Today is one of those days where I feel low, so instead of wallowing in it, I'm going to finally type out the story of that one time I had a complete breakdown--and it changed my life.
I used to be addicted to a gang of pills (prescribed by a wild haired Dr. who ran a ritzy practice in an Orange County beach town) for everything from weight loss to anxiety. I took them steadily for about a year and a half, and with each visit to the office I felt like I left with more pills, higher dosages. It was a pupu platter of uppers that synergized in a way that made me basically Bradley Cooper in the movie Limitless. I had amazing energy, could eat anything and was dropping weight, and I never slept...2-3 hours a night, maybe. I worked, literally, around the clock for months on end. I was a machine and I look back now at the sheer amount of work I did in those months, and it astounds me. I felt unstoppable.
Funny thing is, after 5 months of sleeping less than 20 hours a week, your brain starts to shut down even when the pills keep your body going. I didn't know that's what was happening, I just started to see things, and hear things, and I felt on edge and short with everyone around me. I was in a state of manic and it bled into every area of my life.
After being single since I moved to LA in July 2015, I decided to try online dating, but in my manic state it became yet another job that I met at a frenzied pace. I would spend hours swiping, swiping, swiping...carrying on multiple conversations and giving each guy a nickname in my phone just to keep track of all of them. I didn't meet them all, actually only went on one real date in the month I was actively on the sites, but I was getting off on the attention. I spent hours taking selfies and having long drawn out text relationships--I mean hundreds and hundreds of texts, with men all over the world. For the first time in a long time I felt really wanted and my ego was turned all the way up. I look back at photos from last summer and I don't even know who that person is...even the guys look different to me now.
I started to sense something strange happening with some of the guys I was talking to, which I can now see was probably 50% the Universe telling me I was out of control, and 50% the fact that I hadn't slept in months and was hallucinating. My anxiety issues went from mild to BEYOND control and I began to suffer panic attacks so bad I can't even think about them now. The problem was, because my body was shutting down, I didn't realize it was the anxiety and panic talking, and became convinced that someone was out to get me. I thought I was being followed, my internet had been hacked, someone had bugged my apartment--you name it, I thought it. It was the most horrifying few months of my life.
Because of my paranoia, I decided to stop taking the pills--cold turkey. Let me tell you what happens when you go from hundreds of milligrams of 4 different meds that affect your brain--carefully scaled up in dosage over the course of a year--and you STOP TAKING THEM ALL AT ONCE. I broke completely down. My body, brain, health, motivation, emotions...a complete disaster.
Convinced I was being followed around LA, I once hid out in the public bathroom outside of my buildings leasing office for, who knows how long...an hour, maybe two? I was having a nervous breakdown locked in the room in the dark, fearful that someone would find me if I turned the light on. I was drenched in sweat and crying, sitting on the floor, scared for my life.
Each day I became even more convinced that I was being spied on, so I "slept" with a pair of scissors under my pillow at night and barricaded my door shut with a clothing rack. I carried a wad of cash, my passport, and packed a bag, convinced I would need to run, and one day fled my apartment in a panic with no idea where I was going. I was too afraid to use Uber because I thought "they" were tracking me, so I asked my doorman to call a cab. Before I left he grabbed my shoulders and looked me in my eyes,
"Are you OK?" he asked, his concern reflecting the terror I must've been exuding.
"Yeah, my life is just a little weird right now." I told him, and left the building to climb into the waiting cab.
Because the cab had circled the block, I became convinced he was a part of the "plot" to get me, and started questioning him (the poor cab driver!) about who was following me. I could tell he wasn't going to spill the details, so I just told him to take me to Santa Monica and drop me near the pier.
I wandered around Santa Monica for hours, alone and carrying a bag filled with cash and my belongings, until it started to get dark. Too afraid to go home, I found a hotel that felt busy and paid $300 for a night just to be somewhere public where I could feel safe.
That night, convinced that "they" were surrounding the hotel waiting for me to leave, I told my best friend that she would be sorry for not believing me when I was found dead. That, and many other parts of that nightmare time, were such low points in my life that I could cry right now just writing this. I spent weeks feeling like there were snipers on my building, that I was being constantly followed and monitored, and that I had stumbled onto some secret bit of information that suddenly made me valuable to "them". Whomever that may be, I didn't know.
The truth is, I had friends all over the country: San Diego, Chicago, New York begging me to come stay with them so they could help me, but I refused every time. Partially because I am working on my ability to accept help, but also because some deep down part of me held onto a kernel of sanity that kept saying "Be Brave and Get Through This". No matter how afraid I was, I knew that running away was giving into it...the fear would follow me no matter where I went. My life for 2 months was CONSUMED with gut wrenching fear and anxiety and I look back at pictures now and see how sick I looked. I had broken apart.
A lot of times, especially as strong women, we are so hesitant to give ourselves the credit we deserve for surviving. It's like we feel guilt for feeling proud of ourselves, when somewhere in Africa a child is hungry. But when I tell snippets of the real story to the friends who were there for me at the time, I am so grateful for having gone through this nightmare. I was surrounded at all times by love, from my friends, strangers, angels, and eventually by my own love. I showed myself how absolutely fucking brave I can be when tested, and I am learning to really feel my way into that without making it about ego. I didn't do this alone, I was always being held. I also had the chance to really, truly embrace a more spiritual path for my life--so much of what got me through each day was just staying present and breathing my way through the fear. I began to meditate more to ease the anxiety, and I am readjusting to this body that is prescription pill free and needs me to pay attention to what it wants and needs.
More than anything, I have given myself permission to FEEL again...like truly, fully feeling every single emotion that passes through me. I allow it to come, I observe it, I thank it, and I let it go with gratitude for reminding me of something I need to pay attention to. Some days, like today, I have moments of feeling low, but I have figured out my own ways of channeling that into more productive energy. Tonight, it was writing this story, some days it's sitting outside with my face in the sun, going for a walk, playing loud music and dancing in my kitchen, or just sitting still and breathing. I haven't gotten rid of the darkness that I went through, but it is such an incredible thing to know that I was able to find the light in it.
I am grateful, I am at peace, and I sleep like a fucking baby now.
i am beckee.
Lover, Writer, Artist, Curser, Creator, Moonchild, LA Dweller, and Star Gazer on a Quest to Find the Beauty and Love in Everything