Written by Bridgett Burrick Brown
Entry September, 27th, 2022
"Mental health is nothing to be ashamed of and neither is talking about it."
September is National Suicide Prevention Month - a time to raise awareness about a highly stigmatized topic in our society. So before the month ends, I have a story to share… it is the story of my rock bottom.
I am 41 years old and standing in my closet in tears, struggling to fit in my favorite jeans I have had for years - having full-on body dysmorphia. I wasn't even fully aware of what body dysmorphia was at this point, but it felt like I was looking in a funhouse mirror at a carnival. As I am standing there, my 2.5-year-old daughter runs into my room, looks at me with her sweet, innocent, blue eyes, and asks me, "Mommy, what are you doing?."
I had just been through a series of miscarriages, the last one being identical twin girls at 5.5 months. My body was still recovering but I was trying desperately to fit into clothes that no longer fit and completely beating my mental health to a pulp while doing it. I was defeated. My modeling agent, whom I had since I was 19 years old, had just told me that if I wanted to return to work successfully, I needed to lose weight. I desperately needed something in my life to be like it was before my world had turned upside down. I spent my nights sweating, soaking through my pajamas and sheets from all the hormones, leaving me completely sleep deprived, and my emotions were a disaster. Right before losing the twins, I had just gone through a chain of crushing losses. I lost my Mom from end-stage Multiple Sclerosis, eight months later, my brother passed away from a brain tumor, my Dad passed a year later suddenly from heart issues, and a best friend died unexpectedly two months after my daughter was born. I was hardly living, and I didn't want to live anymore.
"What was the point of being alive?" I thought.
I felt like a burden to my friends, the people I worked with, and even to my husband and my daughter. When my suicidal thoughts got more frequent and detailed in my mind, they started to scare me, and I thought, "they say to tell someone if you feel suicidal, so I think it's time." I didn't want to tell my husband because I knew I would scare him, so I texted two of my longtime best friends and wrote, "I feel suicidal, and I know I need to tell someone, so I'm telling you." After writing the words and sending them out in the world for someone other than myself to know about, it was like a little tiny bit of the weight I had been carrying around lifted. It was also the moment I knew my friends were not going to let me off the hook. Something shifted in me that day. It wasn't obvious - maybe not even to me at the time, but it was the moment I decided to live and understood that I would have to work consciously and deliberately to feel better. I knew that although my friends and family were there for me, I was the only person with the power to help myself. Up to that moment, I was pretty impatient with my healing. I wanted quick fixes and fast healing, and when that didn't happen, I felt frustrated and depressed. So much had happened though, and if I was going to heal, I had to start from the beginning. I was very overwhelmed at first.
I had some good days, but I still had lots of moments where my mind shifted into what I call the black hole. I heard those all too familiar words telling me that I was a burden, a loser and that there was no point in being alive. I started reminding myself that emotions were temporary. I slept as much as possible, often putting myself to bed right after Scarlett at 8 pm and taking naps while Scarlett was at school. I did a lot of journaling, and I did a lot of therapy. I also told myself two mantras daily — I would militantly tell myself, "One foot in front of the other, Bridgett," and compassionately, I would say to myself, "Little by little." I also decided that if I was going to live, I would do it my way! I would live life unapologetically and a life I loved and was proud of.
So what was the point of all of that heartache and trauma? I don't know if I'll ever know entirely. But, I do believe everything that has happened has led me to where I am now. There are things I would not be doing or wouldn't have had the courage to do without that rock-bottom moment. Like this beautiful project that I am blessed to pour my passion and love into every single day.
It's been a few years since that rock bottom moment, and I can genuinely say I am happy and grateful, and I no longer feel like a burden to my family. For some, that may seem silly or even selfish to hear me say. I know… I hear you saying, "but how could she feel like that, especially as a Mom?" The only thing I can tell you is – you only know if you know, so be grateful you don't know! My hormones and mental health are balanced again. But my life is far from perfect, and I did not get to where I am now without serious and committed work along the way, working on all the parts of me. And I am still healing. I truly believe healing is a lifelong process — and I am here for it!
When I started talking openly on my social media accounts about my depression, I got so many direct messages from people who thanked me for sharing my story or told me how much they needed to hear what I wrote that day. It completely blew me away and made me understand the power of sharing stories. The love I received from these beautiful and thoughtful messages made me feel like I was not alone and that I would be okay. My intention for sharing mine is that others know they are not alone and will be okay too. Normalizing the discussion of mental health is essential to end the stigma around it and help those who are struggling feel less afraid to reach out for help and support. Because they are not alone. You are not alone. And maybe, just maybe, that is the point of all of it.
If you're reading this and struggling, please remember that you are here for a reason. You have a purpose, and whether you realize it or not right now, the world would notice if you ceased to exist because your presence matters. We're proud of you for making it this far! Keep going, little by little, with one foot in front of the other.
Call or text 988 if you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis.
If you are uncomfortable talking on the phone, you can chat the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988lifeline.org.