Entering the Darkness

I know I spoke briefly before about the amount of anguish that I was experiencing in 2019. However, I only scraped the surface. There were a lot of things I left out; So much to the point where I’ve decided to write a three-part series to share my full experience. This isn’t the the one that was seasoned and cooked to perfection, but the raw, ugly, bloody one. The purpose of this blog is to go deeper into those uncomfortable places. This is to show that mental health is an ongoing battle.

So here goes nothing…

For lack of better words, the second half of 2019 was a shit show.

Yes, I saw a lot of growth within myself, but I also endured the worst anxious/depressive episode thus far. I found myself at rock bottom, again. But this time, it felt completely different.

It was August 2019, and the semester was about to begin. In addition to starting school, I was looking for a job so that I could then save up for an apartment.

For those of you who have not quite yet entered the job market, it is BRUTAL. At this point, I was staying with family until I got on my feet. Every day I went to the Starbucks up the street, ordered a Frappuccino, and applied to jobs. For 6 hours straight. Of course there were a few breaks here and there, but for the most part, this is what my days consisted of. I know I could have done this at home, but let’s be real, I would have opted to take a nap instead.

I maintained this routine for about two months. When I wasn’t in class, I was at the Starbucks scrolling through Indeed, ZipRecruiter, Monster, and the like. I recall rewriting my resume over 50 times to apply to over 150 jobs. With every passing day with no responses, I began to get extremely discouraged.

With the growing stress of school and job searching, taking my medication was the last thing on my mind, especially since it has such a long half-life, so I wasn’t feeling any withdrawal effects at the moment. Little did I know, me not taking my medication was about to come back to haunt me.

One day as I was sitting in Starbucks, I felt a sharp pain go through my chest and radiate to my back. Initially, I didn’t think anything of it. I ignored it and kept working, hoping that it would just go away on its own. For the next few days, my chest and back would ache. Even the smallest movements would cause sharp discomfort. I felt like someone was forcing daggers through my chest and out of my back. But still, I kept pushing.

It wasn’t until I was laying on the couch and felt my entire left side tingle did I finally get up and go to the emergency room. After a few X-rays, I was no closer to finder an answer to my pain than I was when I walked through the door. I was sent home and advised to see a primary care physician who could actually take the time to do a full physical exam. The next day, I went to the doctor and she diagnosed me with costochondritis.

Costochondritis is an inflammation of the cartilage where the ribs and breastbone meet. It is caused by demanding physical labor, sleeping in odd positions, or–you guessed it–stress. In other words, my stress and anxiety about job searching and grad school had caused my chest wall to become inflamed. This phenomenon is not in any way dangerous, however, it caused some intense pain. In addition to the inflammation in my chest, I had developed a large muscle spasm in my back. Needless to say, I needed a very deep, long massage.

With adequate rest and reconciliation, it took about 2-3 weeks for my chest to heal. Various stretches helped soothe the pain in my back.I thought the worst part of my anxiety was over, but little did I know, the nightmare was just beginning…

Come back next week for the continuation of the story.