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Downward Spiral

My ongoing struggle with my mental health

By Jen SullivanPublished 10 months ago 6 min read
Downward Spiral
Photo by Won Young Park on Unsplash

Originally posted on the author's blog, Chicken Soup with Rice.

To say this past week has been rough is really an understatement. Honestly, it’s been a rough several months.

I posted back in January about our asshole neighbor. After a couple warnings from the landlord, it became a more manageable noise: not every day, and not really noticeable over the bedroom fans at night. On May 13th, that ended when he decided to crank it up again and leave it on most of the day…every damn day and every night.

Some people would maybe think we are being dramatic—it isn’t music, it’s rumblings and vibrations. It’s like listening to an action movie when you’re standing outside the door to the screen in a movie theater. That might seem like it’s not a big deal to most people, but it really adds up.

Imagine that you are listening to that for six to twelve hours a day, every day for two months. Does it still seem reasonable? You get up to go to the bathroom during the night and that’s what you hear. You wake up in the morning and that’s what you hear. You eat dinner, sit at your desk, lay in bed to watch TV, and attempt to finally go to sleep and that is still what you hear. It doesn’t go away—it’s now part of your environment. Your home, which is your safe space, is now infiltrated by constant rumblings, muffled dialogue, random music, and vibrations that travel through your body. This is now your life.

I have struggled with depression and mental health issues throughout my entire life. I never knew that’s why I felt the way I did and just assumed it was a phase or a side effect of constantly being bullied and criticized. I now understand that I have always struggled with mental health, just not on the level with which I now face every day of my life.

In high school, I was suicidal and ready to leave this world—I was just so tired of everything. I was constantly bullied on the bus to and from school, I was never good enough for my family, and even some of my own friends would abandon me if it didn’t suit their other friends. Why would I ever want to be a part of a world that was so harsh and unaccepting of me because I didn’t think like everyone else?

I managed to stay alive thanks to my companion cat, Luigi—she really is the only reason I am still here today.

Despite all the attempts others made to mold me into what they deemed “acceptable” in society, I somehow managed to become myself and not another drone trying to fit in and get by. I see no point in conforming to the general society’s way of thinking—I am me, and that’s all I know how to be. To quote Robin Williams’s Popeye, “I am what I am.” And yet my mental health remains a challenge, especially when I am forced to endure a constant assault on my senses from an asshole who thinks it’s perfectly fine to crank up a subwoofer in a cheaply built townhome complex.

As I sat in my husband’s den during the afternoon hours on Wednesday, June 21st—the only quiet room at that time—I once again debated ending it all. My dog and cats would still have my husband, so they would have a loving home. I had already argued with my mom, who felt that I was the one at fault for simply not “learning” to ignore the constant noise that permeates our home, seeping through the walls and traveling along the floor. A typical response from someone who does not have to suffer through this constant assault nor has the mental health issues that plague my mind. Sadly, a typical response from my family.

It has often been assumed by my family that I am just lazy and become emotional to get my way. Maybe that was true when I was really little, but my mental stability is not the same as it was even just ten years ago. I always struggled with rage and anger, becoming a violent teenager, but much of that was under control once I learned about inner balance. I was okay for years, though often leaning to the grumpy side, but not falling into a rage or depression like I once did.

Then things changed—menopause for one, and maybe Lyme disease, but we will likely never know exactly what altered my mind so intensely. Perhaps it was from years of mental abuse from bosses and my own family, particularly my youngest brother who often abused me emotionally, telling me repeatedly that I was a “loser” and that I was inferior to him—two concepts that I never once considered to be remotely possible. But emotional abuse takes a toll, especially when the abuser is given a free pass by certain people because he had a rough life. My other brother and I also suffered a rough life—more-so than the little one—and yet we have never used that excuse to attack another person.

Perhaps those years of holding in my true feelings created an overwhelming amount of stress on my mind, eventually causing it to fall apart. Perhaps the chemical changes in my body amplified what was already there from birth—there is a history of questionable mental health on my father’s side, often manifesting as anger and violence. Whatever the reason, it has become hard for me to function some days, and when I cannot have the quiet to calm my mind, I fly into a rage, then immediately fall apart. It’s been this way for the past couple years.

My family might not accept that I do have a mental health problem, but it has been confirmed by my doctor. It is the main reason I still return to the man who otherwise thinks “diet and exercise” is the solution to everything else. I have yet to set an appointment with a therapist, mainly because I have terrible anxiety when it comes to talking on the phone and they do not allow new patients to set an appointment online. My fear is that I will either be medicated, becoming someone who is not me, or expected to magically change my thinking to “fix” what is wrong in my head. As my doctor put it, fairly accurately, based on some sort of test I was given: there is far too much noise in my head.

As I glanced around my husband’s den that Wednesday afternoon, wondering if I should find his bottle of Ibuprofen and end my life, I could hear the wind and birds outside—the sounds of nature. The noise from the asshole almost always travels as far as the den, but that day it didn’t. It was the tiny bit of peace I needed to find my balance and prolong my life for at least another day. I found my fight to continue and held onto it as if my life depended on it…because, in that moment, it did.

Such a delicate thing…the mind. You just don’t realize how fragile until it is broken, sending you into a downward spiral of doubt and agony.


About the Creator

Jen Sullivan

I am a gamer, a geek, a writer, an entrepreneur, and a gardener, among many things. I have a lot of knowledge and opinions to share with the world, along with creations from my chaotic mind.

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