A Perfectly Painful Year
I've gone through more rough days than I can recount this past year, more than any other year of my existence. The year began with a lurch of derailment, my PTSD taking over parts of my life I didn't even know existed, relationships tearing my spirit, and a sense of displacement that had been budding for generations. I felt lost between countries, both figuratively and literally, and doubted that there could ever be another, better, day.
I began the year in hiding, driven away by those I believe were closest to me. I hid from social media, and from every avenue of support that I had. In February, after watching almost every stable person in my life disappear, I managed to find solace in my phone, and my writing. I wrote. I wrote it all out; everything that was killing me, things I could never find the energy or words to say out loud.
Then, it happened. It was not the first time, and I hope that it is my last suicide attempt. I carry no shame in it happening. I understand the complexity of Mental Illness and the factors that upend everything that we are and allow us to die from Suicide, and I do not apologize for my illness, or the terminal weight it has carried for far too long, and might carry again in the future.
We're often told that during our final moments, after an attempt, we will regret our passage away from this world and beg to return to it. That's true for some, but, unfortunately for others, even the possibility of death is heartwarming and filled with peace. It is unfortunate. It is sad. And it is unacceptable that we have built a world where this feeling is not uncommon and we watch by as more and more individuals perish right before us.
I didn't go to the hospital after, and I definitely didn't tell anyone, and the truth was that no one noticed. No one noticed as my body started shutting down over a period of three weeks, until finally, a friend drove me to the ER. Three hospitals later, I was back in the real world, having to deal with individuals who were too angry and hurt by my not telling them than they were of the injustice and reality of Mental Illness. I left the hospital to navigate a world of tens of thousands of dollars in hospital bills, immigration uncertainty, and farther away from home than I have ever been.
These are also the four integral months of launching Life in My Days as a non-profit. Thankfully the Life in My Days team was incredible, and gave me the space I needed after the hospital to continue my recovery. But it wasn't all smooth sailing. There were days when I stared into my computer screen for eight hours just to do something that would've taken me 10 minutes before. I had to cancel meetings because my medication would kick in at a random time and I would pass out. There were times when people were upset at me because I promised to hang out with them and instead fell asleep due to exhaustion. I didn't attend friends' graduations because I couldn't leave the house, and couldn't move from underneath the dining room table.
My doctors told me I needed to leave, that I needed to leave my house, that I needed to leave my job or at the very least take time off. I ran, figuratively and literally; all kinds of running away. But I was terrified. I was running into the unknown, away from everything I had known for the previous few years, and I was terrified of not only losing my job, but being deported because of not going back to work on time. I had a time limit to how long I could stay away, and every day the pressure to get better, to be able to function became worse and worse.
I saw doctors left and right, with the weight of piling bills, and uncertainty that none of it might matter and that I could still end up dead, here, or wherever I might be deported to. Being out there, alone, I felt far less lonely than I did in the city that I had called home for six years. Loneliness is not based on being alone, but when you're surrounded by people and don't receive the support you need then it creates a vacuum within your soul that makes things far worse. When you are in fact alone, you are lonely, but it's not the same. It is far worse being surrounded by people and feeling you and your pain are invisible, than it is to be fully alone.
I wasn't fully authorized to return to work, but I was fairly certain that if I had stayed away just a little while longer, I would lose my status, and be deported. Dealing with deportation would not fix anything. Disability and Mental Illness are not things people like me are allowed to have on a legal level. We're told constantly that we are not wanted unless we are not only contributing like everyone else, but we're going above and beyond and carrying everyone else as well. So, I returned.
In August I made the biggest investment of my life, other than my entire four years of college, of course, and went to Colorado for two weeks of intensive one of a kind treatment. It was the biggest, and best decision of my life. Those two weeks were transformational. Not just because of how great those two weeks were, but because during those two weeks, I learned to take credit for everything else I had been doing that year, and prior to that. I had started a non-profit literally on my deathbed. I had survived abuse and complex trauma, and displacement, and a million other things; and I not only survived, I learned to thrive along the way. I relearned just how amazing I really am, and began to wonder if the world was ready for my true self because it will never be the same. The answer is it's not, but it doesn't matter, I am changing the world.
Unfortunately, I am ending the year in a similar place to the one I started it in, more unstability, displacement, and dealing with trauma. But things are very different this time. The world will remain cruel until we put an end to oppression, which, as hopeful as I am, I know will not happen today or tomorrow. Unsupportive individuals will exist until we change our culture, which, again, will not happen today. Injustice will occur, my mental illness will be there, and the risk of more trauma and abuse will always be there whether in personal relationships, work, or anything else. There's so much that impact us, that's impacting me today, such as what happens when immigration officers start reading my articles? Will I ever be allowed back into the country? Am I a prisoner? Will things get better? So many forks in the road, but this time, I'm actually there, I can make decisions, and yes, I can ruin my life and so on and so forth, but I am excited to find my answers; to allow my true self to transcend beyond the plane of what is societally possible.
I am enamored to change the world in ways that the world has never even known. And as I truly reflect on this year, I need to be honest with myself and with you all, because for every ounce of pain and suffering that I have dealt with these past twelve months, I have also rocked this year. I have spoken in more countries than ever before, worked with more communities, written more articles, spoken at more conferences, worked with more individuals 1 on 1 as a Peer Support Specialist, raised more fundraising money for a non-profit than ever before, wrote a new memoir and started writing fiction again. I went back to therapy, I invested in myself, I reconnected with my family like never before, I visited eighteen countries and 48 states, I stopped accepting abusive and toxic relationships as the norm. I chose me. And yes, not all of that is new, but every single little thing needs to be celebrated and discussed. So, I'm not just looking forward to next year, I'm looking back at 2017 and celebrating every step of the way, because I'm not done yet, I'm on my way.