Record Year, A Reflection on 2016
2016 was a rough year for me. Last June I made my first solo trip to the place I've never been by myself- home to Pensacola. It was the bravest thing I've ever done and I will never ever forget how scared and hopeless I was driving over that Florida state line alone- for the first time in 26 years. It was like my heart was so hurt and beaten that it called me back to the only place I really knew- the only place my heart knew to run to when I was running from everything else in my life. That's what I'd been doing for the months leading- running. And fast. And far. From all of my pain, frustrations, and struggles. Writing has always been a form of release for me, but looking back at what was written throughout 2016, especially that trip, makes me realize just how deep I was. I knew I was bad, but I didn't realize how bad it was until I had the courage to re-read the passages I had so effortlessly written.
Honestly, I didn't even think of re-reading them until a picture from my timeline came up and reminded me of the day I high-tailed out of Texas in that black convertible, with my top down, the music up, and my hair a mess. But, when I saw the picture it caused me to write my perspective about it now- so I wanted to share the image and the only thing I'll ever say and share publicly about the year, 2016.
I was living on Blake's "Bet You Still Think of Me", Mirandas "Pushing Time", and Eric Church's "Record Year". I was like a fast car speeding recklessly away from everything that scared me. I held onto the challenges. Focused on finding out who I was and what I wanted, and clung on to the handful of friends who checked in on me as if I was a toddler who couldn't be trusted near the pan cabinet. I made mistakes. Put my heart on the line, and flung myself into the trust in me I never knew I had. I got everything I wanted. I walked away like a new person. But I had to sit face to face with a stranger I hated talking to every week. With her stupid whale fixtures and the fear of telling her everything and hearing her responses- which always rang too much truth. I popped pills people dread being put on to keep myself alive, should've bought stock in Honey Whiskey, and sat against the walls of my house broken to a point I hope no human ever reaches, with tears streaming down my cheeks like a rapid river and cries so loud the reminder of them could bring me to my knees. I found therapy in writing these feelings, and although they were the hardest words to write, and now to read, they are a chapter I cling to. Because I never want to go back.
Sometimes sharing things so personal as this are so scary because it makes me vulnerable to people who don't know me or my story. I've always promised to keep this blog 100% true and honest, so I wanted to keep my word and finally share with you why I was so quiet last year. It.was.rough. and most of the time I didn't want to talk, or pretend things were honkey dorey and grand over on Embracing Messiness. The only things I wrote were things that have been locked up and hidden and none of it felt acceptable to share.
I also wanted to take this time and address an issue that many people go through alone because of the fear that it makes them less of a person or that people will judge. And honestly, people will judge. I'm sure I'll have readers that will just share this as a joke and poke fun at my struggles, but those aren't the type of people I'm writing this for.
I'm writing this for the people who are barely holding on. The people who drive too fast and think about taking their car into a tree because to them that's the only way out. And when you're at that point you can't see that it isn't the only way out. I shutter at people when they say "suicide is selfish" because, I've been there. I would tell you then and I would tell you now that I will never think suicide is selfish. Depression makes you feel like you are drowning with an anchor tied to all of your limbs and there is no way out. You're stuck. You constantly feel like it's all too much. The anxiety gets into your deepest fears and drowns out any practicality when it comes to thinking straight. You constantly feel like a disappointment. Like a burden to the ones around you because of how you feel. And the haze that surrounds you makes it easy to believe that it's easier for you, and everyone around you, to just be gone.
Mental Illness is something everyone wants to pretend isn't an issue. Ignorance tells people someone battling depression should just be able to change their perspectives and attitudes, but it doesn't work that way. It took me thirteen years to finally get the help I needed. THIRTEEN YEARS. Because growing up it was something my parents would constantly overlook when they saw my symptoms and heard the way I spoke. It was something they would easily brush off, and blame on my state of mind. And it was a constant unopened envelope sitting on my chest that I was afraid to open because of how long I heard them say I could just get over it. I could fix it on my own. I believed that. I can just change the way I feel, right? No. You cannot change the way your brain functions. Depression is real, and if you are dealing with symptoms or suicidal thoughts this is me begging you to get help. Call a doctor you trust and ask them for help, if they can't help you they will give you someone they trust.
When I first got help it was the end of 2015. I had called my doctor twice. I cancelled once. Because I could not physically get myself to walk through the door. The second time Pat drove with me. He sat in the car with me as we sat in the parking lot as I told him that I couldn't walk in. I cried and begged for him to take me home. I told him I could figure it out. He had held my hand as I silently struggled against depression for five years, and he knew this was my one cry for help before my life would take a path down a road that would end my life, so he pushed me to go inside. It was hands down one of the scariest days of my life. To sit face to face with someone and tell them you needed help, and quick, or you weren't going to make it much longer alive in this world.
I had to relearn who I was throughout 2016. I lost myself in the overwhelming fear of what had been and was, who I had been living with for so long was someone I had to relearn. I was afraid of myself, all of my previous life decisions. I found myself in the ones who genuinely loved me and reassured me every single day, and learned how to live. I had been given a breath of life again, and through facing my demons I was able to begin to reclaim a life back. My life back. I had to learn how to accept that being on anti-depressants was my new way of living until I could could learn how to swim with my head above water long enough to slowly be weaned off of them. That the judgement I held over myself was something I needed to learn how to forgive myself for. That I needed to embrace the struggle of accepting the new life I had to live, because if I didn't have it I wouldn't have my life. I'll never forget the day I asked my doctor what the effects of my pills would be on me, "will it cause cancer? will it mess up my organs?" I asked so many questions as I continued to cry before he stopped me, stared into my eyes, told me a few side affects and then said, "Brandie, if you don't take these pills you'll be dead within three months. Your main concern is getting through the next few months. It's about your quality of life. You can not take these pills and be dead, or we can take these pills and live a good life for the next 75 years. Something is going to kill you, don't you want to live a good life before you die?" I will never forget those words. Or the day I started my new life.
If you struggle with depression, anxiety or anything of that sort I beg of you to find it in yourself to see your doctor. Please do not wait until it is too late. I was plagued by my parents' beliefs that depression is a made up mental state and that it's all a way of thinking for too long before I realized someone was going to find me dead, and soon, if I didn't admit that mental illness is in fact a real disease. 2016 might have been the worst and most trying year of my life, but it brought me the courage and faith in God to trust myself and finally receive help I should have gotten years before.