Growing up I knew that there was happiness, sadness and when it was our time to go, that was just fate. Never did I realise that once I had my late teens that I would be experiencing uncontrollable sadness and end up the one trying to decide my own fate by attempting to take my own life. This story, although being my own, brings up feelings of pain, yet at the same time a sense of strength that I never knew that I had. And I never thought I would be here to tell it.
I grew up active, outgoing and focused on everything that I put my mind to. I moved from the country to the city when I started high school, and was opened up to a new world that was unlike the one I had grown up with. Then I discovered boys, school work took a backseat and so did my sport. Unfortunately I met the wrong guy who abused me both physically and emotionally, which set my path for the next five years of my life. A path that was severe depression, anxiety, addiction and countless attempts to take my own life.
I remember the day that I was first diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety. I had felt sad for weeks, I just wanted to cry, wouldn’t leave my room and my face had broken out into incredibly painful cysts, and I had no idea what was going on with me. My parents took me to my doctor, I sat slumped in his chair with tears running down my cheeks, while I answered questions that I am sure it pained my folks to hear, because every answer was “I feel no joy, I just feel sad, I don’t really care whether I’m here or not”. As a parent myself, I can only imagine that that moment was as painful as it was for me.
I got home, sat by the pool and I cried, so hard. Through my tears I looked at my mum and said “Mum I can’t have depression, I don’t even know what it is”. What followed this were thoughts that none of my friends would speak to me again, that everyone would run scared and that I had failed. I was 17, I had no knowledge of mental health, depression or anxiety and I had no idea what I was going through at that time. It scared the shit out of me. I was medicated, spent hours and so much of my parents’ money going to different psychologists and none of them worked out for me. So, I turned to partying.
For years I partied, way too hard. I was suppressing what I was going through in my head. I couldn’t keep a job because of my severe anxiety, to the point where I would overdose on whatever pills I could find just so I could pass out and not have to get through the day. I was incapable of being with my own feelings, the smallest things would make me feel like I’m not meant to be in the world and I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel. There was no understanding of mental illness at this time, no awareness, no emphasis on mindfulness and what lifestyle factors could have been contributing to my illness. I felt alone.The most difficult moment for me (and I probably say my family too) to swallow is the first time I attempted to take my own life. I had a small argument with someone in my family and as soon as everyone had left to go to work, I decided that it was the end. I went to the garage, found whatever poison I could and I drank it. I don’t remember too much after that. Now my mum finds it hard to hear an ambulance siren, and I’ll probably feel pretty shitty
about that for the rest of my life. I still bear the scars, I still have vivid memories of the times I went through and I am proud of how far I have come.
Fast forward to today, I am a mother of 2 with goals, ambition and still have my struggles with anxiety. I spend my days raising awareness for mental health, am a coach for both physical and mental performance and cope with my life challenges in much more (safe) and productive ways. I love to meditate, train in the gym and spend as much time as I can with my babies having fun. They changed my life, and although I never thought I’d become a mother, it gave me new meaning.
I always say that mental illness is like a dormant volcano – it never goes away and it lies still until it is triggered. The only difference is that now, I know how to handle the fire.
Lauren Patterson @_laurenkate
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