This is my story, my struggles, to share, to be open & honest about my Mental Health…most
importantly to be the reason to help others.
I lived through years of feeling isolated & withdrawn from society…not knowing how to deal with my mental challenges, face them…& even harder to talk about it. I felt (stupid) to
socialise…because I felt my words didn't make sense…& others looked at me as if I was
(weird). The fear that no one would believe me or understand me…the fear of embarrassment or shame to my loved ones. Knowing that I was being judged by my outside…but, no one really took the time to see me from the inside…to really know me…to know that I was hurting & suffering…to really know or understand my pain.
My life growing up - My parents divorced…I grew up with a mother who was tough & strong. She didn't understand anything about Mental issues nor accept it…so I couldn't talk to her about it. I felt I always had to put up a front…because I was not allowed to show weakness or cry. My dad was sick with Muscular Dystrophy…so seeing him suffer was mentally painful. He passed away in 2001. My brother also had Muscular Dystrophy…he was the only one who brought fun & laughter to my life. He passed away in 2011 at the age of 44…& I have not been the same since I lost him…as a part of me left too (the only one who brought joy to my life) was gone. No one ever really knew how they felt… they suffered & continued to live life the best way possible. I know I need to push through…because of them.
I constantly felt like a failure…& always felt like I was hurting others. There were two instances where I self harmed myself. The 1st time…I was inflicting marks on my wrists with a knife (at home & work)…I wanted to feel the pain that I was causing others…& I was hospitalised for about 5 days. The 2nd time…I took a knife while I was at home in my kitchen… & just stabbed myself in my arm. The next day…I went to my Doctor & he said you are very lucky you didn't hit a vein. I was on & off different medicines, but didn't want to stay on them…I hated them & was afraid. I was in & out of therapy…as I really couldn't find anyone that actually listened to me. I just continued to go on with my life…as if I was fine & that I would just get better on my own.
For years, I continued to struggle. I hid myself from the world & in my job. My life revolved
around work…& I just buried myself in it…until 2020 when Covid hit. I think Covid brought me into a deeper & darker place. I hit mental exhaustion with everything changing around
me…home life & my job both physically & emotionally. I hit rock bottom…& suffered a mental breakdown…I could not function. There were times I didn't know where I was or what I was doing. I became so scared of being alone in my own home…constantly afraid & having panicattacks with everything around me. I would look at myself in the mirror & cry…because I saw someone different. I knew before things could get possibly worse…I had to take care of myself. I didn't want there to be a 3rd time…so I left my job of 30 years on April 5, 2021…& took a leave of absence. It was then I realised…it was okay to not be okay…I accepted I had a Mental Illness & needed to do whatever it took to get better…I needed to face my obstacles to overcome them.
My road to recovery is only beginning. Throughout this past year...I have seen several therapists & psychiatrists…to find one that was right for me. I enrolled myself in two mental health Intensive Outpatient Programs. I had to accept the fact that I needed to take medications…because it was going to help me. I still have anxiety about taking all my medications…but, I know I need to in order to improve my quality of life. To this day…I see a therapist weekly & a psychiatrist monthly. I finally found the right support team…which is an important key to helping me get better & stable.
As I still have ways to go…what I have learned is that…it's a day by day struggle...it's trials & errors to see what works or helps…& what doesn't. It's dealing with the ups & downs of
medications…onset of symptoms or withdrawals. No day is the same as I battle with
depression, anxiety, & panic attacks. With that along came chronic physical pain, insomnia,
tinnitus, body dysmorphia, & hair loss…always feeling frustrated not knowing what is causing what…& being told most of my symptoms are from stress. What hurts the most is when others say…things could be worse…no "this is my worst".
Some things I try to do besides my professional help…that help me stay somewhat grounded. I try to be mindful & stay in the moment. I read motivational & positive affirmations. I join groups that are helpful & pertaining to what I am going through. I go to the gym…(although it adds to my physical pain) it's my happy place where I forget about everything…& interact with others...it helps my mental aspect. I try to do something thoughtful or creative for others…as it helps me in return to feel better. I surround myself with a positive support network of family & friends. I distance myself from negativity & trigger points. I find it extremely helpful to talk to random
people I meet…& open up about my Mental Illness. I found that it's those people I meet along the way that I don't know…that are more caring & supportive. Also, I learned by me being open…I find they too are struggling or know someone that is. I am still a work in progress…I still feel trapped in my own body…not being who I once was or being able to do what I once was able to do…but, each day is a step in the right direction. My goal is to hopefully one day be completely off of medications…& return to the workplace.
No one should suffer in silence, feel ashamed, & most importantly feel alone. Believe in
hope…don't give up… reach out for help…& keep fighting. You are brave, you are strong & you are standing up for yourself. Mental Illness matters…& you matter.
Be kind…you can be someone's reason..to smile. Much love & hugs to all…spread awareness & support for Mental Illness…I am a Mental Health Warrior. 💚
Rosemarie De Martino - 5/21/22
P.S. I am sharing a poem I wrote about myself…called "If You Only Knew".
IF YOU ONLY KNEW
It is hard for others to truly understand just how I really feel.
Even though I may look fine from the outside, inside I am fighting something very real.
Mental Illness is a sickness, I deal with it every day.
Sometimes I wish I would wake up, & it will all just go away.
I miss my dad & brother, & know they are watching over me.
I wish they were both still here, I could imagine how different things would be.
Most of the time I am feeling unhappy, I feel down & very sad.
Some days are better than others, there is always the good & the bad.
Dealing with depression daily, the thoughts that go through my head.
There are days where I don't even want to get up, or even get out of bed.
Most days I spend crying & say to myself "why me?".
I wish I could let things not bother me & set all my worries free.
Free of the pain I am suffering deep down inside, & just let it all go.
Wishing others could understand what I feel or am going through, or just really know.
My mood is very unstable, it changes with each passing day.
I really wish I could wake up feeling happy & hope the sadness doesn't stay.
Anxiety & panic attacks are very scary, & full of constant fear.
Those moments I wish someone could hold me, be close to me & be near.
Feeling hopeless & stressed is something that I can't ignore.
I wish I could learn to deal with things, & take time to explore.
Explore the things that I enjoy & make me happy, things that I love.
Be grateful & thankful for everything, & thank God above.
It is hard to think clearly & concentrate, my head feels in a daze.
I wish everything I was going through was just some type of phase.
I wish upon a miracle, that one day I will just be me again & feel better.
I am praying that I can get back what I lost, & not feel like this forever.
At times I wish I could get a simple tight hug, knowing everything will be okay.
That all my troubles, worries & struggles, will disappear & run away.
There are times I wish I were alone & not having to talk, to avoid any fights.
I feel the safest & protected when I go to bed, when I cover myself during the nights.
Little things keep happening, it's hard to always stay or be strong.
I will think to myself & wonder, what else could really possibly go wrong.
I try to stay calm, but everything affects me & makes me more nervous.
At times I get so frustrated, I feel so brainless, selfless, & worthless.
I worry about my son, fiancé, & mom, having to see how I am like this.
There are things I wish I could do, there are a lot of things that I miss.
I try to do household chores, I try to give it my all & very best.
My mind is telling me differently, my body wants me to rest.
I tend to be a perfectionist as I deal with OCD, things have to be done a certain way.
I wake up & do things over & over again, each & every single moment of the day.
OCD is time consuming, always focusing on what has to be done or how things have to be.
Because of this I know I am missing out on life, & all that is important to me.
You see, I need to take medicines, which try to help me in some ways.
I need to take it, for my anxiety, to help me sleep & get me through all the long
Without taking the medicines I am worse & would be a total mess.
I would have heart palpitations & panic, which would cause much more distress.
I look at pictures & in the mirror of myself & see my face & eyes with such fright.
I wish I felt I looked normal, to myself my smile just doesn't feel right.
I hate the way I feel & look, I hate what I've become & see.
I want to be able to accept & love who I am, I want to be "me".
Mental Illness is real, those who deal with it need friends & family to care.
We need loved ones to be patient & listen, to be able to reach out & let us know that they will be there.
I wish I had a more positive outlook, & my days would be much brighter.
I am giving it my all, because this girl "I am a fighter".