Elena’s Journey

Elena’s Journey

By Elena Espina

September 15, 2014

My journey started in 2009. I had just turned seventeen and had been fighting an inner battle that I had no idea was even happening. I struggled with typical depression symptoms; not wanting to get out of bed, finding no pleasure in things that used to excite me. But shortly after my seventeenth birthday had it actually started to hit me. I had written my first suicide letter. I remember sitting on the couch crying my eyes out as I wrote each word. I wasn’t crying because I was upset with myself, I was crying because I had no idea what was going on. I felt as if I wasn’t worth it anymore, that everything I had gone through was a sign that it was my time to go. Previous to this time, I was super religious, attended church every Sunday said a prayer before bedtime, looked for answers from God to help me. It wasn’t enough.  I couldn’t live with myself. The in-between is a little hazy, but I recall everything that happened the morning I was admitted to Highland Park’s Psychiatric Ward. 

My mother, father, and two of my sisters went with me to the Emergency Room. First, they took me into the back by myself and I sat with a doctor. They checked my vitals, asked me questions, put me on suicide watch with a police officer outside of the door. I felt miserable, not myself. I fell asleep for a few hours and woke up to everyone being in my room. Just silently watching me wondering what was going through my head. I was so angry that everyone was there. I was so angry that my mother was crying because she had realized all the self –harm I had done to myself.  The harm that went un-noticed, the acts of rebellion she just couldn’t understand. My dad didn’t say a word, he’s not a very emotional person, and my two sisters sat there in silence wondering what they could have done to help me. I had felt that my issue had suddenly become about them so I didn’t speak. They wheeled me upstairs to the 2 west Lounge. They examined the cuts on my arms and on my waist and showed me to my room.  

The room itself was terrifying. There was a bed, a desk, and an empty closet, bars on the window and a bathroom with just a sink and a toilet. I was in scrubs they had given me because the clothes I was wearing were against their dress code. I got fifteen minutes with my family before I had to say goodbye. The hardest person to say goodbye to was my father. He cried when he hugged and told me to get better and come home soon. I had never seen my father cry, even when his mother passed away years before. It broke my heart, I felt as if I had disappointed him. The first night was the hardest for me not knowing what was next. I couldn’t tell you what time it was or what I did after besides sit in my room and sleep. After a week of intensive therapy and care the hospital provided I was finally discharged with lots of different knowledgeable things to help me stay healthy. I was nowhere near ready to go back to school and the doctors knew that. I was in out-patient care for 2 months.  I started my mornings at the hospital and stayed until three or so as if it was a school day and after two weeks I finally went back to school partially. I was diagnosed with ADD, Chronic Depression and a mild case of Bi-polar Disorder which explained all of my manic states that had been going on. They prescribed medication to help stabilize my moods. 

If you aren’t familiar with bi-polar disorder it basically is alternating periods of great happiness and depression. This can cause extremes of happiness but in my case the extremes were depression. The suicidal ideation came from this, my high levels of anxiety, my impatience, and my anger, according to so many of my friends I was ‘always angry’ and it was something we joked about but was so true. I could have won a million dollars and still have been angry. 

The in-between years aren’t as intense as my past semester, fall of 2012, at Illinois State University. Twenty years old and I was still relapsing. My therapist at home and I had discussed that part of the relapses were caused because instead of continuing to learn from my hospital experience I tended to repress the memories of it. This causes me to forget how hard I worked to make my life livable. I stopped taking my medication regularly, started drinking heavily and it became a major problem. I had written my second suicide letter and only told two of my close friends about it. I began to cut myself again on my hips where no one could see or question me about it.  I spent my time trying to pretend my life was okay. I went on for another month or so feeling and pretending that I was better took my medication occasionally but still drank heavily and everyone thought I was okay. I had a third relapse much worse than the second. I had the same feelings I did when I was seventeen. I couldn’t control what was happening I felt as if my life was on auto-pilot. I called my mom freaking out and ended up in the counseling office at our school. I was very honest with this therapist which had scared me because she wanted to hospitalize me. After being hospitalized once I no longer thought that would be a good situation for me. Part of me didn’t want to miss out on things like my college life but part of me just didn’t want to go back and feel like I had no control. My parents live two hours north so I felt going back would make me feel more lonely and crazy. I failed that semester in school and wish I would have gotten help sooner.

Society has made it okay for people that suffer from mental illness to FEEL like they are crazy. I can’t tell you the countless times I get down on myself and just feel if I tell someone that I feel like cutting myself or truly feel that I no longer belong here that I am the crazy one, that I am a psycho and I shouldn’t feel that way. If you ever have felt this way you know how hard it is and how much you start to push people away. And that is exactly what I did. I pushed my roommates away, my friends anyone that I thought could NEVER understand I didn’t want them around me. I allowed two people in my life to know what was happening because I knew they didn’t look at me as crazy they looked at me and saw someone who needed help their help. 

I wasn’t hospitalized and part of me will always wonder if it would have helped in the long run or just been another temporary cure. It’s been four years, and I always wonder will I ever feel ‘normal’ or will I always have feelings of being miserable. But then I hear other people’s stories or read blogs like these and think how much we can change. I’m not in the same mental state I was three months ago and I can’t promise I will never feel that way again. But given a place like this to openly share our feelings and stories or hear other people and their stories and relate can help so much. 


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Showing 3 comments
  • David Wilcox

    Thank you for sharing. I understand a know what you felt and feel. God Bless!

  • Susan Noble

    Erica, God Bless you and I will pray for you thank you for sharing your story it truly touched me and I am so sorry for all you have gone through but always remember you is smart, you is kind, you is important but mostly that you is beautiful! KEEP ON BEING STRONG!

  • sdorttuiiplmnr

    I have been absent for a while, but now I remember why I used to love this site. Thank you, I?¦ll try and check back more often. How frequently you update your website?

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