How I won the battle against suicidal thoughts and self-harm to live in the present

Updated on: 10 May 2021, 12:30 pm IST

Strained relationships at home caused Sherry to develop suicidal thoughts. The journey was long, but this how she is working towards good mental health.

mental health
The journey has been long and hard, but this is how Sherry is dealing with her mental health challenges. Image Courtesy: Sherry Verma
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Hello, my name is Sherry Verma and I am a 24-year-old content writer from Delhi. This is how I’ve been battling mental health challenges for years.

Despite all odds, my childhood was happy
I was only four when my parents got separated and I began living with my mother and her family. I had a very pampered childhood, where I was immensely loved by my nani and all of my uncles and aunts. I also had many friends with whom I still share a great bond. I can say, despite the odds, I had a fairly happy childhood.

Until everything changed…
In 2008, when I turned 12, my mother remarried and it filled me with a lot of anger as she didn’t even consult me before taking this decision. The fact that we were now going to move in with a new person, bothered me even more.

Thinking back, I am yet to understand why the 12-year-old me silenced the verbal and sometimes even physical abuse she received by her stepfather. He would perpetually abuse me and my mother, and living with him turned out to be an absolute nightmare. We were living in a house with constant arguments and even though I tried changing my perception towards him to have an amicable relationship, my attempts always failed.

Through all of this, what really shook me was my mother trying to still please him in spite of his actions towards me. She would end up neglecting me in the process.

When my battle with mental health issues started
Naturally, this brought a sense of distance between me and my mother. And because I didn’t know what else to do, I started indulging in self-harm. However, I only realized it much later that this was a slow-dive into some serious mental health issues.

Even though I had a lot of friends in school and was an extrovert, none of it was able to help me when I began going to college and my inherent trust issues restricted me from trying to make new friends. I couldn’t be at peace with the new change and seeing fresh faces around only brought more anxiety.

There were times when I would lie at home about going to college and would come back after making it half-way through. Sometimes I wouldn’t even step out of the house because of panic attacks. I was scared of getting these attacks in the middle of my classes and lectures.

I finally decided to talk about it
I remained silent about my suffering for a long time, but eventually a couple of friends and a close cousin started noticing the panic attacks and they arranged for a session with a psychiatrist for me. It was only after this that I realized that I needed help and whatever was happening with me was not normal. In 2016, I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.

What did having these disorders feel like?
When you have borderline personality disorder, you witnesses a string of continuous and impulsive mood swings. You start seeing the world only through a black-or-white lens. In addition, generalized anxiety disorder means that you are  anxious all the time.

My downhill battle with becoming suicidal
In order to curb my problems, I started taking medications but it only made everything worse. One of the major side-effects of taking anti-depressant pills is the presence of suicidal thoughts. The unintended overdose of such medicines led to a situation where I tried killing myself. Unfortunately, this incident repeated itself in the next two years.

For my betterment, I was sent to a partial hospitalization program where I was provided with dialectical behavioral therapy. I learnt a lot of alternative and helpful skills to cope up with my problems without relying on seemingly-comfortable options like self-harm and excessive drinking. After eight weeks of therapy, I went back into the same environment to live with my mother and stepfather and it brought back all the bad memories that I had wanted to get away from.

To escape this reality, I tried to kill myself again and it even led to hospitalization for two weeks. However, instead of recovering, I tried to harm myself even at the hospital. It was only after the third relapse, I realized that in the end, no one will actually be able to help me but myself.

After I got discharged, I didn’t feel like going back to the house that had made me want to end my life. Things started to work in my favour when I moved away from my parents and eventually started a new medication that was given to me by family doctor. It actually worked wonders for me and made me feel more stable.

Also, Read: She Slays: My brother committed suicide. I don’t want this to happen to anyone else

Death taught me how to live life
Just when I felt that things were going to work out well for me, I learnt that one of my closest friends had passed away. This incident shook me from within. The passing away of this friend turned out to be a major life lesson for me as I didn’t want anyone I loved to ever bear such pain and suffering. I decided then that even if I felt suicidal again, I would never harm myself again. Ironically her demise gave me new innings to life.

Today, I feel much better than I used to before and I have started working on myself. I have also started taking the right medication to control my mood swings but more than anything else, I reaffirm positively that I am recovering. I believe that in general, recovery is a non-linear process where there is no guarantee that only good things will happen to you.

I finally learned how to live life in the now
I still struggle with my thoughts on a daily basis and I still have to muster the courage to get out of my bed every morning. However, the only difference that I have witnessed in all these years is my change of perceptions about things–I have learned to live in the present and not worry about other things.

With this, I can say that: I have made it through some of the worst days of my life and even though a little, but I am proud of myself.

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