Interview Eighteen: I’m Strong, Because I Deal With It

“I may feel like a terrible person, but I realize now that I’m strong. I’m still alive. I could have ended it. I’m here, because my life did get better. I’ve lived in Pittsburgh almost 10 years, I have a support network, I have amazing friends… and I would have never had them, and they would have never had me, if I had ended my life. You get better. It’s always a journey. It’s always a struggle… but I like my life. And I’m happy I made that journey. I’m strong, because I deal with it.”

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Interview Seventeen: Delayed Realization

Interview Seventeen: Delayed Realization

“But, if there is one thing I’ve learned from this process, it’s that there are people out there who care. Every single person who called campus police on me genuinely cared. Every single person who I worked with in treatment cared. Every single person who came to visit me after I lost my enrollment, they especially cared. To some degree, I regret having not shown enough gratitude to every individual who has helped me along the way. I only hope that this piece may show them that I say thank you.”

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Interview Sixteen: There’s Beauty in the Breakdown

“I got so, so good at pretending. I remember my psychiatrist saying to me, ‘You say this Prozac isn’t working, but I can’t see how you can still be depressed when you’re just sitting there smiling at me.’ I couldn’t believe she said that to me. It’s like, ‘Yes, because that’s what I chose to let you see. What you think about me, is what I’m allowing you to think about me. You don’t know me at all.'”

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Interview Fifteen: Empty Nest Teacher

“…it’s fascinating to me that some people can talk about depression without having much stigma… Big, famous celebrities, actors and actresses, creative people and artists, writers… this is old hat. But what about professions that are academic, lawyers or business people… I think the stigma is different. And I don’t think there’s a lot of discussion in the academic world…”

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Interview Fourteen: Unlearning Shame and Self-Blame

“Having a community of people who experience mental illness is so important for those who experience it. Because without it, a lot of times I felt like I was going through something that was completely abnormal. Why was I thinking this way? Why was I feeling this way? Why couldn’t I just shape up and go back to being a normal person? It’s like, well… it’s a little more complicated than that.”

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Interview Thirteen: My Mental Health is Black

“We all, society, if we come together, if we show more love, if we experience more joy… see people as people and not diagnoses, not stigmas, not the color of our skin… we really could start to shift the trajectory of where we’re at.”

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Interview Ten: Battling With My Mind

Interview Ten: Battling With My Mind

“I would constantly think, ‘This is the worst thing that could happen to me. Nothing will get better.’ I still feel that same pressure… constantly… claustrophobic… or suffocated. You cannot move… like you’re in a casket. You cannot breathe. Oh… It’s always that same feeling.”

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Interview Eight: Psychedelic Psychosis

“I took a remote control with me for whatever reason… I was pressing buttons on it, and that was helping me. I was having all of these olfactory hallucinations. I was smelling bad breath, rosemary and ginger, mangoes… I ended up getting 302’d to the psych ward. I remember my first day in there, I was licking electricity sockets, because I couldn’t move unless I had electricity in me. I would literally sit still if I couldn’t reach the outlet in enough time.”

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Interview Six: The Problem Child

Interview Six: The Problem Child (With Update)

“Even when my childhood was good, I kept acting out. I would scream, kick, hit, spray air freshener in people’s faces… I would get really nasty. Pound on doors all night long, pull my hair, scratch my face… I would keep panicking until I couldn’t breathe… just sitting there wondering why I couldn’t stop panicking… when there was nothing wrong.”

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Running in the Wrong Direction

Interview Five: Running in the Wrong Direction (With Update)

“One memory that stands out… This just sounds so ridiculous now, but it makes so much sense! I was at a gas station in the car with my brother, and my mom was pumping gas. And I was afraid that I inhaled too many fumes, and I was going to die. Like, a fourth grader, imagine! Saying this stuff! I remember staying at home that night… that entire night freaking out, not leaving my dad’s side… so afraid I would die.”

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