I talked about how this time last year I was hospitalized for severe depression (in Who I am Not). My favorite uncle had recently passed from colon cancer in April. School was hard for me, between counting thousands of flies and writing out
organic chemistry reactions. It was easy for my anxiety to take over and send me into a depression.
It was after my sorority’s formal that I intentionally stepped in front of a moving car. I told my therapist and she suggested that I go to the hospital. I told my mom and soon her and my father were up at school, ready to take me home.
After the hospital, I spent the summer in an intensive outpatient program. With five hours a day, five days a week, there was barely any time for me to enjoy myself. Not like I could remember what I enjoyed doing.
Even last semester, I entered into a two week depression. Taking forever to leave my bed, forgetting how many days it had been since I had showered, failing to reach out to even my closest of friends. It was all so hard for me to even think about.
Despite all that I have gone through in the past year, I am now in good place. I’ve regained my characteristic motivation. I am motivated to do well in my classes, reach out to friends and family, and do the things I know remember that I love.
This time last year, sitting in the psychiatric ward at the cafeteria tables looking out at the rain, I would’ve said I’ve been better. But now, looking at those same water droplets hit the Ithaca soil, I can say I am better.
I am many things. A daughter, a sister, a friend. I’m a student, a researcher, a writer. I am many things but I am not my depression, my anxiety, my obsessive compulsive disorder.
It was this time last year that I was hospitalized for severe depression. I didn’t even know that it was Cinco de Mayo then. Not like it mattered; I was in a psychiatric ward with no allowance to the outside world.
Being in the hospital, you only focus on yourself. There are groups that you go through in the same recreation room throughout the day to understand the mental illness you are dealing with. By this, it’s hard to draw the line between yourself as a person and the state of your mental health.
After being released, I still had a hard time differentiating between who I am as a person and the handful of mental illnesses I had been diagnosed with. I thought of myself as my depression, my anxiety, my obsessive compulsive disorder. Combined with the unfortunate stigma surrounding mental illness, I looked down on myself as a person.
It wasn’t until a certain exercise in an intensive outpatient program over the summer that I realized the extent of my identity. The therapist first told us to draw a bubble with “me” written in the center. Then she told us to write the particular illness or illnesses we have in their own bubbles around the first one. Finally, she told us to write who we are to others and our interests in other bubbles surrounding those original drawings.
With that inspiration, I was to fill up the majority of the page with bubbles other than my mental illnesses. That drawing showed that I am so much more than a few diagnoses.
I am many things.