My name is Logan Pye and today, I am happy; although that may change in the blink of an eye. I am a friend, daughter, sister, aspiring paramedic and a survivor of sexual and physical assault. Now that last part was something I never thought would be a part of me but here I am, stuggling to keep my past from affecting my future. Welcome to my exciting journey living with depression, anxiety and ptsd. (Total sarcasm in the whole exciting bit, it's anything but).
When I was younger I was sexually abused, did I understand what was happening at the time? Not really. All I knew was that it was happening, I was scared but never told anyone because I wanted to deal with it in my own way. It had happened multiple times and with each time I got more afraid because I was told not to tell anyone. I just let it happen, maybe if I had told someone it wouldn't have gotten as bad as it did, for both of us. Emotional abuse was going both ways as I was told countless times to kill myself, that I was worthless, fat, disgusting, and every foul name you could think of, being young I used that same language back and I understand how it had hurt him but at the time that was my way of coping and dealing with my emotions. You know, maybe I took everything to heart too much, because those words lead to my bulimia, lead to self harm and me fully believing everything he had said. Looking back on it now, I hurt him and affected his life greatly in a negative way- as he did mine. I cannot go back and change the way I handled situations although I am learning to cope with the feelings I still have from this time.
Coping skills? I've been taught countless, but I rarely used them because I had my own. Not healthy of course, self harm by cutting, burning, bulimia, alcohol and drugs. When I was having a good day I'd practice my breathing, use my grounding techniques but when bad days come up, my mental illnesses tell me that the good coping skills are pointless and that the only thing that is going to make me feel better is self destruction. WHICH is completely untrue. Mental illness is just that, an illness and it's going to try to make you do things you shouldn't, act in ways that are unlike you and try to keep you from being happy but there are ways to overcome that; not saying that there won't be bad days because they're natural and it is okay not to be okay, I promise! That doesn't mean that your recovery is being compromised or ruined, it's a bump in the road that with work and support, will be an inspiring and motivational journey.
First year of college, I was 19 years old. Getting accepted into the Paramedicine program was an absolute dream come true, I was so excited to start the journey. The first two months were incredible, I met 4 of my best friends at that school. I had no idea that in that next month, my life was about to get flipped upside down. I had gone out to a club with my friends to celebrate my friends 19th birthday, that night I was raped and physically assaulted; leaving me with injured ribs, concussion, scrapes, bruises, sore arms and mentally unstable. I didn't want this to have an effect on my future so I pretended it didn't happen, I wrapped my ribs, wrapped my arms, took pain medication and went on to continue school. I knew that I couldn't stay at school, I was severely suicidal, attempted suicide multiple times within the 3 remaining months I was at school, I could not concentrate in class and my grades suffered because of it. My teachers and I came to the decision on the 24th of January to return home to get the help I needed. I felt like a failure, like everything I had worked for was crashing down around me because of this man. I didn't want to explain to my friends and family what happened, I didnt want to see anyone. One of the faculty members comes into the room knowing my mental state and says "I don't care that this is happening, I care that it's happening here". Feeling down to start with and then having someone that is supposed to care for your well-being say that she doesn't care that you're suicidal was absolutely horrifying. That's when I knew I needed to leave, and I needed to speak up for myself and those around me that are affected by mental illness and aren't getting the help they need.
Anxiety is described as an overestimation of the severity of a situation and an underestimation of your ability to cope with it, I didn't believe that when the countless therapists and counsellors told me that, but when you really apply it to your anxiety it makes sense. This has made me feel isolated from my friends, made me so scared to be around people I've stayed in my room for days at a time and it's absolutely emotionally draining not to mention the physical symptoms. I am always finding new ways to lower my anxiety in certain situations although it's still hard. Panic attacks are terrifying because you never get an alert on your phone warning you that within seconds you're going to feel like the world is working against you and there's nothing you can do but be afraid of everyone and everything around you.
Depression, one of my darkest enemies. I hate it, I know, I know, hate is a strong word but there is nothing good that comes from this. There is nothing 'tragically beautiful' about depression, it's scary, upsetting, triggering, and physically sickening. Not leaving my bed for days, not eating, not showering, not seeing the value in life and feeling nothing but negativity is terrifying. It's hard when your brain is working against your body in such a negative way because every single thing you do seems like climbing the tallest mountain when your depression gets bad, in some cases it's mangeable and in others it's the most crippling experience you've ever been through; and each case is just as valid.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder- I still don't fully know how to explain this, all I know is I want it to stop. For those who don't know, let me explain how my flashbacks work (because everybody experiences mental illnesses differently) ; Your body physically thinks it is back in that moment, you feel, hear, taste everything from that moment and you can't get it out of your head. You see it, you're living it, you are paralyzed in fear and every movement takes every single last bit of energy out of you. When my flashbacks are bad I sometimes don't remember having them after it happens if that makes any sense at all, because to me that wasn't a flashback, it was that exact day happening over and over again. Coming back to reality and realizing you are safe is a workout in itself, someone can tell me I am safe for 30 minutes straight but my brain will block it out, my body tightens, my heart races, I am easily startled, uncontrolled crying, my hands and feet go numb because my breathing is so fast.
My biggest fear in coming out with my mental illnesses was that it would affect my chances of becoming a paramedic, I know that shouldn't be my main priority but I had such bad tunnel vision of what I wanted to do and where I wanted to be in my life that I wouldn't let anything come in the way of that, that thinking almost cost me my life. It's still the goal and I know that with hard work and dedication it is completely obtainable but my main goal now and for the rest of my life is to work on my mental health and help those around me because there's no point in studying hard and getting your dream job if you can't picture your life 5 years down the road because you don't think you'll get there. With the unending support from my family and best friends, I am seeing the value of life and really appreciating life now, and I can say that today, I am happy.
*Advice for my younger self and those who are struggling:
Be brave, be strong and try to see the beauty in life. Take time for yourself, never apologize for how you're feeling and ask for help! Do whatever makes you smile, if thats dancing around your living room to old songs and then eating a full pizza for yourself- DO IT! If it's taking a bath and then taking a nap- DO IT! If you need to blast music and go for a run- DO IT! Some days are worse than others but please don't beat yourself up over it, you will see brighter days and I promise you that I will be here with you to celebrate getting through those days. I am proud of you for seeing today, for eating a meal, for breathing and simply being you! You are courageous, your life is important, you are valued and I'm glad that even through your stuggles, you're gracing the world with that beautiful smile.
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Read here about others' journeys with mental health and illness and advice they have for those suffering, in recovery, or supporting someone with a similar story.