My Story

My Story

By Scott Darren

First I would like to thank the Brandon Marshall Foundation for letting me write about my experience, telling my ever evolving story and for creating a safe and honest space for people to open up about feelings, thoughts, and emotions that are labeled and stigmatized by society.

Furthermore, I don’t consider this “ my story,” I consider this OUR STORY, whether you have been “labeled” with a “ disorder or disease,” SUFFERING knows no race or religion or sexuality.

Suffering and /or struggling with life’s daily setbacks is something we all deal with on a daily basis sometimes minute by minute basis, some more then others for various reasons.

And now without further adieu I present to you “ my story.”

I had always been an anxious child growing up.

I spent everyday washing my hands, closing all the doors in my house just to deal with all my thoughts and feelings.

Growing up, I had always seemed to deal with feelings of anxiety and depression. Through middle to high school, I had ALWAYS learned to cope with these issues quite successfully via the arts, writing, comedy, and my love of film.

However, this time it was different and over the past two years I would experience an emotional roller coaster unlike anything I have ever experienced.

I lost my job, and I slowly had my friendships unravel, but luckily I found some solace in my performing and writing comedy.

But sadly, performing comedy, art, and writing weren’t enough. This time was different, and the next two years marked a downturn that to be honest seemed like it would never end until very recently.

Over the course of a couple of months, my cousin was diagnosed with cancer, my grandma had been diagnosed Alzheimer’s. All of a sudden my anxiety came back from feelings of anxiety to thoughts of panic to engaging in obsessive thoughts and compulsive behavior all to deal or avoid dealing with the stress in my life.

But this wasn’t the end of it, even though I went to therapy, I found no relief.

I wasn’t going out as much, I felt depressed, and anxious and had more difficulty regulating my emotions. I started becoming more black and white in how I dealt with my family, friends, and just life in general.

I went through a few doctors who while clearly well intentioned, only focused on one small problem after another ranging from my feelings of anxiety and depression. Nothing helped. “Something was afoot but I didn’t know what.” Then my aunt suddenly passed away. We were close, very close. She took me to my first concert (Bob Dylan), snuck me money for St Patties day when I was in college, and when I was younger she instilled a love of cartoons and silliness that still thrives. After that, I crashed and burned . I started wanting to cut myself (and I eventually did). And then I started noticing thoughts of suicide (notice I say thoughts, we will get to this later) I had no idea what was going on and how to handle my thoughts and feelings. I soon started seeing another therapist who did something called Acceptance & Commitment Therapy or ACT, a form of mindfulness based on cognitive & behavioral therapy. ACT proposes that who are and how we feel is not A product of broken brains or genes, but a product of how we accept who we are, our thoughts, memories, and emotional pain. That by accepting rather fighting these facets of ourselves we can then create a way of living that is valuable to us . I started to slowly, I do mean slowly, started going out little by little, and finally got a job. “However this all proved to be all too overwhelming and all the while my parents were spending nearly 50K in therapy fees and running out of money for me to continue therapy.” I felt back down and was hospitalized for a couple hours once in March ( still while working )for having thoughts of wanting to kill myself , feeling depressed and increased chronic pain in the form of my fibromyalgia and then again in June. I was asked a multitude of questions from the hospital and was sent home. “No one asked about my aunt, my cousin, my lost career, not anyone. Not even the therapists I was seeing.”
The first time I thought to myself, I wonder what happens to people who just need someone to talk to , who come to the hospital seeking help but don’t receive it whether in the hospital or there after. I was told I would be referred to a full on program. We never heard back from the hospital. I continued working, and things got worse. I wound up back in the hospital in June 2014. Once again, I was subject to questions, questions not about how I was feeling or why, but what was wrong and how we could fix it. They said I wrote a note saying I wanted to die. I told them I just needed someone to talk to . I left the hospital with a promise that I would be given a referral so that this time it would be different. My parents and I waited and waited nearly a week before we made a follow up call. It took three phone calls just to receive an attempt at a referral. Another week went by we called and called just asking for one more referral .We were told by the hospital they had exhausted all their resource and were given two names of therapy places none of which I could afford. “I was told by the doctor on the phone that day that they had never had anyone call them back much as I did. I told them that’s because everyone one else had given up.” I left that phone call confused and upset, yet oddly optimistic. What if I could help tell this story as a purpose to not only help people receive better health care treatments but also create more empathy and compassion in how we deal and DON’T deal with our emotions as a society and culture. I decided to give my life another chance. I committed to myself to a new therapist & really committed to Acceptance & Commitment therapy, mindfulness, compassion, and living by my values. Whenever I had and still have a “ bad moment,” I try look like at it is as just as that, a moment, without judgment. I have learned and are continuing to learn to notice that my thoughts, are just that; THOUGHTS. They are not indicative of who I am.

“ I have realized that words such as “ I can’t” “ I am not good enough,” can hold us back and keep us in “personal prisons” believing in ourselves that our life has to be and will end up a certain way.”

I have made an ongoing effort to create my own “story” of how I would like to live my life. When I am in great moments of suffering I try to make a committed action to change my behavior and take and carry with me the energy from my feelings of sadness, pain, happiness and channel them into a values based behavioral action that pushes me further into the direction of how I want to live my life and further distances me but allows me to live with the thoughts and feelings that are and were holding me back.

I have fully engaged in my values over the past months and can’t wait to engage further. I have lost over lost 30 pounds not because I was dieting, or trying to be thin but because I learned to simply notice my thoughts and feelings.

I have not cut in the longest amount of time because I have engaged in catching my thoughts, feelings, and behavior.

More importantly, I have started to interact with life again and have mapped out a life worth living for that will include more loss and sadness but this time I will know what to do when those moments arrive.

I will notice, sit, watch, observe without judgment but with self­compassion for myself and others and commit to leading a life I want to live each moment by moment at a time.

Scott Darren is an NY based compassion advocate.  He seeks to change the world and how we treat each other via kindness, love, compassion and empathy. 

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  • Jodie Pierce

    Hello. I, too, suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder, Anxiety and Fibromyalgia. Was first diagnosed as being depressed and given medication for depression. I then lost my health insurance as I lost my job and there went my meds that I didn’t feel were helping anyway. In 2008, I started using several different recreational drugs, gave in to the urges to kill myself and ended up in a psych ward for 11 days. There I was introduced to Mandela coloring which I still find helpful today when I’m stressed or feeling very depressed. I’m seeing a psych dr. every month and a therapist every 3 months ‘just to talk’ about myself, my life and how I’m feeling. That has really helped to talk. Thx!

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