Saturday, February 6, 2016

AM~Erica's Dark Side of Despair: There's Work to be Done

So anyway...

Quite some time back I made a decision to be as open & honest as possible about my mental health.

I hit a hard low, very recently. It had been building, but the depths of despair became unbearable. It was to the point that I knew I had to make good on a promise to find help.

Luckily I'm blessed with friends who can oddly sense when I'm entering a dark place - even when they are no where near my vicinity.

I hit a major low. It had, apparently, been slowly building...apparently. I just know I had a new symptom kick in that I am not used to: sensory overload. I have not been handling it well, and it has been affecting my actions & reactions. Irritability, snap reactions, all the sound being too loud & garbled at a level 12 through the air, people (yes, even my family) are just too close in my bubble, everything is making me feel claustrophobic - like I'm slowly melting & collapsing on the inside, as well as not handling the ebb & flow of an ever-changing schedules well. Yeah - that. It was leading to empty despair that I was getting lost in. A deep, dark abyss was swallowing me up - I was drowning on dry land.

My hubby wanted to bring it up, but didn't want to scare me & possibly bring me down any more. I have a very dear friend who messaged me to see if I was OK.

As I am training for a big race coming up, I am needing to get some hard running in. I had a plan of how I would work in a couple miles of hills, not too long ago:
My hubby headed back to work from his usual extended lunch at home, so I had some time to perfectly work in the time needed to get the hill work in before the hustle & bustle of getting the kiddos picked up was to commence. I was coming onto AND on my first big hill when my phone was vibrating like crazy on my arm. I knew I needed to cut the run short, knowing I at least got one hill in. As I looked at my phone, I realized my hubby AND daughter had been trying to call me! I called my daughter back first, and she exclaimed, "Oh! thank God! You're alive!" I was very confused by that, and really wrote it off as usual over dramatics. She told me she was done with work...and hour & a half early! Without getting to get rehydrated, proteined or changed, I had to take my semi-sweaty self, still in full layered running gear, to pick her up. I was NOT happy for the shake up.

I usually tell someone when I go on a run, but I was just going to be gone a short time. I didn't have to start getting kids for at least an hour, plenty of time to get my run in...and didn't figure my hubby would be calling since he JUST left the house with some meetings to prep for. So, I was just going to work it in...

Come to find out, I had been exhibiting an upswing in my odd symptoms, and when neither by hubby NOR my daughter could get a hold of me, they truly thought I'd taken drastic measures with my life.


When my friend flagged me down (one who lives NO WHERE near me), she said she was worried about me. She gave me the number to NAMI so I'd have it right in front of me so I could call & get help. Because I already knew I was probably at that point to make good on a promise that I would try to see someone if I started to become consumed by the abyss.

I got myself together, called NAMI, and a guy very quickly asked where I lived, then gave me a number for a very close by place to call, and that was it. So, I took another deep, and labored breath to call the place. Since I'd never been before, I actually had to leave a message in hopes someone would call back with help.

In the meantime of the wait, I broke it to my hubby that I had called to find help. That's when he said he was glad, and started breaking down all of the signs I had been showing for longer than I'd realized. And here we were, at my lowest point in a very long time.

I sat nervously wondering if I'd get a call back from the ONE place I was given a number for. All of my energy was put into those two phone calls: NAMI & place NAMI gave me the number to...

In my estimated guess (because I was in a slump of time in this moment), it took anywhere from 3-4 hours to get a call back. My thought process, in this time, was feeling forgotten by a place you were told could help me. My thoughts were going to dangerous places. If I couldn't get help, and if I couldn't deal with everything going on around me, and if I was truly frightening my family with my apparently-obvious burden...well...

...however, when they finally called, I had a release. I told them my despair & why I needed to see someone. I let them know I was given their number by NAMI, who's number I was given by an important friend. I let them know what I was going through, and that, yes, I had thoughts of taking my life...but I wouldn't. My safety net is that the means my brain goes to for using isn't allowed in the house; I don't have the energy to seek it out, either.
I was put on hold to see what they could do for me...
Then I was told they didn't have much room for me, that they really only help the uninsured & those in financial need, and, "'s some numbers for you to try. But if you can't get to them, please call us back. Make sure you have the crisis line close by incase things escalate for you. And take care of yourself." I was told this after hearing what I was going through AND acknowledging the tearful despair in my voice!

I took down the numbers, but here's a basic rundown of options I was given, even in the state I was in:

~ Call you insurance & maybe they can give you some numbers of doctors in your network

~ Here's numbers to two different psychiatrists if your insurance covers them

~ Write down the crisis line to have handy if you think you will truly hurt yourself

You know what? It took every fiber of my being just to call this place. After two phone calls & waiting for the second to maybe call back...I was spent.

I looked at my list of numbers, and I knew I physically & mentally didn't have it in me to call any of them. My despair became even greater...

My hubby just kind of stood idly by. Not because he didn't care, but he was shocked by the despair & the lack of help this place was willing to give me. He reminded me of a counselor who comes highly recommended, and someone I have met before. He gave me the number (of course), but I wanted to be able to just quietly research each of these names I was given...

I couldn't get any reviews of names I was given, and the list on my insurance was too great to try to get through or to make heads or tails of to even know where to begin.

So I looked up the counselor, and this one didn't take my insurance, but had a list of questions I SHOULD CALL MY INSURANCE ABOUT BEFORE MAKING AN APPOINTMENT!!

At this point, when someone is so low in despair & pain, one should NEVER have to deal with this kind of runaround. Ever. Because, if I'd had the means necessary, that would have been my problem solver rather than having to make even one more phone call...even to the crisis line.


Here's something I need you to understand about me:
I thought I had my depression under control enough that I could shake it when needed. I knew what to do & mostly how to deal with it. I was NOT prepared for a new symptom to kick in. I didn't know how to deal with it. At all.

I haven't seen a doctor about any of this for a VERY long time! Why? I had this in the bag! Was I cured? Nope. Just figured I had a good enough handle on it.

I was wrong.

As I advocate for people to go see someone when they need to, and I am such an advocate for mental health & suicide prevention, nothing truly prepared me for this shake up.

This is where I'd been oblivious & selfish. I thought I had a grip on all of this. Not in a pompous way, just really thought I didn't need to see someone at this point. I didn't need medication & I could get a handled on my down times.

So now I need someone. And someone who needs help so badly can't get the help they need in that moment...

Imagine someone who's never been through this before:
They get to a point of needing to call someone, and they get just enough energy to do so. But it turns out they have insurance & make too much money to get to the one place they were told to call. They have no idea they shouldn't have a means to take their life, but they can't deal with calling another number, even the crisis line they are told to keep handy, along with 3-5 other phone numbers. There's not energy to call anyone else; there's no energy to call yet another they do all they can think to do to get rid of the pain since no one is taking time to help them get better...

We are in amazing times right now, people! Right now, mental health awareness is at an all time high! The stigma is lowered, but not gone. So, we are in a time when healthcare is supposed to be great for all of us & taking care of all of us, especially with mental health...
...but it's not. The system is continually failing those in need. When someone is in desperate need of help, the last thing that should be happening is to be given the runaround & told they need to go elsewhere with a list of numbers they cannot make sense of, or energy to call.

We wonder why we lost yet another wonderful soul to the devastating abyss of the fatal outcome of suicide because no one was willing to help them in the mental illness state of their health.

This is deplorable.

People can't get meds when they need them, people can't get in to see someone when they are in desperate need of someone professional to get them back on track. So, when they can't get the help they need WHILE in their time of need...we are about to lose someone else.
If a place is supposed to be there to help, is willing to listen why they need help, but won't help them, it's like a diving instructor helping someone dive off the diving board into an empty pool.

Those of us who do suffer with a mental illness are still expected to live our lives.

These illnesses do not discriminate. They don't care your gender, your color, your height, your financial situation, your living situation, who you love, your relationship status, your age, your religion or beliefs, your nationality (background)...and it certainly doesn't care what you've got going on or what your plans are. It will strike when it wants to.

I have a summons for jury duty. And, right now, I cannot get a medical release for my state of being. I have to try to help the system when the system is failing me greatly.

I am trying to be an advocate for those in my place, right now, as I am battling to stay afloat - even while trying to make plans for greater advocacy.


Now then, as part of our overall health, we should have a counselor (at the very least) to be able to see when things aren't going so well. Do this while you are not at a low point. Give yourself time to get to see someone. Because they won't help you get started when you're at your lowest.

This is a sad truth right now. You want despair? There it is!

As for me, I'm on a slow upswing...
I'm not back to where I need to be, but wow! I have sure learned a lot about my dark side, as well as the dark side of the system - you know, the ones who are supposed to be stepping up to help those in despair.

But I'm working on myself right now. I will get to those phone calls when I have the energy to talk to someone about them. Someone new, anyway.

So let's all get behind each other, know how to handle each other in an actual mentally ill state, and let's get set up with someone professional so that you can have better access when you are in those horribly low times. Because I never want anyone to be passed around while they just need the help of one person.

Stay tuned...

God Bless, AM~Erica


  1. Erica, I am so sorry to hear about the run-around you got in your time of need. I am praying and wishing I knew what else I could do.

  2. Shared ... well written and so many people who have never experienced the dark abyss of depression have no idea just how difficult it is to reach out for help after a certain point. This type of run around simply makes folks even less likely to reach out or obtain help quickly enough. A worldwide issue is this messy system. I hope you don't mind but I shared your blog and link on my own blog for my son Jaie xoxo <3 stay safe

    1. Hi Piper. Thank you so much for reading. I'm so sorry to find out you understand my situation. Reading what you came across about Jaie broke my heart & I was nearly reliving my moments again. It truly is a worldwide problem, as it seems. And you have certainly brought to my attention how widespread this problem truly is.

      Thank you for sharing: not just my post, but sharing your link with me. If you don't mind, I'd like to share it to show how far this reaches.

    2. Also, Piper - if you were ever interested, my dear friend (who I spoke of in the post) has started SOLOS - Survivors Of Loved Ones to Suicide. It has reached all over the world to those in grief over losing their dear one(s). If you are interested in checking it out, I highly encourage you to do so:

  3. It is crazy the hoops you have to jump through to get help. I called my insurance to find out about an inpatient program in the area and was put on hold after telling them I was suicidal. I was on shock and hung up on them. Fortunately, I called the facility myself and left the insurance issues for a later time. It's ludicrous that help isn't easier to get. All that to say,I feel your pain and you're in my prayers.

    1. I'm even more frustrated how often this is really happening. I figured I couldn't have been the only one, but I'm having several speak up about their frustrations, also. Like you, too. I am SO sorry to hear you had to deal with this. I hope things change so that so many won't fall thru the cracks. I'm glad you shared.

  4. I am so sorry this is happening. One would think they would wise up to what is going on around us. It is all pretty sad that one has to go through so many hoops to get help. I have heard many stories like this. Praying for you..

  5. I've been exactly there. I Just found a group for us, the survivors, while at a AFSP Out of the Darkness walk, finally after 9 months. Was close to the scary truth quite a few times, but somehow got through with God