An update from Nicole to Taylor explaining things that have happened so far over the summer break since the hospital
I just wanted to give you an update of what has been happening over the past few months. I sort of just put everything that has been happening in here just to explain everything, and I haven’t written like this since before that stay at the hospital. I had forgotten how helpful it is to write everything out to make sense of things. But anyways, this is just everything that has happened over the past few months as well as some thoughts, feelings, and mindsets I’ve had over that time. I wrote a lot, and it’s kind of disorganized as I just put everything I was experiencing and feeling without really thinking about how I was writing, so its kind of a mess. I also wrote the majority of this at night where I have barely any filter, so I sort of just threw everything onto paper. Apologies.
While I was in the hospital, my parents came to visit me for a little bit. It was so awkward because the nurses and staff and everyone wouldn’t really talk to them because of the rules and protocol which made my dad really frustrated, and my mom was so overwhelmed with the news and everything. So, when they were visiting my dad seemed really angry and well you know me, I immediately felt it was all my fault which it kind of was because I was the one who has all these problems, and which cause more problems for those around me, so it was basically my fault that he was angry or, so I thought. But he was actually just annoyed that all the nurses and staff wouldn’t let them know anything or see me because I had to tell the nurses that I wanted to visit with them which I had no idea I had to do. I thought I could just give them the access number and that they could visit. But I guess not according to some rules or something. Also, my dad processes every emotion through anger, so I should have expected him to seem angry when I think he was just hurt that his “little girl” was in this place and the nurses wouldn’t let him see me. He hates hospitals and doctors, so I could tell he didn’t want to be there. Also, my mother, understandably, was being emotional and crying when we were visiting, I think because she was overwhelmed, and of course, seeing your own kid in the hospital for almost killing themselves is a bit much to take. I learned that she has battled anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation since a little before she was my age.
In addition to this, I learned more about my family’s mental history, and not to be insensitive, but it’s a mess. My mother and I also discussed my fear of people and how I have been scared of people since I was little. She told me how both she and my maternal grandmother had a fear of people when they were young children. When she was little, her mother couldn’t leave her with a babysitter because she was so afraid, which reminded me of how when I was a little kid, I never wanted to be left with a babysitter because I was scared, but I didn’t want to disobey or do anything to make them annoyed or mad or anything because I was already a very stubborn, strong-willed child, but by that point, I was stubborn and strong-willed for good. I think that may be the reason I haven’t given up on life yet. If I didn’t have all these problems scaring and holding me back I could do and be so much. I saw this one post on some social media site that said something to the effect of “I only have a mental illness because otherwise I would be too powerful,” and I can relate because I think without my problems, no one could stop me. My mother also told me that she thinks I may have suffered some trauma when I was little that I don’t remember and am unable to process it because I was so little that I can’t remember it.
I also found out while talking to my parents in the hospital that when I was seven, I had a psychological evaluation and had been diagnosed with ADD. I don’t remember the evaluation, but once I was out of the hospital and on all those meds to help with my anxiety, I could clearly see that I have ADD/ADHD, or so I thought. My mother says I have ADD, inattentive type, and after doing an extensive amount of research, I can see that I have this, but now I guess ADD is no longer the term they use. They just use ADHD for anyone diagnosed with that. But anyways, when I was out of the hospital and back at my dorm, I was so disorganized, distracted more easily than normal, and so hyper. I was losing and forgetting everything, and I could barely pack up my dorm when I had to move out because I couldn’t focus or finish anything. I could not stop talking, and I was admitting things that I would have otherwise kept secret. I was telling my mother about all sorts of things going on in my head and I told her about the guy I like as well as a crush I had on this guy from my high school homeschool group that I kept a secret for 8 years. I don’t even know who I was during that time. I was like this for about the next week. It was ridiculous, and I hated being like that. After about a week or so, my anxiety crept back and paralyzed me back into how I normally act. My depression also returned and hit me so hard that I was back to where I was those two nights before my hospital stay. Of course, I didn’t do anything to act on that because well I wouldn’t be here typing all this up if I did.
Once I got home after my stay, my mother and I started to look for psychiatrists, therapists, counselors, and primary health care providers so that I could get med refills and someone to talk to. Unfortunately, we were unable to find any psychiatrists, therapists, or counselors in our area. They were either not taking new patients or they didn’t accept our insurance. We contacted my primary health care provider about meds and trying to find a clinician. She gave us a list but wouldn’t refill meds. At this point, I wasn’t sure if my mother knew about that one unhealthy coping mechanism I use, and I didn’t talk to my doctor about that with my mother in the room.
After we met with her, we contacted the psychiatrist in Harrisonburg at the hospital about an appointment with him to refill meds. At the appointment, we met with a physician’s assistant or something (idk if that was her title or what), and she brought up that topic of my unhealthiest coping mechanism while my mother was in the room, so she definitely knows about it now. She called it cutting, and I think my mother believed I used sharp blades and things, not that particular object I use (I don’t know why but I just can’t type it out). Sometime after this appointment, my mother brought this up and how she wanted to put anything with a blade away so that I couldn’t do anything, but then said that by doing that it would take away some of the things I love to do like cooking and art. She didn’t put anything like that away, and things were pretty normal after that. She did kind of freak out though this one time when I had to do the project for my art final. Since I no longer have the exacto knife (I am so happy I don’t have it because who knows where I would be if I still had it, oh wait lol I’d be in a hospital or a coffin ah lol I hate myself), and I needed to cut cardboard that my scissors couldn’t cut through, I borrowed my grandmother’s boxcutter with her permission of course. After the project was over, she asked my mother for me to bring it back to her house the next time we were there, but my grandmother referred to the boxcutter as an exacto knife. I could tell in my mother’s voice that she was almost panicking (understandably) that I had an exacto knife, but I informed her that it was a boxcutter (not that much better but it’s still different) and that I had to use it for my project. She calmed down a bit after that.
A couple weeks later, I moved into my grandmother’s house so that I could be closer to work and to be less stressed out while at home. Living here has been less stressful than my home, yet it also gives me the opportunity to isolate myself which has not been good at all. I have been very confused of myself as of late. I cannot tell if I am an introvert or if I am an extrovert. I used to think that I was very introverted, but I think it was just because of my anxiety and depression that I wanted to be alone. Now it feels hard to be alone, and I have become so depressed because I have very few friends here, and I spend most of my time alone and lonely or at work and anxious. I do need to be alone sometimes, but I don’t know if it’s because I am introverted and tired from people or if I’m exhausted from the anxiety of being around people. It has been very confusing, and I barely even know who I am anymore, not that I really knew who I was before, but at least I thought I knew.
But back to the progress, or lack thereof, of my recovery. So, I met with a psychologist a little over a month ago for a psychological evaluation for a diagnosis for anxiety and depression, but mostly for ADHD. That was also a very scary experience, and I feel like if I wasn’t so anxious I would have done better on the questions she asked me. Before going into the evaluation, I wasn’t expecting to be tired from it, but the psychologist told me that I would feel mentally exhausted afterwards. I was so mentally drained and dead from that evaluation and had a headache for two days straight after it. Several days before this evaluation, I was back in the same mental place that I was in when it was the end of the spring semester. I completed the evaluation of about six or seven tests in about five hours. I got the results on the 12th of July. My mother and I met with the psychologist and gave us the brief overview of my diagnosis and her recommendation for treatment. For the ADD/ADHD results, she told me that I do not have that, so you were right and so was Marshall. I think that since I have that problem with my eyes not lining up it causes a visual processing problem, and it can present itself with ADHD symptoms. I was told this by my optometrist. One of my brothers has a similar issue and for so long we thought he might have ADHD, but after his psychological assessment, that was ruled out, and it was just his eyes causing the problems. Apparently, this issue causes the brain to tire more quickly, which causes more problems for the brain, resulting in symptoms of other conditions.
Basically, the psychologist told me that I do not have ADHD, but I do have severe anxiety and depression of which I was already aware. She said that it was so bad that it could be seen as severe enough that I would need to be put in inpatient, but she doesn’t think that is necessary as I can function, and I am safe. I took the MMPI-2 test and was informed that on Scale 2 and Scale 7, those who experience incapacitating distress from their mental illness usually have a T score of higher than 80. My score on both scales was above 95. How I am still alive and not six feet under baffles me. Only by God’s grace and with His strength am I still in college and not failing, still have a job, still have a social life and good friends, still able to get out of bed each morning and leave my house, still be able to survive and fight my way through each day. I am so blessed and at first, I thought maybe I was a strong person, but I am now realizing that it’s not really my strength. I recognize that I do have strength, but my strength comes from God, and it is only by Him that I am still alive and fighting.
As for the social phobia and anxiety tests I took, the concluded that I have severe social anxiety and general anxiety, but we already knew this, and it wasn’t a surprise. So, basically, I was told what we already knew. As far as treatment, she wants me to continue medication if it’s working, and she would like me to have weekly sessions with a therapist or counselor to work through CBT and ACT and whatever else my therapist will think I need. She said that it would be best to get that established out near BC because that is where I will be for most of the year, and it’s not going to make much of a difference finding someone here for only the next few weeks before I have to go back to school.
My mother found this one lady who does this program sort of thing with tackling anxieties and insecurities through working with horses. It’s sort of like comparing yourself to a horse in how a horse is a prey animal, and there are predators who will prey on them, and in the same way people are prey of the devil and fears. It’s actually pretty interesting, and the lady has a horse with anxiety, and I connected very well to the horse. The woman is kind of intimidating though and scares me a bit, but there’s also animals there which help bring my anxiety down. She has several really sweet cats too that say hi when anyone comes to the farm. I have only been once to work with this lady and her horse as my schedule has been crazy busy, but it was cool that one time I went. Also speaking of animals, since I have not been living at home, I don’t have the support of my precious cats which has been so hard, but in my grandmother’s neighborhood, there’s a long-haired black with a little brown neighborhood cat. He wanders the neighborhood and visits several different houses. His name is Sampson, and he is the sweetest cat. He comes by my grandmother’s house every so often, and he will lounge on the porch for hours, welcoming any love and pets he can get.
Since being home for break, I have looked for clinicians but haven’t been able to find anyone, so I don’t have that kind of support right now. I have decided that I’m not going to get a clinician here for the summer as it’s almost over. I am still taking the meds, but I am unsure if they are working enough. I know that in order to get the best result I need a combination of both psychotherapy and medication for an extended period of time. Without seeing anyone or having that kind of support has been difficult, but fortunately, I’m still here and surviving and not dead yet. I am back in the place where I was before, but I think things have gotten worse in some ways. I am still have passing suicidal thoughts, but I am safe and am not going to do anything permanent like that. But I no longer really want help for any of my issues because I feel like it’s not going to make much of a difference, and I’m tired of trying to get help. I know that getting help actually does make a difference because if it didn’t, no one would be getting help, but I’m at this point where I am too mentally exhausted to try to get help or work on recovery because I am just done with everything and want to give up (the pursuit of assistance not life itself). I can’t give up though because otherwise I would just feel like even more of a failure, and then it would just continue in that vicious cycle I can never escape from. I also feel like my problems are so bad that I could never recover from them. I know it’s going to take years in therapy to get past all my issues, but I don’t really want that anymore. Before I was so interested in the whole psychology and mental health world, and I wanted to know as much as possible about everything I was struggling with and how to help and recover, but I don’t care anymore. It’s just gotten to be too much, and I don’t want to continue. I know I have to though in order to live because as I conveyed to you before, I want to live, not just survive. I think this is where my stubbornness and strong will come in. If even part of me wants something enough, or if I make up my mind about something, I make sure it happens any way I can. Sometimes this is bad though because if I have my mind set on something that is not particularly good for me, I end up hurting myself.
Speaking of which, I no longer use what I used during the school year for that coping mechanism. I have switched to something that has given me a better result of what I aim for when I do it. It’s an actual blade this time, but I don’t go deep enough for any terrible damage, and I am as safe as I can be with it. I like this better as it doesn’t hurt as much when doing it but hurts afterwards so that it keeps my mind clearer for longer. I know I shouldn’t be using this to cope, but I feel like I’ve lost other skills I used before and don’t remember them in the moment or at all. I also haven’t been coping with my anxiety well, and I think I have been too reliant on the medication to take care of it meaning that I will just push the anxiety away pretending it’s not there when actually it still is as well as taking more of my as-needed medication so I don’t have to deal with it. I know that just makes it worse in the long run. I also have been very avoidant of anxiety-inducing/provoking situations mostly at work which I know is not helpful, but I still keep doing it. I have faced it head on a couple of times at the restaurant I work at with some fake confidence and then kind of started freaking out and hiding in the back afterwards.
I apologize for this being so long. I wanted to let you know of what has been going on for the past few months and I just started writing and couldn’t stop. I probably have shared way more information than you wanted or necessary at all but that’s okay. But anyways thanks if you got this far. I know this is a lot and it is probably really difficult to follow and confusing because I just wrote whatever I was thinking as I was thinking it. Thank you so much for everything. Again, sorry that this is so long.