Trigger warning: this post discusses suicide and suicidal thoughts.
My first week of classes at the University of Mount Union, I had three panic attacks. But I had a great group of friends who were willing to listen and help. My roommate, Sydney, even walked with me to the office where I could sign up for counseling, which is free to Mount students.
Things got better. My friends and I developed what we called Mental Health Tuesday, where we would bitch about whatever our counselors said that we didn’t agree with. I met with the psych nurse, and she started me on an extremely low dose of citalopram. I felt a little nauseous in the morning and slept a lot, but that went away in about a week. I didn’t have any more panic attacks. I had a support system.
And then I walked in my room on October 7th and found that Syd had committed suicide.
Everything that followed was about lying and feeling guilty. I kept forgetting to take my medication and lied about how long it had been since I’d last taken it when my counselor asked. My counselor told me that he didn’t feel comfortable working with me anymore given what I’d experienced and suggested that I begin seeing the head counselor, whom I then lied to about the state of my mental health. A month in, she asked if I was feeling well enough to stop coming in, and a couple weeks later, I was no longer in counseling.
When I came back the next year and felt my insides rotting, I asked to come back, told her that I’d lied, and everything was awful. My catchphrase for the whole summer had been “fuck you, McKenzie.” I felt isolated and claustrophobic. They put me back on citalopram with a higher dosage and added Abilify to help me escape the ruminating thoughts of suicide and lack of motivation. In spring semester, she transferred me to a counseling intern who was specializing in trauma therapy, who told me a few months in when things began to get worse that there might be a point where she would no longer be able to help, but she tried to see me twice a week, and when that didn’t work out, she offered to help me find a counselor outside Mount.
And then I was hospitalized for six days at Highland Springs.
The therapist I saw inside added Wellbutrin to the mix. They also started giving me vitamin D because my levels were about half of what they should have been. I left feeling better than I could remember ever feeling.
And then I withdrew from the semester and went home. And stopped taking medication. And didn’t go to counseling. And didn’t do anything other than work and binge shows on Netflix. And decayed.
I know that there are people who are vehemently against medication in any form and who refuse to go to counseling, but the thing about medication and counseling: they work. The problem is that they aren’t a cure, and there really is no instant gratification. It’s a lot of trial and error.
I now go to a counselor off-campus. I’m taking my medication. I’m here.