I take a drag from the cigarette in my hand. As I slowly exhale, watching the smoke as it disappears into the dark night sky above me. I hear the chatter in the background but my focus is on the fat fluffy snowflakes falling down creating a beautiful white blanket over everything. My attention is snapped back when someone yells my name to come inside. When I get inside, I run to the laptop on the table to put on another 90's R&B classic hit before being ushered to the kitchen to take another shot to celebrate one of my best friends birthdays. We all cheers! As I throw my head back, I hear someone's shot get knocked to the floor. I go to grab the mop from the hallway closest as someone instructs me to. My roommate grabs the mop before me and as she does a broom falls to the floor on top of my foot. Not even thinking I start attempting to kick it back into the closet. After the first failed attempt my drunk mind thought that was only due to not kicking it hard enough. So with that logic I kicked as hard as I could. The broom got stuck on something in the closet pushing me backwards and making me loose my balance. I watch the basement door knob come into sight and in my best efforts to attempt to grab it I fail miserably and hit the basement stairs in the perfect way to send me rolling backwards down them, collecting momentum as I go. I remember the faces looking helplessly at me before the final hit and everything went black.
I heard my name being screamed which pulled me out of the darkness and I opened my eyes to see all my friends crowded around me. I smiled. Fingers being thrust in my face asking me to count them. I did as they wished to ensure them that I was completely fine. I got up to look behind me realizing now what concerned them. The hole in the wall which my head had created seeing one sheet of drywall before the hard concrete behind it. But I was not going to let one little accident ruin the night so on I went without giving it so much as a thought.
It wasn't till about three weeks later that my manageable headache turned into a pain I could no longer ignore. It hurt to eat. It hurt to walk. It hurt to be at school with the noise. I decided it was time I look to professional help. I went to the walk-in clinic only to have the doctor put pressure on the spot I hit and tell me I was fine. Another week went by and still no relief so I decided to go to the hospital. I went twice, both times I was injected with steroids and freezing at the base of my neck and both times did not help give me any relief. I finally decided to call my parents and confess where my partying had got me. They bused me home where I got an MRI done and a serious consultation about my injury. I was diagnosed with a severe concussion. Which all you can do is rest. Dark room, no stimulation.
I don't remember when the pain subsided but I was left with serious anxiety in the end. I didn't know what that was at the time. I tried explaining it to my doctor as a gut feeling that something bad was going to happen but all the time. Or like I did something wrong and you get that terrible feeling of dread. I had that all the time. That injury altered my personality. I am more cautious now, not as easy going as I was before. Through the years I have learned not to trust that gut feeling anymore and ways to cope when I am facing it. Although that was years ago before I got married or had kids, I still have days and weeks where I feel it get the best of me and other weeks where I wonder if I have been cured. I know some people experience it in way higher extremes. That constant battle with your own mind trying to figure out what is real and what is false. Mental illness is terrifying and so hard to see in others. I thought I would share my story so that maybe someone else can relate. Or maybe a little insight why some weeks I am on top of the world and why other weeks I can't seem to shake it. What is your experience with mental illness? In my experience it has been easier to talk to people about how I came about getting it then when I am actually going through it.
So this Wednesday January 31st is Bell Let's Talk day. Time to start talking about mental illness. You can find all the ways that Bell is contributing to the cause here. Lots of helpful tips to educate and further grow our understanding. Trust me when I say it is not easy to but Let's Talk!