Back From the Brink

Anne Costa

Six years ago I found myself slipping into a scary, dark pit: full of fears and a desperate loneliness that seemed to seep into my skin and take over my soul. More than that, my reality became something in which I could no longer trust. Each day was like waking up in a different hall of mirrors; conversations became distored, voices ran together to form a haunting background of noise in my mind that just kept getting louder and louder. The voices turned ugly and accusatory and the more that I tried to cling to life as I knew it, the more the voices mocked and accused.

As I slipped into this psychotic depression, I am told that from the outside, people noticed subtle changes. I was seen as more nervous than usual and I became withdrawn with a preoccupation with satan, which was odd because I was a very religious person and enjoyed being around people. I was also a successful human service administrator, mother of an eight year old, Sunday school teacher and was very happily married. I Was “Normal” as our culture defines it, in every way.

But then the descent escalated and I began to engage in bizarre and dangerous activites. I completely lost touch with reality and I was hospitalized. The first 24 hours of that hospiral stay on a locked ward were the most terrifying I have ever endured. It felt like hell on earth and by some miracle, with the help of my husand, I was able to sign myself out and go home. That was short lived and I voluntarily went back two days later to try and get some help. As paranoid and psychotic as I was, there was some force within me that kept seeking out help. I spent the next 72 hours in a “rubber room” being watched every moment and evaluated by countless doctors and mental health professionals. No one could really figure out why a woman in her forties would suddenly present such profound symptoms without any prior history of mental illness.

Because I refused to go back to that locked ward and had already left there against medical advice, I had to wait until an inpatient bed opened up in our region. When one finally did, I was taken alone, strapped onto a gurney, by ambulance, in the middle of the night to a town 40 minutes away to another locked ward in a hospital. This is the place where I got my life back.

Slowly but surely a combination of medications to address not only the psychosis but a severe thyroid imbalance began to work and little by little, the person that I was began to emerge. But something was different. The fears and sadness that had plagued me all of my life; the heaviness and deep shame that I carried with me without even knowing it… were being replaced with a sense of hope, strength and courage. I emerged from the deepest, darket pit of hell and not only got my life back, but got it back in a way that has enabled me to be free of fear, full of hope and to express myself and my gifts to help others in a way that I could never have imagined before the break. I discovered that I had never known what life was like without being depressed.

I call is a “miracle of mercy” and I look back on that time of hospitalization as a blessing. A time of change and transformation. I know that I am one of the fortunate ones. I had support; I had a good diagnositc psychiartrist…a conservative dose of anti-depressant medication works for me. As a result of the treatment I received I got SO MUCH MORE THAN BETTER!!

Today, I am a best selling author, motivational speaker and spiritual mentor. The message of my life and the experience I have been through is that there is hope!! Freedom is possible and recovery is real!