This piece is part of our Darkest Day series, a collection of stories from people who’ve made it through the worst of their illness and now light the way for others.
Images flash back through my mind.
I am locked in a dark office in the corner of another locked room during a free class period of the high school day. I’m balanced precariously on the edge of a desk with my legs wrapped around his body, the bulge in his pants gyrating in the crook between my legs. My mind wanders and eventually lands on my aching muscles, my trembling arms and legs. They’re not going to hold much longer.
He is standing fully clothed, his usual beat-up brown loafers planted on the floor. I smell his Cheer-washed dress shirt and Dial soap-scrubbed skin. His Docker’s are hemmed a couple inches too short. He is 43. I am 17. Those loafers rise and fall off the floor with every thrust of his crotch into me, the friction of fabric on fabric a barely noticeable sensation. All my attention focuses on my awkward position on this desk — my muscles ache and burn in protest.
He grinds away, oblivious in ecstasy, his face turned upwards, making those moaning sounds. Finally, my body overrides my mental willpower to stay upright and my muscles collapse. I start to fall off the desk, headed toward the floor, before he catches me and props me back on the desk.
I became self-aware of my anger in my early 20s after I was diagnosed as bipolar. Shortly after my diagnosis, I was at a bar with some friends and an ex-boyfriend showed up with his new girlfriend. Some words were said and instead of walking away to cool off, I threw myself at her and wrapped my fingers around her throat. Two bouncers pulled me off and frog-marched me to the door. Even though I clearly had been drinking, I got into my car and sped off to a friend’s house. I crashed on their couch and drove home sober early the following morning.
I marveled later that I was not pulled over for drunk driving and, had I been, how much my life would have changed. I marveled that assault charges were never filed against me. I also marveled at how my anger may have become my new normal.
When I worked with a therapist for the first time, I did not imagine it was something I would ever enjoy. Part of it was the way I started. My parents nagged me into going. After doctors were unable to diagnose or treat my sleep deprivation, my mom suggested it might be related to mental health and that seeing a therapist could help. After months of resisting her recommendations, I finally booked an appointment.
At first I perceived it as the mental health equivalent of eating healthy foods that tasted terrible, going to the dentist, or getting a physical. It was an unpleasant chore, but it couldn’t hurt.
The initial months were difficult and painful. My therapist and I discovered I had constructed a subconscious system of negative beliefs to cope with the pain of living with undiagnosable, painful, relentless, and stressful health problems. Rather than protecting me, this system had poisoned my mind and exacerbated my physical issues. Continue reading I Actually Enjoy Going to Therapy
Throughout Mental Health Month, we focused on ways to empower individuals to “light their way” to better mental health, happiness, and improved well-being. As part of this celebration, we profiled “Mental Health Warriors,” individuals who have been outspoken in their advocacy and support for mental health issues. We caught up with lifestyle and fitness expert Chinae Alexander.
Talkspace: Society imposes some pretty impossible standards around female beauty. Did you absorb this message as a child or was it something you became more aware of later on in life?
Chinae Alexander: I think it was a little easier for us growing up, those pressures were certainly there, but with the onslaught of social media, etc, I can’t imagine what it’s like being a young girl now. I also grew up with a mom who always reminded me of my beauty. It’s amazing how shaping that has been and I’m glad I had that foundation to help me navigate the current age. Continue reading Mental Health Warriors: An Interview with Chinae Alexander
As part of May’s Mental Health Month, we shared stories that raised awareness about mental illness and empowered those who suffer from it. This piece is part of our Darkest Day series, a collection of stories from people who’ve made it through the worst of their illness and now light the way for others. #LightYourWay
It is the middle of the morning and I am standing in front of a sliding pocket door. The pocket door is made of wood and my forehead rests against the surface. The door divides the apartment: me on one side and my roommate on the other. It’s not a particularly nice piece of wood — unfinished, some rudimentary bevels — but it is holding me up. Earlier in the morning, I was snorting Ritalin in my closet. I have a pretty indigo glass plate I use for crushing the pills that’s now scratched with use. I was looking down at a line of powder on the plate. It was my fifth or sixth pill of the night, at a time when I was snorting 20 or so pills in a day. With the straw in my hand, I considered a couple of truths: I’d stolen the pills from my roommate; I’d eventually be caught; part of me wanted to be caught; part of me hoped I’d die before that happened.
“We really have a problem,” I said to myself. When things got really bad — when I couldn’t believe the things I was doing — I’d start referring to myself as a group.
I snorted the line. The burn felt like pain and ecstasy and shame. But no matter how high I’d get myself those days — dripping sweat, heart jumping in my chest, and ringing in my ears — I couldn’t shake the feeling of loneliness. And later in the evenings, I’d start drinking whiskey to slow down my body. Rinse, lather, repeat. Continue reading My Lost Decade: A Story of Addiction and Recovery
While Talkspace is not available to people under 18-years-old, we recognize the importance of providing support for the parents of children with mental health issues.
I’m no stranger to therapy and mental health help. Long before I faced my own mental health issues, my mother passed down stories of my grandmother, who spent most of her life battling the demons of drug-induced psychosis and what, in retrospect, seems to have been borderline personality disorder.
Later, my mother also opened up about her own struggles with depression, anxiety, and the post-traumatic stress she carried from her abusive childhood. Likewise, my oldest sister, my father, and many of my family friends talked frankly about their issues.
Naturally, this has a downside: there’s nothing like being six-years-old and realizing everybody around you has some serious issues. But it also offers some benefits. Mainly, I didn’t have to deal with the stigma when the time came for me to seek help for my own problems.
As you’ll see, by the time I was facing true despair, I’d already had years of experience with mental health professionals. My story will enlighten you on the experience of seeing a therapist while you’re still growing up and what we can accomplish for our children. Continue reading My Childhood Experience in Therapy
Each May, Mental Health Month aims to raise awareness about mental health issues, to advocate for equal care, and provide support to those in need. This advocacy is more important than ever. A recent study from researchers at NYU Langone found that the number of Americans suffering from serious psychological distress is increasing while important access to mental health care has decreased. Talkspace is devoted to reversing these statistics — we cannot let this trend continue.
During May 2017, we focused on empowering individuals to “light their way” to better mental health, happiness, and improved well-being. Throughout the month we brought tips and tools directly from a therapist to help improve daily well-being and deal with ongoing mental health challenges. No appointment needed! Continue reading #LightYourWay for Mental Health Month in May
I’ve always been a supporter of therapy. We’re so close to our problems and stressors. Talking with someone from the outside is often the only way to make sense of it all.
I recently saw one therapist for a little more than a year to work on one issue. After only a few sessions it was clear this issue wasn’t what I thought it was. It had been acting as a cover for many years, masking problems I didn’t realize I had.
Before the 2016 election, writer Michael Noker was “incredibly close” with his mother. He saw her as a role model because of her strength, feminism and history of overcoming abuse. Before he came out as gay, his mother was already teaching him the importance of respecting members of the LGBT community.
Then he learned she was voting for Donald Trump. Because of Hillary Clinton’s persecution of her husband’s accusers during his sex scandal, his mother didn’t perceive Clinton as a more feminist choice than Trump. She was also disappointed with Obamacare and seemed to want a new leader who would change it.
When Noker told her about Trump’s comments on the infamous tape with Billy Bush, she dismissed them as “probably taken out of context.” He also informed her of the many sexual assault allegations Trump faced. She dismissed them as well, saying it was suspicious that women were coming forward so many years after the purported incidents. Continue reading How Can Families Reunite After Trump’s Victory Split Them Apart?
We are proud to announce our sponsorship of This Is My Brave, an organization that fights against the stigma of mental illness. This Is My Brave pursues this mission by helping people share personal stories about mental illness via several mediums, including live performances, blog posts and social media content.
By sharing stories that humanize and normalize mental illness, This Is My Brave is empowering people to be open about mental illness and seek treatment. We are excited to help them further this amazing and important work.
Part of Talkspace’s mission is combatting the stigma of mental illness and therapy. Many of our clients have stories about how stigma has been in a burden in their lives. By supporting This Is My Brave, we can put stories like theirs on stage.