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  • Writer's pictureElise I. Antoine

Everybody Mental ain’t "crazy", Many of us just need someone to listen

God doesn’t like me or at least he has a funny way of telling me he isn’t ready for me yet. You see, I masterminded an elaborate plan to remove myself from the last nerve of so many I know.  I had convinced myself that I no longer served a purpose because my life was a total cluster f@&*. One foggy night I experienced this cycle back in 2011. I felt like I was on a hamster wheel. I lost my job, apartment, car and had to drop out of grad school all within a 6 month period. I was also debilitated by back spasms due to obesity and I suffered frequent migraines. Panic attacks suffocated me multiple times per day. It was all too much.

I felt like a total failure. I let myself down and every social service agency that convinced a neighboring assistance program that I was worth taking a chance on, as well. I couldn’t do anything right. Not in my mind. I won’t say I heard voices. But I kept having reoccurring thoughts about emptying the medicine cabinet. Thoughts about going to sleep and never waking up to face the reality of my hopeless life. Thoughts on how I could escape quietly and only be found weeks later after the stench of my rotten flesh soured the neighborhood air. Somewhere between dropping out of school and losing my apartment, I tried to OD on antidepressants. All I did was give myself a brutal stomach ache and dizzy spells worse than what I already experienced from reoccurring seizures. I was a mess and sofa surfed until a bed became available at the local homeless shelter.

On my birthday I was in pain everyday and taking meds that sedated me, but didn’t cure the pain. I couldn’t work. I had no money. My Disability claim had been rejected. So I made the decision to sell my little Sunfire that I lived in off and on. I don’t remember what convinced me to start cutting, but something about it made sense to me. It was the worst decision I could have ever made. But in the moment, I thought slashing  my arm with a razor blade was my only solution. I wasn’t suicidal that time. I just wanting to stop hurting (by causing more pain, I know). I still can’t explain it.

I met my Disability attorney. She’s a registered nurse by training and almost undefeated in the state of North Carolina. She helped me file my initial application with just a 4-day window to spare. This magical woman held my hand through 3 appeals, multiple doctors, 3 additional inpatient stays, and kept tabs on me through 6 months of sofa surfing. I was finally approved for Disability in February, 2012 and have been slowly piecing myself together ever since.  I cope better now and I haven’t cut since then. I’m also no longer homeless, nor using promiscuity to damage my body. I can manage stress and regulate my emotions today far better than I’ve ever been able to do. Healing is possible and so is breaking the self-harm cycle.  

5 Maintenance tips that works for me that may help someone else. 1.)Know your triggers. Be able to recognize when your mood is about to change and activate your self-care plan. 2.) Develop a Prevention self-care plan to use regularly to avoid the need for De-escalation. 3.) Maintain a good support network of people with different roles. A ministry leader for prayer, friend to engage in social activities with, clinician/PCP, social worker to manage your external stressors, even the neighbor or workout/accountability partner to help tidy up and cook when you’ve lacked in personal hygiene and housekeeping. 4.) Don’t beat yourself up or feel like a failure if you’ve fallen short of your goals, had an episode or missed an appointment. Healing is a Series of action steps that takes time and some parts may have to be repeated. 5.) Remain compliant with your care plan including meds, appointments, exercise, etc and post affirmations all over the house to recite throughout each day as a reminder of your goals and how great you are progressing. Remember: “Everybody ‘mental’ ain’t crazy. Many of us just need someone to listen.”

by Agyei Ekundayo diagnosed with bipolar

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