything but silence. I was ready for them. With the decision I made to face my fears I also had the courage to finally be who I really am. I mean, I call it the loony bin or madhouse just because I want people to see it for what it is – a place where you have the chance to honestly work on yourself. I don’t want to see the serious, scared and worried faces anymore. I want to talk about it. Tell them how I feel. But it never happened. Just silence.
Today, I think it was the best decision I’ve ever made. The road was very bumpy but it was all worth it at the end. I am proud of myself that I was finally brave enough open up and face my feelings head on. Even though I still see my psychologist on a regular basis, my days are brighter now and I feel I am on the right path. Every time when I see other people struggle with mental difficulties I feel the urge to tell them off. I literally want to yell at them. Stop pretending! Stop hiding! Open up your eyes and accept that you need help! I know the pain and the hiding game and I am bothered in a compassionated way to see them repeating my mistakes. The day clinic gave me the chance to finally find my inner self. The person who I really am without the small town etiquette and its expectations.
Your crazy Angela