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I was 18 and I felt really out of place in life. I suppose in our teenage years— through our twenties we go through this awkward stage of life where we don’t know which direction to take and we have all these pressures from society and those around us about what we should be doing.
I was always the black sheep of the family and sometimes I felt like the outcast everywhere I went.
I have never been a follower, so, understand this was a decision I made on my own but it was not for the right reasons. I just wanted my family to be proud of me being my adoptive father was a former military police officer and my adoptive mother was in law enforcement. It didn’t sound that hard. You either get free education or die trying—literally.
I went to the recruiting office to meet with Sgt B.–-the head of the entire office. He was very persuasive, but it was clear this was more of a “sale.” The recruiters are required to collect a certain number of people per month. While I filled out my application I was trying to be honest as possible. He told me it was okay to lie about the last time I smoked marijuana and my criminal record as an adolescent. He made it clear when I go to MEPS (military entrancing process station) to not inform them when they ask.
Wait… isn't the military built on the foundation of honesty and integrity?
This gave me anxiety. This man didn't see the importance of honesty and integrity but I am certain his superiors did. My mind kept racing to worst outcome possible. Military prison? Yikes.
I preceded with the ASVAB and was placed in 23 uniform—communications. Big surprise. Just kidding.
Before you get sworn in you go to MEPS to get a physical and have five different people question you on if your information is true. I am a horrible liar.
I caved in and told the truth; however, I took full responsibility. They were quite obviously offended but I was excused. I was sworn in.
Weeks went by… as I was going to weekly workout training sessions to prepare for my enrollment.
I stayed high as the clouds (marijuana) when I went to the workouts because that is the only way I could get through it. I knew it wasn’t for me. I knew it wasn’t my path, but I was so tired. I was so tired of being looked at like a loser because my mindset wasn’t set up like everyone around me…
Honestly, part of me felt sorry for myself. Sorry that I felt like my happiness did not matter. I literally had a mental breakdown. I took a bottle of pills.
I drove all the way to lake Lanier located in Gainesville, Georgia. I parked into a neighborhood and honestly, I don’t remember how I found my way to the water, but I did. I took off all my clothes and swam in the water naked. The people in the boats and on the dock just stared silently.
It was as if the water was calling my name. The sickness from the overdose began to kick in. Water is my BIGGEST fear. I was not brave enough to drown myself but I was waiting to expire from the pills.
Hours went by and I passed out inside someone’s boat. I woke up and realized I failed… even though I felt like death.
All my clothes were lost in the water along with my glasses. I walked to my car in the nude. A man saw me and drove up to me begging me to put clothes on. “Someone is going to call the police on you.” I just looked at him for the longest ten seconds of my life and replied, “are you?” He quickly took the shirt off his back and gave it to me.
I thanked him and drove back home…
Long story short, I was placed in the hospital. I spent two weeks in the hospital. They told me my liver might fail and I would have to get a transplant. I felt fine. I wasn’t concerned and if I felt fine then this must be an easy death. During my stay, I had no visitors. My family brought me in but wanted nothing to do with me. I was alone in every way an individual can be and feel such an emotion. I remember the nurse asking me, "are those your friends?" with a puzzled face. How horrifying. That was my family. I gave up. I refused to eat. I had to be told to shower. I hated my life. I hated myself.
My liver in time healed itself and then I was sent to the mental ward in Atlanta. This is where I was diagnosed with my main disorder. Yes, I said main. Bipolar disorder.
I met unique people at this hospital; each with their own story to tell. I realized I was not alone and most importantly, I was not crazy. We all go through emotional turmoil. Some people know how to deal with it better than others. I couldn't remember the last time I had vented or even talked about what was on my mind. Like I said, I felt like my feelings didn't matter. But, when I started becoming vocal, I felt a freedom I never felt before.
What is "normal" when no two people are the same?
Maybe no one is "normal." Maybe we just know how to pretend to be.
If you are going through any type of distress, please confide in someone you trust or a therapist. If you are not ready or feel shame, my best advice would be to journal. Get it all out. Sometimes I would feel like a note placed in a bottle lost at sea. Can you relate?