I will hold onto your hope for you

 In Chronic Illness, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Medical Experiences, Mental Health, Psychology & Counselling

WORLD SUICIDE PREVENTION DAY AWARENESS POST: I will hold onto your hope for you

Trigger warning: attempted suicide, mental illness

Getting diagnosed with a chronic illness is never easy. Sometimes you might be able to prepare for it in certain ways, such as doing research; and already thinking you have this illness or if something is genetic and you know your parents have it. Other times it may hit you like a face full of bricks. And it may not just be the chronic illness that hits.

Growing up I struggled a lot with my physical health but with my mental health as well. I was in and out of hospitals, in and out of treatment centres, dieticians, doctors, all just trying to work out how to get me through the next day, the next week, the month, the next year.

By the age of 16, I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa, depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD. Around this time as well, was when I started getting really sick; but a lot of my symptoms were mirrored by my anorexia, and so we didn’t put two and two together. I say we as in myself, my mother and my doctors. They believed I wasn’t eating when I was, or eating was making me sick. A couple more treatment centres, couple more doctors, couple more therapists and I still wasn’t getting better. In between my sophomore and freshman year of undergrad I had gone to a treatment centre for the last time; I was done with treatment centres, I was done with doctors trying to tell me at the same time that I was “too big” to have an eating disorder, yet too sick to not be in treatment.

I went back to school, I had a job on campus working with freshman, and I was ready to take on life as it was… until I got sick. And the hardest thing about that was trying to get someone to believe me. It was my sophomore year of college that I started passing out, having seizures, missing class and didn’t know know why. We didn’t have answers yet, but it was just happening. Every time I passed out in public or on school grounds, they would have to call campus security, and there was always one of those one officers, who would treat me in a way that basically was “oh, it’s her again.”

I had finally gotten a lot of testing done in my sophomore year, and I finally got a diagnosis. I was seeing therapists on campus and was explaining to them everything that was going on: my mother being diagnosed with terminal cancer, me being diagnosed, and continuously being diagnosed with these illnesses, feeling like my body has betrayed me after my mind already had, and now I’m stuck here. Where do I go?

My therapists weren’t much help, they weren’t encouraging, they were saying I was doing it for attention, and all I was doing was asking and crying out for help. But truth be told, I just wanted someone to hear me. I just wanted someone to look at me in the eye and say ”you are sick, and I believe you”.

I fought for another whole year, getting more diagnoses, seeing more doctors, more ambulance rides, more concussions, more seizures, more hospitals, and finally all of it diagnosed. As I stood in line one day to pay for my student books, I passed out. I was with my friends and my service dog, and the public safety officer approached. It was the one that I dreaded the most. He looked at me as I woke up and said “oh, you again, big surprise”. While I was coming to, I was with my roommate, and she said “you know she has answers, right? That she has reasons she is passing out and she isn’t doing this just for fun?”. After I was able to speak again, I looked him in the eye, and I said: “I have a diagnosis, this is not fun for me, this is not a fun game, I’m not enjoying falling over, I would rather they not have to call you”. I told them I had dysautonomia, I had POTS, suspected EDS at the time and he just looked at me in a way that said: “yeh, sure, ok”.

And then and there I was done.

I knew people didn’t believe me. Every time it was a matter of “it’s me (her) again”. Is that how people truly see me? Is that why I feel not welcome at home? Why every time I go into church they just look at me like I’m a nutcase? Is this why treatment centres didn’t work? Is this why when anyone looked at me, even strangers, they had that thought of, “oh, it’s her again”?.

Before that night, in years past, I had been suicidal. I had thought about taking my own life, and I had done it in juvenile ways ( I guess you could say), saying I had attempted but not really. I knew people who had taken their lives, who had attempted, and more so I, the means I had tried, had not been successful.

So on that night, on my first day of school on the first day of semester of my junior year in the springtime, I just lay there and said to myself “see I can’t even do this right” (junior year).

So that night after my roommates went to bed I decided I was done. That at least it would be easier for everyone else; that no one one look at me and think “oh, it’s her again”; my pain would be gone; no more doctors would have to deal with me; my parents could sell all my stuff, I wouldn’t be a financial hardship (because they made sure to let me know that I was a financial hardship); I wouldn’t have to worry about doctors appointments or having to try and talk to them.

So that night, I attempted to take my own life.

Waking up in the hospital afterwards, a lot of emotions flood through. I didn’t know whether to be happy or extremely angry that I woke up. Do I feel angry because it didn’t work, because I feel like I failed at something as simple as this? Or am I happy that God gave me another chance? Where do I go with this? What do I do with this?

Even though I had promised myself that the previous years was going to be my last treatment centre, let me tell you it wasn’t, because of this. Back into treatment, I went, and I truly had to figure out, to find my voice, find passion, find love, and compassion.

That was over 4 years ago. That one was probably of the scariest moments of my life.

And now I sit here with a bachelors degree, a masters degree in counselling psychology with a focus on those with chronic illnesses, those who are deaf and those with eating disorders. I have focused on these because I too was there and I too am still there. I am not perfect. I have days when I still struggle, I have days where my pain still hurts, when it’s so bad; I have days where I just wish my doctors just listened and understood, I have days where I want to go back to my undergrad, go back to the counsellors and the public safety officers and ask them, “do you realise the pain and hardships of the words you say?” “But where is the compassion in that?” “Where is the self-love?” “Where is the hope?”

During that time of feeling hopeless, helpless, loveless, unloveable, I had friends who could hold on to those for me. I had other people holding onto hope, holding onto love, holding onto encouragement, holding onto healing, and so when I didn’t think I could do it, it was ok, because I didn’t have to do it alone. I could go to my friend who was holding onto hope for me and “I could cry to her and say I need help with this hope, please can you help give me some of this hope”, and I would get that.

I had other people holding onto hope, holding onto love, holding onto encouragement, holding onto healing, and so when I didn’t think I could do it, it was ok, because I didn’t have to do it alone. Share on X

When I hurt, and I needed some healing, I could go to my friend who was holding some of that protection and say “I don’t have strength right now and I need some healing because I hurt, can you please give me some of that”, and they would. And love, to this day, I still struggle with self-love. And I have friends who I can go to and I can say, “I don’t feel love, I don’t love myself, I struggle, can you hold this love for me, and share it back to me, until I am at a place where I can love myself”.

And also I can hold this love for others.

And I love that that’s a position that I am in, I love holding hope, holding love, compassion, empathy, understanding for people. I love reminding people that this is not the end. That their life does matter. Even in the hardships, even in the battles. Even when people say “oh it’s you again”. (They don’t matter. They’re stupid, honestly.)

But life. Life will get better; there are times where I step back, and I realise I’m stressed and anxious and completely zoned out but it’s better than it was, and I know it’s only going to go up from here.

I promise you, even on your darkest nights, keep your eyes forward. Keep holding on to that little bit of hope. And if you don’t have that, I will happily hold onto it for you.

I promise you, even on your darkest nights, keep your eyes forward. Keep holding on to that little bit of hope. And if you don’t have that, I will happily hold onto it for you. Share on X

If you feel like you are a harm to yourself or others please contact the helpline in your country or google “crisis phone line”

The writer of the blog has resources about managing mental health, if you would like to get in contact, please send an email to Hypermobility Connect and we will have her contact you.

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