This is story number 41 of the Mental Illness Recovery Series. Alexandria hasn’t fully recovered yet, and is still trying to find purpose in life, but she has come far from where she used to be. This is her story:
Alexandria da Silva was born in Toronto and raised in Brampton. She enjoys writing, mostly poetry and short tragedies. She plays the flute, bass, violin and harmonium. Alexandria is a fan of science fiction novels and prefers books from a male perspective. She is currently enjoying the Dragon Age video games and it’s fantasy world. Her favorite band is Billy Talent and Lana del Ray. Alexandria loves to cosplay, she designs, sews and wear costumes to conventions. Alexandria is Guyanese, from a small country in South America, above Brazil and in-between Venezuela and Surinam. She danced for most of her childhood and is fond of archery and coaches.
She does not see herself in a way five years from now. Alexandria’s concept of time has changed throughout the years. She said, “I lost any understanding I had about the concept of time for a period so there was no tomorrow or yesterday, in a second or a second ago for a couple months.” Although she would like to be a youtuber with a respectable following, a model or photographer. But most likely she’d be in school completing a master’s program or another bachelors.
Alexandria was diagnosed in 2012 by a doctor and still suffers from depression since she was 15, but her anxiety was never diagnosed by a professional. She has no idea what may have caused her mental disorders, but she thinks it may have been due to a buildup by various events. She said, “A lot of things that a kid shouldn’t really have to deal with like 5 family deaths including my grandfather whom I was very close too. A fight between friends, a love triangle, and school stress.” Alexandria is a small girl, and her doctor made a mistake in increasing her meds in smaller intervals. She ended up feeling terrible numb pain that landed her in the hospital. Ever since then she has stopped using her medication.
She had to deal with difficult symptoms, Alexandria said, “Well, I get very tired, I just want to sleep, usually nightmares are in there too, loss of appetite, loss of interest in anything, lack of motivation, inability to pay attention to anything and the worst one, loss of memory.” She felt emotionally numb with pain and lost her ability to feel her surroundings. She said, “I lost my ability to feel any spiritual presence or the comfort of moonlight. It was all taken from me.” This affected her daily life in many ways. She became asocial, distancing herself from a lot of people. Not only that, but it took her a longer time to learn things. During university Alexandria became lonely and during the second semester her depression took over. She said, “I was unable to leave my room and if I did, it was for food (rarely) or to see my councilor (weekly) and I made sure my floor mates didn’t see me. An entire semester went to hell, I couldn’t pay attention in class and I couldn’t stay engaged enough to do homework or assignments, when my anxiety kicked in I couldn’t even go to class.”
Alexandria had friend that lived on her floor. Her friend would cut due to anxiety, so she had scars on her forearm. Alexandria thought they were beautiful, and thought it meant that her friend was fighting a battle, but she took it the wrong way. She began to think that she had no scars, so she lightly scratched herself with a knife blade, never leaving a scare. Sadly, Alexandria tried to attempt suicide once, but thankfully failed. She took a 30 min bus ride to the city on a cold day, -30C. She tried to jump in front of a car, but her best friend’s promise stopped her. Ever since then she hasn’t actively looked for death, but she does asks, “Can I die now?” or “Am I done yet?” Alexandria believes that what she feels is not real.
This experience fortified some of her friendships, but she did cut off all of her friends from university. She said, “I just became a struggle I guess. I was handful before depression, being loud and obnoxious earned me enemies. I’d become angry in the blink of an eye. I don’t blame them though, if I had the option of leaving me, I’d do it too.” This made her feel trapped, she said, “At a point I actually felt like I didn’t want to get better because I lost so much of my personality and I felt it was all I had left. I felt like I shouldn’t be happy, that I didn’t deserve to be happy. It feels like your brain is turning black and you can’t stop it. I can almost feel it behind my eyes. I was angry with god, if there is one, for forsaking me, mad at the devil for not easing the pain, overwhelmed by everything and yet, I didn’t want help.”
The turning point for Alexandria was one day during class, when she felt like she was about to break. She ran out and hid in the closest student office, asking for a safe place, one of the advisers called security and took her to the clinic. The clinic staff thought her university had enough resources so they did not treat her. After speaking to woman who helped Alexandria look up the side effects of her medicine, they decided it was best to stop taking it. Thankfully, this decision helped Alexandria feel better. The strategies she used to control her mental disorder was to become active and busy. She started to eat healthy and tried to correct her sleep cycle. Alexandria talked to her school’s councilor and got a dog to keep her company and grounded. But what most helped Alexandria was dropping out if school and going back home to coach archery at her high school. Helping out high school students in archery and giving them advice gave her a sense of belonging. She also surrounded herself with a great support team.
Alexandria feels like she did not learn any lesson from this ordeal, but she did realize that keeping in contact with close friends is important. Alexandria now knows she can help others with their struggles. This experience made her lose faith and the ability to feel the presence of God. This made Alexandria childhood fantasies go away, she grew up and became very philosophical. She doesn’t know what to do to keep herself from falling again, but she will try to coach younger teens.
This is Alexandria’s advice for others struggling through similar situations:
“To any one suffering from depression or anxiety, there probably isn’t anything I can tell you that you haven’t already heard. Talk to people, there are other people suffering too, pet a dog and if necessary, evaluate your friend group. When times get bad, get help. See a counselor or a psychologist or doctor. You don’t have to go through it alone. Also keep a journal; it helps to see how far you’ve come. Don’t feel discouraged if the first thing you try doesn’t work. And please don’t give up. There is someone who cares.”
Alexandria’s tumblr is open to anyone who would like to talk to her. If you would like to, then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, so I can give you her tumblr information. Help me make a difference by sharing your story.