I’ve been sleeping way too much lately. And way too early, for a college student. For example, there was a week when I would pass out at seven in the evening. Depression does that to you, I suppose.
Mhmm, it’s officially depression. Not just depression, but that plus social anxiety, extreme paranoia, and possibly attention deficit disorder (aka ADD or ADHD-PI).
I already knew about the social anxiety, but the others were news to me. ADD? Paranoia? And I had been denying that I had depression to anyone who asked. Think about it, doesn’t it sound so whiny, a first-year in college suffering from depression when there’s really nothing that wrong with her life? Cliche and typical and not very worthy of attention, in my opinion.
Then they pulled me out of school against my wishes.
Allow me to replay exactly how that happened two months ago.
October 14th. A Friday morning, 9 am. I had my scheduled weekly meeting with my counselor, though I had skipped the previous week’s appointment because of an overload of work. Thus, I had two weeks’ worth of news to tell her. So I packed my backpack with my Japanese texts before heading out, because I had class at 9:50 right after the meeting.
Originally I scheduled these meetings with the counselor because of my social anxiety. After the first meeting, it became clear to her that it’s much more than that, and she chose to focus more on my other problems, particularly on my Sadness.
With each meeting, my situation became worse and worse. I began experiencing these periods I call the Sadness. Occurring sporadically — once a week or two weeks — the Sadness is exactly what it sounds like: short, hour-long bursts of the most gut-wrenching sadness, loneliness, and worthlessness a person can possibly feel. It would happen for no reason at all, or it would be triggered by the smallest thing. In any case, the pain and crying would become nearly unbearable each time… to the point where I would be willing to do anything to stop it. The Sadness would ease away whenever I either found someone to talk to or fell asleep, but I would be terrified of what I was capable of doing to myself whenever it occurred because I would lose all control over my thoughts and actions.
I made sure to emphasize to the counselor that I was fine most of the time: not quite happy, but usually flat with spikes of good moods. I laugh and smile like any normal person would. The moments of Sadness are rare. It’s nothing to worry about.
I guess she really didn’t like what she was hearing by that October 14th meeting, because she chose right then and there to send me to the hospital.
Well. I HAD signed a contract before these meetings, stating that the school had a right to hospitalize me if they felt I wasn’t mentally stable enough to continue on with classes. But still. THESE THINGS ALWAYS HAPPEN TO ME.
I wasn’t allowed to leave the counselor’s office while we waited for the ambulance. Meanwhile, Counselor had me sign some confidentiality forms while she sent an email to my class dean. The dean, in turn, informed each of my professors that I would not be on campus until further notice. You would not believe how relieved I was that my dean did that, because it’s a big deal when professors are notified by her and that means I won’t be penalized for missing classes.
Since I wasn’t allowed back into my dorm to retrieve necessary belongings, I had to allow the ambulance to take me to the emergency room with just my backpack on. Uh, and the clothes I was wearing, of course. :P Even though I was in perfect physical condition, they strapped me into the gurney and that made me feel even crazier than I was.
The emergency room. I never thought I’d have ended up here, and in a conscious state, no less. It didn’t matter what I’d brought with me anyway, because an old nurse came in my room, instructed me to strip down and put on a hospital gown, and locked my belongings away behind a metal gate. I had figured that the purpose of the hospital gown was to make it easier for doctors to do medical checks, but it was actually to make sure I didn’t have weapons strapped to my body.
I remained in that bed for four long hours, while security guards took turns watching me do nothing from their post outside my room. Doctors came in to check on my medical history and question me about my lifestyle. I kept insisting that while, yes, I have suicidal tendencies and yes, I do hold a scarily apathetic view towards what happens to me, I really don’t think this is depression so can you please let me get back to college now, kthxbai. They didn’t buy it.
So to the psychiatric ward I went!
If you’ve ever been to the medical ward of a hospital, the psychiatric ward looks a bit like that in terms of color and cleanliness and smell. I’d say that’s where the similarities end, though.
It’s a small hospital so the psychiatric ward, which they call D-10 (the real place is named with a different letter and number, but you get the idea), had a capacity of 15-20 patients. Tight and cozy. I was put in a room with another patient who had arrived a few hours before I did.
Is it weird to say that she and I bonded and that I prefer this crazy chick over my real college roommate? :P She was a woman in her mid-thirties, if I had to guess. She suffers from every disorder known to man, I’m tellin’ ya. She’d been hospitalized many times before. This wasn’t her first time in D-10, either; she actually chose to return to this particular hospital because she likes it the best of all the ones she’d been to.
The two of us would have the most depressing talks at night as we lay in our respective beds. At the same time, it felt so good to get all these thoughts out of my head without someone actively judging me. My roommate creeped me out sometimes because she would either sob uncontrollably, talk to herself, laugh for no reason, or mope around like she hates the world. Which she probably does. But that didn’t make her company any less enjoyable. :)
My room had two beds, a table, a sink with a mirror in the room, and a little room with a toilet. They made it as safe as possible but honestly if I really wanted to hurt myself I could get creative. The rooms actually didn’t have any security cameras, but they had that covered. They checked on us every fifteen minutes throughout the day. And night. Mhmm.
They went through all the things I brought with me and confiscated anything questionable. That included my mini stapler and my lanyard that carried my room key and swipe card. I’m surprised that they let me keep my mechanical pencils and shoelaces, actually. :P
Freedom wasn’t that limited, but we had restrictions on certain things. Like a curfew, for example. They allowed me to have my iPod, but no cellphones. After I extracted a few numbers from my phone, they took it away and kept it until I was discharged. So the only people who knew about my hospitalization while I was there were Cappa, Christa, Adele, Manny, and my new college friend Elaina. I felt bad for worrying them all, but oh, I was so touched at their concern for me. Even that slight bit from Manny, whom I had met just a month earlier.
D-10 staff made me promise not to run away. I did promise, but running away didn’t even seem possible. All windows and exits were kept locked at all times. Even the showers were locked and had to be unlocked whenever you wanted to use it.
It wasn’t until after I was hospitalized did I understand how depressed I was. I did NOTHING during my stay there. I would just curl up on my bed and stare at the wall for hours. Either that or sleep. The other patients would be more social, mingling in the public areas, but I hardly left my room except to shower and eat. The nurses and counselors were particularly concerned at why I never spoke unless spoken to.
But I am ecstatic to announce that I am feeling positively lovely wonderful now! Really, I don’t even feel like the same person I was two months ago. GOOD. I never ever want to go back. I had a terrifying moment of relapse a while ago, but hopefully that was all and not just a taste. It involved an embarrassing breakdown in my professor’s office hours, with me running out of his office in uncontrollable tears.
I’ve been seeing a real psychiatrist twice a week and although I’m not sure how helpful he’s being, it’s nice being able to talk to someone. He only prescribed an antidepressant at first. Then he doubled the dosage when I complained of hypersomnia (sleeping too much), which doesn’t really make sense but okay, you’re the doctor.
The antidepressant took a while to work, though. So for the first month I was pretty much kept on suicide watch. And for good reason: just a few days after I was released from the hospital and therefore WAS STILL VERY MUCH DEPRESSED, I recklessly went into the city by myself. I wandered around Harvard Square for two and a half hours alone. And everywhere I looked, I kept finding horrifying ways in which I could kill myself. Yeah. It was bad. I ended up dropping by Manny and Benji’s dorm for a bit because I couldn’t stand the loneliness any longer. I cheered up a bit at the sight of Manny, who knows what I had gone through and gave me a big hug upon seeing me.
But later, things got bad. While I was headed to the movie theater with Manny, Benji, and Benji’s girlfriend/crush/whatever-it’s-still-ambiguous, I was plagued the whole time with the worst case of self-hate I ever had. I felt so unworthy of being around these people, so useless, unneeded, inferior. I actually made it into the theater when I pulled Manny aside and told him in a low voice that I had to go right now. So basically I had run away from them. I spent the next few miserable, lonely hours getting lost in Boston.
My doctor paid special attention to these feelings of worthlessness and inferiority, fueled by my thoughts. So — next came the crazy pills.
Haha, it’s really called perphenazine but I call it that because it’s used in the treatment of schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder. It freaked me out when I googled the name and I saw that my doc had prescribed me an antipsychotic. Then again, I show a lot of the symptoms of schizophrenia. Maybe telling my doctor that I hear voices wasn’t a smart idea? :P The medicine just blocks abnormal activity in the brain, so it works by suppressing the self-hateful thoughts that my brain feeds me every minute of the day.
That medicine was SO odd. For the first month, it made me feel like an empty vessel. I stopped hearing the voices that told me the terrible things about myself — but since those voices occupied my thoughts nearly 24/7, the medicine took them away and left me feeling curiously empty. Not sad, not happy. Just… nothing. I could no longer feel that extreme sadness that sent me to the hospital. Likewise, I was unable to feel excitement. Only numbness. I went through life without thinking anything. Even though that scared me a bit, I preferred that emptiness to the depression.
I’m feeling soooo much better now. My new college friends have been especially supportive, one in particular.
Elaina is my mental mirror twin. Physically we cannot look any more different (she: blond, short-haired, green-eyed, small-framed). Our mental states are very similar yet contrasting at the same time. You see, while I suffer from sadness, she is crazy. So, if I could describe our emotions (and the way we express them) with colors, mine would be blue (isolation, tears, bottled up feelings, self-loathing) while Elaina’s would be red (passionate and artful expressions, drawing things in her blood, cutting, trashing her room, anger at the world).
She understands. She’s just a bit difficult to get a hold of because she’s dealing with tough times right now. But the times we do have together, I cherish. She’s given me so much support and advice that I honestly think she might have played a part in saving me. We met during rock climbing and she was all friendly and whatnot, but we didn’t connect until one random night after climbing. We were both stressed out of our minds from work, and so we decided to meditate in the basement of the campus chapel. What began as a discussion about her being atheist somehow turned into a two-hour-long conversation about ourselves. We formed a deep connection over that. Oh, but we do have lighthearted conversations too!
Once I came back from rock climbing with Elaina. She’s going through so much with her family and she’s willingly killing herself with her work, so most of the time I let her do the talking and use me as a verbal punching bag. I don’t mind, lol. She’s done a ton for me.
After she finished emptying her thoughts, she took a breath, calmly turned to me, pointed at the hickey on my neck, and asked, “So how did this come about?”
Lol, and then later, as I got into my Tale of Nightly Adventures in a Dorm with Two Boys (that makes me sound like such a bad person :P), her comments turned into:
“Eeee, this sounds like a shoujo manga!”
“The next time you see him, don’t look into his eyes when he talks to you; stare at his lips instead.”
Elaina is so helpful, isn’t she.
But who is this mysterious man I’ve been keeping a secret from this journal? I wanted to wait it out until I found out what was going on between the two of us before revealing his identity. Well, after one month, I can finally reveal who he is. In true Koyama’s-nikki style, the boy is…
I’ll go into detail in a Manny-filled post in the near future (because after finals week I have a month of NO SCHOOL HELL YES), but I shall leave you with this, journal: I am no longer #foreveralone!
Or a lot of other things, for that matter. ^///^ I know I pledged to hold nothing back on this journal but I wonder how much I can tell without getting horribly judged. :Pv
Until next time,
~ Mimi :Dv